Gangavataran (The Descent of Ganga)

Ravi Varma Press1890

Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation

Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation
Bengaluru, India

A stunning work which shows Lord Shiva in all his glory. To absolve his ancestors of all their sins, Bhagiratha performs a rigid and severe penance on being told that only the water from Ganga can purify their sins. Pleased with the severity of his penance and his determination, Lord Brahma grants him his wish and Ganga, never one to disobey Brahma's orders comes gushing down, unmindful of her power and surge. With the cascading water threatening to destroy everything in its wake, Brahma advises Bhagiratha to pray to Shiva for help. A dread-locked Shiva comes to his devotee and earth's rescue by majestically standing upright and directing Ganga's flow into his hair to control the flow of the powerful river. The breathtaking scene shows Bhagiratha in absolute devotion while Shiva's consort Parvati watches the descent of Ganga while leaning causally on Nandi, Shiva's vahan. Shiva's angry pose and Parvati's benign look tells a tale in itself.


  • Title: Gangavataran (The Descent of Ganga)
  • Creator: Ravi Varma Press
  • Creator Death Place: Kilimanoor, Kerala
  • Creator Birth Place: Kilimanoor, Kerala
  • Date Created: 1890
  • Location Created: Bengaluru, India
  • Physical Dimensions: 21 x 46 cm
  • Type: Reproduction
  • Original Source: From the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation
  • Rights: Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru
  • Art Form: Print
  • Labels and Inscriptions: Ravi Varma Press, Malavli, Lonavala
  • Creator's Lifetime: 1848-04-29/1906-10-02
  • Collection: Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru
  • About the Artist: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), India’s foremost artist, who took art to the masses, hailed from Kilimanoor, in the erstwhile state of Travancore. From a very young age, Ravi Varma, was drawn towards art, imbibing techniques from his uncle and mentor Raja Raja Varma and his mother, Umayamba Bayi, a poet in her own right. Varma was much sought after by the Royals and owing to his popularity and reputation, his spectacular and richly-textured works were prolific. His realistic portrayals of contemporary figures and interpretations of religious and mythological figures fetched him instant and enduring success, lifting his standing in the art world. If the Royals and his countrymen were in awe of this great talent, the international world was spellbound by his imagination and creativity. He ensured that art would be accessible to all, through reproductions of his paintings which were made available, and affordable to everyone.

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