Travel Shot: The snake on the ceiling

The back of my neck prickled, and an uneasy shiver ran down my spine. I looked around and could see nothing unusual or scary. It was a bright sunny afternoon at the Badami Caves and our tour group was gathered around the guide at Cave Temple 1. There was nothing unusual or strange or eerie there.

Yet, the feeling of being watched persisted and I just could not relax. I still don’t know what made me look up at the ceiling. And when I did look up this is what I saw.

Carving of a snake on the ceiling in Cave 1

Now, I do not have Ophidiophobia, but the huge carved snake on the ceiling gave me a scare. It looked so real that my first instinct was to run away; a couple of people in my tour group actually did leave the cave and walk away when the guide pointed it out to them. To me, it looked like the beautifully carved snake with the multi-hooded head was stretching out its hands towards me. I could not take a photograph right away and this one was taken only after I had visited all the other caves.

Even as I type out this post, I can remember that prickly feeling of unease. I actually looked up at the ceiling to check and found only the ceiling fan whirring away !

Have you come across such realistic looking sculptures during your travels? Do share them with me here. :-)

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31 thoughts on “Travel Shot: The snake on the ceiling

  1. I remember this one at Badami!! didnt get as good a pic as yours since it was late in the evening…. but i was too fascinated by all the life like sculptures to be scared or even uneasy… and of course, too busy clicking pics!

    • Did you notice the snake on the ceiling in Cave 2? That one was larger but badly damaged. But this one, while not creepy in the strictest sense, was still enough to make aware of the watcher. However, I did recover sufficiently to take other photographs too :-)

  2. Hmmm…

    Have had such experiences, but not so eerie.

    A couple of places where there have been Buddha statues, especially tall ones, I get this feeling that the Buddha is staring at me. Not in an eerie way, but in a benovelent way. Even if I move or look at it sideways, that feeling persists. Perhaps because the Buddha is mostly scuplted with his eyes half open, you can’t make out what He is looking at.

    The feeling of peace that envelops me at that time survives for some time longer too…

    • I felt that with the Maheshmurti at the Elephanta Caves, but in a nice way. Till I saw the Maheshmurti I always wondered what was it that made people go into raptures about the sculpture. But when I saw it, an incredible peace came over me even in the crowded hall with several hundreds of people there.

  3. Happy to read your eerie experience.
    I would like to share my experience here Sudha.
    We went to Tanjore way back in 1978 for my brother’s marriage. We visited Tanjore Peria Kovil. While we were about to enter into the temple one of my uncles just like that told:”imagine Kundavai and Arulmozhi Varman are walking along with us……!” (Hope you know about Kalki’s ‘Ponniyin selvan’ story) Wow…..all of us were completely plunged into that story and started narrating each episode and the place changed into old pazhayaarai…..!
    Whenever I visit Tanjore I fondly remember this.
    I will go through all your above links very soon!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Ranjani. I can quite imagine Kundavai and Arulmozhi Varman walking into the temple and the stories and tales of the past coming to life there. I felt something when I visited Fatehpur Sikri In October last year. It was early morning and there was no one else apart from a family of 4 and my guide. As the guide narrated the history of the city, it just came alive in front of me. I guess some places are like that, aren’t they?

      • There you are! Recently we visited Kerala temples and I felt like a kind of dejavu…..! I felt very much at home there and a flash ……I might be there in one of my numerous births……..ha…..ha…..

        • Thank God you know ‘kundavai and Arulmozhi varman. After writing my feedback, I felt a little awkward because I didn’t check whether you know ‘ponniyin selvan’

        • The previous birth part… I can totally believe. I feel like that when ever I am in the Mangalore-Udipi-Sringeri region. The familiarity and the emotions that I have for the place cannot be really explained.

  4. In the photograph, it does look benign, but I can only imagine how it might appear if one were to look up at it inside the cave. It does look enormous though with all those coils :)

    • Not only does it look benign, it also looks two-dimensional. To look up suddenly and see what looks like an enormous snake uncoiling itself is quite a sight, indeed :-). And one that I will never forget.

  5. Didn’t find anything serious about it. Can easily make out this is stone carving and nowhere close to real. May be darkness made the difference

    • Well, of course, one can easily make out that this is a stone carving. But a very realistic one at that. I don’t think the effect would have been the same if this had been on a wall, instead of on the ceiling.

    • Welcome here, PN Subramanian, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I read your encounter with the real one, and I think that I too would have photographed it after getting over my initial fear.

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