One of the legends in Hindu mythology talks about the episode where King Ravana, in his arrogance, tries to lift Mt Kailash- the abode of Shiva. Even though Ravana makes a fair effort Shiva pushes the mountain back down with his foot and Ravana is apparently trapped for a good while under it.
I had frankly never heard of this tale until I started reading up for my trip to Cambodia and about this magnificent temple called Banteay Srei which has an exquisite depiction of this scene.
The panel above has Ravana with his ten heads and twenty arms lifting Mt Kailash and looking up to see what kind of effect he is having on the residents of the mountain. Almost everybody (including the sages) seem startled except for Shiva who is composed and confident.
In both the Belur and Haleibidu versions of the incident Ravana has been given a large amount of space. He is shown as this massive demonic figure that is lifting the mountain and all its occupants. In Banteay Srei however (and this may have been dictated by the limited space available) Ravana is not quite so large and is almost human-like in his curiosity and exertion.
Whereas Belur and Haleibidu temples were built in the early 12th Century, Banteay Srei was built in the 10th Century. There was a difference of nearly two centuries and a massive ocean and many miles of land between the two places and yet they were connected by a common thread of folklore and divinity.
What do you think? Do you see any recurrent motifs/ legends in ancient architecture that you like? Leave a comment!