IGNCA has in its archives a
substantial collection of slides that narrate the story from the walls of
Brhadeesvara temple in Tanjavur.
in fact are the first set of photogrpahs to be taken of the walls of the
inner ambulatory. The slides were made by Shri Benoy Behl for IGNCA in
December 1992 and January 1993. In all, the set has 843 slides.
Part of the collection are the images of murals on the wall (outer) of the
sanctum sanctorum (Garbgraha) and the dance karanas.
paintings in the bays of the inner ambulatory (prakara) go up to a height of
over 16 feet. The paintings have a highly reflective surface. So
special arrangments had to be done to capture the upper part of the
paintings. Strong lights were prohibited by the Archaeological Survey
of India. A challenge was also posed by the width between walls, which
wasonly five feet.
the course of the shooting, the team discovered a panel of 223 sculptures
that were in the top. These depict 81 karanas by women, playing
musical instruments. The panel is dated at 10th C.A.D. The
sculptures are not one foot high and nine inches broad each.
of this panel is also a sculpted Shivalinga. This panel is just next
to the ceiling at a height of about 16 ft. and are not visible from the
bottom. The figures are all about 1 1/2" (one and half) feet
high. They appeared to have been plastered, with plaster peeling off in most
places. As the paintings and sculptures were photographed, they were
measured and the details were recorded, forming a comprehensive
documentation. Benoy Behl was commissioned by IGNCA to do this
work. The academic guidance for the project was given Dr. R. Nagaswamy.
The slide collection forms part of Janapada Sampada Division's Kshetra
Sampada project. However, the slides in themselves are an important
and separate study material.