The Entrance


An entry from the third gate known as Siddheshvara Dvara leads one to the vast prayer hall, through the porch. In the porch itself the images of Shiva Parivar or the family of Shiva are found. Lord Shiva is represented in the centre in the form of Shivalinga with a serpent coiling it with the hood raised over the top of the Shivalinga. Nandi is shown seated looking toward the Shivalinga, while Ganesh, Kartikeya and Parvati are surrounding the Shivalinga. While the Shivalinga has been made of the black granite stone, those of Nandi, Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati are made in white marble. A jalahri or a water pot hangs over the Shivalinga, which slowly drops water over it.
The nine planets are shown depicted over the entrance gate.

 

 

As one enters the prayer hall, the colossal image of Shiva Nataraja or a dancing Shiva is seen. In the Indian religious literature, Shiva is shown dancing variously. The dancing Shiva, in the prayer hall, is four armed and he holds a trident and a vase of Agni, in both the upper hands, while the lower two hands are held in varada (blessing) and dancing posture. His left leg is raised, while the right leg rests over the Apasmara Purusha or the evil spirit© The locks of hair of Shiva fall over the shoulders and the crescent moon decorates the head. A snake with an expanded hood appears over his left shoulder. Shiva Nataraja is surrounded by a beautiful circle of fire games. His lower garments are flowing. Such images of dancing Shiva are found in several Shiva temples, particularly in the south. The flames around the circle possibly represent the widely spreading evil in the world. With the vase with fire carried in. his left hand, the lord is about to destroy the evil forces on earth dancing posture. His left leg is raised, while the right leg rests over the Apasrnara Purusha or the evil spirit. The locks of hair of Shiva fall over the shoulders and the crescent moon decorates the head. A snake with an expanded hood appears over his left shoulder. Shiva Nataraja is surrounded by a beautiful circle of fire flames. His lower garments are flowing. Such images of dancing Shiva are found in several Shiva temples, particularly in the south. The flames around the circle possibly represent the widely spreading evil in the world. With the vase with fire carried in his left hand, the lord is about to destroy the evil forces on earth.



Interior of the Prayer hall


As one enters the Prayer hall, he finds the panels on the life of Shiva displayed over all the four interior walls. The details of which are described in the account that follows.
South interior wall (Event of the life of Shiva)

 

Panel-1, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu


This panel shows four faced Brahma, with four arms standing with folded hands before Shiva, who is in the centre. On the other side of Shiv a, stands the four armed Vishnu with two of his hands folded praying to Shiva. Shiva standing in the centre is taller than both of them - Brahma and Vishnu. All the three combined are known as Trimurtis.

 

 

Panel- 2, Pancamukhi Mahadeva


The five faced Shiva is shown seated in meditation in background of the snow clad peaks of Himalaya mountain over a lotus seat placed over a tiger skin. In the right hands he holds a damaru as well as a rosary. The upper left hand holds a Vajra and the lower left hand holds a skull. He is adorned with the garland of serpents, while the serpents also serve as his other ornaments. He is seated over the tiger skin. 1hc Shiva Mahapurana, conceives Shiva with five heads, because the initial four activities are the evolution of the world and the fifth one is the course of rnoksha, which are lodged in Shiva. His devotees visualize him in Pancha-rnahabhutas and then starts the creation in the world.

All the five heads are adorned with jata-rnukuras with a serpent hood appearing over each one of the heads. He is also eulogised in the stotraratnakara as follows:-

 

 

(The Lord, having the glory of the resplendant mount of silver is the one who has crescent moon as the head ornament whose body is resplendent with the luster of gems, who holds a battle axe, deer, a varada and abhaya rnudras as his hand attributes who has a delightful face and is seated in padmasana who is praised by the gods standing on all the sides. He is clad in tiger skin. He is beginning of the universe. He is creation and removes all the danger, has five faces and three eyes: let the same lord Maheshvara be worshiped by us daily

 

Panel-3, Shiva appears before Brahma as Ardhanarishvara


The Shiva Mahapurana testifies that initially Brahma could create only Prajapatis and as such he felt dissatisfied with his creation. Unless there was a female, how could the creation proceed. He, therefore, worshipped lord Shiva who appeared before him in the composite form of a male and a female. Brahma then realized his error and prayed to Maheshvara to give him a female to enable him to carry on the task of creation. His request was granted and the creation then went on smoothly there after.

The Panel shows lord Shiva in the form of Ardhanarishvara, or half man and half woman. 1he right side is that of a male and the left side is that of a female. In the right half the lord is shown clad in the tiger skin and the half of the body is shown as that of Shiva, displaying abhaya mudra (protection). The left half is that of a female with raised breast and the costume falling upto the feet. The four faced and four armed Brahma is shown seated with two hands folded in the front against the chest. The other two hands hold a manuscript (a book) and a conch (shell). Both of them appear with the background of a mountain.

 

 

Panel-4, Shiva as Pashupati seated in the forest


Shiva is seated as Pashupati or the lord of beasts in yogic posture. In this form he is believed to have been worshipped from the remote past. He is surrounded by the wild animals, but inspite of the presence of wild life there, he feels unconcerned of the same and is engaged in meditation under a Banyan­tree. A white crane spreading its wings also appears before the seat over which lord Shiva as Pashupati is seated. He has matted locks of hair over his head, some of which are neatly arranged in upper top knot, while others are falling over both the shoulders. The scarf is shown falling over both the arms. He is surrounded by the animals like the elephant, buffalo, lion, cows and a rabbit. A deer is shown licking its fawn.

