Sunday, November 15, 2009

Brindavan gardens, Mysore

KRS ( Krishna Rajendra Sagara ) as it is popular known as the Brindavan gardens and Dam is dedicated to the king of the times Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. The KRS dam was constructed under the guidance of Sir Mokshagundam. Visvesvaraya ( 15th Sept 1860 – 15th April 1962 ). Sir M.V was awarded the highest civilian award of Bharat Ratna in 1955 just a few years before he passed away. The KRS dam was completed in 1924 with automatic crest gates to control the release of excess water.

Prologue : The history of the reservoir ( KRS ) seems to futuristic thinking on part of the rulers to prevent flooding and harness the clean waters of the reservoir for drinking purpose. A group of villages surrounding Kannampadi was obviously relocated to higher plateau to enable construction of the KRS dam. The population of the villages may be around 2500 villagers or 500 families.

RELOCATION OF KANNAMBADI HOYSALA TEMPLE :

When we were just waiting for lunch after ordering, i happened to glance a news item which mentioned an ancient Hoysala temple was submerged while the KRS dam was being constructed. This temple was taken up for resurrection by the Khodays group. The temple is being redesigned to suit the landscape and availability of skilled manpower. Majority of the original pillars and stones have crumbled to a large extent. We were able to photograph some of the remains on the bank of the river cauvery.

The location of this temple under reconstruction gives a bird’s eye view of the expanse of the cauvery river and its expanse. Some of the old stones and pillars are being used to reconstruct this massive temple. Artisans have been working day and night for 4 years and it is scheduled for completion in its modern avatar in 2010. A visit to the new Kannampadi town is a must to unravel the beauty of nature and mankind. One thing which beats the mind of any common man why is that KRS was not harnessed for hydroelectric power generation.


Brindavan Gardens :


The concept of building the Brindavan Gardens goes to Sir Mirza Ismail, who was the diwan of Mysore. ( Chief Financial Officer ) . Brindavan garden has been fashioned in the footsteps of the Shalimar gardens in Kashmir. The work of landscaping began in 1927 with its chief architect, G.H. Krumbigal, the superintendent of Parks and Garden in Mysore Govt. The landscaping is an ongoing process, however the initial process was completed within 5 years.

MUSICAL FOUNTAINS

The garden is laid out in three terrace formation. One on, the right hand side garden, across the small lake houses the musical fountain. This can be crossed over by ferry or by walk on the small bridge constructed for nature lovers. The main tourist attraction is the musical fountains which played every day for 1 hour from 7 to 8 pm and on holidays an extra 30 minutes, wherein the light and sound along with water fountains dance literally to the music. Alisa Chinoys Made in India is an evergreen number which still continues to echo in the sound bytes generated.

SPREAD :

The garden is spread over 60 acres, with fruit orchards, two horticulture farms, Nagavana and Chandravana. The garden is laid out with various species of fauna and fountains. Some of the popular ones are Celosia, Marigold and Bougainvillea. There is a children playing area with small rides created for their entertainment. There are various dummy sized animals in the childrens area consisting of Seated Gorilla, Giraffe, Bison, Lioness, Grizzly Bear, Tortise, etc. The complex also contains an Acquarium which is charged @ Rs 5 per head. The speciality of this acquarium is a Malayasian breed of fish which is known as Arona ( costs Rs 40 K ).

The original passage of tourist from over the dam, has become a relic of the past. I remember distinctly the walking across the dam and going by the Police jeep sometimes, over the bridge courtesy my uncle. The pristine glory of the past can be relived by visiting the gateway in one has the time and inclination. The archway is a beautiful sight for photography. In view of the terror threats photography of the dam is prohibited. One can literally view how much water is stored in this reservoir, which is cause of heartburn between people of T.N and Karnataka for over a decade. One should silently pray to the Kaveri goddess, that people of both the states should be blessed with plenty of water flow, so that there is no scope of dispute.

Food Stalls :

There are plenty of food stalls in the enterance of the gardens, and inside the premises there is 5 star accommodation run by Balaji Group and a restaurant run by KSTDC. The KSTDC provides a reasonable option for budget family. The rooms of KSTDC are currently under renovation, wherein the tariffs will be subject to escalation.

The tourist inflow to Brindavan gardens has been affected tremendously causing heartburn to the organizers. On an average at least 5 thousands visitors used to visit Brindavan garden which was favourite film shooting spots for most erstwhile bollywood movies. The terror threats and recession has taken its toll on the tourist destinations. It is time for the organizers to sit and plan better facilities for the tourists who are bound to return in due course. The Cauvery Niravari Nigama and KSTDC are jointly managing the entire premises. There is unauthorized toll collection at the enterance, for vehicles, which I feel the govt should ensure abolition. There are some goonda elements involved in collection of Toll, I hope the cops arrest them for cheating the public.

Epilouge : Imagine if tourists are able to cruise across the cauvery river in a battery operated boats to the newly constructed constructed Venugopalaswamy temple. Maybe in future people will be served sumptuous banana plantain leaf meals with private canteen operators. Inorder to attract more tourists an artificial falls can be created with no soaps allowed like in Tirumala and recycling of water ensured. The current rush of tourist in the evening should be disbursed throughout the day with all day package. The park should be thrown open for sunrise and set points from 6 am onwards. There is scope for Solar power harvesting if installed intelligently. The state govt needs to generate revenue from current 5 crore level to 50 cr

Bandalike, heritage re-discovered

What better way to spend weekend getway and series of holidays to dig into our legacy and heritage. It is worth traveling a 1000 kms on a round trip from Bangalore to Bandalike. Enroute if one can enjoy the nature and adventure of trekking it is an added bonus


Bandalike is currently under final stages of resurrection or renovation by the ASI. After involving in refurbising Angor Wat in Cambodia, ASI has gained substantial experience in bring back the crumbling edifices to unravel the story of the times.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :

According to the Gazette Bandalike is considered to an ancient ruined and deserted village north of Shikaripur. The missing link to unearth the history of Bandalike is provided by an inscription, which mentions that the place was ruled by wise old Chandragupta. There are more than 30 odd inscriptions written in old Kannada and Sanskrit ranging from 834 to 1369 Saka era. The inscription found dates back to many dynasties associated to this place. They are Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Kalachurias, Hoysalas, Yadavas and Vijaynagar Empire. After the defeat of Vijaynagar empire in 1565, Bandalike was subject to rampant arsenal and looting plundering all its wealth. Most probably the earlier vandalism took place at the time of Malik Kafur in 1321 AD, who was a general famous for raiding looting the wealth of all South Indian temples.

