Monday, October 3, 2011

I entered the temple from near one of the Nandi pavilions. Right in front, is the shrine of Linga and a long corridor iDSC00852n front. The two corridors connect the natya mantapas which are in front of each of the main shrines. There are 108 pillars inside and each is of a different design.  Each of them is more than 16 feet in height, some stellar in shape, most of them roundish with designs like bell or kalasa or flower vase combined perpendicularly to make a harmonious single attractive tall piece. Even though the pillars look monolithic, they are actually formed out of five pieces. The natya mantapa is rounded by four pillars with dancing figures carved on each of them. In all, 84 sculptures were carved inside the temple and 70 of them are currently missing (stolen by British) and can be found today in the VictoriaDSC00851 Museum, London. It is said that in those days, Queen Shanthala used to dance in this natya mantapa as worship to Lord Siva.

The entire ceiling is divided into 22 square panels and each square is exquisitely carved with forms of Bramha, Vishnu and Siva. The various sculptures were carved separately and interlocked with the ceiling which gives a monolithic look. The pillars here also follow the same technique. Now lets talk about the sanctum portions. The inside of the sanctum is pretty dark and a little lit with artificial sources. There is the Prarthana Mantapa outside the sanctum and is again barred from entering. You will find the beautiful sculptures of the two guardians of Lord Siva, Nandi and Bhrungi outside the Mantapa. Each stands 5 feet tall and is exquisitely carved with 300 ornaments each. The carving is so detailed that you can noticeDSC00861 even the smallest designs in greater detail.

As mentioned earlier, It took 190 years and seven generations to complete this awesome temple. There were many people that donated funds for the construction and we can find Sanskrit (Devanagari Script) and Kannada inscriptions mentioning the names of the donors and information about them. There are 42 miniature shrines inside and outside the temple structure. The once housed idols in some form, however are empty today as a result of the invasion by Malik Kafur. The Hoysaleswara section of the temple has a Linga and a small Nandi in front of the sanctum. Both the shrines have a well carved entrance with a makara torana

There is not much to see inside the temple structure apart from the monolithic dwarapalas of both the Hoysaleswara and Shantaleswara sanctums. This temple is known for its beauty of the external structure whereas the  Chennakesava Temple in Belur is known for its inner structure. I mentioned earlier that the temple has 4 entrances and we will talk about the external structure in detail in the coming post starting with the Royal Entrance.


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