Silver and gold-plated vahana in the form of an elephant in the Kumbheshvara Temple, Kumbakonam
Photographer: Rea, Alexander
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a silver and gold-plated vahana (coneyance) in the Kumbheshvara Temple at Kumbakonam, taken by Alexander Rea around 1892, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. Kumbakonam, in Tamil Nadu, was an important centre during the 9th to 13th centuries under the Chola dynasty. There are fifteen temples in the town dedicated both to Shiva and Vishnu. Some of these temples have Chola foundations with later extensions constructed under the patronage of the Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers. The Kumbeshvara Temple, built in the 17th century during the Nayaka period, is the largest Shaiva temple in Kumbakonam. The temple has a large variety of silver conveyances (vahanas) used to transport the images of the deities during the festivals. The vahana in this view is shaped in the form of an elephant, standing on a wheeled platform, with an Indian figure posed beside the vehicle to indicate scale.