Eclipse pavilion near Thangi

Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka Temple
Ceiling with a solar and lunar eclipse, and a pair of nose-tot-nose fish in the ardha-mandapa of the Shri Chintamani Vinayaka temple, (now the Shri Sarasvati temple)
The Thangi eclipse mandapa, an official monument

Raja Deekshithar and I discovered this eclipse pavilion near Thangi in February 2010. It is located on the northern side of the road from Chengalpattu to Kanchipuram, near Thangi, at 12°48’12″N & 79°46’34″E. It is a four by four pillars mandapam, next to a Ganesha temple named as Chintamani Vinayakar temple at the time, and a well-constructed large tirtha. The pavilion was protected by a fence and a notification of the Department of Archaeology, Government of Tamil Nadu. From numbers painted on the stones and the overall fresh and well-constructed look it was clear it had been recently renovated. The Chintamani Vinayaka temple right by its side was also freshly painted. In January 2019 I passed this way on a bus and could briefly see the fence was broken and torn down. And Google maps shows the adjoining temple is now identified as a Sarasvati temple.

 

Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka Temple
Nayaka period eclipse pavilion, Thangi: four pillars spaces wide, and four pillars spaces deep, with a raised floor and flat roof.

 

The structure

The frontal pillars have a high square base with rearing snakeheads on the corners, a 16 sided body, and a Nayaka period corbel (podikai). They create an open porch. Four pillars are placed on the raised floor. On three sides this space is walled in with stonework. It opens to the front. In this way, this mandapa has four inner pillars that support the flat roof. The pavilion faces South. The porch area has the elegantly curved roof edge (kapota) typical of the Nayaka period.

In the center of the porch roof, a Rahu head (with fangs and hands) crowns a medallion. This medallion is fashioned of two parrots looking at each other with heads turned backward. A kind of heart-shaped or spade-like symbol that is seen in the iconographical program of almost all the eclipse pavilions is between the back-looking parrots. The sculptural program on the pillars is similar to the pavilion near Mahabalipuram and of high quality. We could not go inside because of the fence. From outside we could see cobras on the ceiling, an elaborate lotus medallion in the center, fish, and a temple-shaped niche with a human figure with hands in Anjali in the back wall. Possibly a donor?

You can find an overview of stand-alone eclipse mandapas in Tamil Nadu through this link.

 

Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Well decorated Nayaka period pillars and the raised floor area
Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
The outline of central ceiling medallion is just visible, with Gaja Lakshmi high on the rear wall of the eclipse pavilion crowning the niche
Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Niche shaped like a miniature shrine with a devotee? showing anjali hands in the rear wall of the eclipse pavilion

 

Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Pillar reliefs: Markandeya with Kaladamana and Lord Krishna playing on his flute
Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Fluted roof edge (kapota) with Rahu head and eclipse symbol
Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu Government, a notice of protected monument
The Chintamani Vinayaka temple
Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Gopuram of the Chintamani Vinayaka Temple at Thangi, with the large tirtha in the background.

 

The Vinayaka temple’s open porch had the painted ceiling showing a solar and lunar eclipse and a pair of fish (photo at the top of this page). The pillars show rough lunar sickles, circle designs that may symbolize the sun, and four-leaved clover designs.

 

Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Mural of Lord Ganesha
Thangi eclipse pavilion, Kanchipuram District, Chintamani Vinayaka/Sarasvati Temple
Shri Chintamani Vinayaka temple, ardha-mandapa and vimana. The painted eclipse relief on the top decorated the ceiling of this ardha-mandapa
Shri Chintamani Vinayaka temple, ardha mandapa and vimana. The painted eclipse relief decorated the ceiling of this ardha mandapa
Relief on one of the pillars of the Vinayaka temple: Markandeya hugging the Shiva Linga

 

Google Earth location image eclipse pavilion near Thangi
Google Earth image of location Thangi eclipse pavilion

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