Telangana temple wall narrates tale of a millenia-old Swayamvaram

Sculptural panel depicting the svayamvaram scene of a Kalyani Chalukaya prince  

The portrayal of ‘Swayamvaram’ of a royal couple of Kalyani Chalukya dynasty, never documented so far, has come to light with the discovery of a sculptural panel at the Trikuta Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Nellikuduru village of Mahabubabad district.

This chance finding of the sculpture reflects the sociological practices of marriage by the members of the royal families of yore.

Explaining the architectural significance of the pre-Kakatiya period — late 11th century A.D. — shrine former superintending archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai, D. Kanna Babu said that the temple stands on a well-built ‘jagati’ platform of about three feet height.

In the main shrine Sri Ranganatha is portrayed in a reclining posture, the southern sub-temple has Ramanujacharya and the northern sub-temple Goddess. A vestibule is positioned before the abode of the presiding deity and the two on either side having only sanctums.

The 12th Century Sri Ranganathaswamy Trikuta temple at Nellikuduru in Mahabubabad district.

The 12th Century Sri Ranganathaswamy Trikuta temple at Nellikuduru in Mahabubabad district.  


The most puzzling aspect of the temple is its decorative walls with sculptural representations. Elaborating on the carved figures, he said that the panel on the northern wall portrays the marriage scene or ‘Swayamvaram’ of a royal couple. The panel contains upper and lower registers.

“It is exciting to note that the upper register exhibiting a royal prince, in elegant attire, stood on its right side and he was approached by a princess, wearing a highly fashioned apparel tied with an ornamental waistband, and offering him a flower bouquet and he received it,” Mr. Babu said.

An attendant is also seen behind her with some bunch of flowers. In another panel, the prince is seen holding her right hand with his left hand. “This sculptural scene demonstrates the Swayamvaram feature and reflects the noblemen’s style of life in contemporary society,” he said.

Since the temple bears the architectural features of Kalyani Chalukyas, it is reasonable to presume that the it was built by a subordinate regional chieftain of sovereign Chalukya king when they were overlords of these provinces before the advent of Kakatiyas of Anumakonda.

Mr. Babu said that the prince in the sculptural panel might be Kumara Tailapa, the younger brother of Bhulokamalla and son of Vikramaditya IV. His father made him chief of Kandurunadu province and the bride may be the daughter of a nobleman family of Nellikuduru.

“The Swayamvaram might have taken place at this temple complex and the scene is carved on walls by an unknown sculptor of that time. Unfortunately this episode was not mentioned in any of the contemporary literary records,” he said.

According to him, the lower register of the panel exhibiting medallions of two swimming fishes and wrestlers and two elephants planting a mango tree indicates a happy sign of marriage.

Dwelling on the architectural significance of the temple, he said that there is a common ‘mukha mandapa’ hall and entry is through doorways at the east. The stepped pyramidal superstructure that heads this triple shrine is built with brick and lime.

The shrine is also noteworthy for its imposing Kalyana mandapam in the front.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 11:44:00 PM |

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