Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vagata, the village of Chola temples

  "Vagata", a village located about  6 km from Hoskote was a very prosperous town under the Cholas. Ever since we read about the historical significance of  this place, we were curious to explore but lack of information and details of its location, kept us away. We tried to track the location by inquiring a few friends of ours who hailed from Hoskote, but to no avail. Finally, a friend returned our call for giving us the exact location of this place. Vouching on his information, one Saturday evening, we headed towards exploring this place.We had no trouble in reaching this place, thanks to the detailed information given by our friend.
Tamil Inscriptions
Vagata was known by several names such as Ovattam, Varadaraja-Chaturvedi-Mangalam, Ogata, Bhagirathipura, Yogapuri and so on,  under the reign of various kings. The earliest inscription found here has a mention of  Raja Rajendra Chola who ruled during the 10th Century. There are many old temples in this village, courtesy  the Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. Most important amongst them are the Varadaraja Temple, Anjaneya temple, Chandramouleshwara temple and the Chowdeshwari temple. The Varadaraja temple is built in Dravidian style and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Though the temple is completely renovated, the idol of Lord Vishnu, the four pillars of  the Mukha Mantapa and the Garudagamba have survived all odds and maintained originality of the Chola architecture. There is a Tamil inscription nearby the temple.
Varadaraja Temple
Carved Pillar
The Anjaneya temple was built by the Vijayanagar Kings. The sculpture of  Lord Anjaneya is huge and beautiful. The Chandramouleshwara temple is situated besides a lake and  is completely renovated, with no signs of ancient origin.  Hereon, we visited the Chowdeshwari temple located on the other side of the lake. This temple is one amongst the very few temples dedicated to the Sapthamatrikas and may have been  built during the same time as the  Kolaramma temple in Kolar (which is also dedicated to the Sapthamatrikas). 'Sapthamatrikas' is a set of seven mothers, representing the motherly aspects of the great goddesses (Devi's) and constitute the female counterparts of the gods Brahma (Brahmani), Maheshvara (Mahesvari), Kaumara (Kaumari), Vishnu (Vaisnavi) , Varaha (Varahi), Indra (Indrani) and Yama (Chamundi). Apart from these, there are scultpures of Bethala, Veerabhadra, Shiva, Chowdeshwari and  the Royal priest of Cholas, inside the temple, which are quite interesting.
Chandramouleshwara Temple
Chowdeshwari Temple and Sinking Pillar
Half Buried Thoranagamba
Veerabhadra Swamy
Royal Priest of the Cholas
    According to the legend, people feared to visit this temple as it was engulfed by dense forests. It was then, that a widow named Chikkamma, decided to take up the renovation work of  this temple. She approached the king of Mysore and requested him to help the villagers. When the king turned down her request, she returned  to her village and found her own way for saving the temple. She sold her Mangalasutra (the sacred thread, made of Gold and other precious stones, tied by the husband to his wife sanctifying marriage) and gathered money. Meanwhile, the king who had refused to help her faced   various problems, and on consultation and advice of the Royal Priest, decides to visit Chowdeshwari temple and perform  rituals in order to get rid of all his problems. There is a beautiful Thoranagamba just opposite to the temple entrance which lies half buried and pillar that sinks a few inches every year. As per the priest's description, the pillar is sinking ever since Chikkamma renovated the temple and from the time he remembers, it has sunk by almost a foot.
Moonlit Evening
While the priest, common to Varadaraja and the Anjaneya temple lives inside the premises of the Anjaneya temple, the priest, common to the the temples of Chandramouleshwara and Chowdeshwari resides near the Chandramouleshwara temple. Both the priests are quiet friendly and helpful. Annual Jatra is held during the month of April.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Twin Hoysala Temples , Mosale Hassan

  "Mosale" is a sleepy village off the Hassan-Mysore State Highway (SH 67). A huge sign board at the  village entrance welcomes us to this beautiful place blessed with twin Hoysala temples. These are amongst the very few Hoysala temples that have remained intact in all aspects, giving us a chance to admire, experience  and  appreciate the Hoysala architectural grandeur to its best. The temples together form a unique Dwikutachala. While one of the temples is dedicated to Nageshwara (Lord Shiva), the other is dedicated to Chennakeshava (Lord Vishnu). The approach road to this village  is quite a magnificent sight with narrow roads snaking through lovely green fields.
Welcome to  Mosale
Roads Snaking through the Green Fields
Nageshwara and Chennakeshava Temple
    These temples are believed to have been built in the 13th Century. According to a legend, the village of Mosale was also the hermitage of Sage Jamadagni (one of the Sapta-Rishis or Seven Sages). The two temples are similar in architecture and  have grand exteriors and interiors.
Nageshwara temple (Top) and Chennakeshava Temple (Bottom) in Monotone
Entrance Porch
Nectar in the Stone
Ceilings of  the Nageshwara Temple
   An other intriguing feature of this temple is the carving of Goddess Durga on the external ceiling of Nageshwara temple. The speciality of the carving is that, irrespective of the direction from which we view it, the goddess appears to be looking back at us. While there are numerous images of Gods and Goddesses sculpted on the outer walls of the temple,  the most interesting ones are that of the Goddesses with their respective Vahanas  ( or Vehicles) of Snake (presumed to be Kamakya or Manasa ) and Pig (presumed to be Gauri). While these forms of Goddess Durga are predominant  in North East India, they are rarely witnessed in the South Indian temples. The Shikaras of both temples are extremely beautiful with the Hoysala Emblem and the Shikara Phalaka carvings intact.
Goddesses with their respective Vahanas (Vehicles) Snake and Pig
Exterior Ceiling depicting Goddess Durga
Exemplary Art Work on the Shikara- Nageshwara (Top) and Chennakeshava (Bottom)
Twin Gems
Directions from Hassan: Hassan - SH 67- Travel about 8 km - Right turn to Mosale (Follow Sign Board)
Distance from Hassan: 10km
Places to visit Around: Anekere, Ambuga, C R Patna, Hassan, Gorur, Koravangala, Nuggehalli, Belur, Halebid, Dodda Gadavalli, Grama and many more...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fort Bhairavadurga

