Aihole Durga Temple: Coiled Nagaraja on the mukhamantapa ceiling

Coiled Nagaraja carved into the ceiling of the Durga Temple at Aihole in Karnataka, India

Coiled Nagaraja carved into the ceiling of the mukhamantapa

Coiled Nagaraja
Carved into the ceiling of the mukhamantapa (porch), this intricately carved relief depicts Nagaraja, the mythical king of serpents, with multiple serpent heads and a human head attached to a torso extended by a serpent body that spirals outwards from the center.

As you can see from the image, Nagaraja is wearing a beautiful mukuta (headgear) and a variety of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, bangles, and armbands. He is also wearing the yajnopavita, a looped thread sacred to Hindus, worn across the chest from the left shoulder to the waist. He is holding a garland with his right hand and a flower with his left hand.

Nagaraja‘s coiled body, whose thickness decreases as it spirals out towards its tail, is carved with finely carved patterns, representing its scales. Surrounding Nagaraja are the four female figures (two of them are missing), likely depicting apsaras.

This relief was likely inspired by the Coiled Nagaraja carving found on the ceiling of Cave -1, the first of the four rock-cut caves of Badami.

Related Pages
Durga Temple at Aihole
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals

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