memories of family outings.....


Stucco splendour


While well crafted stone sculptures make our ancient temples marvelous monuments of art, Stucco sculptures add a lot of vigour and vitality . Often coloured vividly, they become tableaux  illustrating myths, graphic documentation of general public life of the time and showpieces of  craft .

Stucco figures, called Sudhai in Tamil, were individually hand crafted without moulds , with a core of  metal rods and broken bricks . Specially prepared lime plaster was then slapped over the core and shaped , much like clay. Ingredients like tamarind seed paste, tree resin , sea shell powder etc were mixed into the lime plaster for good finish and strength. Nowadays however, cement has replaced all that.

Nanjangud temple has awesome stucco figures crowning all its walls. The craftsmanship and artistry are of very high order. While the majority of  southern stucco figures are painted with all colours of the rainbow and more, Nanjangud has maintained an elegant monochrome which adds to the majesty of the ancient craft.
One other place , close to Nanjangud, that has wonderful stucco decorations on its temple walls  is KALALE.

Dedicated to Lakshmikantha, this  sprawling temple's mythic origin is credited to Sage Kapila, who chose this place for penance because of the  spiritual peace and serenity it exuded. Historically, the temple was built  in three stages from the 1300s to 1500s. The Kalale Dalavoys , feudatories of Vijayanagar empire were a powerful lot, who continued to  serve the Yaduvamshi dynasty of Mysore till mid 19th century. The Mysore kings endowed this temple richly and their emblems are seen all over the monument.
The high walls of the outer prakara are lined with enchanting, intricate stucco figures of the dikpalas, the devas, the avatars and parivaras. The  alcove of  each diety is painstakingly decorated with foliage, birds and floral designs to stunning effect. Here too,  there is no coloured paint to diminsh the effect of the light and shadow play on the moulded details.
Below :  some Dikpalas( Guardians of The Directions)

Guardian of North  , Kubera on Nara Vahana
North East - Isana on Vrishabha vahana
North West, Vayu on Mriga Vahana
South East, Agni on MeshaVahana  and  East, Indra on Gaja Vahana
 There is plenty of stone carvings too, inside the temple and some  lovely vahanas. The Ratha, stationed outside, under open skies, has graceful wood carvings , which , however, have a weathered look. perhaps they are replaced periodically.
If you love temple art, its well worth spending a day in this quiet , uncrowded temple.

A finger can pass behind the flower -Single stone carving.

Kalale is within half an hour's drive from Nanjangud.                                    


Arun Visweswaran said...

Interesting. Maybe on the next trip to Mysore !

YOSEE said...

Definitely, must !....i want to re- visit and spend more time to figure out many sculptures there.