My surmise is that Chandragupta Maurya ( 324-298 BC ) when he abdicated his throne in favour of his son Bindusara in 298 BC. due to his conversion to Jainism. His guru happened to be Bhadrabahu. The guru through his nimitt gyan could forsee the advent of a decade filled with famine in the near future in Magadh empire. He alongwith his followers decided to relocate down south. Chandragupta migrated towards south along with huge followers of Saint Bhadrabahu. They migrated first to Bandalike . During their stay they got Basadis constructed in and around Bandalike. They spent 2 years at Bandalike meditating and teaching in the schools. In the meanwhile they were looking for a safe place and they re-located Chandragiri down further south to establish their base. An advance party was sent to establish the infrastructure at Shravanbelagola to settle down. Thus Bandalike is an important heritage centre and deservedly needs resurrection and maintainence.

The location is spread over 40 acres of landscape in Sorab taluk of Shimoga dist. which happens to be constituency of our ex CM Bangarappa and our current CM too is elected from nearby Shikaripur taluk. When two heavy weights are present we hope the infrastructure will be developed for tourists to conviniently reach the elusive destination. One has to definitely enquire his way to reach this destination. One approach road is through Shiralikoppa route, next approach is from Belligavi and the final approach is from Chikri route if one is travelling from NH 4. The roads can be treacherous in monsoon with vehicle taking a hit on the underbelly or getting stuck in the muddy swamps.

Veerabhadra Temple : On the north east corner Veerabhadra temple who is an avataar of Lord Shiva is built. This temple is dated 14th century obviously belonging to the Hoysala heritage. The image of the diety seems to be well embellished with weapons of destruction such as arrow, sword and protective shield. The image of mahisasuramardhini is located on the the mound along with another goddess with four hands.

Someswara Temple :
This temple is constructed in old Chalukyan style. It is built in 1274 AD as per inscription. Boppasetti ( to be read as Boppaya Shetty ) is credited with the construction of the temple. This temple has two beautifully well sculpted perforated window channel. It served the dual purpose of protection against vandalism and cross ventilation. The window has various dieties, swans, lions etc adorning the panel. Episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata are also featured on the facade of the temple.

Just behind the temple there is a mahanavami mantapa is located. This mantapa was used during the dusherra celeberations to rever the DEVI on an elevated platform. The idol is missing. It was constructed by Malla Dandanayaka in 1209 AD as per instructions of the Hoysala queen Abhinava ketaladevi ( wife of Ballala II )

Trimurthi Temple : A triple cellular structure belong to the later chalukyan era and constructed during 1160 AD. ( It may even belong to the Rashtrakuta era if datelines are little off track ) If we go by dateline than Western Chalukyan emperor Tailappa III ( 1151 to 1164 AD ) can be credited to the construction of the temple. The towers of the temple do not possess the Hoysala symbol, and the western gopuram has collapsed. Two other gopurams have withstood the ravages of time and ransack. One projection is of the simhalalata. This temple has a close resemblence to the Chatteshwara temple at Chatachattahalli near Halebid. The temple has been completely resurrected with a small Nandi adorning the enterance on the east. A figure of lord Vishnu adornes the north cell.


Shasharlinga Temple :
This temple was constructed by Macchayya Dannayaka in 1063 AD. It is obviously dedicated to Lord Shiv with a big linga. 999 square lines represent the multiple lingas.

The chief diety of Bandalike is Goddess Banashankari ( formerly called Mayadevi ) A small temple is dedicated to the goddess. According to traditional belief of the times Mayadevi was sent by goddess Parvati to meet Allama Prabhu, who changed her into a divine form. Chanchala Odeya is stated to be one of the sponsorers for the development of this temple according to inscriptions in 1387 AD. There is a sati memorial for two wives who burnt themselves alive on the death of their husband. Ruins of some unknown temple too can be seen.

At Rasabhavi temple there is an idol of Hanuman and a slayer with a chopped skull is witnessed, locally known as siditale koduvudu

Shantinatha Basadi : A prominent Jaina temple is located on the right side of the tank known as Nagara kere or Nagateerta. This is known as Shantinatha Basadi, which is probably controversial, since it belongs to 912 AD which refers to fabled emperor KRISHNA II ( 878 - 914 AD , who built the famous Ellora cave, reign of the Rashtrakuta empire. An inscription states one Jakkiyabbe gave donations for up keep of this basadi. The basadi title was incorporated due to the renovation of the temple in 1200 AD. The image in the sanctum sanitorium is missing. A mutilated Jain teerthankara is found here and two statues of Lord Vishnu is also found.

My premise is that Bandalike, Belligavi, Belur and Banavasi must have been an inspiration for Suryavarman to build the world famous monument of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. During his visit to India during the reign of King Vishnuvardhan from the Hoysala dynasty to attend his wedding must have opened his eyes to build an edifice for future generations to cherish. How I wish that Bandalike too is ressurected to that standard ? giving us a glimpse of an era which was rich in using the elements of nature to its hilt.

The complex consists of the main temple which can be a Shivalaya temple with trikuta or gopurams. One gopuram is partially missing. The enterance is guarded as it were by a crumbling Nandi which is hardly 3 feet in height. On the facade of the temple one gets to witness the elementary gopuram or mantaps at eye level, with figures of god and godesses missing as it were. There are inscriptions in old kannada and sanskrit for scholars to re-discover.

Apart from the main temple the complex consists of 3 other crumbling edifices which have been beautifully resurrected by ASI, one is distinctly of Jaina style, another is Shivalaya and last one is probably dedicated to Lord Vishnu. One complex is secluded from this multiplex as it were, which is supposed to be a basadi, which was locked, and i had to climb over the gates to re-discover. One may get mislead by this single monument, have patience to discover the main complex. Only the villagers can guide.........like a shepherd guiding the flock. In fact I found a shepherd herding his flock of sheeps grazing the landscape at Bandalike. Another strange feature i found a an old man almost like a ghostly figure in midst of the field.( On the hindsight the ghostly town has some history ) Inorder to confirm that he was not I shouted for direction for further clues, and in reply he replied move on. It was just an hunch I drove to the main complex which was the filled with monuments and inscriptions. The greenary and landscaping was a visual treat for the eyes. Eureka ! it was a heady feeling with heavens too showering us with its bounty of mild rain to literally clearing the bad light and thick cloud cover for photography.

It was an absolute thrilling rendezvous as it were to discover an exclusive destination, which has not been covered in any of the travelouges as on date except vaguely without pictures or details. I hope you all too will enjoy the journey to this destination called as Bandalike........a heritage unparalled in history. It is a pleasure to unravel the newest destination to travel buffs for previewing before it is officially thrown open to the public with full details by ASI. Some inferences are matter of conjectures based on historical dateline, which is an original contribution.

NOTE : Bandalike has a potential to be resurrected like Angor Wat with plenty of water channels available in the vicinity and good rainfall legacy. Maybe in olden days it was close to Angor Wat terrain.

SIDELIGHTS : The surprise findings of Bandalike being associated with Kalamukha sect of Shaivism is an enigma of a forgotton practise. Kalamukha followers are basically tantriks who believe in appeasement of Lord Shiva with Human sacrifice.

