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Nagaraja, Ceiling Panel

ASI Museum, Alampur

Behind the Kumara Brahma temple at the Nav Brahma site at Alampur is the Alampur Government Museum. This museum has a large, varied collection of sculptures arranged in a big hall. The entrance to the museum is a sculpted but unmarked temple doorway.

The collection on display has about a hundred beautiful pieces, and there are rooms to the left and back of the hall where many unused pieces are kept. Most of the specimens are from the 7th century Chalukya period but there are several pieces in polished black stone that are from the 11th century Kakatiyas.

Starting from the left, the first striking image is a polished stone image of Subrahmanya and Valli. Next to this is an unusual Mahishasuramardhini image where the Devi is shown standing on a buffalo head. In a room inside the left wall is a horizontal, circular black-stone sculpture of Nagnaka Bhanda, the naked, Lotus-headed goddess. Near the centre of the hall are two large, square Kakatiya ceiling panels placed facing up. The one on the left has three rows each with images of Naga, Indra and Agni. The one on the right has the common motif of Siva surrounded by Ashtadikpalas.

The far wall has a beautiful image of Siva as Mahesh and a polished granite doorway leading to the back room. The right wall has images of Surya, and of Siva in Asuravadhamurti and Bhairava. Finally there is an unusual split piece with Nataraja on top and Agni on the bottom panel. At the very centre of the hall is a stunning black sculpture of Nataraja. Facing this is a large granite Nandi.

Hyderabad, 2004

Photos and Text © Amit Guha