 

 

Panel-5, Shiva performing tapas seated over an island


In this panel, the two armed Shiva is shown seated cross legged in dhyana­mudra (meditation) in an island, placing his right foot over the left one. He has placed the right hand over the'left palm in the front over the feet in yogic posture. A serpent with expanded hood serves as an armlet over each one of the two arms. He also wears a yajnopavita, besides two garlands of beads around the neck. A serpent with expanded hoods also appears over each one of the shoulders. His head is decorated with marred locks of hair arranged in a top knot, allowing some of them to fall over both the shoulders. A trident with a damaru tied at the top of it is fixed at his back on the left side. A river is shown Bowing at his back as well as in the front. The background projects snow clad mountains and the Sala trees.

 

Panel-6, Shiva and Parvati engaged in discussion with rishis


Shiva and Parvati are shown seated over a pedestal under a tree in a casual manner and are engaged in discussion with the rishis seated in the front, of whom Narada holding a Veena is seated just in front, while another one with a beard and matted locks of hair is seated over a pedestal comparable with the height of the pedestal over which Narada is seated. A vimana (plane) can be seen in the background, with a human figure lodged inside it.
Shiva with Parvati is seen addressing the rishis, who have arrived to take refuge with him. A trident is placed behind Shiva. Some of the sages are standing, while two of them are seated.

 

 

Panel- 7, Saving the life of Markandeya as a child


The Puranas contains a story in which lord Shiva rushed to save the child Markandeya, the son of the sage Mrikundu from the clutches of Yarna - the god of death. The sage Mrikundu was without a son. He prayed to lord Shiva for getting a son. The prayer of Mrikundu was granted by lord Shiva, who appeared before him and offered him to have a brilliant son of sixteen years age, or a useless son with long life. The sage opted for the first one and he was blessed with a virtuous son, who came to be known as Markandeya.


The child Markandeya grew up gradually and became a most brilliant boy. Somehow he came to know about the short span of his life. He therefore resolved to devote much of his time in worshipping lord Shiva in the form of a Shivalinga enshrined in a temple. On due time the emissaries of Yama - the god of death arrived in order to carry the body of Markandeya with them, fastening a noose around his neck. Because of the intense devotion of the boy for lord Shiva, the Inessengers of Yama were unable to perform the task entrusted to them by their master. When Yam a came to know about the matter, he himself reached the Spot to do the needful. In his presence, the messengers of Yama tried to drag the boy forcefully who was engaged in the worship of Shivalinga. Suddenly the Shivalinga burst into two. Shiva then emerged out of it and getting immensely enraged, he forcefully kicked Yam a over his chest, which unnerved Yama completely. Yama, therefore, realized his folly and returned to his abode leaving Markandeya there unharmed. Shiva then blessed Markandeya, that he would ever remain of sixteen years of age and shall live forever.

 

The panel described

In the panel, there is a Shivalinga and Markandeya as a boy is clinging on to the same, with a noose of Yam a, tied to his throat. The two armed Shiva at the same time is shown attacking Yam a who is rushing back in fright carrying the rod of death with him, which could not be made use of because of the kick administred by Shiva over his chest. The left foot of Shiva is raised, exhibiting his having administered a kick over the chest of Yama. Shiva is clad in the tiger skin as the lower garment and his head is decorated with jatarnukuta or the crown of the matted locks of hair. The snakes with expanded hood can be seen over his head and the left arm of Shiva.who is about to strike Yama with his trident as well. Markandeya - the boy clad in a dhoti as the lower garment, is clinging to Shivalinga in the front.

 

Panel-8, Tripura dahan or the burning of Tripura


The episode of the burning of Tripura is well described In the epic of Mahabharata, according to which, three sons of Tarakasura performed great tapas and Brahma was pleased to grant them the boons, according to which three forts were to be united into one, after a thousand years and they could be destroyed, on that particular time, with the shooting of a single arrow alone. Out of these three forts, one was made of gold, another of silver and the third one was made of iron. Each one of the fort was occupied by one of the three sons of Tar aka sura. The demons living in these forts, started troubling the gods, who were unable to contain the pressure of the evil forces. Even the Vajra ofIndra was infructuous for them. The gods then approached Brahma to find out a way out for their protection. Brahma directed them to lord Shiva to take refuge with him.


At the prayer of the gods, Shiva took upon himself the task of subjugating the demons, on the condition that the gods should yield half of their energies to him. This being done, Shiva became more powerful. Accordingly, Vishnu became his arrow, Agni its barb, and Yama became its feather. Shiva is said to have made the Vedas as his bow, with Savitri as the bow string, while Brahma served as the charioteer. With this device, Shiva ultimately destroyed all the forts of the demons, with the people living therein.

 


The Panel described
In the panel, Shiva is shown standing extending his left leg forward and the right foot is placed backwards. In his extended left hand he holds a bow and the right hand holds an arrow, aiming at a distance the structures supposed to be made of gold, silver and iron, which are shown in flames, as is indicated by the flames around them. There is darkness everywhere, except the three cities shown

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 West Interior wall, Events relating to the marriage of Sati with Shiva and her self-immolation


Panel-9, Scene relating to the marriage party of Shiva


Shiva has been known as the god of gods or the Mahadeva besides being a great yogi. Therefore Sati - the great goddess could be the most appropriate choice
as the spouse of lord Shiva, who at the same time was a Yati, completely detached from the world. Therefore, he would not take on his own anyone as his wife unless
it was so done, for the cause of the universe. He would remain detached from      the world and as such the creation could not be started. Brahma, therefore prayed  to the great goddess to fascinate lord Shiva, for he thought that Shiva was a yogi,detached from the world and would not take on his own a goddess, as a spouse. To accomplish the task of Brahma, the great Goddess Kalika, the mother of the Universe, was to take birth as Daksa's daughter for the purpose of attracting Shiva. Brahma, therefore, made Sati to attract Shiva towards herself because. of her incomparable beauty.                                                                                          
Sati, while accepting the role assigned to her by Brahma, agreed to it pro~ided her position was in no way jeopardised in any way before others. After this condition was accepted, she was born as the daughter of Daksa. At the same time the sages went to Kailash and persuaded lord Shiva to have a spouse. He agreed to do so on the conditions that (i) the woman for him should be a perfect yogini when he practised yoga, and a loving woman when engaged in love sport; and (ii) should she at anytime doubt his words, he would disassociate himself from her. The marriage was arranged thereafter.

