Arjuna's Penance and Descent of Ganges
BY: SUN STAFF
May 13, MAMALLAPARUAM, INDIA (SUN) At Mamallaparuam, in Tamil Nadu stands a remarkable rock sculpture known as "Arjuna's Penance". This massive sculpted relief is carved into two huge boulders, and is one of the biggest open-air rock sculptures in the world.
The rock face is carved in bas-relief panorama along a surface 31 m. long and 9 m. high. The rock surface is richly sculpted with detailed carvings that depict Arjuna's penance. Lord Shiva and the demigods are in attendance, and many dozens of other divine personalities, animals, and creatures standing by.
All of the figures carved into the rock wall are either facing or approaching the large fissure that separates the two boulders. Offering obeisances, they face the great cleft between the rocks, which is understood to represent the descent of the River Ganga, which was brought to earth by King Bhagiratha to redeem the fallen conditioned souls among his ancestors.