Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hoysala: Viranarayana Temple, Belavadi, Chikmagalur -II

 Though millions of visitors throng Belur and Halebidu (Mecca of Medieval Indian Temple Architecture) every year, very few curiously visit the other Hoysala temples in its surroundings. Truly speaking, the surrounding temples prove better places to study as well as enjoy the Hoysala Architecture. According to Gerard Foekema, who has carried out extensive research on Hoysala temples, “There are many small yet complete Hoysala temples which give a clear picture of Hoysala Architecture than Belur and Halebidu”.  Without any doubt, though Belur and Halebidu are the finest surviving masterpieces of Indian art and architecture, there is more about Hoysala architecture. After having explored Belavadi (just 10 km from Halebidu) , we personally felt that the temple of Viranayana reveals a lot more about the Hoysala architecture, as this temple is an amalgamation of two different stages of Hoysala style of temple construction. The temple also shows the influence of the Badami Chalukyan Architecture, thus proving that Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal were the learning centers for South Indian Temple Architecture. It is believed that many sculptors visited Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal often, to get inspiration for building beautiful temples in order to impress their kings. The Viranarayana Temple of Belavadi is probably the only Hoysala temple that houses three different plans for cells in a single temple.
Hoysala Temple Belavadi
The Temple Complex Belavadi
The interiors of this temple are excellently executed, with each of the 54 lathe turned pillars of the Mahamandapa  and the other 27 pillars of the Sabhamandapa (Viranarayana Temple) being unique in its design. The Mahamandapa, built with a provision for seating, resembles a Natyamandapa (dancing floor). There are 96 elephant carvings below the seating provided, indicating that the entire Mantapa is being carried on the elephants backs. There are 23 unique ceilings in the Mahamandapa and Sabhamandapa, out which a few are classical examples of the influence of Badami Chalukyas. The skill and perfection exhibited in constructing these temples can be even witnessed even today if one visits any of these during sunrise. The temples are constructed in a manner that the first rays of the sun fall on the main idol, even though the idol is placed about 150 meters inside the temple.
Entrance to The Viranarayana Temple 
Pillared Alley of Mahamandapa
Heavily Carved Pillar
Ceiling No.1 
Ceiling No.2
Ceiling No.3
Ceiling No.4
Ceiling No.5
Viranarayana Temple 
Lord Venugopala on the Ceiling 
Elephant Carvings 
    Long ago (pre- TGS period), like many travelers, we too were unaware of any Hoysala temples other than Belur, Halebidu, Shravana Belagola, Somanathapura and Melukote. It was a visit to the temples at Hosaholalu, Basaralu and Kambadahalli that changed our mindset for the better, making us research more on the surviving Hoysala temples, live, renovated or ruined. Ever since, our list of Hoysala temples has been growing just like the tail of Lord Hanuman. This is the 125th Hoysala temple we have explored in our pursuit of rediscovering the lost Hoysala temples. 
Lord Venugopala Ceiling  inspired by the Ceiling of Badami  Cave Temple 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hoysala: Viranarayana Temple, Belavadi, Chikmagalur

The Viranarayana Temple of Belavadi is supposed to be the best and the largest Hoysala monument surviving.  This temple complex encompasses most of the Hoysala architectural features and was built in two different stages. In its first stage, an Ekakuta or a single celled temple was built with a Garbhagriha, an Antarala, a closed Sabhamandapa and open Mukhamantapa.  This part of the temple was built by the great Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana after converting to Hinduism from Jainism, under the influence of the great saint Ramanuja. It was built as a mark of devotion towards Lord Vishnu who is referred here as Viranarayana. Amongst the three temples of the complex, Viranarayana is the biggest and the simplest.
Veeranarayana Temple Belvadi
Viranarayana Temple, Belavadi
Viranarayana Temple
Simple Exterior Wall
In its second stage of construction, a transversal strip with Ankanas, a Mahamandapa attached with 2 Garbhagrihas with Antaralas on the northern and southern sides and a Mukhamantapa towards the east were added, making it a conglomeration of 3 temples in one. These additional temples were built in the early 13th century under the king Ballala II. They are smaller in size and very ornate on the exterior, much in contrast to the Viranarayana temple. While one of the temples is dedicated to Lord Venugopala, the other is dedicated to Lord Yoga Narasimha.   There is a continuous series of beautiful sculptures of different forms of Vishnu just below the Shikara (eave) of the temple. The Shikara of the Viranarayana temple has 3 talas, whereas the Venugopala and Yoga Narasimha temples have 4 talas, which makes the uppermost hemisphere of the Viranarayana temple a little bigger in size than the other two temples.
Yoga Narashima Temple  Belavadi
Yoga Narashima Temple 
Lord Vishnu's Sculptures 