 

 

The marriage party
The marriage was then arranged and Shiva mounted over Nandishvara and accompanied with Vishnu and other gods proceeded to the house of Daksa.
The Panel described
The panel depicts Shiva as a bride-groom mounted over the bull and proceeding towards the abode ofDaksa, accompanied 'with other gods, including Vishnu who is shown flying seated over Garuda, his mount, with spreading wings. Other gods are shown following them. Brahma seated over the swan can be seen in the front, while a devotee is trying to worship lord Shiva, by prostrating on the ground. There is a small cottage in the background.

 

Panel-10, Marriage of Shiva and Sati


When the stars were in auspicious conjunction with the planets, Daksa joyfully gave away his daughter Sati in marriage to lord Shiva. Shiva was praised as father and Sati as the mother of the Universe by lord Vishnu. Brahma functioned as the wedding priest.

 

The Panel described
The panel displays the scene of marriage of Sati and Shiva in a marriage mandapa which is filled to the capacity with the presence of the women, gods and ascetics. There is a raised platform, over which the plates filled wi th Howers and sweets can be seen placed in the centre. Both Shiva and Sati are seated facing each other. Daksa, the father of Sati, as well as the four faced Brahma can be seen at the back of Sati. Daksa with a beard is seated, while the four faced Brahma is standing. The ladies are standing at his back. Vishnu and Lakshmi stand behind Shiva. The Rishis wearing the matted locks of hair and clad in the ascetic type of garments are performing homa. Daksa is shown giving away the hand of Sati to Shiva.

 

Panel-11, Shiva meets Rama and Lakshmana in the forest Shiva offers salutation to Rama


According to the Shiva Mahapurana, once Shiva and Sati riding over Nandi, while roaming about reached the Dandaka forest, where Rama was wandering with Lakshmana in search of Sit a - his wife. Shiva on finding Rama in the same forest, bowed to him in reverence, who was none else than lord Vishnu himself. Observing the performance of Shivas offering salutation to Rama, Sati felt surprised and said to her husband "O God of gods, all the gods including Hari serve you and bow in reverence to you. These two wandering people who appear to have been filled wi th grie£ because of their separation from their near and dear ones, are looking miserable. Looking at the blue complexioned one, you were filled with delight as a devotee. What is the cause of it?

 

Though lord Shiva did his best to convince Sati about the divinity of Rama, she remained unconvinced. Lord Shiva then said to her, "In case you have any doubt, in my words, you go and test him. You can move in a way by which you could yourself feel convinced. In the meantime I shall wait here under the banyan tree." The great goddess Sati then started thinking as to how to test the forest dweller Rama? Ultimately she took to the guise of Sita and went to Rama to test his spirituality

 

 

The Panel described

The panel shows Shiva and Sati standing in the forest. In the background both Rama and Lakshmana can be seen. Parvati stands behind Shiva, who is offering his salutation to Rama. Shiva here is four armed. Two of his front hands are folded. The lower left hand holds a trident and in the lower right hand he possibly holds a skull. He has a Jatamukuta over his head which is adorned with a serpent with an expanded hood. He is barefooted and wears a tiger skin. Sati is clad in beautiful costumes and is adorned with a crown over her head.

 

Panel-12, Sati meets Rama and Lakshmana in the forest


Goddess Sari under the illusion of Shiva, took to the form of Sita and reached before Rama. At the sight of Sati, Shri Rama addressed her, "O Sati, salutation to you. Where has Shiva gone? How have you arrived in the lonely thick forest? Why have you appeared in this form? Kindly enlighten me of the reason for the same?" On hearing the words of Rama, Sati was taken aback at the moment and taking words of Shiva to be true, she felt herself remorseful, sorry and repentant. Then she informed Rama that she had arrived in the forest with lord Shiva. Thereafter she returned to Shiva. her husband.

 

The Panel described

The panel shows both Rama and Lakshmana standing before Sati disguised as Sita. Here Rama stands with folded hands in front followed by Lakshmana. Sati stands clad in saree, covering her head.

 

Panel-13, Shiva and Sati mentally separated


After the aforesaid incident in the forest Sati disbelieved Lord Shiva, her own husband. Sati put Shri Rama to test by appearing before him in the form of Sita. Shiva, then on coming to know of the performance of Sati by his divine vision, was reminded of his vow, he had expressed earlier, before Brahma that in case Sati doubted his words anytime he would get separated from her. He therefore separated himself from Sati mentally but did not reveal his feelings to her. But Sati could know about the factual position with her yogic powers. She was therefore quite upset at heart. In the meantime Shiva finished his Samadhi but when Sati came to him, he did not offer a seat to his left, but made her sit in front of him.

 

The Panel described

In this panel both Shiva and Sati are shown engaged in some discussion. Sat is seated in front of Shiv a instead of the left of the lord. Nandi observes them bod: with surprise, raising his head.

