Madhava Temple at Mudgala

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BY: SUN STAFF

Madhava Temple at Mudgala: A Study on Art and Architecture

By Dr. Ratnakar Mohapatra for Odisha Review.

Introduction:

The temple of Mudgala-Madhava (Nila Madhava) is one of the important Vaishnava shrines of the Prachi Valley in Odisha. It is situated at the village Mudgala in the Astharanga Block of Puri district. This temple is located at a distance of about 5 kms from Jiunti, on a bifurcation away from the Kakatpur-Astharanga road.[1]

The present temple of Nila-Madhava is a renovated temple of that locality. The local tradition says that one saint named Mudgala used to worship Lord Madhava on the bank of river Prachi near that village but once God Madhava appeared before Mudgala risi in divine form and told everything.

From that day onwards, the shrine of that village is famous as "Mudgala Madhava".[2] The local people say that accordingly the name of Mudgala risi, the village as well as the presiding deity of the shrine are known as Mudgala village and Mudgala-Madhava respectively.

The temple of Mudgala-Madhava consists of two structures such as vimana and jagamohana. The temple is built in both sand stones and bricks. The present temple of Nila-Madhava or Mudgala-Madhava is erected on the ruins of the earlier temple. The extant broken navagraha slab of the original temple indicates that the earlier (ancient) temple existed there. The temple faces to east. A modest attempt has been made in this article to highlight the detailed art and architecture of the temple of Mudgala-Madhava.

Art and Architecture of the Temple:

A. Vimana

The vimana of the temple is a pidhadeula and its height is about 25 feet from the surface of the temple complex. It has four vertical parts such as pistha, bada, gandi and mastaka. The entire structure is thickly plastered with modern cement. The pistha measures 2 feet in height. The bada is panchanga type i.e. having five component parts such as pabhaga, talajangha, bandhana, upper jangha and baranda. All the component parts of the bada are devoid of decorative elements.

The central niches of the three sides of the bada of vimana are housed with the parsvadevata images of Varaha, Narasimha and Trivikrama. Varaha is the parsvadevata of the southern side. The four armed image of Varaha is carved in standing posture on the double petalled lotus pedestal. The bottom part of the pedestal is decorated with scroll work. The right part of the pedestal is partially broken. He holds chakra in upper right hand, the lower right hand of deity holds the hand of female figure possibly Prithvi, the upraised left arm bears the image of goddess Prithvi and the lower left hand displays shankha. A thick stalk of lotus flower is found decorated on the right of the pedestal. The upper part of the slab of deity is decorated with three full blown lotus flowers. Garuda figure is not found to be installed on the pedestal of the slab. The image Varaha is made of chlorite stone. It measures 2 feet 9 inches in height and 1 foot 5 inches in width respectively.

Narasimha is the parsvadevata of the western side. The four handed image of Narasimha is carved in standing posture on the double petalled lotus pedestal. The bottom part of the pedestal is decorated with scroll work. The upper right hand of the deity is broken from the elbow portion. The lower two hands of the deity are engaged to take out the entrails of Hiranya Kashyapa, the demon. Garuda figure is not found at the base of the pedestal. Figures of Sridevi and Bhudevi are carved on either side of the deity. The deity Narasimha wears a wooden garland in his body. The head of gada is depicted on the upper part of the slab. Flying apsara figure is finely carved on both side top corners of the slab. The backside of the head of deity is decorated with elongated prabhamandala. The image Narasimha is made of chlorite stone. It measures 2 feet 9 inches in height and 1 foot 4½ inches in width respectively.

Trivikrama is the parsvadevata of the northern side. The four armed image of Trivikrama is carved in standing posture on the double petalled lotus pedestal. The lower part of the pedestal is decorated with scroll work. The upper right hand holds lotus, which is missing but the stalk of the lotus in the hand of deity is intact. The lower right hand displays chakra, the upper left hand possesses shankha and the lower left hand holds gada respectively. The right leg of deity is firmly set on the pedestal while the left leg is uplifted to heaven and it touches the image of Lord Brahma. There is a Balidana scene depicted beneath the uplifted leg of deity on the pedestal. King Bali swears before Lord Vamana to give an auspicious gift to Him. Here the risi Sukracharya has raised his hands up with dismay. Apsara figure holding garland is exquisitely carved on both side top corners of the slab. The image Trivikrama is made of chlorite stone. Garuda figure is completely absent on the pedestal of the slab. The image Trivikrama measures 2 feet 9½ inches in height and 1 foot 4 inches in width respectively. All the side deities are housed in the pidhamundi niches.

