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Plate 12. Sculpture of Varaha avatar (the boar incarnation of Visnu) near temple of Nilkanth

Plate 12. Sculpture of Varaha avatar (the boar incarnation of Visnu) near temple of Nilkanth

Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD546

Item number: 41e

Length: 18.1

Width: 18.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

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Pencil drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey of the sculpture of Varaha, the boar incarnation of Visnu, near the temple of Nilkanth at Kalinjar, dated 1847-1854.

Situated atop an almost impregnable 1000-foot-high hill, with cliffs on all sides, Khalinjar was an ancient Chandella stronghold from the 9th to the 15th centuries; it was later conquered by Akbar in 1569 and fell to Colonel Martindell in 1812. Within the fort there are numerous archaeological remains. From a gateway in the preserved inner curtain wall two flights of steps lead down to Kalinjar's holiest shrine, the Nilakanth Temple. There are numerous inscriptions and rock carvings on the way down to the shrine and masterpieces of Chandella sculpture. A wonderful lifesize dancing Ganesh wearing ankle bells is carved onto a pillar in a doorway. Outside the sanctuary there is an hexagonal mandapa or pavilion; this is now roofless but its finely carved pillars have preserved their mouldings and capitals. Inside the cave there is the blue stone lingam with silver eyes, venerated for more than 1000 years.

In his 'Description of the Antiquties of Khalinjar' of 1848, Maisey wrote, "The colossal Varaha-sarup lying on the ground in the corner of the fausse braie is much mutilated - the face, all the fore-arms and one of the legs being broken off. It represents Vishnu in the 3rd or Hog Avatar, in which he descended to recover the earth, which had submerged in the waters of the universe by a demon."

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