 

Panel-14, Sati seeks permission from Shiva to visit her parents' home


Once after the rainy season, Daksa arranged for a sacrifice at Kanakhala - near Haridvara, in which all the gods and the Rishis were invited, except lord Shiva. One day, Sati who was unaware of the great sacrifice being performed by her father at Haridvara, saw moon and Rohini going to the place of Daksha. Sati asked her attendant to find out from moon and Rohini as to where were they going so delightfully.

 

 

The Panel described
Shiva is seated over a rock under a tree facing Sati, over a tiger skin. His right hand is raised in protection posture. Sati is shown seated facing him with folded hands praying for Shiva's permission to go to her parents' home.

 

Panel-15, Sati proceeds to her parents' home


The background


After the episode of Sari's testing the divinity of Shri Rama, the relations between her and her husband became strained. She became desirous of visiting her parents much against the wishes of her husband lord Shiva. When the lord realized that Sati was bent upon visting her parents' home, to attend the yajna of Daksa, though she had not been invited for the same, he allowed her to go to her parents' place. Therefore, she mounting over Nandi proceeded on to the place of Daksha, follo'wed by the attendants of Shiva.


The Panel described
The panel, displays departure of Sari from the place of Shiva to her parents' home, riding over Nandi. She is accompanied by a large number of Shiva-ganas. An elegant umbrella is held over her head. A Aywhisk is also being moved over her. She is also being accompanied by the Rishis, some of whom are playing musical Instruments.

 

Panel-16, Immolation of Sati   


The background

On reaching the abode of her parents, Sati was not received well and she found her father to be very cold towards her. She also observed that while the shares of all other gods were set apart in the sacrifice, no share for lord Shiva was set apart. In the meantime, Daksa, also questioned the propriety of Sari's arrival at his place without getting an invitation. Not only that, he also started abusing Shiva at the same time. Sari felt enraged at this conduct of her father.
An enraged Sati then replied that she would cast off her body which had sprung up from Daksa and then gain happiness. She further cautioned his father that he is sure to be killed by Mahadeva. Thereafter she jumped into the sacrificial fire and took a Samadhi therein, concentrating her mind over lord Shiva. She then controlled her senses and breath and then consigned her body in the sacred yogic fire, in full view of all those present there. In a moment only her ashes or bones could be found there.

 

 

The Panel described
The panel displays the raised fire altar in which Sati is shown seated with folded hands surrounded by the burning flames. There is no trace of fear or pain over her face. She has a halo behind her neck and a Shiva gana, with a horse head and human body, holding a long staff stands to her either side in the front. The flames of fire are rising quite high. The dishevelled hair of Sati is falling over both her shoulders.

 

Panel-17, Birth ofVirabhadra


The background
On hearing the immolation of Sati, his beloved spouse, lord Shiva was enraged and in the height of his anger, he tore out a bunch of the matted locks of his hair and threw it in rage at the top of the mountain. From his breath, a fever was born. Then Rudra - the destroyer of the universe, plucked a lock of his hair from his head and threw it over the mountain, which created the deafening sound and the mountain was separated into two parts. From the forepart of the matted lock of hair, an immensely valorous great warrior, besides being the leader of his force, known as Virabhadra was created. He looked like the flames of fire of the time of destruction.

 

 

The Panel described
The scene of the emerging ofVirabhadra has been displayed in this panel. Lord Shiva is seated over the mountain rock and has thrown the lock of hair over the ground, in the front Virabhadra with many arms, and a human body, emerged out of the mountain. In the background, he is shown flying in the sky with his many arms. The same Virabhadra is shown standing to the left of lord Shiva.

 

Panel-18, Virabhadra in the sacrifice of Daksha


At the command of lord Shiva, Virabhadra went to the place of Dakshas sacrifice, where he found Brahma, Vishnu and other gods present, besides the great Rishis. A prolonged altercation was held between Virabhadra and Vishnu. Then, Virabhadra, the leader of the Shivaganas, cut off the head of the inimical Daksa and dropped it in the fire altar. At that point of time, Virabhadra looked graceful wielding his trident in his hand. The fire started burning in anger, like the mountain.


The Panel described
In the panel, two armed Virabhadra has been shown with his two hands only and is engaged in discussion with Brahma and Vishnu, who are seated there in the company of other gods. The sacrificial altar is shown in the background, around which on all the four sides a Rishi is shown seated. The fire flames are raising high from the fire altar, having a canopy above.


Panel-19, Destruction of the sacrifice of Daksha


Virabhadra, a prominent Shivagana, reaching the place of Daksha's sacrifice, killed most of the people present there and in his fury, he burnt everything in the fire altar as the conflagration consumes the world. Finding Daksa and others completely burnt out, he laughed aloud and the sound so created filled the entire world. He was surrounded with heroic glory. Then with a delightful mind he returned to Kailash. Thereafter, all the gods and the sages assembled there to witness the horrible scene of destruction. The gods then prayed to Shiva for protection.


The Panel described
The panel projects the scene of the place of destruction of the sacrifice, strewn with the dead bodies as well as the severed heads. The fire no more burns in the fire altar, while the four-armed Vishnu holding a huge club, besides Brahma and other gods are witnessing the scene of destruction, helplessly.

 

Panel-20, Shiva carries the body of the goddess Sati over his shoulders


The background

Learning about the immolation of Sati, Shiva in great anguish left Kailash and reached the place of Daksa. At the prayer of the gods as well as the Rishis, he consented to bringDaksa back to life. Then he arranged to have the head of a goat fixed over the headless trunk of Daksa, in place of a human head, which was burnt in the sacrificial fire. Then he arrived at the site of the immolation of Sati, and smeared his body with her ashes. Thereafter he carried the body of Sati on his own shoulder and in utter grief he wandered in the entire country. This terrorised all the gods and the people besides the Rishis.