The gandi of the vimana is a pyramidal superstructure and it consists of 4 flat shaped pidhas. Each pidha is decorated with tankus in all sides. The gandi of the vimana is plastered with modern cement. The mastaka of the vimana consists of beki, ghanta, amalakasila, khapuri, kalasa and ayudha. Here the dhvaja is not inserted in the kalasa.

The sanctum of the vimana preserves a large size image of Lord NilaMadhava as the presiding deity of the temple. The image of presiding deity is elegantly carved in standing posture on the double petalled lotus pedestal. Garuda figure is carved on the right of the pedestal. The bottom part of the slab of deity is decorated with a series of devotees depicted in kneeling posture. These figures are carved in folded hands with flowers and offerings in their hands.

The presiding deity displays chakra in upper right hand, varada mudra with a small lotus mark in lower right hand, shankha in upper left hand and gada in lower left hand respectively. [3] Figures of Sridevi and Bhudevi are carved on either side base of the slab. These two figures are depicted in pidhamundi niches. Diminutive female figure is carved on both side centres of the slab. The backside of the head of deity is decorated with trefoil arch crowned by the kirtimukha motif. Brahma and Siva figures are carved on either side base of the trefoiled arch. Flying apsara figures are exquisitely depicted on both side top corners of the slab. They are displaying musical instruments like drum, flute, cymbal, chauri and garlands in their hands.

The slab of the deity measures 5 feet 10 inches in height and 3 feet in width respectively. [4] The image NilaMadhava is made of black chlorite stone. Iconographical features of the presiding deity indicate the artistic tradition of the Ganga period. Similar Madhava (Vishnu) images are also found at Kakatpur, Nilakanthapur, Sohagpur, Niali, Kenduli and Madhava villages of the Prachi Valley. [5] It seems that the name Nila-Madhava was very common among the images of Madhava worshipped in the Prachi Valley.

The presiding deity is installed on the simhasana of 1 foot high. Diminutive images of Lord Krishna, Narasimha, Madhava and salagrama silas are also being worshipped on the simhasana of the deity. Inner walls of the sanctum are completely plain. Brass images of Radha-Krishna are found worshipped in the east south corner of the sanctum sanctorum.

The sanctum has one doorway towards the jagamohana. The doorway of the sanctum is devoid of decorative embellishment. There is a broken navagraha slab of the earlier temple - found preserved in the northern side sandhisthala wall of the temple. This broken navagraha slab contains only seven planets in it. The rest two grahas are completely missing from the original slab. They are depicted in yogasana posture with usual attributes in their hands. All the grahas are engraved in the pidhamundi niches. This broken graha slab is fixed in the northern side sandhisthala wall. Most probably, this broken slab was initially inserted into the top of the doorway lintel of the original (earlier) temple.

B. Jagamohana

The jagamohana of the temple is a modern flat roof structure and its height is about 14 feet from the surface of the temple complex. It has been built within 14 years. Garuda, the conventional mount of deity (Nila Madhava) is installed at the centre of the jagamohana hall. The figure is carved in kneeling posture on the double petalled lotus pedestal.

Additional Shrine:

Besides the above two structures, there is a small modern shed noticed at a distance of 25 meters to the north-east of the Mudgala Madhava temple. This shed preserves the images of Mudgala Madhava(rare), a Nila-Madhava and an image of Goddess Mangala. Initially, the images of Mudgala-Madhava and Nila-Madhava (presiding deity) were being worshipped in a dilapidated temple, which is located near the Madhava temple of that village.

