Sunday, July 24, 2011

If the experience in Belur was not enough for one day, i landed at this place. From a distance it looks like a simple plain(large though…) temple. But as i got nearer, i thought the DSC00840architect of this temple must have been mad. How can you fill the entire outer wall with sculptures without leaving space? This is simply crazy but awesome. Now lets talk about Halebidu in general and this temple in particular.

Dwarasamudra was the capital of the Hoysalas during the 12th century. After being attacked by Allauddin Khilji and Malik Kafur in the 14th century, it fell into a state of disrepair and was called Halebidu (ruined city) by the locals. This town is well known for the two beautiful temples, the Kedareshwara temple (built in 1219 A.D. by Ketaladevi, a queen of Veera Ballala II) and the Hoysaleswara Temple. We will talk about the Kedareshwara Temple in a different Post.

The Hoysaleswara Temple was commissioned by KetuDSC00918malla, the commander of King Vishnuvardhana, according to an inscription dated 1121 A.D. It is a simple Dvikuta vimana (two shrined, one for Hoysaleswara and the other for Shantaleswara) and is built with chloritic chist (also known as Soap Stone). As a typical signature of Hoysala Temples, this one too stands on an octagonal elevated jagati. The two shrines are connected by a pavilion inside. The plan of the inside of the temple is simple but the exterior looks different because of the introduction of many projections and recesses in the walls.

The temple was built at a height that provided the architects sufficient horizontal DSC00926and vertical space to depict large and small sculptures.

The overall effect of the vertical and horizontal lines, the play of the outline, the effect of light and shade and the plan of the projections and recesses all amounts to a marvellous exhibition of human artistic brain. This temple of Halebidu, has been described as an "outstanding example of Hindu architecture" and as the "supreme climax of Indian architecture".

The temple has four porches for entry and the one normally used by visitors as main entry today is actually a lateral entrance (north). There is one entry on the south side and two on the east side, facing two largDSC00932e detached open pavilions whose ceiling is supported by lathe turned pillars. In addition there is a sanctuary for the Sun God Surya, whose image stands 7 ft. (2.1 m) tall. The pavilions enshrine large images of Nandi, and share the same jagati as the main temple.

With this high level description of the temple, we can start to explore, starting with the inner structure.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Continued from the previous post…

DSC00789There are several inscriptions here. Some date during the Hoysala reign and some others written during later rulers who developed the temple premises E.g., the gopura of the temple, constructed during the Vijayanagara period. There are 17th century inscriptions on the walls about the donors, written in Kannada. Lets go back to the sculptures.

There is this idol of of a lady dancing. You can see the musicians playing at her feet. It is said that this idol is in so amazing symmetry that if a water drops from the tip of the finger on top, it drops through tip of her left hand, tip of her left breast, tip of her left hand finger and then finally tip of her left toe before touching the ground.

I have written only about some of the sculptures but there are many others with a story and interpretation of its own. There are other things to know and see in this temple complex. The Kalyani tank is situated in the north east corner of the complex. It was earlier called as Vasudeva Tirtha according to an inscription during Veera Ballala - II dated 1175 A.D. There are two elephants at the entrance and pavilions to the north and south of it. It is 46 feet deep and has receding steps from all the four sides.

There is this victory pillar which is 35 feet in height that was placed in the 14th century. It is monolithic with a square shaped base. It somehow stands only on three corners and you can clearly see a gap from the base. While placing this pillarDSC00811, they must have properly calculated the wind velocity and the angle in which it had to be placed so that the centre of gravity falls on the base. There is the Kappe Chennigaraya Temple which is closed. It contains a damaged statue of Chennakesava. I talked about the legend that Jakkana found a frog inside this statue and he cut his hand in the first post.

To the south west of the Kesava Temple, is the temple of Saumyanayaki. It has a garbhagriha surmounted by a tower. According to an inscription, the original tower which was damaged was got repaired in 1387 by Muddappa a minister in the court of the Vijayanagara King Harihara II and a metal kalasa was fixed on it. The front DSC00823portion of this temple was a later addition by the Dalavayi family of Kalale.

The Veera Narayana Temple to the west of the Kesava Temple is a small and compact structure with the outer wall containing beautiful sculptures of Vaishnava and Saiva faith. It consists of a Garbhagriha, a Sukhanasi and a Navaranga. The 59 large images on the outer wall include Vishnu, Siva, Bramha, Parvati etc. This temple is raised on an elevated basement and is contemporary to the Chennakesava Temple.

