Pattadakal: Virupaksha Temple – Surya, the sun god, carved on the ceiling

Surya, the sun god, carved on the ceiling of the Virupaksha Temple in Pattadakal, Karnataka

Surya, the Sun God

Surya, the sun god, carved on the ceiling
The image shows a beautiful and expressive bas-relief carved on the ceiling near the eastern entrance of the Virupaksha Temple located in the Pattadakal Temple complex in Karnataka, India.

This intricately carved ubbu-shilpa (bas-relief) appears to depict a sunrise scene at dawn. At the center is Surya, the sun god, riding a seven-horse chariot piercing through the clouds. Note that Surya is also known as Aditya, Savitr, and Pusan. Accompanying him are his consorts Ushas (Goddess of Dawn) and Chhaya (Goddess of Shadow). Both Ushas and Chhaya are pointing their bows upwards, indicating that they are fighting the darkness.

Standing majestically in the chariot, Surya is holding a lotus flower with each hand, and surrounding his head is a halo of rays emanating outwards. Behind him is a two-headed mythical creature Makara disgorging yakshas. In front of him is Aruna, Surya’s sarathi (charioteer), holding the reins of seven horses that are charging through the clouds. It appears as though the chariot is piercing through the clouds and splitting them apart.

Related Images
Surya statue in the Nandi Temple in the Prambanan Temple complex located in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Surya relief carved on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India
Surya statue in a shrine behind Nandi pavilion in the Halebidu Hoysalesvara Temple complex in Karnataka, India

Related Pages
Badami
Badami Cave – 1, Badami Cave – 2, Badami Cave – 3, Badami Cave – 4
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art

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