Murals of reclining Shiva, Nataraja with 20 arms found at Thrissur temple

    *Murals of reclining Shiva, Nataraja with 20 arms found at Thrissur
    temple *A. Srivathsan
    * The two rare paintings, about 350 years old, have been found by ASI * —
    Photos: ASI

    * SURPRISE FIND:The mural of Nataraja with 20 arms at the Vadakkumnathan
    temple in Thrissur. *

    THRISSUR: An ASI study of 600 panels of murals in Kerala has revealed
    paintings that were hitherto covered, and also new details of the existing
    ones. Notable among them are the two rare paintings which are about 350
    years old — a reclining Shiva and a Nataraja with 20 arms found on the walls
    of Vadakkumnathan temple at Thrissur.

    “For long this painting was thought to be a reclining Vishnu, since it was
    partly covered with soot. Another reason is that a reclining figure is
    usually associated with Vishnu and it is common in Kerala to paint
    Vaishnavaite themes in Saivaite temples. When we cleaned the painting, the
    details became evident and we could establish that it is a reclining Shiva
    [Panivarai Siva] with Parvati, Ganga and other attendant deities. This is a
    rare panel,” said M. Nambirajan, Superintending Archaeologist of the
    Archaeological Society of India, Thrissur circle.

    “Adjacent to this panel, another one depicting Nataraja also held a
    surprise. This panel is considered unusual since it is portrayed with 16
    arms. Our study has revealed that there are more arms to it than what were
    known before. This Nataraja actually has 20 arms and carries various
    objects,” says Mr. Nambirajan.

    This study, which commenced in 2008, looked at paintings spread over six
    temples, which include Chemmanthitta and Peruvanam, in and around Thrissur.
    These temples are under ASI protection.

    * The Ramayana Gallery at the Mattancherry Palace in Kochi. *

    The study also includes paintings in the Mattancherry Palace, Kochi.

    “Though there are no labels to establish the date of these paintings,
    stylistically the work can be placed between the 15 {+t} {+h} and 18 {+t}
    {+h} centuries. At a few places, paintings done over different periods can
    also be found. The popular themes, apart from the Ramayana and the
    Mahabharata, are the Kiratarjunya and Krishna Leela,” said S. Suresh,
    archaeologist and convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural
    Heritage (INTACH) Tamil Nadu chapter, who was commissioned by the ASI for
    assisting it in the study.

    “The paintings at the Pallimanna temple are an exception. One of the panels
    carries a label in an old Malayalam script, which gives the date of the
    paintings there as early 17 {+t} {+h} century, and even mentions the name of
    the artist and his teacher,” says Mr. Suresh.

    Such a study was not undertaken earlier because most of the paintings are
    located within temples that are still under worship. Extensive documentation
    was difficult.

    Many of the paintings face conservation problems. They are often covered
    with soot emanating from ritual lamps. Suggestions such as placing a plastic
    or glass cover have not been received well.

    “A critical problem facing some of the paintings, particularly the one at
    Thriprayar, comes from Vedi Vazhipadu or bursting of crackers. Frequent
    blasts create vibration and produce soot that deposits on the paintings,”
    says Mr. Suresh.

    “We are regularly cleaning the paintings and will come up with long-term
    plans to preserve them. Our objective is also to sensitise other temple
    authorities in Kerala to protect the rare paintings they have rather than
    erasing or redrawing them,” says Mr. Nambirajan.
    “*Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man*” – Nobel
    laureate, Rabindranath Tagore
  • This temple also has a Rama sannidhi. We could not date that prior to 13th but surely it is very old.

    This one and Thirupparayar rama temple are pre kamban but i did not get the relevant proof for that.
  • About 3 - 4 months I darshaned here !!

    Jagatguru Adisankara is supposedly born out of the Vridhams conducted by their parents.. There is also a tabloid denoting he attained Samadhi here !!

    Trissur Pooram Festival conducted in this temple is very very famous !!

    Like Thanjai is the cultural Headquarters of Tamilnadu, Trissur is the Cultural HQ of Kerala - re ancient traditions !

    Ghee is poured over lingam for several Centuries now and it makes one recall Amarnath - while darshaning !!

    Ramar - Anjaneyar Sannidhis also there.

    Unpolluted - as most of the traditional Kerala temples !!

    thanks for sharing dear Vijay and SN.

  • dear SPS,
    interesting: AdiSankara's samadhi at Thrissur; or at Kamakshi, Kanchi;
    or at Sankara Mandir, Srinagar . .
    Wonder where it actually was?
  • There is another Sankara from Kanchi mutt called Abhinava Sankara

    Kanchi Mutt claims that Adisankara is 6th BC and attained siddi in Kanchi.

    They also claim that - The abhinava Sankara is the one whom people claim as Adi Sankara. It is he who is mentioned in the cambodian epigraphs.

    It is he who is associated with kashmir

    All mutts except Sringeri claim Adisankara as 6th BC.

    The one in Trichur has a Conch and Chakra installed at that place.

    But both Kanchi and Sringeri mutt had any acharya who attained siddi in trichur.

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