Anthropomorphic monoliths

from here & there

Monoliths are an integral part of many temples in India. A monolith is a single massive stone or rock often made up of very hard metamorphic or igneous rock.

These monoliths have been used in sculptures since time immemorial. Karnataka prides herself in cradling the largest monolithic in the world in the form of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola. Likewise there are innumerable monolithic sculptures in South India, where there is an increased presence of Shaivism.

When we speak of Shiva, the mention of his bull-mount Nandi or Basavanna is inevitable. The bull being an integral part of the Hindu religious thought since the Indus Valley Civilisation, symbolises strength and fertility.

No temple dedicated to Shiva is complete without a Nandi seated facing the sanctum sanctorum. India is home to six of the largest Nandis in the world. 

The Brihadeshwara Temple, Tanjavur (16 ft x 13 ft), Chamundi Hills, Mysore (16 ft x 25 ft) , Bull Temple, Bangalore (20 ft x 15 ft), Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram (12 ft x 9 ft) and Hoysaleshwara and Shantaleshwara Temple, Halebid, house magnificent monolithic Nandis.

However, the world’s largest monolithic Nandi faces the Veerabhadraswamy Temple in the 16th century complex of the Vijayanagara temples at Lepakshi.

200 m from the temple of Veerabhadra Swamy, sculpted out of pinkish granite, this Basavanna is 15ft (4.5 m) high and 27ft (8.23 m) long.

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