Then in order to save the situation, Vishnu in association with other gods, cut off invisibly, the body of Sati into small pieces, which were scattered throughout the country. Lord Shiva was ultimately relieved of the body of the goddess Sati. It may be added here, that wherever the piece of Sari's body or her ornament fell, a Shaktipitha was established there together with a place of a Bhairava. The Puranas describe the number of such Shaktipithas as 51 or 108.


The Panel described
In the panel, Shiva is shown carrying the body of Sati over his left shoulder.
The feet of the body are hanging in the front, while the two arms, her head with long hair are falling at the back. The trident is held by Shiva in one of his left hands. The upper right hand of the lord holds a horn while the lower right hand displays a fist. He is clad in an elephant skin and walks barefooted in anger. He has the matted locks of hair, arranged in a top knot, while some of them are falling at the back.

 

Panel- 21, Water sport of Shiva and Vishnu The background


As per a story brought out in the Padma Purana, Shiva and Vishnu once enjoyed the water sport in a lake close to the hermitage of the sage Gautama, in which all the Rishis and gods also participated.

 

 

The Panel described
The panel shows the two armed Shiva and four armed Vishnu are engaged in the water sport. Inspite of Vishnu having four arms, he is unable to defeat Shiva in the water sport, because lord Shiva is privileged to have additional sources of splashing water over Vishnu. He forces water out of his head, through the mouth of the Ganga, besides the palm of the left: hand. Vishnu feeling overpowered in the water game is requesting lord Shiva to stop the splashing of water over him. A number of waves could be seen in the lake water, while the trees stand over the bank.

 

Panel-22, Gangavatarana or the Descent of Ganga The background


The sacrificial horse of Sagara, a great ruler of the race of Iksavaku, was stolen by Indra, who left: it in the hermitage of the Maharshi Kapila. Sagara sent his sixty thousand sons in search of the horse, who because of their act of impropriety were reduced to ashes with the curse of the Maharshi Kapila. Bhagiratha, the descendant of Sagara performed tapas for Shiva, who could release Ganga to fall on earth for the redemption of the sons of Sagara. Bhagiratha worshipped lord Shiva as well as Ganga to fall on earth for the purification of the universe. The Ganga initially fell over the locks of hair of Shiva and then descended on earth at the prayer of Bhagiratha.


The Panel described
The panel beautifully displays the descent of Ganga in the form of a female Bowing from the top in the current of the water. Lord Shiva is shown below seated in the midstream in meditation. He is four armed and two of his lower hands have been placed over the knees, while out of the two upper hands, the right one holds a trident with a damaru tied to it, the left upper hand holds a horn. His dishevelled hairs on the head are rising upwards. He wears a smile over his face. A hooded serpent serves as his necklace while another hooded serpent serves as a sacred thread. The hooded snakes also serve as his armlets and wristlets. He also wears a rosary of Rudraksh beads. The tiger skin serves as his seat.
The Ganga carried by the waves of water is Boating in the form of a lady with raised hands and the part of her body below waist, having been submerged in currents of the river Ganga is about to fall over the head of lord Shiva. The bearded Bhagiratha, the royal sage is shown seated, with the locks of his hair falling at the back is shown seated with folded hands. The mountains and trees can be seen in the background, besides the clouds.

 

 

Panel-23, Ganga follows Bhagiratha The background


After the fall of the Ganga from the heaven, she out of her arrogance thought that lord Shiva would be unable to contain in the locks of hair in the head and she would straightaway go to Patala on touching the earth. She, therefore, descended over the head of Shiva with great force, but lord Shiva, could not feel the force and he remained normal and Ganga was lost in his matted locks of hair. Ultimately, Bhagiratha prayed to lord Shiva to release the sacred river to fall on earth. Thereafter, the Bow of the Ganga was released and she fell on earth and had to follow Bhagiratha.

The panel beautifully displays the swift current of the Ganga water flovving on earth. The four armed Ganga, with her right leg folded, is shown seated over the crocodile. Her left foot is hanging down. Makara has also been lively depicted projecting the lines of his teeth, while swimming in the midstream. Her upper right hand holds possibly a banner, while the lower right hand is held in varada mudra. The lower left hand holds the nectar vase, while the upper hand is raised upwards. She is clad in a beautiful saree and a bodice. She wears a long garland of flowers around her neck, the wristlets and a crown over her head. Bhagiratha, with a bearded face and matted locks of hair arranged in a top knot, is moving ahead of the Ganga on crocodile, blowing the conch held in both the hands. One can find the rocks, the trees, mountain peaks be ides four faced Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, each displaying the abhayamudra (or protection). Only their busts are visible.

 

Panel- 24, Parvati carrying the infant Ganesha


The background

The birth of Ganesha has been described in different ways in the Puranas, but in GaneshaJanma Khanda of the Brahmavaivarta Purana, there is a story, according to which, the child Ganesha, emerged in the bed of Parvati, where she "vas enjoying the conjugal pleasure with lord Shiva. In the meantime a beggar came to the house and begged for alms. Both the divine couple rushee. outside to find out the beggar, who could not be traced. In the meantime, the­heard the cries of an infant from their bed room. When they returned to their be .... room, they found an infant lying over their bed and crying u-rna, uma. Parvati a­once lifted up the infant in her lap and kissed his face. At the same time a divine voice declared from the sky that the infant was the son of Shiva and Parvati anc should be brought up by both of them, for the welfare of the people.


