Sculpture of Vishnu Anantasayin at Vijayawada. 21-24 August 1815
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen and ink drawing dated 21-24 August 1815, of a colossal sculpture of a reclining Vishnu from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, taken from an album of 37 drawings (43 folios), including one duplicate, of sculpture at Jajpur, Puri, Bezwada and Sitanagar made during a journey from Bengal through Orissa to the Coromandel Coast, dated 1815. Some drawings are by MacKenzie's draftsmen, J. Newman, J.H. Schencks and Pyari Lal.
Vijayawada, formerly known as Bezwada, was an important centre of the Vishnukundin rulers in the fifth-sixth centuries. The city was taken by the Early Chalukya (later known as Eastern Chalukya) of Badami and became the headquarters of their eastern domains. The strategic position of the town commanding the coastal trading routes of the Bay of Bengal determined its economic importance through the centuries. It is surrounded by picturesque hills with the river Krishna flowing on the south. The remains of Buddhist structures at Vijayawada suggest that there must have been a monastic establishment. When the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang stayed in a monastery in 639 he already noticed the decline of Buddhism. There are five rock-cut cave-temples which were excavated during the Eastern Chalukya period in the 7th century in the hills outside the city centre. The caves have porches with undecorated squat columns and inside have carving of various divinities. In the west part of the city there are other two cave-temples. This drawing depicts a figure of Vishnu Anantasayin; at the end of a cosmic cycle, the god reclines on the 'serpent of eternity' Ananta or Shesha, floating on the cosmic waters; these contain the unmanifest reality from which the new life cicle will begin. Above Vishnu is the god Brahma sitting on a lotus who will execute the process of creation. he is surrounded by other figures. Kneeling behind Vishnu' head is the bird Garuda, the god's vehicle.