Snake art in Coorg

Nestled amidst the Western Ghats, filled with coffee estates and dense forests, Coorg is home to snakes of many kinds. I honestly don't know what I would do if I faced one in the wild, but on this trip, we had a different encounter with the slithering reptiles.... Through depictions in art! 




It began at the Nalknad palace, which used to be the hideout for the kings of Coorg in the days before they were finally routed by the British. A board at the entrance informed us that there were various representations of snakes all over the palace, and this one greeted us from right over the doorway. 




Inside, there were more....


The photo isn't too clear, but all around the central circle are snakes ! 


I especially loved this one, which I have seen only in temples so far. 



Why do you think the kings carved snakes all over their hideout? Was it something to do with superstition, in the belief that snakes could somehow protect them? Did it have something to do with the fact that the region abounds in snakes,and the creatures, by their very nature, are secretive,and once they go into their holes, are considered difficult to evict? Or, does it have something to do with religion? This last was an afterthought, which only came when I saw this over the doorway of the Igguthappa temple....



Igguthappa is a warrior god, prayed to by the locals of this area. He is considered the Kodava equivalent of Muruga or Subramanya, who led the army of the gods. One of his symbols is the snake, so the depiction is understandable. The temple was under renovation, so we weren't able to see much of it, but I was fascinated by this structure, which stood near the the entrance,at the spot where the deepasthambh would normally stand.




So many snakes, all holding up what looks like an umbrella, or is it a platform used for offerings to the lord? An interesting structure, isnt it? Have you seen anything like this before? if you have, please do enlighten us about its usage!



We spent just one full day in Coorg during this trip, but it's interesting tidbits like these which make a trip memorable, not the time we spend. Do you agree?

Comments

  1. Nice palace. I remember visiting it while trekking Thadiyandmol

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    1. That must have been an interesting trek! I wish I could do that too!

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  2. Amazing and interesting article thank you...

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  3. Carving them up in wood really is a skilled job.

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    1. Absolutely, Haddock! and the work is so fine, and lasts even after all these years!!!! btw, good to see u here after so long :)

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  4. The place we stayed in Coorg, it was a coffee plantation, we never stepped out during the 4-5 days we had there. Lots to do next time around

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    1. Oh, I can so understand that too!! I wouldnt want to get out of the plantation either! but there is so much more to see and enjoy, and time, unfortunately, is hardly ever enough!

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  5. We find snakes and dragons all over the temples and palaces of the South. My best guess is that they are supposed to protect in inhabitants.

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    1. I guess so too... after all, snakes are considered sacred, and inherently, we are scared of them, so what better way to get over the fear than to show them in art all over sacred spaces!

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  6. Nice palace. I like how the wood is carved. It gives it a classic feel and bring out the beauty of the place. Very interesting article!

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    1. Thank you, Marcia! its a beautiful, though simple palace!

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  7. Glad to have found your site. Keep up the good work! DB Product Review

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  8. Amazing place .Thanks for nice share...

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  9. Beautiful pictures, Anuradha. In some part of rural India Snakes are considered as protector of forest. May be thats the reason, temples and ancient monuments are engraved with such designs. I had a great time reading your post. Thanks for sharing it.

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  10. The details really are astonishing. I'm grateful for you for zooming into these tiny details in Coorg that I would never have seen otherwise.

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