The Panel described
The panel shows Parvati, clad in a saree and bodice, is standing quite gracefull~ in the background of the mountain Kailash. She carries an elephant headed infant in her lap. The tiny figure of infant Ganesha is quite lovely and impressive. The tender innocence is reflected over the face of the infant, whose head wears ~ crown. The face of Parvati too reflects the height of motherly affection. Beside the mountain peaks, the wild growth also is found in the panel. Parvati has a hale behind her head.

 

 

Panel-25, Shiva offering the Chakra to lord Vishnu


The background
The epic of Mahabharata contains an episode according to which, Vishnu needed a Chakra for the subjugation of the demons. This chakra was possessed by lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu, therefore, worshipped lord Shiva and for that purpose, was offering a thousand Rowers to lord Shiva daily. On the last day of his worship, Vishnu as usual offered the lotus Rowers to Shiva, but one flower was found short. The puja could not be completed, without the missing flower. He tried in vain to locate a lotus flower, but his efforts were of no avail. Suddenly an idea flashed in his mind; that he was known in the world as the lotus-eyed one or Karnala-lochana. Therefore, he took out an arrow and removed an eye ball from his own face and offered the same to lord Shiva, who at once appeared before Vishnu, restored his eye ball as well and granted him the Chakra.


The Panel described
The aforesaid episode is depicted in a panel in which the four armed Vishnu is shown seated over a stool of four legs, with his head adorned with a crown and a long garland of forest flowers decorating his neck. Both his lower arms are extended on both the sides, while the upper hands are held in discussion with the four armed lord Shiva, who is standing in front and is about to hand over the Chakra, held by him in his lower right hand. The other hands of Shiva hold a damaru, a trident and a horn. He is clad in tiger skin and serpents have been used as his ornaments. A hooded serpent is shown around his neck. A Shivalinga is shown in front of both of them, with heap of lotus flowers offered by lord Vishnu, while performing puja. The eye ball offered by Vishnu can also be seen lying over the Shivalinga. While Vishnu has the kirita crown over his head, the head of Shiva is adorned with the matted locks of hair, arranged in a top knot.

 

Panel- 26, Shiva offering Pashupat weapon to Arjuna The background


According to the epic of the Mahabharata, once sage Vyasa went to the Pandavas, who were living in exile and advised them to adore lord Shiva to seek for the Pashupat weapon, which could protect them in the future war. Accordingly Arjuna was sent to Kailash mountain for the purpose. Arjuna, thereafter, went to Himalaya to worship Shiva for the purpose. He performed severe tapas there. The Rishis of the Himalaya were alarmed at the type of the severe tapas performed by Arjuna. They, therefore, approached lord Shiva and apprised him about the performance of Arjuna. Shiva then took to the form of a Kirata - an aboriginal tribe or a hunter and proceeded to the place of Arjuna. An asura, in the form of a boar who had been deputed by Duryodhana - the son of Dhritarashtra for the killing of Arjuna, also arrived at the same place. Lord Shiva realizing that the boar was about to attack Arjuna, shot an arrow at the boar, which struck him. At the same time, Arjuna also shot an arrow which also pierced through the body of the boar. Then unknowingly, both Arjuna and Shiva, developed a controversy about the killing of the boar. But soon Arjuna came to realize that the Kirata was none else than lord Shivahimself. Lord Shiva, therefore was pleased at the performance of Arjuna and granted him the Pashupat weapon.

 

The Panel described
The panel shows the four armed lord Shiva handing over a bow (the Pashupat weapon) held in his two lower hands to Arjuna, who is placed in a half kneeling position and is going to receive the bow from lord Shiva. In his remaining two hands, lord Shiva holds a trident as well as a damaru. The head of lord Shiva is decorated with the matted locks of hair over which a serpent with a raised hood is lodged. He wears tiger skin, is barefoot and has a halo on his head. The headless body of the boar is lying in the background with two arrows having been pierced into the same. Shri Krishna with folded hands stands behind the half kneeling Arjuna receiving the weapon from lord Shiva.

 

 

Panel-27, Lord Shiva consuming the Kalakuta Poison


According to an account in the Puranas, during the time of the churning of the ocean collectively by the gods as well as the Rakshasas, besides other treasures Kalakuta also emerged out of the ocean. All the gods and the demons fled away in panic and took refuge with lord Shiva, who for the benefit of the gods and the humanity at large, consumed the entire Kalakuta poison

 

The Panel described
In the panel, lord Shiva is shown wearing a tiger's skin, kneeling over the ground on the sea shore. A large number. of serpents have raised their, hoods pouring the Venom in' the hands of lord Shiva, who is consuming the same. The caparisoned Nandi, fully decorated, stands at the back of lord Shiva. There are several snakescrawling in front of Shiva. The lord has well arranged matted locks of hair over his head decorated with the crescent moon. The snakes also decorate the body of lord Shiva.

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Eastern interior wall
(Scenes relating to the tapas and marriage of Parvati)


The background

The details about the performing of tapas by Parvati for achieving Shiva as a husband are contained in the Shiva Mahapurana, besides other religious books. As the story goes, Narada, once visited the place of Himavan - the father of Parvati. Hirnavan intended to know about the future of his daughter. At this the sage Narada, advised him to ask Parvati to perform tapas for achieving Shiva as her husband. This theme was patronized by the poets as well as the artists who projected Parvati performing tapas variously. A few of such examples have been projected in the Panels of the Prayer Hall of the Siddhesvara Dhama at Solophok. In these projections she has been shown performing hard tapas, while standing, eulogizing Shiva in the form of a Shivalinga, besides repeating of the Shiva mantras, with the use of the rosary beads. These are the usual methods of the worship of Shiva, which are in vogue in the country even today

 

Panel-28, Parvati performing tapas for Shiva


This panel is quite unique, because arvati clad in a beautiful saree is standing on left leg only, in a yogic posture. Her right leg is bent at the knee and is being held at the foot with her left arm which is stretched downward. Her right hand has been placed over the head. Her dishevelled hair is falling downwards spreading on both the sides. She wears a necklace as well as a garland of gems around her neck. The most important aspect of her tapas is that she is performing the tapas standing on one leg under the shade of a tree, surrounded by the five flames, two of which appear on her right and left, while the shining sun appears at the top to her left. A lamp is also shown burning over a pedestal to her left. The entire panel has been arranged stylistically.

