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…


Prabhu said...

Good one Hari...!!!

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