Discovery of Centuries-Old Soap Statues of Nandi in the Dry Lake Bed near Mysore, India.

Whispers from the past have come to life! The villagers of Arasinakere, 20 km south of Mysuru, have unearthed two giant Nandi statues buried face-to-face under a dry lake bed.


A popular Hindu belief is that if you whisper your wishes in the ears of Nandi (depicted as a seated bull in Shiva temples around the world), they reach Lord Shiva himself. The villagers claim that the last Maharaja of Mysuru, Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar (ruled from 1940 to 1950, died in 1974), had a dream to excavate these ancient statues. It took decades for his dream to come true, owing to the water accumulated over the region. The lake bed, now dry, was recently excavated using JCB Earthmovers.

Statues of Nandi excavated near Mysuru.

Experts from Karnataka’s Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage visited the village this week to inspect the site. Speaking to The Weather Channel India, archaeologist N L Gowda acknowledged that the statues appear to be from the 16th or 17th century AD.

“The statues are of different sizes and are carved out of a monolithic rock. There is a 2.5-metre gap between the two statues. The larger one is 4.5m x 2.5m x 3.1m, and the smaller around 3m x 2.5m x 2.5m. The statues are not complete; one is almost 85% complete and the other 65%. It remains a mystery why the statues were left at this site without completion,” Gowda said.

Statues of Nandi excavated near Mysuru

Early evidence suggests that the statues were chiselled in order to be shifted later to some other location. The department says that during the time of construction, the ground was dug 4-5 metres deep to reach the soapstone quarry and chisel the statues.

In 2016, the department had visited the site to inspect the horns, which were seen above the soil surface. Unsure about the archaeological importance, the officials did not proceed with the excavation.

“Since the statues are on private land, we are exploring options on how to proceed. The department will examine the evidence and decide on the methods of conserving these relics,” says Gowda.

Statues of Nandi excavated near Mysuru.

Arasinakere is a village of over 300-odd families, and the villagers have been reportedly trying to excavate the statues ever since the initial attempts by Mysuru Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar during the 1940s. The elders in the village claim that Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar visited the lake and deployed resources to excavate the statues. However, they failed to complete the task due to the presence of water.