Mudgala Madhava:

The four handed image of Mudgala Madhava is carved in standing posture on the pedestal. The lower part of the pedestal is fixed in the masonry pedestal. Male and female attendant figures are flanked on either side of the deity (Mudgala-Madhava). The upper right hand of Mudgala Madhava displays rosary while the upper left hand holds shankha. The lower right hand lies on the head of the male attendant figure while the lower left hand lies on the shoulder of a female attendant figure respectively. The image Mudgala Madhava bears a solemn and calm appearance with pressed lips suggesting determination and with half-closed eyes concentrating at the tip of the nose indicating deep contemplation.[6] He wears dangling ear-rings, neck-laces and armlets and a bejewelled crown in which a miniature chaitya has been represented.[7] The backside of the head of Mudgala Madhava is decorated with elongated diadem, which is also encircled by a large prabhamandala. The image Mudgala Madhava is made of chlorite stone. It measures 3 feet 1 inch in width and 5 feet 1 inch in height respectively.

The local people believe that the village derived its name from Mudgala risi. Some of the villagers trace it as the image of Mudgala risi. Observing the iconographic features of this image, some of the earlier scholars like N.K. Sahu and R.P. Mohapatra remark that the image is 'Sankhapani Avalokitesvara'.[8] The image however, does not seem to be very old and may be a product of the late medieval art.[9] A few earlier scholars have tried to identify this image with HariHara of the Brahminical faith.[10] Due to available of the crown on the head, the image can not be rightly accepted as a risi image. The posture and attributes of the image suggest that it is an image of Lord Madhava (Vishnu).

Nila-Madhava:

There is an image of Nila Madhava preserved on the left side of the Mudgala Madhava. The four handed image of NilaMadhava is carved in standing posture on the double petalled lotus pedestal. Garuda, the conventional mount of deity is carved on the right of the pedestal. Scroll work is found decorated on the left of the pedestal of the slab. The deity Nila-Madhava displays chakra in upper right hand, varada mudra with a small lotus mark in lower right hand, shankha in upper left hand and gada in lower left hand respectively. Figures of Sridevi and Bhudevi holding lotus stalks are depicted on either side of the deity. The backside of the head of deity is decorated with prabhamandala. Flying apsara figure holding garland is carved on both side top corners of the slab. The image Nila-Madhava is made of chlorite stone. It measures 3 feet 9 inches in height and 1 foot 10½ inches in width respectively. Here, P.K. Ray opines that the image is similar to that of an image worshipped as Nila-Madhava at Chahata of the Prachi Valley. [11] …

Date of the Temple:

There is no authentic historical record with regard to the exact date of the construction period of the original temple of Mudgala Madhava. P.K. Ray has mentioned that the antiquarian remains of the site of Mudgala Madhava temple may be assigned from circa 8th century A.D. to 12th century A.D. [12] The local people say that the earlier (original) Mudgala Madhava temple was built before the Sun temple of Konarka. T.E. Donaldson has categorized this temple to the 13th century A.D.[13] On the basis of the sculptural features of the broken navagraha slab and iconography of the presiding deity, the construction period of the original temple can be tentatively assigned to the 12th-13th century A.D. The temple has been completely renovated by the Odisha State Archaeology Department, Bhubaneswar. …

 

References:

1. T.E. Donaldson, Hindu Temple Art of Orissa, Vol. II, Leiden, 1985/86, p. 692. Also see P.K. Ray (ed.), Archaeological Survey Report Prachi Valley, Odisha State Archaeology: Bhubaneswar, 1975, p.23. 
2. P.K. Ray (ed.), op.cit.,p. 39. 
3. Ratnakar Mohapatra, "Study of Dvadasa Madhava (Vishnu) Images from the Prachi Valley, Odisha", in S.S. Biswas (ed.) , KALA, Vol.XXI, Assam, 2015-16, p.106. 
4. Ibid. 
5. P.K. Ray (ed.), op.cit., p.23. Also see R.P. Mohapatra, Archaeology in Orissa (Sites and Monuments), Vol. 1, New Delhi, 1986, p.149. 
6. R.P. Mohapatra, Archaeology in Orissa (Sites and Monuments), Vol. II, New Delhi, 1986, p.149. 
7. Ibid. 
8. N.K. Sahu, Buddhism in Orissa, Cuttack, Utkal University, 1985, p. 216. Also see R.P. Mohapatra, op.cit.,p. 149. 
9. R.P. Mohapatra, op.cit.,p. 149. 
10. P.K. Ray (ed.), op.cit.,p. 23. 
11. Ibid. 
12. Ibid. 
13. T.E. Donaldson, op.cit.,p. 692.

Dr. Ratnakar Mohapatra, Lecturer in History, KISS University, Bhubaneswar – 751024