 

 

Panel-29, Parvati worshipping Shivalinga


In this panel, Parvati has been shown worshipping the Shivalinga, while kneeling over the ground. Both her hands art touching the Shivalinga, to which she has already offered flowers, which are scattered on the earth, besides a thick flower garland which has been offered by Parvati, still decorates the Shivalinga. At the back of Parvati, the bust of lord Shiva can be seen with the serpent hood appearing over his right shoulder. The trees in the background are suggestive of the environment of the forest.


Panel-30, Burning of Kamadeva


(The background)
When the severe and continued tapas of Parvati yielded no favourable result, she felt discouraged, but still continued her tapas. In the meantime, Narada went to Indra and advised him to depute Kamadeva, the god of love, to entice Shiva towards Parvati, in order to bring union between the two. Kamadeva on reaching the place of Shiva, created obstruction in his tapas, finding which lord Shiva - the great yogi, thought about the cause of the same. Suddenly he spotted Kamadeva who had made Shiva unhappy. But Kamadeva, while staying in the sky, shot infallible arrowas at Shiva which enraged him. In anger, he opened his third eye, which reduced Kamadeva to ashes.

 

The Panel described
The panel shows four armed Shiva seated in dhyanamudra over a tiger skin under a tree. Two of his hands have been held in front, while the other two hold a trident and a damaru. Both his attendants adore Shiva. A white crane Hies low over the stream. A Harne of light has emerged out of the third eye of the lord which strikes Kamadeva who has been in Hames and half of his body has already been consumed by the fire. His right hand is placed over his head. He holds an arrow in his right hand and a bow in the left hand, which he was going to shoot at Shiva. Shiva wears a garland of Rudraksha beads around his neck besides the other ornaments of serpents.


Panel-31, Parvati performs tapas again


The panel shows Parvati seated cross-legged in dhyanamudra over a tiger skin on a rock under a banyan tree. She holds a rosary in the right hand, which is folded and held against her navel. Her hair at the head has been so arranged that the locks fall on both the shoulders, parting from the centre of the head. There is a halo at the back of her head, which is indicative of her divinity. A kamandalu lies to the right of the goddess.


Panel- 32. Shiva appears before Parvati


The panel projects the success of Parvati's tapas, because lord Shiva has appeared in person before her. Her maid is standing in surprise at her back, while the goddess Parvati is seated over a tiger skin and welcomes lord Shiva, who stands before her. He is four armed. His upper right hand is in abhayamudra (protection posture) while the lower right hand holds a horn. The upper left hand carries a trident while the lower left hand carries a kamandalu. He is clad in a tiger skin and has used the Rudraksha beads and the serpents to adorn his body. He has the matted locks of hair over his head arranged in a top knot; over which appears a serpent hood. The mountain peaks and the trees in the background, are suggestive of the peak of the Himalaya.

 

 

Panel- 33, Marriage party of Shiva (The background)


After lord Shiva appeared before Parvati and granted her the boon for marriage, the gods then gathered at the abode of the lord and made arrangements for proceeding to the abode of Himalaya in a marriage party. The seers, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, the goddesses and the Rishis, besides the Devas, reached the place of Shiva. All of them started decorating lord Shiva beautifully. The crescent moon was placed over his head and generosity was infused in his third eye. The goddess Chamunda tied severed garlands of beads around his neck saying, "You get a son soon for the killing of Taraka." Vishnu decorated the head of Shiva with the fiery serpents. Indra provided the elephant hide to the lord to be used as the costume. The wind god decorated Nandisvara, the vehicle of Shiva. The sun, moon and the fire, enhanced the lustre of his eyes, while Yama, put the garland of skulls around his neck, and Kubera presented various types of ornaments to the lord.
Thereafter lord Shiva accompanied by all the gods, the Rishis, Bhutas, Pramathas and other ganas besides the goddesses proceeded on to the abode of Himalaya with great pomp and show.

 


The Panel described
The five faced lord Shiva is shown seated over the back of the caparisoned bull with his folded right leg and the left leg is hanging downwards. He is ten armed. The right hands hold a damaru, abhayamudra, a trident, a horn etc. while the left hands hold a human skull, a bow, while the other three hands are left blank. His neck is adorned with a garland of nine human skulls and a serpent serves as a yajnopavita. The musicians holding the musical instruments are moving in the front, while others are also following him. A huge crowd of people with human, monkey and horse heads are following the lord Shiva - the bridegroom. Only the heads of a large number of the people of marriage party can be seen. A human skeleton with raised hands can also be seen in the foreground.


Panel- 34, Shiva being welcomed as a bridegroom (The background)


The marriage party of lord Shiva comprising of the gods, bhutas, Rishis and the gods reached the place of Himavan, where lord Shiva had to be given the ceremonial welcome. As per the custom (prevailing even in the present day) at the time of marriage, the Vara puja has to be performed at the entrance door of the bride's place, where the bride's mother performs arati of the groom. The same event has been depicted here.

