memories of family outings.....

Friday

BIG and BIGGER

Right after reports appeared in press, about plans to install a 500ft. tall statue of Buddha Maitreya in Bodhgaya, China put out word that a 509 ft. Maitreya will come up in Central China sooner ! After all China has a record to defend ; it is home to the current Tallest Statue in The World - also a Buddha.
I have not yet seen this Biggest Statue in The World.
But here's a listing of some of the other Biggies i've met .


The biggest statue i'd seen as a child was the monolithic Nandi atop Chamundi Hill in Mysore. In those days, it was more approachable, there being no forbidding railings around the image as now. Children were encouraged to walk through the arch created by its bent foreleg, to ensure good health. As we passed under that stone knee, the statue seemed imponderably immense. But it is only 18 ft. high. Whereas the other famous monolith of Karnataka, the awe inspiring Gomateshwara at Sravanabelagola, is 18 meters tall . It's always an exciting moment when, as one drives towards the hillock, Bahubali's head becomes visible from kilometers away .
The Buddha gracing Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad is said to be of the same height, but somehow it doesn't show.


Hanuman and Shiva are two deities most often chosen for mega image making. Namakkal's Hanuman used to be the tallest ( about 19 ft), evoking the similie : "so tall, there's no roof overhead."
But taller and taller Anjaneyas have been sprouting all over , both in India and abroad, on a regular basis since the the mid 1960s. The Hanuman Murti in Delhi, about 20 meters tall, looming above a cluster of busy roads, is a rather disconcerting distraction !
When modern day sculptors start thinking Big, steel and concrete come handy for executing their grand designs perfectly. The huge Shiva statues at Murudeshwar ( 123 ft, with base), at Haridwar ( 100ft) and at Kids Fort Plaza in Bangalore ( 65 ft) are towering examples.












The most massive Shiva Lingam, worshipped in a temple, that i have seen is in Thanjavur ( Brihadeeshwara : 4 meters high, 7 meters circumference.) .

The Far East offers an explosion of Buddhas - Sitting, Standing, Reclining. Tiny to titanic. Of all styles and material .The ascetic Buddha, who renounced everything, has some mystique that impels people to create grand and rich statues of him ! Especially in Thailand. The one giant i particularly like is the Phra Buddhasaiyyas, the 46 meter long gold plated image at Wat Pho, reclining inside a hall too small for him. Trying to get a full lateral picture of the idol is impossible. The only way is to have its feet( the soles decorated with 108 holy symbols) in the foreground, from which the rest of the body stretches away to the horizon, so to say.

The other striking image is at Wat Traimit in chinatown. The world's biggest solid gold statue. 5 tons, 10 ft. tall. Also in Thailand is the tallest Walking Sakhyamuni at Putthamanthon : 16 meters tall. A holy thread runs from its blessing hand to a smaller image at the base, so that worship offered to the latter gets transmitted to the larger one!


Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, is a natural limestone cavern system , 400 million years old,famous for the shrine to the tamil god, Murugan. The high roofed central cave, (with a natural skylight opening), where the small image of the god was installed in the 19th. century by tamil immigrants, has the overwhelming qualities of an ancient gothic cathedral. In 2006, a 140 ft. tall golden hued Murugan, made of steel and concrete, was erected at the foot of the hill. The name Murugan means Beautiful ; this enormous figure amply validates the meaning.



The same sentiment cannot be extended to another Tamil icon in Mega mode : Thiruvalluvar , author of Thirukkural, the Tamil Veda. A 133 ft. tall statue of the seer-poet stands on a rock at the confluence of Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea in Kanyakumari, where both sunrise and sunset create extravagant , colourful backdrops for it every dawn and dusk. Its size is breath taking no doubt, but , aesthetically it is quite mediocre. ( The 133 feet height denotes the 133 Cantos of his epic)

Think BIG, think Egypt ! The Great Sphinx of Giza (66Ft) and the different Ramases( none shorter than 20 ft) are all pointers to the grand vision of those ancients who reached for the stars. The biggest free standing images in Egypt, the two Colossii of Memnon ( 60 ft. without the base) are unfortunately so dilapidated that no features can be recognised . As a result , they merit only a cursory 10 minute photo-op stop on tour itineraries. But we heard an interesting story about the twin statues there. Both portray Amenhotep III and were part of a memorial temple that was flattened by an earthquake around 26 BC. Soon after this disaster, the statues started to "sing", "sigh" or "groan" frequently ! In no time at all, they were declared as Oracles and a popular cult grew around them drawing crowds of pilgrims from far and near . Then, around 200 AD, a Roman Emperor wishing to curry divine favour, got some repair work done on the old statues - and to his utter horror, found that he had silenced the oracles forever ! Later it was deduced that the old earthquake had caused some fissures and crevices in the statues which gave rise to those sounds when the breeze blew through them. With the expert patching and sealing job, the statues just ceased being wind instruments ! And so died the Oracles !


