Lord Shiva sits proudly upon a rock facing the East, his matted locks flowing in the wind. However entwined in his locks atop his head, he carries Ganga Devi. Unveiled recently, Kerala’s tallest statue of Lord Shiva has gone viral as people share photographs of the Gangadhareshwara figure across social media platforms. Ever since the 58-ft-tall majestic Gangadhareswara statue of Lord Shiva was unveiled, thousands have been flocking daily to the Azhimala Shiva Temple in Vizhinjam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Touted to be the tallest Gangadhareshwara statue in the state, it took seven years to complete. According to the temple priest Jyothish Potti, the statue is a fulfilment of a long-cherished dream of his.
“This place was once known as a meditation spot for yogis and sanyasis. I often spend my time in meditation here. The serene vibe, the breeze, and the sound of the waves create a surreal atmosphere. I wanted to share this experience with the rest and so decided to push for a space for mediation at the temple,” he says. Jyothish adds that people often have problems that weigh them down. “Just spending a few minutes in meditation can make a difference. The problems might seem less burdensome,” says the priest who has been serving the temple for the last 29 years.
The statue made of concrete was carved by artist PS Devadathan, an Azhimala native and a College of Fine Arts graduate. According to the artist, he zoned in on the material after studying the environment. “Concrete is the most suitable material if you keep the wilful sea and the wind load in mind.”
While most statues of the Lord depict a face-frontal view, Devadathan’s Shiva faces angularly at the sky. “Statues of Lord Shiva are aplenty. I wanted something unique — an image of the Lord that would blend with the environment. That was when Gangadhareshwara sprang to mind,” says Jyothish Potti. He adds that the artist has poured his heart and soul into his work and it shows as it is bringing in a crowd.
“Once the meditation hall is ready, people can sit and meditate. There is more work to be done. We plan to add a sculpture of Nandi beside him,” says the priest. The meditation hall is located below the statue. One needs to climb down a flight of stairs to reach the hall, which is said to be able to seat close to 300 people. According to Jyothish, it will most likely take another few months for work in the meditation hall to complete. “This is just a soft launch. A formal launch will be held after finishing the work.”
The almost Rs 5-crore project is said to have been funded by visitors and devotees. In a district known for the iconic Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the beaches of Kovalam and Varkala, the backwaters of Poovar and Anchuthengu, and its Western Ghats tracts of Ponmudi and Agastya Mala, the Shiva statue is yet another addition to the list of beautiful attractions.
Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran had decided to include the temple in the government’s ‘Pilgrim Tourism Circuit’ which consists of other renowned temples from the district. “An amenity centre is also under consideration. Approval will be given for it once the trust submits a detailed plan,” the minister said.
With today, March 11, being Maha Shivarathri, a crowd is expected at the temple as devotees throng to offer prayers. Incredible India and Kerala Tourism have shared photos and videos of the magnificent statue to mark the occasion.
Mollywood celebs including Prithviraj Sukumaran, Unni Mukundan, Sangeeth Sivan and Shweta Mohan have taken to their social media handle to wish their fans a pious and holy Maha Shivarathri.
The lead image and the photo of Ganga Devi are attributed to Muthukrishnan N. The third photo is by Abhilash Subbayyan, while the fourth is by Rakesh Kiran Pulapa