Ornate Exterior Wall
Shikara Viranarayana Temple 
Shikara of Venugopala Swamy Temple 
Shikara of  Yoga Narashima Swamy Temple 
   The original temple of Viranarayana and the temples of Venugopal and Yoga Narasimha are connected by an elongated mantapa, which is the only structure that looks out of the place. There is a beautiful and a unique entrance/Mahadwara which is bedecked with two huge elephant sculptures to welcome the visitors. This entrance is very big and has a few inscriptions and some old sculptures. There is a beautifully maintained garden surrounding this temple, adding to the beauty of the temple. The temple and its premises are very well maintained by the ASI, with a permanent care taker.
Elongated Mantapa at  the Joining of the Temples 
Lovely Entrance
Entrance Door frame 
Viranarayana Temple Belavadi
Viranarayana Temple Complex, Belavadi 

Continued here..........    

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Places to visit around Bangalore/ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು/Bengaluru - Part 10

 Continued from here..

  51.   Midigeshi
Type: Hill, Fort, Mosque, Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 120 km
Trek Distance: 2 km (One Way)
Trek level: Easy
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore – NH4 – Dabspet – Right Turn – Madhugiri – Bypass - Midigeshi
About:  The fort of Midigeshi is believed to have been built by a local Chieftain named Nagareddi, who named the fort after his wife Midigeshi, called so because she had hair (kesha) long enough that reached her heel (midi). This place was ruled by queens of the same family for a long time. Read more……
Fort Midigeshi 

   52. Manne/Manyapura  
Type: Ancient Capital, Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 50 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore – NH 4 – Dabspet – Right Turn Towards NH 207 –  Drive Till Railway Crossing – Left Turn – Manne
About: 'Manne' is the erstwhile capital city of the Gangas, who shifted their capital from Avani of Mulbagal Taluk to here, and later to Talakad. There are many temples present here which were built during the reign of the Gangas. While most of them are completely renovated,  a few such as the Kapileshwara temple (though in  ruins now), proves a  great witness to the excellent  style of  Ganga Architecture. Read more…..
Kapileshwara Temple , Manne 
53.   Sheelanere
Type: Hoysala Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 145 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore – Mysore Road – B R Koppal – Right Turn – Pandavapura – Towards K R Pete – Right Turn (Board in Kannada) - Sheelanere
About: 'Sheelanere' is a small village located near K R Pete. The Eshwara temple here was built by the Hoysalas in 1157 AD. This beautiful soap-stone temple is situated near a huge lake. Read more

Sunk Eshwara Temple, Sheelanere 
   54. Nagalapura
Type: Hoysala Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 150 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore – NH 48 –  Right Turn – Myasandra –  Left Turn After 3 km –(There is a School on the Right Side) – Left Turn At The Dead End – Right Turn After 6 km – Nagalapura
About:  'Nagalapura', a village located in Turuvekere taluka , has two significantly beautiful and ornate Hoysala temples.  Nagalapura was a prosperous town under the Hoysala rule, whose grandeur can be felt when we look at these temples. Like most of the Hoysala towns, this too has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (Kedareshwara) and another temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Chennakeshava). Read more…..
Wall Panels of Kedareshwara Temple

Chennakeshava Temple - Rear View

Ceiling of Chennakeshava Temple

    55.   Narayanadurga
Type: Hill, Fort, Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 148 km
Trek Distance: 2 km (One Way)
Trek Level: Easy
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore – Mysore Road – B R Koppal – Right Turn – Pandavapura – K R Pete – Right Turn – After 7 km Turn Left – Sindhaghatta – 3 km Further is Narayanadurga.
About: This place is also known as 'Kailaseshwaradurga' because of the Kailaseshwara temple present at the top. The fort is believed to have been built by a local chieftain under Vijayanagar Kings. There are many legends associated with this place, suggesting its association with the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Read more…..
Narayanadurga Fort 
Kapileshwara Temple 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hampi Unseen III

