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..........    

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 

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 

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 

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 !

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

Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple, Horakere Devapura, Chitradurga

    According to our source, the temple in Horakere (Kolar DT) houses a very beautiful idol of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha and all our efforts put in to find out the location of this temple went in vain.  Nor were the internet search engines of any help this time. It so happened that once, while listing the places to visit in Chitradurga, I noted down a place called Horakere Devapura which had a temple dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narasimha. This made me think about the temple we were searching for, in Kolar and a thought crossed my mind about the chances of the location being misspelled in our source (which is a very rare event). During one of our trips, while returning from Chitradurga, we decided to check this place, and see whether it was the same temple we were on the lookout for but in a wrong place! The temple was about 28 Km from the National highway and our journey was a pleasant one. We drove through narrow   roads decked with hills that housed windmills atop.  After confirmation about the route at a few places, we reached the village of Horakere Devapura, which was busy because of the Saturday Sandy.
Wind Mills
Rajagopura and Garuda Khamba
   A unique, magnificent and huge Rajagopura (an entrance gateway) built of stone welcomed us into the temple. By far, it is the most beautiful stone entrance gateway we have witnessed. As it had some structural resemblance to the gateways of Hampi and Chitradurga, a thought struck in our minds that this could be a handiwork of the Vijayanagara kings. This temple has been constantly renovated time to time under various dynasties. We could see some minor contributions of our generation too. The idol was very beautiful and so we had read, thus confirming us about the temple. The temple complex is vast with many of the structures belonging to the Vijayanagara period, except for the basic temple (Garbhagriha) and the beautiful idol which with no doubt, belongs to the Hoysalas.
Temple Complex
Anjaneya Pillar
Shri Lakshmi Narshima swamy Temple
Huge pillars
Kalyan Mantapa
Ceiling of Kalyan Mantapa
Lord Hanuman
Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy
  According to the legend, this place was formerly called Nanjundarajapattanam as it ruled by a cruel king named Nanjundaraja. He had a bad reputation of being demonic, ill treated people who visited other pilgrimages and was against people worshipping god. One day, Lord Venkateshwara (Vishnu) being aware of all the happenings decides to teach this king a lesson and free the people of his town from his evil deeds. On reaching the town, the lord decides to be seated atop a hillock named Krishnachala Betta in order to protect the people. He   destroys the king and his palace within no time. The people of the village then performed Puja to this hill and requested the Lord to stay back in their village. He decides to stay back, though in his other form of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha just outside the village nearby a lake, and hence the Horakere Devapura (Hora-outside; kere-lake; Deva-god; pura-village). There are many more stories from this place.
 On Saturdays, there is special annadana (meals) program for all the devotees.   
Majestic Gateways