That comes in Nandi (A bit of Bull) 

Travelling in India is really rather special. 

My first visit was my worst holiday given that it brought down upon me the misery of Dysentery and it took me 24 years to summon the courage to return but I am so glad I did. 

I’m a bit of a templeaholic. Egypt, my spiritual home, has an abundance of them. Thankfully so does India and one aspect of Indian temples I find particularly interesting is the Nandi Bull. 

Nandi is the vahana or mount of the God Shiva. As with most Indian mythology the stories associated with Nandi are often complex but, essentially, Nandi was the son of the sage Shilada who underwent severe penance to be granted a boon, an immortal son dedicated to Shiva who was born wearing diamond encrusted armour. Nandi himself underwent penance before becoming both Shiva’s gate keeper and his mount. 

And I think he’s rather cool. 

Each temple depicts him slightly differently although the basic pose, lying down, seems universal. 

So here’s a few different images from India. 


This one, at the Ekambarashwara Temple in Kanchipuram is quite ostentatious in its design. It reminds me of a fairground ride, a carousel animal. 


These two images from the Sri Kailasanatha Temple, also in Kanchipuram, are more austere and weather beaten due to the lack of cover. 


This Nandi lies behind the Arjuna Ratha, a small temple dedicated to Shiva and which stands in the coastal town of Mahabalipuram on India’s East coast. 


This one is from the Airavatesvara Temple in Kumbakonam.


One of my favourites is this beautifully carved example from the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Tanjore. It’s enclosure also has a beautifully painted ceiling. 


Finally we have the Chamundi Bull. This Nandi, the third largest in India, stands on a hill overlooking Mysore. In better light and without the ugly scaffolding it would look even better than it did. 

So, as you can see, there are many different depictions of the Nandi but I really like them. They’re individual, unique yet to my eyes combine both strength and grace in their carving. 

Nandi. That’s a lot of bull! 

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