Dewa Wisnu is a superstar in Bali. One omnipresent artistic motif is Wisnu riding on Garuda, a dynamic and lively image with the bird's wings stretched out, an umbrella or bower overhead and the deity in a warrior like stance. A 140 meter high replica of this beloved motif was planned for a park on a high plateau, overlooking the sea in Jimbaran district. But now, just a hunky 23 meter high bust stands in place ; the rest of him has been put on hold because of widespread native belief that such a massive construction would create imbalance of natural elements in the little island. Just as well. It wouldn't do to have this Wisnu rise up to his full height and have his handsome face veiled by clouds !

23 comments:

LG said...

Good Collection of Biggies. I have seen the ones in Thailand, Bali, KL and guess which one did I miss? Shravanabelagola...I have to visit that place once.

Rajesh said...

Impressive list of biggest statues all over the place. Beautiful post and the snaps.

avdi said...

What a lovely collection of mega-murtis.

Satyask said...

I wuv you!
What lovely images and photographs of the same.
Nice write-up. Learnt a lot

Kamini said...

What an interesting post! You have certainly traveled to some wonderful places! Thanks for the great writeup and pictures.

YOSEE said...

Lakshmi,Rajesh,Avdi,Satya,Kamini : Thank you for stopping over ; glad you enjoyed going through the listing.

JC said...

Thanks for the interesting information on the man-made biggies. For me, on earth, the globe itself is the natural idol of the infinite universe, Shiva the immortal, Gangadhar or Chandrashekhar, as per ancient Hindus :)

Yosee, I saw the referred idol of Nandi, Shiva's vehicle, in the year 1960 during our 'educational tour', when we also saw the beautiful (Yoga of three streams - then explained as Raja. Rani and Roarer by the locals) Jog Falls...

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Wow, what a blog, brought back a flood of memories of all the places you mentioned, maybe our paths crossed somewhere! Batu caves, Wat Pho, Egypt! I saw the two statues of colosii of memnon and spent a bit of time around them, since I was with a few friends driving around and having no time constraint. I saw tour buses and cars stop by for the 10 min photo op like you mentioned and drive away too! Mysore's Nandi: I remember crawling under his leg too as a child. He is the cutest Nandi I have seen (the other cute Nandi is at the Nanjangud temple-love his look). I have not seen the Hanuman in Delhi, I think, coz I just can't remember in all the time I have been in Delhi. Bahubali does take one's breath away, the majesty of it all..great piece Yosee, thanks for doing this wonderful blog.

JC said...

Installed in Vasant Vihar, in New Delhi, the Hanuman idol is carved from a single block of granite. It reportedly is about 50 feet tall and was transported from South India.

Yosee, maybe you referred to the 108-foot high idol in Shri Sankat Mochan Dham,
New Link Road, Karol Bagh at New Delhi that can be seen from the Metro Rail also

Email : info@108foot.org

YOSEE said...

JC : Its true that everything created on earth and the earth itself are symbols ( parabrahma lingam) of the divine......nice to know you've seen the Nandi at Mysore; He's my most favourite,the sweetest Nandi i know, though i've come across bigger, newer images elsewhere.

Abt. the Delhi Hanuman, i'm not very sure about the location,( been to delhi only 3 times) but it was somewhere near Jhandewala area.

YOSEE said...

Capt.Anup: Glad this post evoked memories. Was so happy to read that you've also crawled under our Nandi's knee ! And oh yes, the Nanjangud one is also a jolly good fellow !

JC said...

Yosee, that's right, known as Jhandewalan because of Mata Jhandewalan Temple, another form of Ma Durga, located there since long...and now has a Metro Rail stn. catering to the visitors from all over the country...

This area, before partition of India, was a secluded one on the boundary of the then sleepy New Delhi, but now over six decades with development of posh Pusa Road, and congested Karol Bagh, Rajinder Nagar, etc. residences, and crowded markets etc. near the ridge, there is hectic activity all the time...
The figure 108 has obvious message for Hindus in general and Yogis, devotees of Yogeshwar Shiva/ Vishnu, besides Yogiraja Krishna in particular...

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Good info on the Hanuman statue JC, thanks. Maybe next time I'm in Delhi (got a few trips next year to Delhi) I'll try and look him up. Oh, forgot to mention about the Sphinx, when I first saw it, I had not imagines it to be that big! I kinda like the ancient "Big" statues than the new ones, we have the technology to do a lot these days but not the finesse the ancients had. The look on the original Sphinx and Ramases II is far superior to the replicas in Las Vegas for example, although done with huge money and technology today. Anyway, you know I prefer old stuff! BTW, you are right, our Chamundi Betta Nandi is the cutest fellow!

