Thursday, February 22, 2018

Sri Tribhuvaneshwara Temple, Devagiri, Haveri

Sri Tribhuvaneshwara Temple, Devagiri, Haveri
Sri Tribhuvaneshwara Temple, Devagiri
'Devagiri' is a small village about 10 km from Haveri and close to the Bangalore - Pune highway. This place was called by different names by different dynasties such as Devingiri, Devageri and lastly as Devagiri. It is believed that a branch of Kadamba dynasty was ruling from "Triparvata" which is the oldest record name of Devagiri. Three copper records of the Kadambas were discovered in this village, two of which are dated to 455 AD  were issued by King Vijayasri Mrighesavarma and the remaining one was issued by the crowned prince Devavarma. All the three records speak about the construction and maintenance of  a Jain temple referred to as Arhat Bhagavata Chaityalaya. Though no Jain Basadi was found in this place, it is said that there is a mutilated murti of Lord Parshwanatha seated in padmasana posture behind a Mosque in a private land.
Ruins Scattered
Chalukyan Herostone
Veeragallu Belonging to Chalukyan Era
A stone inscription found here dated to 600 AD refers to a feudatory who was ruling this place from Banavasi. The other inscription dated to around 7th century AD speaks about the land grant given to a temple by the Badami Chalukyan Emperor Vikramaditya II. Another gives us information regarding a gift of one thousand cows by Amarakeerthy to the village temple in 8th century AD. Later this place was ruled by the Rashtrakuta king Govindabbe during 9th century AD as per a stone inscription here. The construction of the "Tribhuvaneshwara Temple" and a reservoir by Tribhuvanasingi is recorded in a 1102 AD inscription belonging to the Kalyani Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI. The various inscriptions found here mention about the temples built here such as the Chaityalaya, Kankaleshwara, Govindeshwara, Chatmeshwara, Grameshwara, Tribhuvaneshwara to name a few. Except for the Tribhuvaneshwara temple, most of the rest are either untraceable or modified beyond identification. Sri Tribhuvaneshwara temple  is popularly called now as the Basavanna and Eshwara temple.
Sri Tribhuvaneshwara Temple
The Front View
Sri Basavanna Temple
Shaiva Dwarapalaka and a Stone Inscription
Although the Eshwara/Tribhuvaneshwara temple has undergone restoration, the original structure has been retained wherever possible. Remains of the temple and its ruins seen spread across gives a fair idea of the destruction by the Bahamani sultans here. The Eshwara temple consists of a Garbhagriha, an antarala and Navaranga pretty much similar to the Basavanna temple. A rare and unique feature is the presence of a Makara torana at the threshold (Hostilu in Kannada) of the door. The door jambs of Antarala have some beautiful carvings of the Gandharvas. Many inscriptions and broken murtis are kept in the temple complex. There is a huge tank besides the temple which today is in  a ruined state, with few murtis scattered across. There is a much revered Lord Hanuman temple in the center of village which is believed to have been built by a Brahman Dewan under the Nawab of Savanur.
Navaranga, Antarala and Garbhagriha of Sri Tribhuvaneshwara Temple
Lord Ganesha with Gandharvas on the Door Jamb
Central Ceiling Decked with Lotus Flower Carving
Makara Torana Attached to Hostilu of Mukhamantapa
Part of Makara Torana
Damaged Navagraha Panel with only 6 Remaining
Further excavations are necessary in order to explore more about the history of this village and to rediscover and restore the lost temples. 

1. Dharwad District Gazetteer - GOK

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Forms of Lord Shiva, The Great Destroyer - Samharamurtis

