Places of interest in Tamilnadu

Trip to Mahabalipuram on December 5, 2007
Varaha Mandapam

This is one of the almost completed monuments attributed to the time of Narasimha Pallava. This cave mandapam and the Adi Varaha mandapam which is currently under worship sport similar wall panels. There are four wonderful relief panels Ė Varaha holding aloft Boodevi, Gajalakshmi, Durga and Trivikrama.

There is a small tank dug at the entrance of the mandapam. There are two pillars & 2 pilasters with sitting lion as the base. On the roof there is a level of kudus with lotus carvings and above that are the salas (mini shrines).

On either side of the empty garbagriham are two dwarapalakas in three fourth profile, their outer arm on their hip and the inner arm pointing to the garbagriham. As a rare feature, there are two more dwarapalakas on the side projecting wall, at right angle, facing the Varaha & Trivikrama panels.

On the left side are the Varaha panel on the side wall and the Gajalakshmi panel on the facing wall. On the right side are the Trivikrama panel on the side wall and the Durga panel on the facing wall.

The Varaha panel
In the centre of the panel is seen Lord Varaha, a gigantic figure holding aloft the tiny Boomidevi. Varaha is holding Devi with his right arm, resting her on his raised right leg placed on a naga hood. His left leg is planted firmly on the ground and he is holding Deviís right leg with his left arm. In his upper arms he has the changu and chakra. The naga king, the lotus leaves and the waves represent the ocean from which Varaha has rescued Boomi Devi. On the left, is a woman offering thanks and beside her is a sage. To the right of Varaha is Brahma and an ascetic. At the top are two heavenly beings one on either side. The halo around the figure on the left indicates he is the sun or the moon.

Gajalakshmi Panel
To the right of the Varaha panel is the panel depicting Lakshmi seated erect on a lotus. She is holding her arms in the posture of holding lotuses, but there are no flowers in her hands. Her legs are resting on a lotus. There are four women, two on either side. The ones closest to Lakshmi are holding pots. There are two huge elephants on top. The one on the left is in the act of squirting holy water on Lakshmi and the one on the right has its trunk wrapped around the pot in the womanís hand.

Trivikrama Panel
On the wall opposite the Varaha panel is the scene depicting Trivikrama (ulagalanda Perumal), Vishnu raising his left leg to reach to the sky. In his Vamana avatara, the Lord as Vamana, a Brahmin dwarf subdues the asura Mahabali. (Vamana asks for three steps of land. As the amused Mahabali watches, he covers the entire earth with one foot, the heavens with his second step and places his foot on Mahabaliís head for the third step.) In this panel, he is seen measuring the heavens as Trivikrama. He has eight arms. His main right arm is raised to the roof and he holds weapons in his other arms. There are figures around Vishnu in three levels. At ground level are four men, two on either side, seated to indicate the earth. The first figure on the left seen in a sprawling posture could be Mahabali. At the second level are the sun & moon identified by the halo around the head, indicating the sky. There are heavenly beings, Brahma on the right and Siva on the left in the 3rd level, seated on lotus, i.e, Lord Vishnu has reached even above the skies to measure his second step. Beside Brahma is an animal headed form, beating a drum in jubilation. Just below Brahma in the second level is seen a figure falling down to earth.

Durga Panel
In the centre of the panel is an erect standing Durga on a pedestal/lotus with an umbrella overhead. She is depicted with four arms. The main right arm is in abhaya mudra (blessing), the main left arm is on her hip and has the changu and chakram in the upper arms. There are four floating ganas at the top, two on either side. At the top left is a lion upto the torso, with a stylized mane and at the top right is a deer. At the foot of Durga on the left is a seated man ready to chop off his head and on the right is a man kneeling in prayer.

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