Krishna Mandap @ Mamallāpuram

photos of Pallava Krishna Mandap in Mamallapuram by Arun ShanbhagPerspective of the interior of the Krishna Mandap, Mamallapuram; larger version

Earlier you saw the Varāha Gudi (Varāha Mandap) from early in the reign of Pallavā, Mahendravarman (571-630 ce). In addition to other fabulous caves, he commissioned carvings into the side of mountains, combining creativity and artistic excellence.

In this Krishna Mandap, devotionally carved reliefs pays tribute to Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan. The shallow cave-like slot cut in the mountain is infused with warm light, bringing to life the villagers of Gokul huddled under the mountain.

According to legend, the vedic Indra Dev feels offended by villagers of Gokul for stopping their offerings to him. He lets loose a torrential storm deluging the village and endangering life. To save his kinsmen, Krishna lifts mount Govardhan offering respite to human and animal life, under its canopy.

photos of Pallava Krishna Mandap in Mamallapuram by Arun Shanbhag Krishna easily lifts mount Govardhan and provides refuge to the villagers from the torrential storms unleashed by Indra

In this life-sized panel, Krishna is depicted easily supporting Govardhan on his left palm while offering grace with this right hand. He is joined by herdsmen, women and animals, predominantly cows under this mountain. You notice a father casually holding a child on this shoulders; gopis (cowmaids) bringing along their children and balancing pots, apparently filled with milk and butter on their heads and in rapt adoration of their hero Krishna. A huddled woodcutter is consoled by Krishna’s brother Balarama; a beautiful mother cow licking its calf, as a herdsman milks it. A woman carries stacked pots in a sling while supporting a load on her head. In the background are a host of cows carved in shallow relief; a mother and infant are mesmerized by a flutist. It is a crowded panel, and so beautifully executed.

Krishna’s raised hand lifting the mountain, touches the top of the cave and gives us the feeling that we too are standing alongside him, one with the herdsmen, under this mountain, in his grace.

Posts from Tamil Nādu Tirth Yatra:

My other Tirth Yātrās:

Additional References: (see Varaha Mandap for remaining)

  • Mahabalipuram, Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India (2004).

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