Legacy of the Cholas and Pallavas by Subra Narayan SignUp
Boloji.com
Boloji
Home Kabir Poetry Blogs BoloKids Writers Contribute Search Contact Site Map Advertise RSS Login Register
Boloji
Channels

In Focus

Analysis
Cartoons
Education
Environment
Going Inner
Opinion
Photo Essays

Columns

A Bystander's Diary
Business
My Word
PlainSpeak
Random Thoughts

Our Heritage

Architecture
Astrology
Ayurveda
Buddhism
Cinema
Culture
Dances
Festivals
Hinduism
History
People
Places
Sikhism
Spirituality
Vastu
Vithika

Society & Lifestyle

Family Matters
Health
Parenting
Perspective
Recipes
Society
Teens
Women

Creative Writings

Book Reviews
Ghalib's Corner
Humor
Individuality
Literary Shelf
Love Letters
Memoirs
Musings
Quotes
Ramblings
Stories
Travelogues
Workshop

Computing

CC++
Computing Articles
Flash
Internet Security
Java
Linux
Networking
Travelogues Share This Page
Legacy of the Cholas and Pallavas
by Subra Narayan Bookmark and Share
 

Around 1000 AD, when the Classic Mayan civilization was at its lowest ebb, barbarians were knocking at the gates of Delhi, and Buddhism had all but migrated out of India, the Cholas were flowering in South India. In fact, this year marks the 1000th year of the consecration of the Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur. Deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Brihadeshwara Temple was built by the munificent king, Raja Raja Chola I and is a testament to the culture, art and prowess of the Chola Empire.

As you approach the gateway of the Brihadeshwara Temple, you can’t help noticing the remnants of what would have been a moat around a fortress. Despite the searing 100 degree heat in mid summer, upon entering the hallowed grounds, I was struck by the magnificence of the timeless monuments and completely transfixed by the architectural splendor of the carvings and intricate details. Standing in the center of the archway you are afforded a panoramic view of the quadrangle with its high walls rising against the background of tall, verdant coconut trees. 

The towering Vimanam, or temple tower approximately 200 ft tall, filled with intricate carvings rises up to touch the blue skies and you are filled with nothing but wonder at such a megalithic structure! The features of the deities and other figures are so remarkable that it speaks volumes for the gifted ‘shilpi’ or sculptor.

This Vimanam is probably the tallest of its kind and was made using granite, a stone that was not readily available in the nearby vicinity! Not only that, you are completely dwarfed by a gigantic Nandi or sacred bull of Shiva, carved out of a single rock that guards the temple entrance.

Imagine the royal celebrations that would have been held here several centuries back when the masses would congregate around the temple waiting for the King and the royal priest to arrive and perform the rites. Marvelling at the engineering precision of the monument, it is almost a déjà vu moment, as I remember coming to this place in my childhood, probably not all that excited in visiting yet another temple as my parents dragged me along. But this time it is a totally different experience as you surmise that you could spend the entire day here drinking in each and every detail, when suddenly your kids start tugging you telling you to move faster in search of a cool shelter. All at once, a cool breeze touches your face as you observe the tall trees sway gently. The pillared portico along the walls of this citadel are adorned with rich murals, some of which are incredibly preserved, reminiscent of Mayan Temple paintings, although in some places you can barely make out the outlines.

Like other empires, the Cholas too fought internecine wars with neighboring kingdoms, enjoyed their victories and bemoaned their losses, but they left indelible marks in India’s history, which have withstood the onslaught of the natural elements through several centuries.

Driving up further northeast you reach Puducherry, the French bastion, with its cobblestone lined streets and alleys, replete with French stucco and stone buildings. Breezing along Goubert Avenue on the ocean front you arrive at the Pondicherry Museum, where you are treated to a wonderful collection of bronze and stone sculptures from the Chola and Pallava dynasties. Interestingly there is a collection of Roman coins, pottery, trinkets & beads from nearby Arikamedu, which probably served as a port city during the Chola and Pallava dynasties providing for maritime activity. The Romans are believed to have undertaken trade in this port city and elsewhere since the 1st century AD. I was looking forward to visit Arikamedu’s archaeological ruins which were excavated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, of the Indus Valley fame, but the museum guide dissuaded me from going saying there wasn’t much left there, as most of it was already in the museum.

After a pleasant drive along the East Coast Road we reached Mamallapuram, formerly Mahabalipuram, the abode of the Pallavas in the 7th century AD. Built by Narasimhivarman I (Mamalla), each temple or structure is carved entirely out of monolithic rocks with bas-relief sculptures that is reminiscent of Buddhist architecture in Ajanta/Ellora. Mahabalipuram also has been recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. There are distinct differences in the architecture of the Pallavas, who eventually gave way to the Cholas. The myth of Krishna holding up the Govardhan hillock is beautifully sculpted here inside one of the cave enclosure, complete with cowherds, maids, children and animals. The most famous of these sculptures is the Arjuna penance bas-relief and the Five Rathas each named after the Pandava princes. A monument of exquisite beauty, the Shore Temple stands all by itself in the sandy shores of the Bay of Bengal, a witness to centuries passing by.   

21-Feb-2010
More by :  Subra Narayan
 
Views: 5763
Article Comment A master piece of Cholas'. There are still many brilliant marvels like this Tanjur temple, which was not noticed and maintained. Hope you can provide with details as that like here.
sasi prabhakaran
04/20/2013
Share This Page
Post a Comment
Bookmark and Share
Name*
Email ID*  (will not be published)
Comment
Verification Code*
Q2V37
Please fill the above code for verification.

    

 
 
Top | Travelogues



Solitude and other poems by Rajender Krishan
 


    A Bystander's Diary     Analysis     Architecture     Astrology     Ayurveda     Book Reviews
    Buddhism     Business     Cartoons     CC++     Cinema     Computing Articles
    Culture     Dances     Education     Environment     Family Matters     Festivals
    Flash     Ghalib's Corner     Going Inner     Health     Hinduism     History
    Humor     Individuality     Internet Security     Java     Linux     Literary Shelf
    Love Letters     Memoirs     Musings     My Word     Networking     Opinion
    Parenting     People     Perspective     Photo Essays     Places     PlainSpeak
    Quotes     Ramblings     Random Thoughts     Recipes     Sikhism     Society
    Spirituality     Stories     Teens     Travelogues     Vastu     Vithika
    Women     Workshop
RSS Feed RSS Feed Home | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Site Map
No part of this Internet site may be reproduced without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
Developed and Programmed by ekant solutions