2.08.2005

Dharmaraja Ratha - A shiva iconographic catalogue

The Dharmaraja ratha being the largest of the rathas, has been dedicated to shiva. It has a stone ladder which reaches up to the first floor where sculptures are carved into various niches of the ground floor as well as the first two upper storeys, offering a catalogue of pallava iconography, in a three storeyed vimana. The dharmaraja ratha is unfinished, but the first storey has been hollowed out and is empty. The figures in the niches of the dharmaraja ratha are in perfect early pallava style of sculpture. There are shallow porticos on three sides of the ratha and an equally shallow porch projects from the west.

The dharmaraja ratha is an Anarpita vimana ie. the haras are not attached to the Haramyas, thus leaving a circumambulatory passage behind. This permitted niches with sculptures on the haramya wall, figures of shiva decorate all the three talas, which were meant to have sanctuaries. The aditala was intended to consist of a sanctuary surrounded by a pradakshina patha, with closed walls only at the four corners. The aditala has eight scupltural panels. Two figures of shiva, each with four arms face west. Brahma and harihara face north. Shiva ardhanarishwara and skanda as Gurumurthi face east. Four armed shiva and royal figures face south.

Madhya tala of the unfinished sanctuary with its shallow portico occupy the center of the western side. Flanked by pairs of dwarapalas and shiva kankalamurti other sculptures include, shiva vinadhara, four armed shiva with a atandu, shiva with chandesa, gangadhara, vishnu leaning on garuda and vrishabhantika(vrishabhavana ).

Interestingly, the dharmaraja ratha also lays the architectural foundation of possibilities for the designs of the Kailashnatha temple at Kanchi as well as the Vaikunta Perumal temple. These temples lead to the upper floors, which in later temples is lavishly painted and left in the dark inner passages around the sanctum.


1 comment:

prema said...

kavitha
as usual your blog is very informative and i slept late last night going thru' it
keep it up