Hampi Unseen
Anantasayana Etched on a Rock 
'Anantasayana' or 'Sesasayana' is an aspect of  Lord Visnu, depicted recumbent on the coils of the cosmic snake Ananta, with the snake's seven hoods forming a canopy over the sleeping god. The serpent lies on the waters of the shoreless cosmic ocean. Anantasayana embodies the three cosmic functions of creator, preserver and destroyer.
 Lord Anantasayana is beautifully etched on a rock located on the banks of the river Tungabhadra. Here, the sleeping Visnu reclines on the coils of the snake Ananta and from his navel emerges a lotus stalk, on the flower of which is seated Lord Brahma, the creator of the world.  Sridevi and Bhudevi, the consorts of the Lord Visnu are depicted beautifully near his feet. Lord Visnu is seen holding his emblems viz., the conch (shanka), discus (chakra), mace (gadha) and lotus in his four arms. Lord Hanuman and Garuda are also seen worshiping Lord Visnu by his side.
From time immemorial, Lord Anantasayana is being worshiped on the river banks, as they are assumed to be the Kshirasagara or Cosmic ocean, from which Brahma created the world. There are many famous temples in India and Nepal, dedicated to Lord Anantasayana  and all these are situated on the banks of rivers.

References: The Illustrated Dictionary of Hindu Iconography by Margaret Stutley
On the Banks of Tungabhadra 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Standing Stones of Byse, Shimoga

 Drive through the Nagara-Nittur road was quite a pleasure and went on smoothly until a sign board of a village name Byse, caught our attention. We stopped at the crossing to check our travel dairy for any information related to this place as we vaguely remembered reading about it and its connection with pre history. Well, we were right!  Byse has numerous standing stones/ Menhirs / Nilskal / Rakshashkal. Our excitement only grew as we knew the name of the place matched and we decided to explore this place. When we inquired about the exact location of such stones to an elderly person, he shooed us away saying that, nothing of such a kind exists there. Assuming that this person may be ignorant or misleading, my wife insisted on having a second opinion and so we did!  A little further we met a few people who on enquiring about the stones responded positively, saying that ‘Aane Nilskal’ (Stone used to tie Elephants) is located over an elevated piece of land close by, and for this we had to walk a short   distance as the roads were not in a proper condition. Thanking them, we moved further. Final enquiries ahead lead us to the location of Menhirs. This place is called as “Nilaskal Byana”, meaning the field of standing stones. We could easily spot 6 Menhirs standing tall and a few fallen, here and there. It is believed that these structures are aligned in such way that they fall in line following the solar solstices. The reason behind their placement and their laying still remains a big mystery, just as the stone henge!

Standing Stones
Fallen Stone
Hidden Menhir
Stone Square???

Further reading:
1. A mountain sunrise by Srikumar M Menon, researching on pre-historic sites, especially Byse.  

Happy Ganesha Festival to All !

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hampi Unseen -II

An obvious question that runs in any travelers mind about Hampi is the actual time required to explore Hampi in total. Most people, depending upon the period of vacation, number of places to be covered, purpose of visit, etc., decide the duration of travel which may vary from a few days to months. An elderly friend of ours was quite curious to know if we had explored Hampi completely and when he questioned us about the same, we replied with a smile and nodded our heads in a way that meant we hadn’t, and also affirmed him of doing it shortly.
Long time back, we had read about one, Mr. Robert in a newspaper which stated about him as follows, “He quit his job in Dutch and came to India, traveled many places and finally settled at Hampi. He has been a resident of Hampi and has been painting ever since”. Our search for him began when we stepped into Hampi. Having met him, seen the paintings and interacted with him about his passion for paintings about Hampi, we can say for sure that they truly are a reflection of the grandeur of Hampi and the life style of Lambani tradition. It is quite intriguing to know that Hampi has kept him motivated for a long period of 35 years and is still on. He says with pride that Hampi always has something new to offer him each day. Kudos to you from all of us Mr.Robert! After meeting Mr. Robert, it seems like Hampi is an ocean and any amount of exploration is just a drop in the ocean!
Robert's Workshop
Mr. Robert