Saturday, 10 August 2013

Tripurantakesvara temple in Kanchi

Most historical temples in Kanchipuram were either built or rebuilt in Chola (9th-13th) Pandya (13th-14th century) or Vijayanagar / Nayaka (14th-18th century) times, but some Pallava era monuments (8th-9th century), with very little modification from those times, were discovered by Robert Sewell and others and recorded in Alexander Rea's book "Pallava Architecture." I have visited some before, but a while back I visited Kanchi with Arvind Venkatraman (his excellent collection of photos here) and saw the other temples I missed like Piravaatheesvarar, Airavatesvarar, Muktesvarar and the upper levels of Vaikunta Perumal temple). I wondered where the Tripurantakesvarar mentioned in Rea's book was - "between Kacchapesvara and the great Shiva temple", he says, the latter implying Ekaamresvarar. On Monday August 5, I wandered from Kaccapesvara towards Ekamresvara, in the side streets, and stumbled upon the Amaresvara temple, whose sketch by Rea and my photo are below. I am pretty sure this is the one - the architecture of the main temple is similar in every detail, including Nandi Mantapama & Bali peetam in the lowest photograph, though the sculptures on the walls have been lost. The temple gates were closed, so I couldn't go in and take photos of the back walls and panels, but I am sure that they are gone too, and only these modern depictions remain. The ASI seems unaware of this temple or don't want to mess with it as it is in active worship, and they have their plates full with the existing temples. Let us hope the main facade at least will not suffer damage - it's a beautiful structure. Sorry I couldn't take a better picture, but I was shooting through a grilled gate and a nearby resident started an interrogation session on my ancestry, qualifications, and future prospects - anyway I was keen to decipher inscriptions in Kailasanatha as my previous blogs note.

Postscript: Any courageous inspired tenacious brilliant explorer can discover a lost temple in a jungle, a ravine, or under the ocean. But to discover one in the middle of a city in everybody's sight - that takes an Ajivika Wallacian :-)
Alexander Rea's sketch - Tripurantaka temple north side

Gopu's photo - Amaresvara temple north wall
Amaresvara temple - Nandi Manadapam & Bali peetam


5 comments:

  1. I honestly don't understand how the heavily sculpted walls become plain????!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. It's called improvement and beautification!

      Kidding aside, they probably wanted to give the temple a new look, rather than the crumbling brickwork from earlier.

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  2. Good find Gopu. There is very little hope of temples retaining its originality and asthetics, if it under worship. I wonder why there is such a conflict of interest between the religiously bent and art admirers. Arent there enough number of people who have equal inclination? What perverse pleasure do the orthodox religious type, dereive from tearing down beautiful edifice and make us bleed.

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    1. It's not a conflict of interest, but a lack of awareness; perhaps a conflict of aesthetic taste. A few years back I did not have the aesthetic taste to tell the difference between Pallava and Nayak sculptures. To develop it takes time, inclination, patience, regular exposure, sustained involvement etc.

      The temple administrators are under often under the impression that new is better, and that a full cement stature is better than a partly damaged brick or stone version. Please remember, the temple primarily serves the worshippers, for whom art is fourth of fifth priority.

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  3. I'm also interested to locate the ,'Tripurantakesvara temple', for my academic purpose. Some secondary sources, regarding the location of this temple mentions that it is in between kachchabevarar and Kailasanatha temples at kanchipuram. Three of my attempts went vein. Still I'm in hope with in a couple of month I will locate this temple. sender. umasenthilvel68@gmail.com

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