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Entrance to the Maheshasuramardini Cave Temple. ‘Figure of Cali carved on the great rock near the Temple of Mull Iswar at Mahabalipoor, 29th July 1816.’

Entrance to the Maheshasuramardini Cave Temple. ‘Figure of Cali carved on the great rock near the Temple of Mull Iswar at Mahabalipoor, 29th July 1816.’

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1816

Shelfmark: WD.1068

Item number: f.10

Length: 28

Width: 48.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Topographical Drawing

Watercolour drawing with pen and ink of the entrance to the Mahishasuramardini Cave Temple at Mamallapuram, by an anonymous artist, part of the MacKenzie Collection and from and Album of 37 drawings and plans of the temples and sculptures at Mamallapuram, c. 1816.

Colin MacKenzie (1754-1821) joined the East India Company as an engineer at the age of 28 and spent the majority of his career in India. He used the salary he earned from his military career as a captain, major and finally a colonel to finance his research into the history and religion of Indian culture. During his surveys he collected and recorded details concerning every aspect of Indian architecture, language and religion, resulting in thousands of drawings and copies of inscriptions.

Mamallapuram, a tiny village south of Chennai (Madras), was a flourishing port of the Pallava dynasty from the 5th - 8th centuries. The site is famous for a group of temples, a series of rock-cut caves and monolithic sculptures that were most likely created in the 7th century reign of Narasimhavarman Mahamalla. The caves are all fronted with fine columns resting on seated lions, typical of the Pallava style. The Mahishasuramardini cave temple consists of a long columned verandah with three shrines. This drawing depicts the large sculpture panel carved on the wall of the verandah depicting the goddess Durga killing the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura.

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