    On a lazy Sunday noon, after a sumptuous lunch at home, we decided to explore a fort situated close to Bangalore. Our target this time was the Bhairavadurga Fort. After gearing up suitably, we drove towards Bhairavadurga. On reaching Hulikal, we stopped by to get directions from a local. He instructed us to drive through the mud road just after passing out of the village and on reaching a mango grove, we could start our trek. We parked our vehicle and headed straight towards the hill base. We came across another local whom on inquiring about the route to the hill top, warned us about the presence of leopards and bears in the dense areas surrounding the hills and advised it would be better if we explored this place during the early hours. He then calmed us down by assuring our safety if we returned before sunset and informed us we had to walk  about a kilometer to reach the base of the hill and then follow the path to the hill top. Since we were already  late, we made an instant and a strict decision of  trekking only up till 5:30 pm and returning to ensure safety. That meant we had about an hour and fifteen minutes as our trek time limit, which we thought would be just enough.
Fort Bhairavadurga
Into the Woods
     As we walked further, the vegetation gradually changed from shrubby to woody and though it was summer, the walk through the woods was quite pleasant. We reached the hill base and also found a path for our trek uphill. We followed the path and all of a sudden, reached a dead end on the path with all sides covered with thorny shrubs. We had nowhere to go further. Somehow, we spotted a small opening in between the shrubs and realized that if we crossed a few yards, from there on the walk would be easy and so we did. We were excited to see a flight of steps that lead to a gateway that was completely engulfed by shrubs.
The Dead End
Under Shrubs
Steps leading to the Gateway
 The Gateway
   After passing the gateway, and walking ahead, it seemed like we had lost our way as there was no path to climb up. Though the upper most tier of fort was in sight, we could not find a way to the hill top. We tried different routes that we thought would lead us to the fort but in vain. Since it was late evening, we decided not to venture further and planned to return.
Area engulfed by Shrubs
Upper Tier

Read the next part .....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chalukyan Temple of Hire-Hadagali /ಹಿರೇ ಹಡಗಲಿ

ಹಿರೇ ಹಡಗಲಿ
Hire-Hadagali Temple 
 "ಹಿರೇ ಹಡಗಲಿ " is a busy village located on the State Highway SH 40 which is a link between Hoovina Hadagali  and Ranebennur. Thanks to the ASI staff  for insisting us to visit this temple. This place is home to a beautiful Chalukyan temple dedicated to Lord Kalleshwara. The Art critic Alexander Rea has described this temple completely in his book titled "The Chalukyan Architecture". He summarizes in his book that 'every detail of the carved work is as minutely finished as jewellery'. This temple is locally known has 'Katte Basaveshwara' temple. One of the inscriptions found here also calls it 'Demeswara'.
The South Doorway
Interiors of the Kalleshwara Temple
Goddess Uma-Maheshwari's unique Hair-Do
 Lintel Carving of the Garbhagriha
   The temple is believed to have been built during 10th Century by the Kalyana Chalukyas. It is undoubtedly one amongst the most beautiful temples of Karnataka.There are two entrances to temple (one  facing  east and the other facing south).  The unique feature of this temple is the embossed carvings on the pattikas. The outer walls of the temple are extremely beautiful, carrying heavy carvings of unusual styles and designs.The main temple  houses idols of Ganesha, Sapthamatrikas, Uma-Maheshwari and Bhairava. All the doorways and the pillars are of classical Chalukyan type.  There is a small idol of Nandi inside the temple. Another temple situated opposite to this temple is dedicated to the Sun God Lord Surya and has a huge Nandi in its front, facing the Kalleshwara. 
Heavily decorated Pillar 
Lion capturing a Three Headed Snake
Embossed Carvings on the Pattikas
Goddess Paravathi
Lord Surya Temple
Carvings on the outer wall
   The ASI has maintained this temple and its surroundings well and has appointed full time care takers.
Kalleshwara Temple
Natures' Gem with Man made Gem
    Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore -NH4 - Ranebennur - Right Turn  towards SH 40 -
    Distance from Bangalore: 370 km
  Places to visit Around: Mylara, Devaragudda, Galaganatha, Chaudayyadanapura, Haveri, Ranebennur,   Bagali, Harapanahalli, Hoovina Hadagali, Kuruvatti, Harlahalli, Dambal, Magala and many more

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