21 August 2008

Simha Tank Renovation

In this earlier posting about King Harischandra, I mentioned work currently underway at the adjacent Simha Tank. The Simha Tank is one of my favourite spots around the Hill, as I very much like the iconic statue of the Lion standing sentinel at the front of the Tank. As previously mentioned the tank is being desilted and deepened. It probably will be difficult to believe but over the last few rainy seasons the water level of the tank actually overflows onto Chengam Road, and makes the spot look like a negative edge pool (i.e. infinity swimming pool).

In the below photograph, work continues on the inside of the tank, and very smart it looks too with its reinforced brick walls.

Hats off to the engineers for not damaging the abundant number of trees surrounding the tank.

However, we definitely have run into a problem with the Lion Statue and wonder who has sanctioned its new 'theme park' paint job?

I'm not surprised that they have covered his head - they probably want us to get used to him bit-by-bit. Surely showing him to us at one time would be too shocking!

Here he is again and in the below photograph one can get an idea of his head from the small opening at the edge of the cloth covering - Oh dear!

In addition his feet have also received a pedicure.

Below is a photograph of the Simha at the beginning of the tank renovation and also before his 'theme park' make-over. In comparison the new version looks ridiculous and its symbolic gravitas has been quite obscured.

I include here an earlier posting made about the relevance and symbolism of the Lion Tank.

"There are many religious and historical monuments at Arunachala but perhaps one of the most enigmatic is the wayside sphinx that appears in two places around the pradakshina road. Each sphinx stands next to a water tank (tirtham).

The sphinxes appear to have the head of a lion but, according to scholar Stella Kramrich, in fact are composed of three faces: the face of man, the face of the lion representing the Sun or Supreme Spirit, and the face of the dragon who, as the Destroyer of the Universe, stands for Transcendental Wisdom. Stella Kramrich further suggests that all three are superimposed on, and hence overwhelm the just discernible Death's head underlying them.

Speculating further on the history and meaning of the sphinxes, M. Bose writes in her book, 'The Hill of Fire':

. . . Today, these enigmatic sphinxes are used as mere shrines at which pilgrims, after taking a bath in the tank, make their offerings to Arunachala. But did they have a more important function in the past? For their symbology suggest that in long-forgotten rites they may have been gateways to the Sun, places of initiation where the neophytes, after being cleansed of sin and animal nature, received the highest knowledge that led to immortality in the Sun."


Malliga said...

Totally agree - the lion looked great before. Reminds me of the bright statues at the Pachai Amman Temple on the other side of the Hill. Talk about bright!

Anonymous said...

What were they thinking?

Divya said...

What a pity, the lion was so charming before but now he is only gaudy. :-(