Surasundari and Vyala

Ambika Mata temple, Jagat

Photo left, on a projecting offset of the temple wall, a surasundari arranges her robe with the help of an attendant. Photo right, a mythical creature called a vyala engages in combat with two smaller figures, male warriors who are attempting to tame it. One warrior rides its back, while the other crouches beneath its upraised paw. Female figures will occasionally be substituted for the warriors.

The vyala motif, always placed in a vertical indentation between projections of the wall, is ubiquitous in medieval Indian temples. Symbolically, it seems to represent a struggle to subdue the passions. The vyala's body is always a rampant lion. Its face takes several forms, the most common of which is a horned lion, like the kirttimukha masks which adorn the temples.