Kalamukhas are considered to worship extreme form of Shiva known as Bhairava. Bhairava used to frequently visit the crematory completely nude with skulls hanging by their waist to protect their phallus. The skull sometimes acted as a begging bowl, and eating bowl. This ritual is supposed to be a pennace for slaughtering one of the heads of Lord Brahma in anger. The followers are accused of conducting surreptiously human sacrifice. Ujjain was a prominent centre for Kalamukhas and we derieve the information on the tantric practises from incriptions of Kaedeswara temple (1162 )AD.




Update : I happened to personally visit the ASI office and cullout more information on Bandalike on 13/10/2009, which i have updated. Acknowledge the help of ASI for this travelouge

Disclaimer : Folks dont blame me for your nightmare that you have visited a ghost town inspired by my travelouge. Lol

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hoysala heritage trial continues

The Hoysalas were compulsive builders of temple edifices, which is proved by the fact that they built more than 600 prominent temples in the 4 districts of Karnataka Mandya, Hassan, Chickmaglur and Tumkur Districts. There is sketchy information on location on various temples, which triggered an inquistiveness in me to systematically and over a period of time explore all the temples. I have been partially successful to explore some of the exotic temples of the Hoysala period with a passion.

A learned villager, while i was on hoysala trail informed me that it was the hand of God that inspired and guided the artisans of the Hoysala Era to perfect the art of construction of an edifice, which symbolizes the blend of heaven, stone and landscape. Such architectural extravaganza is yet to exhibited anywhere in contemporary era. The miniaturization was perfected on stone, be it jewellery, animals, deities or pillars hoysala artisans had the technology as well as the fine art of sculpting. The chisel worked as a brush in the hands of a painter. The outcome leaves one gaping in astonishment of how a insignificant soapstone was transformed into an edifice of par excellence.

TONNUR

This ancient temple is located very close to Melkote and off the main road it is just 3 kms. The historical relevance of this temple is mixed bag, some say it is credited to the Gangas of Talkad and finished by the Hoysalas. There was a fort covering the entire town which has been erased from the topography. A beautiful tirumalsagara lake, which later converted to Moti Talab or Lake of Pearls after the adil shahi kingdom sultans annexed this place. There is a short cut to walk across the hill to the temple, one temple is completely renovated, which may have been a Hoysala temple. The main temple is Venugopalswamy temple or Namki Naryana swamy temple too. Here the hoysala king Bittideva was alleged to have converted to Vaishnava faith under the influence of sage Ramanuja charya. He adopted the name Vishnuvardhana after conversion to Vaishnava faith. The other temple is known as Gopalswamy temple which looks of Ganga origin but later the hoysala symbol of sala slaying the tiger is seen on the gopuram. This temple is built as a fortress with access to to upstairs of the temple compound. There are number of inscriptions in both the temples lying to be explored for historical students. One finds lot of villagers assembling on the Lake steps to pray for the local goddess of durga and shiva’s incarnation. A unique flag post like temporary prayer post is erected on the steps. One can relax on the small mantap erected to get a close look, boat ride is undertaken on coracles by local fisherman. The main temple has been completely renovated by ASI and the other temple is under Govt. of Karnataka. In both the temples poojaris are present. Majority of the idols seems to be taken away by ASI for preservation.

HOSAHOLALU :

This beautifully well landscaped temple of Hosaholalu is known as Laxmi Naryana temple. It is credited to have built during the time of the Hoysala King Veera Someswara in 1250 AD. The outer façade of the temple is well decorated with various forms of Vishnu & goddess and elephants along with the platform typical of hoysala temples. The temple is built in the triangular form, also known as trikuta vimana syle. There are three statues of deities Venugopal, Naryana & Lakshminarasimha. We were unable to see the inside of the temple because it was locked by the poojary and we did not bother to search for him. It is very rare that inside the temple sanctum santorium one finds idols, which are mostly uninstalled or vandalized by smugglers of antiques. This temple is located close to K R pet town in Mandya district.

HEMAGIRI RIVER FALLS : This place is located 8 Kms from KR pet enroute to Kikere town or Govindhalli. It is better to take the route back, in view of bad roads on the same stretch to reach Kikere town. The river is in full flow during monsoon and it is a treat to watch. This spot seems to be a film shooting locale for some of the Kannada movies.

KIKKERI

A real ancient temple located on the lake banks with water seeping into one corner of the temple where the idol was literally immersed in water. This Brahmeswara temple is one of the fine specimen of olden Hoysala style. It was built during the reign of Veera Narasimha I in 1171 AD. The façade is full of deities and animals. The workmanship is extra-ordinary. We have Nandi image sculpted in its glory with a verandah for seating outside the temple for piligrims. It is state of urgent need of repair and landscaping to prevent collapse and pristine beauty. The temple doors were locked and we had to jump into the compound to explore the heritage with a women cutting grass as caretaker. There are two more temple during the Vijaynagar era which has been literally painted with odd colours in the name of renovation and embezzling funds. I am sure if the temple had been maintained with basic water proofing and strengthening of pillars, it would have been a treat to admire. I hope the govt takes charge of such temples so that heritage is maintained.

GOVINDAHALLI Many local villagers know this place as Gavihalli and it is just 4 kms away from Kikkeri village. There is no prominent sign post or locale signifying the existence of this beautiful well maintained monument. One has to just cross the town limit of Kikkeri and take a left turn if one is approaching from Bangalore, on the right the road leads to Shravanbelagola. This is the only Panchkuta temple built during the Hoysala reign by the famous sculptor Ruvari Mallitamma almost the same time of Kikkeri temple. There are five shivlings in each of the inner chambers. The outer portion has various deities. It is better to carry and torch to have a look at the intricately carved statues inside the temple. The location has been beautifully landscaped and well maintained by the ASI. One can fall in complete in love with the serene atmosphere without the disturbance of the local population. I hope the ASI is able to maintain the public from encroachment unlike majority of the hoysala temples.

KAMBADAHALLI


It is located 18 kms away from the famous Shravanbelagola town. It is located on the nagamangala route enroute to belur cross or mandya town. One needs to keep watch on the milege point after 16 kms to take a deviation on the left. If one approaches from Nagamangala it is approximately 14 kms and better to watch for left turn from 12 km onwards for the arch. Kambadhalli was famous Jain settlement of ancient times, with more than 30 basadis, which are all ruined or destroyed according to fable stories. Only this temple has survived and it derives its name from its pillar on the enterance. Kambha means pillar in kannada and halli signifies village. It is a Jain temple with statues strewn outside. At least one consolation is that they are located in a vantage point. ASI would do good if they renovate and maintain this ancient heritage of Jains. The bell on the Pillar signifies some errie bed time horror story. It is alleged when the bell chimes it signifies death of a local villager. It is literally a parody of for whom the bell tolls. It is more a believe or not fable. One of the naked thirtankaras statue is the main worshipped god.

