View of part of the mahamandapa of the Sarangapani Temple, Kumbakonum
Photographer: Rea, Alexander
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the mahamandapa (great hall) of the Sarangapani 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 Sarangapani Temple is the largest Vaishnava temple in Kumbakonam and was erected between the 13th and 17th centuries. A tall gopura or tower leads to a hundred-pillared mandapa or hall from the Nayaka period. Another gopura leads to a further court with a columned mandapa. The principal shrine is situated in the innermost courtyard and belongs to the late Chola period. The temple is conceived as a chariot with horses and elephants carved on the sides. The niches on the shrine walls are empty but there are figures of saints carved directly on to the walls.