Indian art and mythology have long entwined for inspiration, serving as historic references and heritage pieces for generations ahead.
Arjuna's Penance or the Descent of Ganga, a UNESCO World Heritage site at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
One of the many results of this union are the temple complexes of Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, built during the Pallava period. The Katha Project aims to bring history and mythology to life through the art of storytelling.
The Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur (Tanjore). “This was erected by the Chola dynasty. The connection between the two dynasties is their use of Dravidian style of architecture. An important aspect is that despite political differences, the rulers did not destroy the works belonging to the previous dynasties. They even continued the same stories, and made them more defined,” explains Kumar. Pic/Hitesh Chudasama
They have organised Whispering Stones, a talk on stories behind the sculptures built during the Pallava dynasty of South India.
A bas-relief of Mahishasura Mardini, the demon-slaying avtar of goddess Durga at Mahabalipuram. “The story is a great example of the importance of woman, and Shakti being the source of energy in the world. What you see in these sculptures is tangible but its purpose is to take you to the intangible,” explains Kumar. Pic/Hitesh Chudasama
“Discussing the Pallava and the Chola dynasties will be too vast for a single session. Hence, we will stick to the Pallava period, and how its structures were literary sources for inspiration, and their current relevance,” says Dr Radha Kumar, associate professor, Department Of Ancient Indian Culture at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
A bas-relief depicting the scene of Krishna as Govardhana Giridhari, where the Hindu deity was said to have lifted mountain Govardhan to protect the villagers and animals from a flood. While many sculptures in these complexes are dedicated to Shiva, a few depict different avatars of Vishnu.
Dr Radha Kumar
Kumar shares that these architectural marvels, that unfolded due to political patronage, served as ethical ideology and purpose to the people. Today, historians often refer to these monuments to understand everything from the lifestyle of people to the region’s flora and fauna.
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