Guardian of Hindu mysteries - [looking] S.W. to gateway and sculptured Temple Tower, Tanjore, India
Photographer: Ricalton, James
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic photograph of the gateway and temple tower at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, taken by James Ricalton in c. 1903, from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India. The Brihadishvara Temple with its Great Pagoda at Tanjore was built by the Chola king Rajaraja around 1010, is a monumental temple standing in the middle of a large courtyard surrounded by smaller shrines. To the east, a monolithic Nandi is sheltered in a 16th century pavilion. On the north-west of the main shrine, there is a temple dedicated to Subrahmanya dating to the 17th century. The temple is entered through the east by two gateways. The tall pyramidal tower over the sanctuary reaches 70 metres and consists of diminishing storeys culminating in the octagonal domed roof and the golden pot finial. It is covered with miniature edifices and figure sculptures that symbolise the cosmic manifestation. This is a view of an outer entrance gateway to the Great Pagoda Temple described by Ricalton in 'India Through the Stereoscope' (1907): "The gateway near us is only a temporary entrance to the main gateway called a gopura, which is a little beyond that low white entrance...This first gopura before us is ninety feet high, and, if you imagine a hundred feet added to its height, and conceive it as tapering more gracefully in pyramidal form, with even more extravagant sculptured decoration, you will have a good idea of the appearance of the pagoda itself." This is one of a series of 100 photographs, designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect, which were sold together with a book of descriptions and a map. Stereoscopic cameras, those with two lenses and the ability to take two photographs at the same time, were introduced in the mid 19th century.