Nandi (Shiva's vahana) stone sculptures of Kakatiya Temples, Telangana - a brief observation

Nandi in 1000 pillar temple,

Ramappa Temple, Warangal Telangana  :

Ramappa Temple Warangal Telangana

Kakatiyas of  Kakatiya dynasty (1149 AD - 1323 AD)  are descendants of Karikala Chola King of Durjaya clan, who initially started as vassals of the Chalukyas in India. Subsequently, emerged as a ruling dynasty with their capital at Kakatipura (probably named after the village deity, Kakatamma) or present day Warangal, in the state of Telangana, India. The  rulers were mostly devotees of Shiva and great builders of  highly decorated temples. Toward the end of their dynasty, they faced invasion from the terrorizing  Delhi Sultanate army in the 1300s  although the  Kakatiyas fought valiantly  against  them after the last unexpected raid by Ulugh Khan's army  Kakatiya dynasty became  powerless with the imprisonment of the last ruler and finally declined.  But they left behind their imprint architectural mastery  in several temples near Warangal city, Telangana that to day stand as an immortal  legacy.

This brief post is about the Nandi stone images of Kakatiya Temples:

Shiva being their favorite God the  Kakatiya kings spent much time on the decorative aspects of their Shiva temples.  Among the  interesting thing  about about Nandi  made by the sculptors under the Kakatiya rule Nandi is built most in a mantap or some kind of enclosure. In a few you may see Nandi without any shelter. Yet another design style of Kakatiya is Nandi's posture is a unique one. It is not fully seated or stationary.  The Nandi's front leg is a bit raised with his eyes focussed on the deity  as if he is awaiting command from his master to  get up and run. You may also assume Nandi  is in the early process of getting of the ground after a long wait. Note the rear leg hoof, it is bent.

 01. In the Shiva temples built by Kakatiyas the bull's  sculpture is mostly placed in  the open mantap in front of the shrine. At Hanamkonda, Rudraswamy temple the nadi is in the open yard. Is the nandi mantap destroyed?

02. They are not huge and made of hard stones - dolerite or basalt rock. 

03. The one at Rudreshwara temple, Hanamkonda, Telangana  is made of dolerite rock -  medium grained igneous rocks of intrusive type.   

04. Whereas  in the case of Ramappa temple  near Warangal, now a World heritage site  dark Basaltic rock is chosen to make nandi image. The basalt is a volcanic rock and the rock is formed on the surface of the earth after the molten lava solidifies. The advantage of these two rock types is they are mostly dark in color and polishing on them is much easier than rock types.

05. Unlike many temples, Nandis are well embellished. and the outer surface is smooth as if it is well polished.  

06. Rarely the face of the bull is set straight staring  the shrine. Normally tilted to one side. You may observe a gentle tilt to one side. 

07. In these temples the reason why there is no massive nandi is the builders had difficulty in quarrying  big blocks of dolerite or basalt to  carve out monolithic nandi. 

Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple,Hanamkonda Telangana

thousand Pillar Temple in Hanamakonda

Above images:   Close-up of the monolithic dolerite Nandi at the Thousand Pillar Temple in Hanamakonda, Telangana. Look at the right broken leg apparently damaged  during the raid by Ulugh Khan from the Delhi Sultanate in 1323-24 CE? Or could it be due to vandalism?  ASI is making efforts to fix the leg. The monolithic sculpture  is made from dolerite igneous rock.........

It is a difficult job to reconstruct the broken leg, as the Nandi is life size with intricate jewellery around the neck, hump and rear. Describing the Nandi in his monogram “The Sculpture of the Kakatiyas”, S. Gopalakrishna Murthy. ASI expert  writes: “The Kakatiya Nandi, unlike their elephant, is an attempt at natural delineation; it shows even the veins on the snout. The hump of the Hanamkonda bull seems to be unnatural though his jewellery was well done. Basavesvara, who gave a fillip to Veerasaivism (he was not the founder), was supposed to be an avatar of Nandisvara and after his advent, Nandis were made in big sizes. I presume the Hanamkonda Nandi was one such.”