The temple of the Goddess Andal situated to the nDSC00828orth west of the Kesava Temple is also called as the Ranganayaki Temple. The basement has friezes of elephants, scroll work and puranic scenes. It has the appearance having built with the materials belonging to some ruined Hoysala Temple. It is known for the row of 31 sculpture on its outer wall. The canopies on these images which differ from one another show true workmanship. Two of the images on the south wall have the names of sculptures Bechama and Madhuvanna who carved them.

Whatever i wrote is just a glimpse of this marvellous piece or art. Visit this temple at least once in your lifetime. With that said, i continue on my journey to my next step a temple which is bigger than the Chennakesava Temple and more intricately carved, the Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One post is not enough to describe the outer section of the Chennakesava Temple. But no blog can deliver the same experience as personally visiting to this amazing place. It was already drizzling when i started off checking out its outer beauty, but i did not budge.

Outside the main entrance of the temple are two statues of the Royal Emblem of the ImgHoysalas. Refer to my earlier posts for the description of the emblem. These emblems are found on all four entrances to this temple. Above the main entrance there is the Makaratorana and in between there is a very unique sculpture, Garuda (the man-eagle, vehicle of Lord Vishnu) carrying Lord Narasimha (Lion headed Lord Vishnu). Around this sculpture are 10 circles on which are miniature carvings of incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The entire sculpture is monolithic and seems a finger can be passed behind the entire sculpture DSC00740which is exquisite art. Again, this makaratorana is found at all entrances, but the incarnation of Vishnu is different in each.

To the left of the Makaratorana, there is a lady holding a mirror admiring her beauty. There are attendants on her either side. The one on the left is offering her vermilion to apply on her forehead and the one on the right carries a monkey and a bunch of grapes to lure it. The poor monkey is disappointed and is licking its finger with a sad face. All this has been carved on a single stone and the detail in which these idols are carved makes this temple a man made wonder. There are 42 sculptures like this on the outer section of the temple and i will describe some of them as we move along. On one of the panels is carved the image of the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana, who commissioned this temple with his wife Shantala and consorts. There is an idol of a woman with a parrot perched on her hand, being used as a messenger.

The bottom panel of the basement is carved with 644 elephants and each one’s DSC00736design is different from the others. Elephant represents strength. Above Elephants, there is the row of Lions all around. As we know, lion stands for courage. Above lions, there are horses which depict speed. Above it there is circular scrollwork with miniature dancing figures or contemporary images. You can see some of the idols missing from the panels here. They were stolen in the 14th century and are currently in the Victoria Albert Museum, London. The Mahabharata is carved on small idols and the DSC00750important thing to mention is that the artists concentrated on small fables also (E.g.. Bhagadatta Samhara, The audience hall of King Virata, Bheema shaking a tree to make the Kauravas fall from it) along with the main story. These stories, i am sure will not be found in any other temple.

A special mention has to me made of the various hair styles of these danseuses. These hair styles seems to be today’s fashion, however it is evident from these sculptures that they were nothing new in India. See the idol which is in a dance posture. The legs are tilted 120 degrees and the body and waist are in a different position. The artist has also taken care of putting the garlands in a proper position according to the body and legs. And mind you, everything is chiselled out of a single stone.

There is one interesting idol where a woman with donkey’s head is being loved by a man. The explanation given is that even a donkey like woman looks beautiful to a boy in teenage. There is one idol oDSC00766f a woman carrying Rudraveena. You can see that one string was there which is now broken. And the entire image along with the thin string is monolithic.

If you observe these idols, its exciting to notice the symmetry between the ornaments and the body is maintained perfectly keeping in mind the structure of the body. These collection of images were also chosen well. The sanctum sanctorum part has idols of Gods where as the other sections have idols of common men/women like huntress, vidushaka (joker) etc. The image that you see beside is one masterpiece. This is Narasimha, slaying the demon king Hiranyakasipa. Look the detail in which the hands with weapons and the two bodies have been carved. The intestine of Hiranyakasipa is shown taken out and it forms a garland around Narasimha. Lastly, the tongue of Narasimha is razor thin. The thought that this is all in one stone is enough to render one speechless.

One more different thought is the idol of Gajasuramardhana (Lord Shiva slaying Gajasura, the elephant headed demon king who hides Siva inside his body). Siva tears the body of the demon and comes out. The artist shows that Siva is dancing with one leg on Gajasura’s head and its skin all around him. You can also see the elephant feet. This is one depiction of this scene which you will not find in an other place.

I had discussed about the Hoysala pattern of construction in my earlier posts. This temple is on a jagati with 32 angles and each angle is in symmetry with one corner of the outer part of the temple. We will talk about the Outer part of the temple complex in the next post too…