Hoysala Heritage trial

Hoy meant strike in old Kannada language, It is fabled that Sala the founder of Hoysala dynasty, killed a tiger with a dagger. The priest Sundatta had urged Sala to slay the tiger, thus the folklore was immortalized in all Hoysala edifice. This emblem was popularized by Vishnuvardhan after defeating Gangas @ Talakkad. Basically Hoysalas are from Malad region and inscriptions refer to them as ‘ Lord of Male’

The Hoysala reign began from 900 AD and ended in 1343 AD when Veera Ballal III was killed in the battle of Madurai. Vishnuvardhan, who was a jain, moved his capital from Belur to Halebid in 1116 AD. Hoysala’s were earlier feudatories of Chalukyas, Veera Ballal II freed Hoysala’s from sub-ordination of Chalukyas in 1187 AD. Some of the famous kings ruled the Hoysala empire were Veera Ballala ( 1102-1108) Vishnuvardhan ( 1108-1152) Narasimha I ( 1152-1173) Veera Ballala II ( 1173-1220) Vira Narashima Ii (1220-1235) Vira Someshwara ( 1235-1254) Narasimha III ( 1254-1291) & Veera Ballala (1292-1343).

During the Hoysala reign three famous philosophers Basavana, Madhavacharya and Ramanujacharya left their imprint. Basavanna preached religion without caste system, he believed in work is worship philosophy.

Temple architecture :


The pedestal on which the Hoysala temples were built most star shaped and were meant for circumambulation. The deities, legends, war scenario were carved on the façade of the temple at eye level. The craftsmen were aided by the soap stone, which lent itself for fine carving just like the goldsmiths. The finesse of the artisans Dasoja and his son Chavana were exhibited in Belur, Kedaroja was the chief at Halebid and Jakanachari ( fabled ) at Somnathpur and Amruthpura.

Pierced window screens, Knowledge of light and shade effect on the temple walls was fully exploited by the artisans. Natural lighting and ventilation was aim of the archictects. The element of Sun, Stone and Sky blended well with landscape. The roof design took care of the rain, lightening and sunshine to have the least effect on the structure. The life style of era such as dancing, dressing, hunting, warfare and worship are displayed on the façade. Some erotica are filled in the form of busts and scuttle sculptures.

TEMPLE LOCATION KING YEAR


Lakshmi Devi temple Doddagudvalli Vishnuvardhan 1113

Chennakesava temple Belur Vishnuvardhan 1117

Hoysaleswara temple Halebid Vishnuvardhan 1120

Bucheswara temple koravangala Veera Ballal II 1173

Amruteshwara Amrutpura Veera Ballal II 1196

Vir Naryana Belvadi Veera Ballal II 1200

Nageshwara Mosale Veera Ballal II 1200

Chennakesava Mosale Veera Ballal II 1200

Ishwara/Shivalaya Arisikere Veera Ballal II 1220

Mallikarjun Basaralu Veera Narasimha II 1234

Someswara Haranahalli Veera Someswara 1235

Lakshmi Narasimha Haranahalli Veera Someswara 1235

Lakshmi Narasimha Nuggehalli Veera Someswara 1246

Chenna Kesava Arleguppa Veera Someswara 1250

Lakshmi Naryana Hosaholalu Veera Someswara 1250

Yoga Lakshminarasimha Javagalu Veera Someswara 1250

Kesava Somnathpur Narasimha III 1268

Apart from the famous Chennakesava temple of Belur and Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid. Hassan district boasts of multiple heritage places such as :

Nuggehalli : There are two ancient hoysala temples at Nuggehalli one is of Laxmi Narasimha and another Kesava temple. Both these temples are in pristine condition, but various signs of vandalism are visible to naked eyes. This beautiful temple with gopuram and various statues on the temple façade is just a feast to the eyes. Nuggehalli is approximately 15 kms from Blore-Mlore Highway, with deviation near KEB office on the outskirts of Hirasave town. There is no sign board. Of course after Chennarayapatna town there is a sign board showing the direction to this destination, which is an alternative but longer route from Bangalore.

Arisikere : This is an important railway junction and trading centre at Hassan District, the number of tourist attractions in this town are multiple. Enroute, we missed visiting Hulikere Hoysala temple near Gandasi on Arisikere Tiptur route. Enroute to Tiptur from Nuggehalli there is Anathi, which has an ancient Jain Basadi and few monuments on the lake bed in various stages of ruin. Hopefully the new temple under construction on the lake bed may house some of ancient statues which are lying scattered.

a) Shivalaya :
This temple is pretty unique in construction, a dome like structure with pillared verandah which has seating place for piligrims traveling the distance to visit this temple is unique. There is a Nandi on top of the temple instead or normal Sala slaying the tiger, which is symbol of Hoysala reign. It obviously indicates that the temple of is of Chalukya origin rather than Hoyala reign. The landscaping around the temple is one of the best after Halebid and worth admiring for its simplicity and grandeur. All the elements of nature, Stone, grass and sky has been used to its maximum effect in this edifice. Some of the temple statues have been vandalized. The locking technology using the iron clamp to prevent the structure from crumbling can be witnessed in this temple. There is an urgent need to have police post in this edifice to protect from further vandalism.

b) Jainalaya :
Most of the statues and other sculptures of this edifice is under safe custody of Shravanbelagola trust according to the priest. This basadi is under renovation, with its priest staying in the compound. If one visualizes the original edifice, it would have been beautifully adorned with statues of all the jain Thirtankaras which have been installed at Shravanbelagola, hopefully after the renovation is complete we can see some of the original edicts and statues being re-installed.

c) Ranganathswamy Temple : This temple seems to be erected during the times of Vijaynagar empire, with Madhav Nayak the feudatory being credited for this fortress temple. The distinct signs of fortress is evident but amazingly, it seems incomplete for reasons of decline of vijaynagar empire. This temple is perfect example of the heritage being totally destroyed with modern usage of distemper and emulsion painting. ASI and state govt. would do us a great service if they can get rid of the painting and ensure that in future none of the monuments face the scourge of vandalism in the name of utilizing temple funds. One the temple premise the backdrop of the Melkalu Tirupathi hills is a beautiful sight. It is best experienced if one scales the temple boundary wall with steps and circambulate the entire premise.

d) Melkalu Tirupathi : 1250 steps trekking to the peak, is quite physically demanding but worth its effort in gold. The special trick to climb this hillock is to crisscross ones leg and climb, which has been beautifully captured by an video of 65 year old priest demonstrating the same. Please see the link.The scenic beauty enroute with rocky formation, landscape, vision of the lake beds, and various insignificant sculptures enroute creates its own aroma. This seems to be incomplete venture of Madhav Nayak, the temple on top belongs to Lord Venkateswara in its simplicity. Generally the trudge takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes under sufficient resting condition. It is better to carry a pinch of salt and candies to avoid dehydration and muscle sprain. The penis like rocky formation if observed closely on the temple boundary is a connoisseurs delight. Once again modern painting has robbed the original charm of the incomplete temple. It is better to undertake journey in the morning after informing the temple priest, there is no demands from the priest, but a tip of Rs 50/- would be inorder for the priests effort.

