History & Culture

Anyone to see the writing on the wall?

People welcoming of British officials at 300 year- old wall painting in Uma Maheswarar temple at Konerirajapuram in Nagapattinam district.  

Ancient murals at Angavalanayagi Samedha Umamaheswaran temple at Konerirajapuram, about 20 km from Kumbakonam, are in danger of fading off soon, provoking calls for steps to preserve them.

Many of the paintings on the roof of the front mandapam and on the walls of the temple are peeling off fast. Interesting among the murals, said to be 150 to 200 years old, are those depicting the Thanjavur quartret, Chinnaiah, Ponnaiah, Sivanandam and Vadivel, who introduced the Thanjavur style of Bharatanatyam, welcoming Englishmen and poses of dance girls (‘adal mahalir' in Tamil).

In line with the importance attached to the procession of the deity in the temple, a painting brings alive the ‘Swamy purappadu.'

“The purappadu is very famous in Konerirajapuram. The painting depicts a typical scene with hundreds of people watching the Lord being taken in the palanquin. It also shows Saivites and Vaishnavites watching the procession together, indicating that there were no differences among them,” says Dhenuka, an art critic of Kumbakonam, who has conducted detailed studies at the temple.

“The paintings should be renovated with the support of organisations such as the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH),” he said.

The Konerirajapuram temple, also called Thirunallam, houses one of the biggest bronze idols of Nataraja in the world. The 7.5 ft high Nataraja is a solid structure without any hollow space. “The idol belongs to the later Chola period though the temple was built by early Cholas nearly 1300 years before,” Mr. Dhenuka said.

The temple was built by Sembiyanmadevi, grandmother of Raja Raja Cholan, as a “Katrali” (stone structure) in memory of her husband Kandarathitha Cholan. A sculpture of Sembiyanmadevi and inscriptions confirming that she had built the temple are found in the temple. The temple also has sculptures and inscriptions belonging to the period of various Chola kings.

The temple ‘vahanas'(vehicles), made of ‘athi maram' (ficus wood) are also in a dilapidated condition and require renovation.


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 8:19:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/anyone-to-see-the-writing-on-the-wall/article2955100.ece

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