 

The Panel described
Lord Shiva accompanied with the people of the marriage party has reached the abode of Himachala. Lord Shiva has already alighted from Nandi, who stands among the crowd. The four armed Shiva, stands holding a trident in one of his right hands, while the other hand falls down. He is clad in a tiger skin and the matted locks of his hair have been arranged in top knot, while some of them are falling over the shoulders. His lower left hand holds a damaru while the upper one is held in abhaya or protection mudra. Other people of the marriage party stand athis back. Mena, the mother of Parvati, holding a plate in both her hands is performing arati of lord Shiva, followed by the other ladies of the harem. Interestingly, two ladies have fallen in fright on the ground, who are being reassured by another woman.

 

 

Panel-35, After marriage Shiva and Parvati returning to Kailash The background


After the marriage, both Shiva and Parvati, the groom as well as the bride, taking   leave of Himachala and Mena, gracefully returned to Kailash, seated over Nandi.


The Panel described
The panel shows both Shiva and Parvati seated over Nandi. Lord Shiva is four armed. In his right hands he holds a trident and displays abhaya (protection) posture, while the left hands hold the bull-bannered flag as well as a horn. The right hand of Parvati also displays protection posture, while the left hand is placed over the hump of the bull. A devotee kneels in the front. There is a halo each behind the heads of Shiva and Parvati, which is indicative of their divinity. 

 

Panel- 36, Shiva Parivara or Shiva's family


After the marriage, Shiva and Parvati spen t their time together and during this period two sons known as Ganesha and Karttikeya were born to them. Thus the family ultimately comprised of Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Karttikeya. Each one of them had their individual vehicles known as Nandi, a lion,rat The Prayer Hall and peacock. Interestingly the lion is the enemy of the bull, snake is inimical to mouse, while peacock is inimical to snake. It could thus be imagined as to how difficult it would be for lord Shiva to manage his household, when everyone is inimical to the other.


The maintaining of such a large family would surely be a problem for lord Shiva, because there are so many mouths to be fed. Shiva has five faces himself, while Karttikeya has six faces. Ganesha on the other hand has the elephant's face and a big belly. A poet has conceived as to how these bellies could be filled, had Parvati, as Annapurna not been there, because, Shiva is in the habit of roaming about naked without robes consuming intoxicants like hemp.


The Panel described
In the panel, the entire family of Shiva is shown seated together. Ganesha is shown seated to the right of Shiva, who has Urna to his left, while six headed Karttikeya is seated to the left of Parvati. The caparisoned bull and the lion are seated in the front. The rat appears close to Ganesha while the peacock stands near Karttikeya.

 

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Back wall of Shiva Nataraja


Panel-37, Shiva filtering hemp


The panel projects the scene of the daily life of Shiva and Parvati who are seated over an elephant hide spread under a tree. They are filtering the liquid hemp. Shiva is clad in a tiger's skin, while both the brothers Ganesha and Karttikeya are engaged in pounding of the hemp with a rod in a typical rustic style which had been in vogue in the countryside of North India, till the recent times. The dhuni of Shiva is burning with the logs of wood placed close by. The bull and the lion, the vehicles of the divine couple, appear in the foreground, with a mouse. A peacock, which is the carrier of Karttikeya is perched on the tree over a branch. The sun is rising from the mountain peaks. The sack of lord Shiva is bound with a branch of the tree which hangs over his head adorned with a crescent moon. A tiger-skin is placed over thigh of lord Shiva. The trident of Shiva is placed at his back and a damaru is found tied to it.

 

 

Panel- 38, Shiva performing tapas under a tree


On one side of Nataraja, the four armed Shiva is seated over the tiger skin, in meditation. Two of his lower hands are placed over the knees, while the other two hold a damaru and a trident. He is engaged in meditation sitting under a large tree over a raised pedestal.

 

Panel-39, Shiva seated under a tree
On the other side of the image of Nataraja, four armed Shiva has been shown seated over a tiger skin under a banyan tree. His left leg is folded, while the right falls down resting over the Apasmar Purusa (the evil incarnate). One of his right hand holds a rosary while the other right hand is held in abhaya mudra (protection). The lower left hand is placed on the thigh, while the upper left hand holds a deer. He is clad in skin garments and wears beads of rosary around his neck. A kamandalu is placed to his left.

 

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The circular decoration in the ceiling of the main hall


There is a beautiful circular decoration in the ceiling as one enters the Prayer hall from the main door, in which the two sets of eight goddesses (total number of them being sixteen) have been projected. In fact two figures of each one of the eight goddesses have been displayed, which include Shakambari, Vaishnavi, Uma Haimavati, Parvati, Lakshmi, Mother earth, Bhagavati Daksina and Bhagavati Svaha but in order to complete the circle the figure of each goddess has been displayed twice, making a total of sixteen figures of the goddess, some of which are described below .
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(i) Sakambari: The four armed goddess holds a bow, and a lotus in two upper hands while the two lower ones carry long garlands of fruits and flowers. She is also adorned with a crown over her head, necklaces and long laces of beads, the armlets, bangles, wai t-band and anklets. The eyes are shown smaller than other visible parts of the body.


(ii) Vaishnavi: She is Sakti of Visnu and is also four armed and holds a conch, a lotus, abhaya and varada mudrii in her four hands. Her head i crowned and is adorned with all the ornaments including the waist-band. She stand over a double petalled lotus over the surface of water.

 

 

(iii) Uma-Haimavati : She is also four armed. holding an ankusa, noose, varada and abhayamudra in the form of hands

 

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(iv) Besides the above, the goddesses named Parvati, Mother earth, Bhagavati Dakshina, Bhagavati Svaha, and Lakshmi have also been displayed in the ceiling. A thin tubelight covers the circle of goddesses, when the tube is lighted it provides a magnificent sight of not only the group of goddesses but also the ceiling of the prayer hall as a whole.