e) Mutts & Important Jain temple : There are at least 6 mutts, Sharada Mutt, Siddeswar Mutt, Kodi Mutt, etc in and around Arisikere Town. If two days halts the entire circuit can be explored and maybe one can discover further ancient heritage, which are unknown to the cyber world.

f) Harnahalli : One has to literally hunt the priest who holds the key to the temple. We were guided by the villagers to the priests house to unlock the gate and doors of the temple. A tip of Rs 20 to the priest will be in order. Landscaping work is yet to be complete. This town is located 8 kms from Arsikere town. The architecture is splendid for both the temples, once is under renovation. The someswar and keshav temples must have been a beauty to cherish for art lovers.

g) Garudangiri hill & ruined fort : This place boasts of ruined fort and a beautiful hillock, one can definitely venture out in the mornings to explore undiscovered face of ancient heritage. It is located on the banavara route approximately 15 kms away from Arisikere town.

h) Kwaja Mosque & Javagal Mosque : A rocky mosque enroute Banavar on the roadside is visible for the Islamic brethrens.

ARIKERE : This falls enroute to the Javagal from Banvara route. We would have Missed this ancient hoysala & chalukya heritage prior to Javagal temple. This Temple is located amidst a Rural village just off the main route. Once again we had to take the help of Local villager to compel the watchmen to open the temple doors. He was a Person who wanted to blackmail us to cough money for photography and showing the Interiors of the beautiful temple. We ended up paying Rs 10/- and warning him not to undertake such blackmailing tactics in future for any tourists.

JAVAGAL : A beautiful Lakshmi Narashima temple is located just inside the town, along with a Jainalaya and desolate Jain Basadi. This temple is unique in architecture with Jain pillars and other monuments pointing to the unique blend. The temple beauty is destroyed by distemper. The elephant motifs at the enterance are really adorable, and one structure is just embedded in the pavement. One can see the local boys spending time playing cricket, probably to honour our own Javagal Srinath whose ancestors house is located nearby to the temple.

BELAVADI : This wonderful place in the border of chickmaglur district houses approximately 11 kms from the famous Halebid monument. A beautiful Yoga Narashima temple with blend of Jain & Vijaynagar architecture is featured in this temple. There are 3 goddess in this temple precincts, they are Venugopala, Veer Naryana and Yoganarashima. The blending of the elements can be captured beautifully on the camera, sun rays, garden, horticulture, stone sculpture, etc are finest of the hindu age. This unparalleled combination of nature can rarely be seen in other monuments. Elephants adorn the temple premises in strategic points, it has beautiful resting verandah for piligrims. There is a poojary who is more attentive and responsive to tourist needs. He was the only poojary, who came on his own and opened the temple premises to show us all the gods with light, without any rancor or prejudice. How we wish all other priests and caretakers of the temples under priests are similar in nature.

Halebid Eroticism : Four innocuous looking panels display the intrinsic porno knowledge of the times at Halebid. Some of the menakas and apsaras are well busted and their pose has been tantalizingly portrayed. The Jain statue too boldly displays the cultural heritage of times. Looking at the historical perspective, I am compelled to surmise that Hoysala porn heritage is older to chandela’s at Khajuraho . The landscaping and the display of architecture in various forms of Lord Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh has been mindboggling. The incomplete edifice is now in the delicate phase of collapse, it has compelled the ASI to undertake water proofing on the terrace. There is a open air museum on the premise of Halebid which is veritable collection of all the recovered sculptures. This is only a drop in the ocean as far as I understand, considering the litters strewn. Some villagers claim the lake bed opposite known as Dhorasamudra contains a veritable treasure dumped into the water bed.

The landscaping of Halebid is still under massive expansion to utilize the space available. It will be the place to visit and adore, for those who would like to explore the rural settings, there is Mayura shantala government guest house without much luxury settings unlike Hassan. If one takes a sunrise walk on lawns of Halebid temple it is marvelous awakening of senses. One has to just walk in and experience the chirping of the birds to awaken the lord himself. Unfortunately the priests do not have early morning habit to open the temple @ Halebid. The statues inside are a treat to watch. The guides do demand exhorbitant fees even from a domestic tourist view point. There seems to union of sorts to exploit the tourists among the guides stationed here. The government of Karnataka and ASI should step in to regulate with a composite fee of Rs 25 per head for adults inclusive of all facilities such as parking, toilet, shoe stand, visit to temple, museum, camera etc. It is shocking when there is no enterance fee charged for entry a guide should charge Rs 125 for a couple, Rs 200/- for a family and Rs 300/ to foreign tourists. The parking fee is Rs 30/- Shoe stand charges are Rs 2/- per pair. The government official stationed in the shantala guest house does not have much work. Employment generation to the locals is of prime importance which can generate at least 1000 jobs in Halebid alone which can be used as a Hub for Hoysala heritage trip. Another major infrastructure development required is to have good accommodation facility for tourists visiting Halebid. It should be in between Belvadi and Halebid so that both the destinations are given tourism impetus.

KAEDESWAR TEMPLE : This is another great edifice built probably during the Vishnuvardhan era to compress the time frame of construction unlike Halebid hoysaleswara temple. There is an element of Jain architecture signifying conversion of the emperor. As per Hoysala tradition this temple too stands on a pedestal, with the lake bed acting as a boundary. There was a pond at the edge of the temple which has been sealed. BASADIHALLI : The architecture of this temple is pure Jain style. In recognition of Jainism the emperor has built a testimonial to the contribution of Jain philosophy. There is 14 feet high Parsvanath idol inside the temple, and another temple consists of Linga. There is a strong linkage of Shiva with Jains. A beautiful stupa exists in front of the Shivalaya, which is a unique feature. The roofs of the temple are beautifully carved. The landscaping in the premise are quite appealing. Many of the idols from this temple seems to be missing, either they must have been shifted to Shravanbelagola or to the museum. One which is kept on the lawns of Halebid temple seems to be definitely shifted from this temple.

HULIKERE KALAYANI : This is a beautiful, temple pond with 12 mantapas surrounding the tank bed. It is fabled that Tigers were frequent visitors to this village and one such Tiger was slain by Sala who is the founder of Hoysala dynasty. Some people in modern times pray for procreation in this pond. The landscaping around this monument has restored its dilapidated condition. It is better not to attempt stepping into water, one can be drowned.

DODDAGUDVALLI : This temple is on the Belur highway near Kirkere, a small poster indicates the presence of the monument. The temple is built on the lake bed in a unique fashion, one can find the Hoysala slaying the tiger symbol and the Khalasa on the dome of the temple. There are 5 gopura’s in the main temple. The uniqueness of this temple is that one should not kneel in this temple. If one does he shoes his foot to one of the goddess. There are 4 goddess surrounding if one stands and watches from the centre ramp. There are two demonic figures potraying the slaying of the victims. ASI has done an excellent work in restoring the crumbling edifice. The aging of the structure indicates that the life of this edifice is nearing completion. We hope the preservation efforts and regular maintainence pays dividends. The guard backs up as a guide, it is worth tipping him Rs 10/- for his knowledge. The road access to this temple is narrow, not many vehicles can be parked over here.

KORVANGALA : This temple is located near Hassan approximately 8 kms on the Arisikere route, there is a short cut route too which may cut the distance by 2 kms according to natives. This temple was built during the time of Ballal II in 1173 AD according to the inscriptions found in the temple. There is the famous Hoysala stamp with Sala slaying the tiger on the gopuram and the khalasa on the top. In front of this neatly maintained temple, there lies a ruined temple, which seems to have been encroached up by unauthorized construction of a community hall, which is surprisingly financed by Canara bank. The local village authorities have colluded to destroy the heritage. Such blatant violation of regulations by a powerful lobby is sad. I hope the state government takes a serious note of violations. The guide Venkatramana was lamenting that the authorities have shown no inclination to punish the violators who may be involved in stealing the artifacts and surreptously using it for construction activity.

SHANTIGRAMA : An ancient temple has been renovated, with no respect to the heritage with painting and other modern amenities like water supply passing through the outlet is astonishing. A huge water tank is laid on the mantap giving it a ugly look. This temple is the finest example of converting the heritage into a modern mockery. The gopuram is fully painted. It is located just before Hassan Town, a short cut exists from Koravangala to reach this place. ANEKERE : It is another hoysala heritage located close to Chennarayapatna town, one can go by a shortcut enroute from Shantigrama too. But it is advisable to avoid the short cut, if one looses the track it can be disaster. The main road is faster on the highway. The Khalasa at the roof top is beautiful, this temple has been renovated by the Shravanbelagola trust. The priest nearby to the temple holds the key to the temple.

OBSERVATIONS: The trail of Hoysala temples architecture may be an eye opener in many ways for lovers of heritage. Except for Belur and Halebid temples many of the other edifices built during the era, is crumbling and requires initiative from the Govt, NGO’s and other charitable trusts to protect the rich heritage. The scale of isolation and neglect of the monuments at Hulikere, Korvangala, etc speaks volume. They must be heaven for smugglers and anti-social elements to make a fast buck. However Hegde’s of Dharmastala have done their might in restoration and maintainence of the temple at Anekere, which is really appreciable.

1. Statues and artifacts littered and installed in the villages.
2. Stones from the monument or forts used for household construction.
3. Vandalism of the valuable art, and probably smuggling or sale to outsider for a small price.
4. In accessibility or improper directions for reaching the heritage sites.
5. Main Door Keys of the temples are handed over to priests staying nearby or to a watchmen who are most untraceable or unconcerned about tourists.
6. Absence of security to protect the monuments.
7. Monuments are in various stage of collapse due to lack of proper maintainence.
8. Unauthorized constructions particularly close to monuments such as Korvangala temple premises financed by Canara Bank surprisingly.
9. Lack of parking facility in most of the monuments.
10. Guideline for guides and their charges are lacking along with a composite formula.

ASI & STATE TOURISM CO-ORDINATION : It is vital that ASI and state tourism act in unison with a single purpose of preserving the monuments of Hoysala heritage from being smuggled or used for construction of local buildings. In case ASI is falling short of budget, they can always invite private institutions of repute to contribute and maintain the sites for 99 years, with free and unlimited access for their corporate promotion. There is an urgent need for protection of such monuments which are lying in distraught condition. The monuments are located not only in Hassan district, but also in Bijapur district near Aihole, and other places. 1. Police posts or beats are essential in all such monuments, which will protect the monuments from further vandalism.
2. All monuments which are lying in ruins at Hulikere, Korvangala should be immediately taken possession and stored under strict vigilante. A proper record of all the recovered statues, pillars, and important décor items should be maintained.
3. No fresh constructions near the heritage sites should be allowed within 500 meters, so that adequate space for landscaping, parking and tourist facilities can be installed in future.
4. A co-ordinated effort to promote tourism of Hoysala heritage can be organized by improving road access, widening of road on one side by relocation, proper marking with sign boards.
5. Holiday packages to develop awareness of various other destinations of hoysala heritage along with nominal fees levied for guide, parking, shoe stand, toilet facility, drinking water and entry which should not be more than Rs 20 per head. So in effect a family of 5 members spend only Rs 100 maximum.

Hampi, an open air museum

The history of Hampi during the Vijayanagar empire spans from 1335 upto 1365 for more than 230 years. Krishnadevaraya from the Tuluva dynasty reigned from 1509 upto 1529, during which time vijaynagar witnessed entered the golden era. I happened to visit Hampi during 1978 along with my parents. In those time it was typical village with a rustic atmosphere. There was not much interest among localites nor tourist to visit this place, which was known as ruined city, without any guide we wandered clueless. Moreover we visited in the peak of summer to add to our discomfort. The only distinct memory was that of Inverted Image Gopuram of Virupakasha temple. After a gap of nearly 30 years I find that a new civilization has emerged. Perhaps after Hampi being declared a world heritage site in 1987, a mind blowing transformation has taken place at Hampi. It is as if history is being re-written, with guides, autorikshaw doing round trip, bike guides, and professional tour operators unleashing knowledge on the FORGOTTON EMPIRE to the tourists. There are exists lot of similarities between POMPEII & HAMPI.

The common features are : 1. Road Network 2. Water Management 3. Temple construction 4. Public functions 5. Common Bath 6. Cultural Festivity 7 Art & Architecture 8. Well defined markets 9. Brothel Areas. 10. Diamond Bazaar. The world’s best diamonds were from India and it was openly traded in the bazaars along with other household articles. The royalty kept the best of the diamonds as their share for leasing the mines. Please refer to separate post on Hampi diamonds. Trading activities were carried out between various parts of the world during both the periods. We find gems & jewellery being traded in the bazaars. All household articles such as pottery, grains, vegetables, fruits, beetlenut, flowers etc were being traded. Finest Arabian horses were sold to the nobles in exchange for Diamonds. Further brothel lanes were located in the bazaar for the visitors and artisans from outstation.

Hampi is variously known as Pompei of the East, Open air Mueseum, Poetry in Stone, and architecture's paradise. Today Hampi is truely granted the status of World Heritage.


VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE : Our first point of visit was Virupaksha temple which was guided by a foreigner, because we ignored the offer to be guided @ Rs 400/- for a trip, which we thought was exhorbitant. We entered the Virupaksha temple without any entrance fee ( between 6.30 to 8 am it is free entry) The sheer grandeur started unraveling. At the entrance the temple tower is overpowering. On the left there is a sanctum which is occupied by tourists for changeover, which is really surprising. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is supposed to have been captivated by the dedication of Pampadevi.