JC said...

Capt. Anup Murty, I am more interested in the unseen that resides within each being, more so because of certain incidents that occurred while I was in Bhutan/ northeast India for under 9 years in the seventies and eighties...

I have, perhaps coincidentally or by design, seen both Hanumans from outside only - many times - while passing by in their vicinity...

The more popular Hanuman idol since long, however, is housed near Connaught Place (CP), on Baba Khadak Singh Marg (then Irwin Road) that I used to frequently visit in the childhood only, accompanied by some enior member of the family...

Indrani said...

Wow! Impressive collection of shots!I have not seen so many of them yet.

YOSEE said...

Indrani, thanx for stopping by.

Happy Kitten said...

So many statues... nd I claim to have seen Nandi...

wonder how long it took to contruct these beautiful statues and as for the pyramids the construction itself is a mystery....

YOSEE said...

Happy Kitten : In the case of ancient structures, it would have been the work of a life time- or,sometimes going on for generations - with complete dedication. And to think they were working with rudimentary tools !Modern structures, thanks to technology, come up quickly and easily.....yes, the pyramids are an enduring mystery.

JC said...

Yosee, I don't know if you ever heard of it. Maybe it was sometimes in the eighties when I had come across an article in a women's magazine. A lady residing in Karnataka, Bangalore/ Mysore (?) had written how she had made a pyramid shaped room in plywood in the premises of their residence. She had reported how her mother - a patient of Arthritis - felt much better when she lay in a bed inside that room. And her concentration power also became better when she read her books seated by her side.

Earlier also I had read how in the late fifties models of pyramids, having ratio between height and side of the base in the ratio of 1.5: 1 - based on experience of a tourist - became popular with actresses in Hollywood who kept these under their pillows. These became popular in Europe also where a company reportedly sold pyramid shaped plastic boxes oriented such that their triangular sides faced the cardinal directions, for keeping shaving blades, which reportedly retained their sharpness for relatively longer duration.

Also it was found that these worked as fridges for keeping meat/ fish etc. longer. The tourist had reportedly found the body of a dead dog that hadn't decomposed...

JC said...

I might as well add here - in the light of stress laid during the advanced stage in human life at some given point in time on 'soul' and, of course, supreme soul as the lone real being - pyramid meaning 'fire within' indicates generation of some special kind of energy within the structure, on account of its shape and specific orientation irrespective of material used, that helped preserve the temporary exterior physical form made of flesh and blood...

And, it is remarkable that the pyramid shape is used in Indian temples since time immemorial, called 'Vimanas', thus perhaps conveying it as an aeroplane-like instrument for elevating the soul sky-high, where 'sky' - as one of the panchbhootas - indicates space, or the big zero that our ever expanding universeal void apparently is - that had started originally from a point, ie, the centre of teh unending void :)

The ancient Hindus were advanced astronomers, a fact accepted by the 'west' even today. In fact they were 'siddhas', ie, all rounders in all fields and believed in reaching the 'root' o4r Nadbindu :)

Guhan said...

interesting post amma

YOSEE said...

Guhan: Thank you for reading.

JC: Thanks for sharing insights about pyramid shapes. Have read many articles abt. it and also seen the various pyramid devices sold in tamil nadu - there's even a "hat" for student's use ! ( havn't heard about that karnataka lady's room.)It is said that only some precise ratio in the size and dimension of pyramids will ensure those amazing results. In my view, our temple vimanas do not conform to those ratios. They are often domed or bud shaped.
Agree with you, there's no doubt at all that our ancients were great astronomers/scientists.
Regards.

JC said...

Being a kannadkota yourself, I thought you might have heard of the particular lady :)

I agree with you to the extent that Egyptians apparently used the typical pyramid shapes for the entire structure from base to apex with a particular purpose in mind. The existing structures reflect certain proportions that are indicated to be related, say, its height with sun's distance from earth, periphery of base with numbers of days in a year, chamber inside at one-third height, and so on (as per some articles I happened to read)...and Egyptologists are yet to solve the mystery...

However, effects of shape of buildings is particularly reflected in structures that are believed to be haunted, ie, generally believed to have trapped evil spirits that believably belonged to some earlier residents! In Delhi itself there are certain houses that are lying unoccupied that were meant for 'VIPs', because of certain ill effects experienced by previous allottees...And, in Discovery Channel I sometimes get to see many such buildings in USA preserved to attract tourists!

However, most of the other edifices where peace dwells, particularly as in temples/ churches/ gurudwaras/ mosques, etc. say, maybe house good spirits, or 'highly elevated souls' :)

In India we have since time immemorial the science of 'Vastu shastra' that is related with layouts of buildings, with the particular view to achieve the desired goal - of happiness or bliss, eternal as believed in temples with which 'miracles' are associated :)