Friday, October 28, 2011

As mentioned previously, i climbed 500 steps to reach the main entrance of the hillock. Known also as DSC01228Indragiri or Vindhyagiri, this hillock locally called as Doddabetta (Big Hill) which stands at a height of 3,347 feet above sea level is fortified with a wall across its circumference. There are various shrines that one can visit before reaching the main place. The smaller hill which is opposite to this one and the big pond at the bottom of this hill look beautiful from here.

There is a small shrine to the left of the main entrance, which is called the Chavvisa (24) Tirthankara basadi raised by Charukeerthi Pandithadeva and others. It contains a stone slab with small DSC01242images of all the 24 Tirthankaras. Within a short distance, there is an elevated basadi which can reached by a flight of steps. Built of granite blocks, it is impressive for the commanding position it occupies. This is called the Odegal basadi. It is so called because of the stone props against its basement. It is the only trikutachala (triple-shrine) temple at Sravanabelagola. It houses the images of Adinatha, Neminatha and Chandranatha, all carved in schist with a congregation hall common to all the three shrines. This temple is datable to the 14th century which is similar to other Jain temples constructed during the Vijayanagara period like Ganagitti Jain Temple and Parsvanatha Temple in Hampi. I did not understand why a bell is hung in a Jain basadi. Normally, all sounds except chanting are prohibited in a Jain religious place.

DSC01245From the Odegal basadi, we move on to the next monument, the Tyagada Kamba. We can find many inscriptions scribbled on the raw granite floor on the way. The ASI has covered those with glass so that they cannot be damaged by tourists. All these inscriptions are recorded as part of the Epigraphia Carnatica Series in its second Volume.

One of my acquaintances recently posed two questions 1. Why would important inscriptions be made on random, uneven rocks? My guess is that normally any inscriptions commissioned by ruler will have well-setup DSC01314slabs. Because these constructions were not officially funded by the ruler and commissioned by officials and generals, they were scribbled on the floor by the masons so that they can still name the person who commissioned them. 2. The protecting glass on top of them is a mere eye-wash, as rain-water etc. can still flow from underneath.. My perception is rain water, if it falls directly on the rock can cut the stone damaging the inscription. But here, the damage can be far less than normal as the water passes underneath the glass. Now back to business.

DSC01249Tyagada Kamba is a small, open pavilion with an upper sDSC01247torey and his historically important. It was installed by Chavundaraya who himself commissioned the Gommata statue here. In the centre of the pavilion is a 11 feet long elaborately carved pillar which is unmatched in its artistic beauty. It was probably erected in the late 10th Century. It is believed that Chavundaraya distributed gifts to the needy and deserving from here, hence the name Tygada Kamba. Another view is he renounced his worldly possessions including his life from here. The simple scroll designs, elegant workmanship, and bold lines bring out the best of the Ganga architecture. The original inscription at the base of the pillar was eraseDSC01251d in about 1200 AD by Heggade Kanna and installed the Yaksha image on top of this pillar after which, got a record engraved at its pedestal. Some 500 years later, an upper mantapa was built in brick and mortar.

From the Tygada Kamba starts the second series of 140 steps which lead to the inner complex. After climbing some steps from the Tyagada Kamba, we stand before the Akhanda Bagilu or the monolith gateway. It has a Gajalakshmi panel above the lintel, where Goddess Lakshmi is seated on a lotDSC01257us flanked by two elephants who anoint the goddess with pots held with their trunks. The relief sculptures of crocodiles and lions form the upper part of the panel. This is one of the finest and largest reliefs of Gajalakshmi in the country - undoubtedly the best of the Ganga craftsmanship. While the doorway is assignable to 980 AD. the two cells at its side were added around 1130 AD. by Bharathamayya, a general of the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana. The two relief sculptures iDSC01262n the cells represent Bharatha and Bahubali. Both the smaller shrines are locked.

There are two more doorways between the steps. The pillars of one of them is carved with Tirthankaras and musicians. There are dwarapalas on either side which is an example of Hindu architectural influence. The second doorway is the one you see in the picture. It has 4 pillars and figures of elephants are sketched on either side. The lintel of the doorway is carved with Tirthankara and Yaksha figures. Just outside this doorway you will find a image of a crocodile on the left which is a signature sculpture of Vijayanagara architecture. After crossing this doorway, we reach the upper complex.


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