Lord Shiva consented to marry Pampa in his avatar as Virupaksha, the presiding deity. Behind the Virupaksha temple lies a room wherein we can view the inverted image of the main tower through a pin hole. It is application of Periscope principle. The bazaar in front of the Virupakasha temple is proposed to be shifted to another place to maintain the heritage look. The proposed shopping centre will be the main reporting centre for Hampi excursion. An organized trip with eco friendly mode of transport will be arranged. Further a fixed guide charges would also be ideal depending on no of spots toured or time spent concept.

Hemkunta Hill : After Virupaksha temple visit we walked across a lane adjacent to the right, just on a blinder, towards Hemkunta hill. Here one is astounded by the skills of rock carving work station. It is like a canvas on which artist exhibits his painting. The granite was the main raw material for most types of monumental construction at the site – which was abundant in and around Hampi for over 200 kms. Traditionally, granite blocks were split by first cutting rows of closely spaced cubical holes into which wooden wedges were pounded. When wetted, the wedges expanded, thereby propagating deep cracks through the stone which split as per dimension required by the artisans.


Krishna Temple :
The Krishna temple was built by Krishnadevaraya., it is one of the most beautiful monuments located close to Virupaksha temple. The gopuram is vandalized to a large extent.by the Sultans robbing its deities and ornaments. The entire royal family members were massacred in this temple. Blood flowed in the temple premise, women and children were set on fire. The burn marks are visible inside the temple. Luckily after looting the enemy soldiers diverted their attention to grab wealth from many other temples, and spared mass scale demolition. Free entry


Hazaar Rama Temple : One gets to witness the epic of Ramayana depicted on the façade of the temple. The outer boundary walls is filled with battle scenes displaying the royal army in its full splendour. The pillars inside the temple are beautifully finished. The temple has not suffered much of the destruction unleashed by the Sultans. Free entry

Mahanavami Dibba : This place had been the public parade ground for the Dusherra festivity. The Kings had a beautiful stage on the Mahanavami Dibba to witness the procession and various acts enacted during the 10 days festivity, which replicated in the form of Hampi Utsav during Nov every year. During the ancient times puppet show, dance, drama, fireworks and fancy dress competition were enacted to enthrall the Royalty and commoners alike. Many of the monuments are demolished in this area. An underground meeting place for the king and the commanders is also built. Water duct is one the architectural wonder seen leading to the stepped tank. An amphitheatre seems to be destroyed too. Free entry


Vittala Temple :
Stone Chariots and musical pillars are the prime example of the perfection of the artisans during the Vijaynagar era. Many a films were shot in this premise in vernacular language as well as Bollywood. The famous Myth movie of Jackie chaan too has been shot over here. Unfortunately the musical pillar temple has collapsed and nobody is allowed inside this premise. The ASI is planning to resurrect this temple, which is a mammoth task.

Lotus Mahal : Lotus Mahal is supposed to be queen’s palace during the summer. The entire momument is beautifully ventilated with privacy for the the women folk. This Mahal is having a Indo-Sacrcenic influence. The royal palace is demolished in front of the Lotus Mahal. This place needs tickets for visiting, which can be combined ticket with Vittala temple. Photography charges are separate.

Elephant Stable : The royal herd of elephants were stationed in the elephant stables. It is a majestic structure which still survives in pristine condition. Some film songs have been shot with dancing scenes picturised above the stables roof. Combined entry fee is charged.

Jain Temple’s Behind the Lotus Mahal enclosure one finds small jain temple signifying that Jains too had influence in Hampi.


Sasvekallu and Doddakalu Ganesh :
The lord of knowledge Ganesh is adorning these temple, a portion of his stomach has been destroyed by soldiers of Sultan. The destruction seems to have halted in the midst for reasons unknown on this statue. Both the idols have survived and their Parthenon like structure is amazing.

Urga Narashima and Badavi Linga : Urga Narashima has been the symbol of Hoysalas and Vijaynagar empire. One can see a partially destroyed statue of Urga Narashima ( Lion headed Diety ) enroute to Hazaar Rama temple. This has become the official symbol of the Vijaynagar dynasty. The Shiva Linga seems to have built by a poor lady in honour of the King. This place is always immersed with water. Some people try to throw coin to perch on the linga for good luck and wishes to come true.


Underground Shiva Temple : A marvelous archicteture with water channels routed to the temple, to keep the place cool. This temple is immersed with water, without a clue by the present archeologist, whether it was a faulty construction or breach of water channel. The entrance to the temple is beautifully landscaped. The underground shiva temple has Nandi statutes inside, which is filled in water most of the times. Free Entry

Royal Zenana : The bathing place for the queens of the sultans has been beautifully constructed near the Underground shiva temple. It is now a lovers den to have privacy. There is no water standing in this place, which is surprising. How we wish that we are transported to ancient times with water being present in this premises. Free Entry

Anegundi : This place was the first capital of the Vijaynagar empire and which was later transformed Hampi into their primal capital. This place is across the Tungabhadra river and boasts of some ancient temples and beautiful rocky patches, which are used for adventure rock climbing sports by foreigners and Indians alike.

T.B. River : Coracle ride is taken across to reach Anegondi by tourist, to explore the monuments and hilltop. One can see a temple Mallikarjun being under resurrection by an NGO. A bridge across the T.B. river was discontinued due to the advisory of the world heritage body.

Muesuem : Kamalapur has a beautiful museum of the left over monuments which have been destroyed by the Sultans. These monuments are only partially recovered majority of them seems to have been smuggled to Europe by the britishers. Entry ticket

Bear Park : Doraji Bear sanctuary is supposed to be 14 km away from Kamalapur. Honestly I was not interested in visiting this place for spending more time @ Hampi. Some foreigners stay months undertaking research or trying to feel the rustic atmosphere of Hampi.

T.B. Dam : A beautiful dam is built across the river tungabhadra to harness the energy unleashed by the river. The dam has a beautiful garden and musical fountain is played during the night. Entry ticket for the gardens is charged. Old Bridge : An old bridge across the T B river which was supposed to be replicated has been stopped by the World Heritage committee, if one wants to witness and get the feel one can notice the same enroute to Jaggan chakki falls near Shivasamudram.

Tips to travellers:

Guides are available at the Virupaksha premises. The charges range from Rs 150 to Rs 500/- per family. On guided KSTDC tour the charges are Rs 100/- per head for entire trip of 3 days. The temperature is extremely hot, visit during the rainy season or winter season is advised. In case one likes to travel during summer vacation it is better to carry an umbrella and sunscreen. Drink plenty of water since one skin can become dehydrated with loss of water. If one has the habit of sweating then it is between to consume salt and sugar added water to replenish loss. It is better to have mosquito lotion as a precaution. The river bed at Tungabhadra is extremely slippery, I was personal witness to another co-tourist having a toss into the river, luckily he escaped unhurt. Do not undertake coracle ride during rainy season it could be dangerous.

