Dwarapalas of shiva temple - Elephanta.

The Linga shrine in the cave temple of Shiva is unusual in having four entrances, one at each cardinal direction. Beautiful dvarapalas guard the entrances. Although detached from the walls, the shrine is, like everything else in the cave, cut from a matrix of living rock.

Extensive damage has been done to these guardian sculptures, by the Portuguese. Yet their appearance and their crowns gives us a hint of how flamboyant they are. Their silence speaks of a thousand wars long time ago. The yajnopavita is very clearly defined here, of what is commonly known as the brahmin holy thread.

These dwarapalas remind us of Egyptian deities along the temple walls at Abu Simbel. Large life size sculptures re-emphasize either the supernatural or the imperialism of the ruling dynasty. The trend of dwarapalas continued though they were borught down well in size. Few temples later show four gateways to the shrine within, its was a piece of architecture that was slowly stopped as a practice.

This image is of the dwarapalas at Elephanta caves near Mumbai.

Photos courtesy: Michael D. Gunther / www.art-and-archaeology.com

No comments: