Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Hoysala Temple - Mavuthanahalli, Hassan

          'Mavuthanahalli' is a small village in the Arsikere Taluk of Hassan District. We had no much information about the existence of any old temples in this village, except for the presence of a small Hoysala Temple. Therefore, our hunt for this temple began without any expectations. After getting the required information about its location from the temple priest of Haranahalli, we moved as directed and stopped by at a small village to confirm the route. Thankfully, we were on the right track. We were hungry and on a look out for a place to eat. Finding a small hotel in this village serving piping hot Idlis and Bondas, we halted to have breakfast. Surprisingly, the tasty and fulfilling meal for two came at just Rs.30. After this super-breakfast, we moved towards our destination. On reaching Mavuthanahalli, while we inquired about the Shiva temple from the locals, the villagers excitingly and curiously enough wished to know if we were from from the govt. and would help them  improve the temple.  Sadly, we had to answer them that we had come only to visit this lesser known temple. We moved towards the temple only to find a lovely little temple in dilapidated condition. 
Mahalingeshwara Temple
The temple here is the 'Mahalingeshwara Temple' dedicated to Lord Shiva. The exterior of the temple is in a dilapidated condition, with most of its external features either ruined or displaced, while the carvings on the outer walls seem to have completely vanished (except two), giving a very blank look from the outside. The two beautiful carvings that have survived, lets us imagine how beautiful this temple looked when it was intact. As we stepped inside, we realized that the villagers had taken keen interest in preserving our heritage. The temple interiors very well maintained by the people of the village. We had the company of  two very young and energetic girls of the neighboring houses, who kept interest in knowing the history behind his temple and told us everything they knew. 
Ruined Exteriors of the Temple
Rear View of the Temple
The temple is of Trikuta type having three cells, with Lord Shiva placed in the form of a Linga in the main cell. His guardian Nandi is situated right in front of him. The ceilings are skillfully and delicately carved.The pillars and door frames are simple compared to the other typical  Hoysala style temples.
Main Shrine of Lord Shiva
Shiva Linga
Central Ceiling
Simple and Plain Pillar
The left cell houses an idol of Lord Hari-Hara, along with their respective vehicles Garuda and Nandi,  present at the base of the idol. Guarding them are the dwarapalakas at the door. The lintel of the door frame has a carving of Hari-Hara with their Consorts. The right cell houses a beautiful idol of Lord Narasimha and the lintel has a carving of Narasimha on it. The temple has several beautifully carved images, some of which include Lord Ganesha, Shanmukha, Naga, and Sapthamatrikas
Lord Hari-Hara in the Left Cell
Hari-Hara with their Consorts
Idol of Ugra Narasimha in the Right  Cell
Lintel of Lord Narasimha
Ceiling Panel 1
Ceiling Panel 2
Lord Shanmukha
The Only Two Exterior Wall Carvings
Lord Surya

Monday, April 8, 2013

A date with Pre Historic time

One afternoon while traveling, we reached a spot which looked quite mysterious. We stopped by to peep in and have a look around. The first thing that caught our attention was a single stone standing about three feet tall. Here on, walking a little further, we found a stone circle, made of irregular stones. On spotting these two, our excitement doubled, as we waited further to see what more was in store! By now, we were almost sure that this indeed is the place where we could look for Menhirs. We were sure about this as we had read before, their presence in that particular place and its surroundings. Inspecting the surroundings, we found a Dolmenoid Cist, after which it became a confirmed site for spotting the Menhirs. Knowing that we were close to spotting them, we began wandering with curiosity this vast expanse of scattered stones, small hillocks and boulders.
Inviting Menhir
Dolmeniod cist
Displaced Cap Stone 
   We sighted a few Stone Circles, Cairn Circles and a Dolmeniod Cist. A local shepherd revealed to us that there were more than  a hundred such structures (Pandavara Gudi or Dolmenoid Cist), most of which were removed from place and the stones being used for various purposes. One of the striking features of the  Dolmenoid Cist is the huge undressed cap stone slab placed horizontally on four comparatively thin vertically standing stone slabs,  with one or more port holes. The cap stones we observed were really huge and its thickness varied from about one to two feet, and the vertical standing stones were only about three to four inches thick. We always wonder how  people, 3000 plus years ago, played with stones so easily without any help from the so called technology. We found numerous Dolmens without the cap stone, which then resembled the crude swastika (a Hindu religious symbol and Nazi emblem), while some places were scattered with only cap stones. 
Stone circle with Dolmen in the center 
Stone Circle
Cairn Circle
   Further upon interaction, he revealed finding pottery pieces under these cists and not finding any treasure. Later, he called upon two teenagers for guiding and showing us some intact Cists and Menhirs. They were more than happy to show us around. On our way, we met an elderly person, probably in his 80's, who told us that when he was boy, two Britishers  had visited this site for surveying, which went on for almost two years. Since then, only a few Government officials visited here occasionally. He showed us the biggest Cist of this area, and asked us to return tomorrow so he could clear all the over grown vegetation and we could see it clearly.  A little further, we found a slab stone with port hole.
Inside a Dolmen
Dolmen and Shepherd 
Look at the Port Hole 
  Finally we reached our destination, the Menhirs that stood tall amidst the dry vegetation. There were four Menhirs all around. Menhirs are monolithic undressed stones planted vertically into the ground, which can vary in height and structure size from small  to gigantic. Some researchers believe these to be associated with burials while a few relate them to the Solstice. Though we can get close to the reason behind placing or constructing these structures, the truth remains hidden. At a few sites in India, Menhirs with engravings, also called as Petroglyphs have been found. While we  wondered about these intriguing structures, time passed by and we had to call off our visit since it was getting dark, leaving the rest  to our imagination. We felt that there may be many hidden secrets behind these mysterious structures, that are yet to be explored and discovered.

This place is located about 60 km from Bangalore.

Other Prehistoric Sites visited :
1 Chandravalli Gardens, Chitradurga  
2 Stone circles of Varlakonda
3 Cave Paintings of Anegundi 
4 Rock Carvings of Usgalimal, Goa
5 Pandava Caves of Rivona .

1 "Kuvalahala" - A book about Places of  Interest in Kolar
2 The Megalithic Culture in South India - By B.K.Gururaja Rao
3 Wiki