Gajasurasamharamurti - Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple
"Samharamurtis" are one among the five classes of representation of Lord Shiva’s various aspects, the others being the Anugraha-murtis (or boon-conferring aspects), the Nritta-murtis (or dancing aspects), the Dakshina-murtis (or the yogic, musical and philosophic aspects), and other minor aspects. Samharamurtis portray the destructive or terrific aspects of Lord Shiva. Each form or image of Lord Shiva under this aspect is indicative of the destruction of a particular maleficent and troublesome being. The various forms comprised in Samharamurtis are Kamantakamurti, Gajasuramsamharamurti, Kalarimurti, Tripurantakamurti, Sarabhesamurti, Brahmasiraschchhedakamurti, Veerabhadramurti, Jalandharavadhamurti, Mallarishivamurti, Andhakasuravadhamurti, Aghoramurti, and Mahakala.
The ‘Kamantakamurtiillustrates Lord Shiva burning down and destroying Kama/Manmatha, the god of love by opening his third eye and emitting flames of fire which reduced Kama to ashes. Lord Shiva is portrayed in yogasana, with three eyes and four-arms.  Kama lies standing before him accompanied by Devbhaga while his consort Rati stands nearby along with Vasantha. Kamantaka’s mudras are pataka and suchi; his emblems are a drum and trident.
Kamantakamurti - Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Basaralu
The ‘Gajasurasamharamurti depicts the destruction of the elephant demon Gajasura by Lord Shiva, who is depicted in a terrific form dancing vigorously on the elephant’s head with the animal’s hide arranged behind him like a prabhamandala (aureole). The right leg of Lord Shiva is planted firmly on the elephant's head while the left is bent and lifted up towards the knee of the other leg. He may hold a tusk, club, dhatura flowers, alms-bowl, bell, drum, sword, skull-topped staff, antelope, snake and spear.
Gajasurasamharamurti - Sri Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebeedu
The ‘Kalarimurti depicts the legend of Lord Shiva punishing the god of death, Kala/Yama for attempting to kill Markandeya who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is seen as four armed, issuing from the linga in front of which is the boy Markandeya kneeling with his arms folded on his bent knees. One of the right and left hands of Lord Shiva grasp a stout handled sharp trident aimed at Yama’s abdomen. The other right hand rests on the hip (katyalambita hasta) and the left hand is held in vismaya pose. The right leg of Shiva is buried up to the knee in the linga and the left leg is represented as kicking Kala. Kalari’s emblems are a skull-cap, sword, shield, antelope, axe, snake, noose, trident and vajra.
Kalarimurti - Dasavatara Cave, Ellora
The ‘Tripurantakamurti depicts Lord Shiva destroying the three asuras (demons) Vidyunmlali, Tarakaksha and Kamalaksha (sons of demon Tarakasura) who dwelt in three forts constructed of metals and caused great damage to the suras and the rishis (sages). Lord Shiva stands in a chariot with his left leg kept forward and the right one behind; the body of Shiva is turned away form the objects aimed at, but his face and arms are turned in the direction of the three castles which he is about to destroy. He seems to have had ten arms; those that still remain unbroken are seen carrying the sword, shield, arrow string in the bow-string and a bent bow. Lord Brahma is driving the chariot which is yoked to two horses.
Tripurantakamurti - Dasavatara Cave, Ellora
Tripurantakamurti - Sri Kailashnath Temple, Ellora
The ‘Sarabhesamurti depicts the slaying of Lord Narasimha by Lord Shiva in a fierce form, part man, beast and bird, when Lord Vishnu refuses to abate his terrific attitude after killing the demon Hiranyaksha (an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva) which was causing damage to the inhabitants of the world. Sarabha is described as having eight lion-like legs with sharp claws, a long tail and two wings of resplendent beauty; the body above the loins should be that of a human being but having the face of a lion which should be wearing a kirita-makuta upon its head.
Sarabhesamurti - Sri Airavateshwara temple, Darasuram
The ‘Brahmasiraschchhedakamurti depicts the form Lord Shiva assumes while cutting off the fifth head of Lord Brahma with his left thumb-nail. Shiva is portrayed as three-eyed and four-armed with a jatamakuta on the head, and wearing a makarakundala in the left ear and patrakundala in the right. In his left hand are the shula (trident) and Brahma’s skull and the right hand are a vajra (thunderbolt) and parasu (axe).
Brahmasiraschchhedakamurti - Srikanteshwara Swamy Temple, Nanjanagud
The ‘Veerabhadramurti depicts the form Lord Shiva assumed at the time of the destruction of the yagna (or sacrifice) of Daksha. Lord Veerabhadra is depicted as three-eyed, four-armed, and with tusks protruding from his mouth. He wears sandals and a jatamakuta, and is decked with garlands of skulls, bells, scorpions and other ornaments, a yagnopavita (scared  thread) of snake, and adorned with beautiful anklets. He is seen carrying a khadga (sword), khetaka (shield), dhanush (bow) and bana (arrow). In the below photograph is seen an unusual and rare depiction of Lord Veerabhadra having 5 faces and 12 arms, with Daksha Mahaprabhu standing besides him.
Panchamukhi Veerabhadra Swamy, Kurugodu
The Jalandharavadhamurti illustrates the destruction of the demon Jalandhara by Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is depicted as three-eyed and two-armed; holding an umbrella in his right hand and a kamandalu or a water-vessel in his left. He is adorned with kundalas (earrings) in the ears, haaras (necklaces) on the neck, anklets on his legs, with his feet resting on a pair of sandals. The posture of Lord Shiva is indicative of his desire to move quickly.
Jalandharavadhamurti - Srikanteshwara Swamy Temple, Nanjanagud 
The ‘Andhakasuravadhamurti depicts the destruction of the demon Andhakasura by Lord Shiva. He carries a trishula (trident) at the end of which is pinned the body of Andhakasura and from it blood drops down into a cup held by the goddess Yogeshwari (Kali). In the below picture, he is seen with 14 arms with Lord Nandi on his right. He may hold a drum, rosary, chisel, trident, spear, staff with a pierced head, bow, arrow, noose, and a thunderbolt.
Andhakasuravadhamurti - Sri Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebeedu

1. Elements of Hindu Iconography Vol II Part I – T.A.Gopinath
2. The Illustrated dictionary of Hindu Iconography – Margaret Stutley

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Monday, February 12, 2018

The Tamarind Trees of Koongal Betta

Tamarind fruits
Tangy and Tasty Tamarind Fruits

Koongal hill
Koongal Hill 
One night while having my dinner, I experienced an unusually refreshing flavor and taste of sambhar  and with much compliments being generated, my wife revealed the secret of the tasty tongue-tickling sambar saying, the tamarind used for cooking/preparing the sambhar was that brought from Koongal Hills. They were the best of tamarinds used by us till now and the taste of its tanginess remained with me ever since. Though we generally use the tamarind grown locally, the tamarind this time tasted different. Whatever efforts we put in collecting the fallen tamarinds, carrying them back home, drying, dehusking and deseeding them to get the prefect fruit, ready to cook, were definitely worthwhile. Though majority of the tamarinds we get is naturally grown, the process of drying, cleaning and selection of the fruits itself makes all the difference. We thouroughly enjoyed the refreshing sourness of the tamarind courtesy of Koongal hill and savoured every drop of sambhar that day!! It was surely a tasty tangy treat for my taste buds!
Tamarind Tree of Koongal Betta
Traditional way of dehusking tamarind fruits
Traditional Way of dehusking Tamarind Fruits
That Sunday, we wanted to trek the small hill of 'Achalu Betta' located somewhere between the towns of Kanakapura and Ramanagara. However, on our way from Kanakapura to Ramanagara, a big hill with a small temple atop attracted us. We immediately decided to trek this hill and inquired the route to the hill. We parked our car under a tree near the Koongal hill. As we walked, we realized that the road has been laid up to half way to the hill. We were greeted by a beautiful murti of Lord Ganesha  installed in the recent years. Walking further we reached an open terrain full of Tamarind trees.
Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha
Road Way Up
Life! Finds Its Way
A Lovely Walkway
Tamarind Tree Groove
Entering The Tamarind Tree Groove
The real climb starts from here as the route turns a bit steep and narrow. In a short while we reached  a place where there was a big murti of Lord Nandi/Basavanna. We rested under its shade for sometime after offering prayers. Continuing our trek hereon, we entered a cave at the exit of which were rock cut steps leading to a small temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya Swamy (Maruti). The murti seemed to belong to around 18th century. The forest department has built a small view point where we spent some time. During our descent we sighted some ruins of the fort remains, though not much. We reached the area dedicated to the tamarinds trees and were tempted to collect the fallen tamarind. We collected the the fallen tamarind fruits as much as possible and carried it safely till we reached our vehicle.
The Hike
Nandi Murti
Inside the Cave
Maruti Temple, Koongal Betta
Lord Maruti
Panoramic View
Maruti Temple, Koongal Betta
Nandi Murti, Rock cut steps and Maruti Temple
How to reach Koongal Betta: From Bangalore travel till Ramanagara on Mysuru highway, enter Ramanagara town and take the Muduwadi road till Koongal. Koongal is about 60 km from Bangalore and 8 Km from Ramanagara.
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