CHENNAI: Sculptures are like photographs from the past,” said historian Chithra Madhavan as she addressed the city’s heritage enthusiasts at Tattvaloka as part of her illustrated lecture on Vijayanagara architecture and sculptures in South India (temples of Tadipatri).

 

Walking us through two ancient temples in Tadipatri — Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple and Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy temple, she drew connections on how architectural styles of the Vijayanagara empire was absorbed by artists and sculptors in different parts of South India. “Both these temples have several sculptures of parrots. It isn’t a common sight in temples now,” she said pointing to the image on the screen.

The Venkataramana Swamy temple houses several rare imagery and sculptures of Gods. Chithra pointed to one rare image of Vishnu with many arms. “Here, he is Venugopala/Krishna with the flute, and Rama, holding the bow and arrow,” she said.

The temple also holds a chariot-shaped shrine for Garuda, which is intricately carved in granite — a reminiscent of the famous Garuda mandapa in the Vittala Temple, Hampi. “This Garuda mandapa in Tadipatri is perhaps even more beautiful than the one in Hampi. But unfortunately, no one visits Tadipatri,” she rued.

Shedding light on the similarities between the Venkataramana Swamy temple and Hazara Rama temple, Hampi, the seat of the Vijayanagara empire, she said, “The outer wall of Hazara Rama temple, is covered in panels that depict the Ramayana. This temple has that as well but, it’s more intricate and a few panels have inscriptions that describes the scene.” It also has a rare sculpture of ‘Jatayu Moksham’ and the Goddess in the Anandavalli sanctum is in a standing position, which is rare.

The Bugga Ramalingeswara temple is a 16th century protected heritage site. Its breathtaking gopurams, intricately carved sculptures, musical stone pillars and its location — on the banks of the Penna river — make it a must visit site for one to soak in it’s architectural grandeur. “This temple has intricate designs on granite. We have to stop and look at the Temples and gopurams. They have so much to offer,” she said, pointing to the image of a female dancer, clad in a short pleated dance skirt. “There are musicians in this sculpture following the dancer. This was common in the 16th century The same imagery can be seen in the Mahanavami Dibba in Hampi,” she shared.

While the architecture and sculptures of temples are noticed sometimes, scant attention is given to inscriptions. “The British told that we don’t have a sense of history. Maybe we didn’t do it like how the Greeks and Romans did but, we had our own indigenous way of documenting and those are these inscriptions. I urge everyone to visit the Tadipatri temples for they are treasure troves of history,” she said.

Architectural similarities
Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple and Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy temple, are made according to the architectural styles of the Vijayanagara empire. It was absorbed by artists and sculptors in South India.

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