DARASURAM - Outstanding !
Darasuram is one of the three " Great Living Chola Temples " given the World Heritage Site tag for being the repository of glorious Chola Art and Architecture .
The huge Airavateshwara Complex , built by Rajaraja II ( 12th Cent), is an outstanding open museum which demands that we spend at least two whole days examining and admiring each and every block of stone, to do any justice to its grandeur. The innumerable stone figures populating this exquisite storehouse of religious art each have individuality in expressions and demeanor.
Each visit is a voyage of discovery for everytime, some new detail comes to notice. For one thing, since those bad old days of shameful neglect , something has been done to renovate and spruce up the monuments in the complex. That is a great Plus. Consequently, its rating in the tourist circuit has gone up, so that more and more people are getting to appreciate the treasures it holds. However the minus points is that, heavy influx of visitors also gives rise to the problem of insensitive picnickers and vandals. And to protect the art , the guardians have had to put up ugly metal railings , thereby marring the wholesome effect for true lovers of art. This is especially the case with the unique Balipeetam that has stone steps that ring out in seven different tones ( swaras) when struck . The music of these stones have been silenced forever with a bulky grill !
Words fail to express fully the wonder and awe that the Darasuram complex inspires . Here are pictures taken during various visits:
The main Vimana is 85 ft. high.
The Shrines have a Chariot motif, some with horses and some with elephants.
Ardhanareeshwara in the outer niche.
Annapoorna ( note her delicate fingers and the shapely nails.)
A Dance representation showing movement.
Mural painted within a koshta ( the old gentleman was a Guide, fluent in 5 languages( including English and French)
Guide explaining a finer detail.
A stone Jaali window.
Close up of Hunter showing chains, beads, bells and the fall of cloth.
Rudra, a form of Shiva, in a dynamic pose.