Temple Sculptors at Work

Jungle Temple Under Construction

Jungle Temple Under Construction

While on a hike through sparsely populated rural south India, I came across a temporary workshop of sculptors on the side of the dirt road. My friends hardly noticed them, so focused were they on our destination but I could barely contain myself. With my growing excitement, I insisted that we stop and investigate.  When I see creativity bubbling right in front of my eyes I can’t resist.

The sculptors were busy hammering and chiseling away. They were serious yet welcoming in a shy way. I could detect with my innate traveler’s radar (don’t ask how that works!) that they were from another region and didn’t speak the local dialect, not that I do! They didn’t speak English either so I couldn’t ask all the many questions that were popping into my excited brain at the time. We did manage to communicate a bit; the way travelers do: with hands, facial expressions and any other aids that one can come up with at the moment.

The Workshop

The Workshop

Clearly they were proud of their work and pleased  by my enthusiasm. Below is a photograph of one of the completed sculptures. I can only guess at the material used. It looked a lot like granite.Finished Product

Finished Product

After a few minutes the novelty of our arrival wore off and with the range of topics possible for discussion limited, the sculptors went back to work.

Sculptor at Work

Sculptor at Work




When we first bumped into them we didn’t know that they were preparing sculptures for a new temple under construction  down the road but they kept pointing ahead of us and repeating, “mandir,” which means a temple. We continued and about a kilometer down the dirt road, we saw what must have been the site for their work.

I am not an expert on Indian temples but over the years have acquired a basic knowledge of their design and some of the regional differences. This one, however, was round. Most Hindu and Jain temples are rectangular, I believe. I never did solve this mystery but will visit again and let you know.

It was a rare treat and a delight to chance upon these talented and dedicated artisans right on the side of the road. India is full of surprises.


About ninagrandiose

I am based in NYC but travel regularly to India and Mexico. Both of these countries feel like home. In India I scour the country in search of fabulous textiles to incorporate into my clothing designs. I sit back and let the ambiance and wonder of India seep into my consciousness so I can be inspired to write about what India is for me. I bring a limited number of people to India on exclusive and intimate tours of my favorite hangouts. In Mexico I take in the natural beauty that surrounds me and dance the night away. I constantly give thanks for all this and am pleased to share it all with you.
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4 Responses to Temple Sculptors at Work

  1. LB says:

    super story. thank you. enjoyed reading this and I also learnt something news… ( re shapes of Temples!)

  2. ninagrandiose says:

    Glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  3. Jess says:

    This is amazing Nina! I’m so glad I found your site – what beautiful documentation of your travels. I would have been equally as drawn to seeing how these awe-inspiring structures are created.

    • ninagrandiose says:

      Thanks, Jess. My love for travel leads me to lots of good things, including your blog. It does keep me out of the kitchen and food is another passion.

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