March 25, 2012

Mamallapuram Varaha Mandapa

Site Name: Varaha Mandapa

Site Type: Bas relief, Mandapa style architecture, Pallava architecture, sculpture
Location:  1 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One site with four great bas reliefs
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options are available within Mamallapuram and East Coast Road outside the town
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the town
Mamallapuram, the heritage town of the Pallava kings, located near Chennai city in South India, is full of sculptural marvels. Some of the monuments such as Shore temple, Arjuna's Penance and Five Rathas are very popular among the tourists. Apart from these popular sites where the tourists throng in great numbers, there are many monuments which are well known to the tourist but not too popular. Varaha Mandapa is one such monument which is well known to everyone but not visited by all the tourists.
Varaha mandapa is a cave shrine with a cell carved out in the middle with a pillared hall infront of it. The mandapa (hall) is supported by two lion base pillars and two lion base pilasters. There are six horse shoe shaped windows on the cornice and three vaulted roof shrines above the cornice. In front of the stairs of the mandapa a pit is found.
The shrine which is supposed to be dedicated to Lord Vishnu doesn't have any idol today. The either side of the entrance of the cell has the images of dwarapalas. There are four bas relief panels found in the mandapa. The entire mandapa is named after one of the bas reliefs which represents Varaha, even though it is not the central theme of the mandapa.
Varaha Bas Relief:
The northen inner wall of mandapa has the bas relief panel of Varaha, the boar God and the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is found with four arms; his upper arms holding conch and discus and his lower arms lifting Bhoo Devi. His right leg is rested on the hood of Sesha serpent. One sage and a female are found in front of him. Brahma and Narad Rishi are found behind him. The images of Surya and Chandra are carved on either side of Varaha's head.

Gaja Lakshmi Bas Relief: 
The right side wall of mandapa has the bas relief panel of Goddess Lakshmi. She is found in the sitting posture surrounded by four maids. Two maids carry water vessles whereas the remainig two maids carry flowers. Two elephants are seen behind Lakshmi; one elephant is trying to pick the water vessel from one maid, whereas the other elephant is found to be pouring water on Lakshmi.

Durga Bas Relief:
The inner wall on the left side of the cell has the bas relief panel of Goddess Durga. Durga is found in the standing posture with four arms. Four Ganas are found on either sides of the Goddess. Behind Durga the images of antelope and lion are found. Two devotees are found infront of the Goddess. One is trying to behead himself whereas the other devotee is offering some flowers. This resembles the image found in Draupadi ratha.

Trivikrama Bas Relief:
The southern inner wall of mandapa has the bas relief panel of Trivikrama. He is seen with eight arms. His left leg is raised toward the top. His right arms hold sword, gada and chakra. His left hands hold conch, bow and shield. One right arm is raised towards top and one left arm is pointing his raised leg. Brahma is seen near his raised leg and is found to be washing the foot of Trivikrama. Shiva is found on the other side. In between Trivikrama and Brahma, Jambavan (the mythological bear) is found playing drums. On either side of Trivikrama's knees, the images of Surya and Chandra are found. A person is found to be falling down with his head directing downwards. Near the right foot of Trivikrama, the king Bali, his Guru Sukracharya and the two associates of king are found.
In Mamallapuram, this is definitely a monument which should not be missed by any tourist.
Happy travelling.

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