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Photographer's Note

This marvel sculptured in rock is located at Mamallapuram, 58 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. Approximately 96ft long and 43 ft high, carved in mid seventh century on the face of two enormous adjacent boulders, this is one of the biggest open-air rock sculptures in the world.

The skillfully carved edifice is named after the Epic Mahabharatha hero, Arjuna. The subject is either an account from the Epic Mahabharata, of how Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, performed severe austerities in order to obtain Shiva's weapon to destroy his enemies OR an illustration of King Bhagiratha's penance to bring the River Ganges down to earth to purify the souls of his ancestors. His prayers are answered and Lord Shiva sends the Ganges down to earth, but breaks her fall by allowing the water to trickle through his hair, so that the impact of its fall would not harm the earth. This strange sight is said to have aroused the curiosity of the world's animals, which gathered around the soaking God. The symbolism of the relief supports both these stories. Some of the popular fables from the Hindu Panchatantra books are also depicted.

The sculptured figures on rock are remarkable for its vitality and naturalism and the skill with which they are sculpted. There are over 100 figures of gods and flying celestial creatures, birds and animals including giant elephants, human beings and saints in this beautifully sculpted scenario.

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Additional Photos by lakshmi prabhala (lakshmi) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 28 W: 3 N: 63] (577)
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