ACCOMODATION : One of the recommended places for stay is Shanbaug Towers, which is located close to the bus stand. The rooms are neat and clean. They have a bar facility and restaurant. Hot water is available with geyser fitted into a double room. There is a photo studio Konica for fast processing. Other hotels are Mallige, Pai Hotel and KSTDC Mayura hotel. It is recommended one stays a Hospet which is convinient from all angles.

Pattadakal, University of Chalukyan artisans

Pattadakal has been declared a world heritage monument in the 90’s for its sheer artistic splendour and glamour. It is located 22 kms away from Badami, which serves as the base town for many tourists in view of accommodation facility. The ideal time to arrive at this destination for photography is between 3 to 4 Pm, when the light conditions are absolute harmony with nature. One shoot their pictures with all their elements of nature, sky, sand stone in perfect co-ordination.

A group of 8 monuments was known in Ptolemy in his “Geography” as Petirgal in 2nd century AD. This place was also known as Pattada Kisovolal ( valley of red soil and stones ). Literally Pattadakal means a red township. These locales were ideal setting for pre historic Mesolithic and Neolithic mankind to survive and breed. The hillocks are surmountable with ease and plenty of water source from the Malaprabha river which flows from the western ghat transgressing and joining at Kudalasangama where all the three rivers meet viz Malaprabha, Ghataprabha and Krishna.

Monuments of Pattadakal

Virupaksha Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, & Sangameswara temple which are in typical Dravidian style of temple architecture.

Galganatha Temple, Jambulingeswar temple, Chandrasekhara temple, Kasieswara Temple& Kadasiddeswara temples, are all in Nagara style which is more of north Indian tower or pyramid types
Papanatha Temple is another hybrid temple which combines both the classical southern and north Indian architecture.


Monolithic Pillar Inscription :
It is virtually a decree referring to puranas and conquest of Vikramaditya during the times built by Trilokamahadevi who was his queen and mother of Kirtivarman II ( 744-756 AD )

Galaganatha Temple : A typical North Indian Nagara style century temple constructed in 8th century, which may have been precursor to the temple architecture in the north. A dancing shiva is chiseled in the door frame, with a beautiful shikara which almost 20 feet in height from the roof. An eight armed avatar of Lord Shiva is shown slaying his demonic prey Andhakasura with his trident. One of the interesting depiction on the mould in the east is that of a mischievous monkey from Panchatantra and tale of two birds from the same epic. The overall dimension of this temple is a typical 30x40 site. This temple is built around by 750 AD during the reign of Kirtivarman varman II.

Virupakasha Temple :
This temple is known as the coronation temple where apparently kings were crowned. Lokeswar or Virupakasha temple was built by queen Lokadevi in commemoration of King Vikramaditya’s II ( 733-744 ) victory over the Pallavas in 740 AD. The dimension of this temple is 224 x 105 sq feet. The design of this temple is almost similar to Kanchi Kailasha temple. A massive hall known as Rangamantapa with 18 massive pillars depicting various scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharat and Bhagvatha is engraved on the façade of the pillars. Various postures of couples in romantic mood are installed on the side walls, which are in various stages of destruction. One of the panels potray 10 different life style prevailing at the time, dancing, hunting, battlefield, intrigues & conspiracy, killing, prayer, and romance. The centre stage is taken by the Lord Vishnu.

The entire set of pillars are embellished with elegant carvings depicting episodes from Ramayana signifying the abduction of Sita, from Mahabharat where Bhishma pitmah is lying on bed of arrows. Scenes from Bhagavata displays Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain with one finger to protect the villagers against the wrath of Indra. If one wants to experience the same a beautiful 2D animation film is produced by Iskcon and can be seen in their auditorium at Iskcon Bangalore. This film has won a cannes award for its production value. Arjuna receiving pasupatrastra from is also etched on the pillars. Rati and Manmathas rasleela is potrayed in form of armorous couple.

Kadasiddheswara Temple : It is a modest temple built on the nagara style. At the doorway of the sanctum one finds figures of shiva and parvathi on one side and bramha and Vishnu on the other side. There are attendants and river goddess giving them company. It is basically an experimental stage before construction of the Galagnatha temple.

Jambulingeswar Temple : This temple is another experiment in the sikhara style, with a raised plinth. There are sculptures of Shiva, Vishnu and Surya along with swans. There is a Nandi in usual couched position. The khalasa is missing from the temple tower.

Chandrashekara Temple : This Dravidian temple is built around 750 AD, with a Shiv Linga in the garbhagriha. There are sentries in the doorway offering protection to the Lord. The walls around a decorated with simple designs.

Sangameswara Temple : This temple remained incomplete despite the best of the efforts due to some structural fault I suppose. This temple was commission in 720 AD during the reign of King Vijayaditya ( 696-733 AD). This temple houses a Linga in the garbhagriha. The hall seems to have been subsequently strengthened by pillars and arches, and sculptures of Lord Shiva and Vishnu in various stages of carving. There are three perforated windows which is typical of hoysala temples. There seems to some obstacle in form of intervening warfare, conspiracy or astrological advice which stopped the completion of this temple.

Kasivisveswara Temple : The last of the temple built around 8th century, maybe even attributable to Rashtrakutas. The symmetry has been maintained to follow the chalukyan style and it represents the Nagara style of North Indian architecture. There is a couched Nandi on the basement. There are chaitya arches which are typical Buddhist style. The sculptures of Ravana lifting the Kailash parvath, exploits of Lord Krishna, elegantly carved ceiling panels depicting Siva, Parvathi hold Karthik and Nandi surrounded by eight dwarapalikas. The Lions carved on the beam appears to support the ceiling.

Mallikarjuna Temple :
This temple is also known as Sri Trilokeswara Maha Saila in an inscription, which is slated to have been built in 740 AD. Triloka Mahadevi was the queen of King Vikramaditya II ( 733-745 AD) who built the temple to commemorate the victory over the Pallavas. In appearance the temple appears to have close resemblance to Virupaksha temple. There is a separte mantap in front of this temple which houses the Nandi in a 4 pillared structure, where a priest conducts some puja. This is the only place where Pooja is allowed in the entire temple complex thankfully retaining the pristine glory of the World Heritage. There are various depictions of Mahisasura being eliminated by durga, churning of the ocean, Narashimha fighting Hirayanakashpu , Lord Krishna slaying Maricha, There figures of romantic couples in various postures which is preserved in pristine condition unlike Virupaksha temple complex.

Papanatha Temple : This modest temple seems to have been completed around the same time as Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna Temple during the reign of Vikramaditya. A mid course correction while temple is being constructed is evident by narrowing the circambulatory path. There is no Nandi sculpture in this temple which is strange.

Ramayana episodes are engraved on the façade of the temple. Another unique feature is that the name of some of the sculptors names are also embedded, they are Baladeva, Devaraya, Changama, Revadi, Ovajja, etc. This temple is a hybrid form a sort of experimentation has taken place in trying to be unique when compared to other two temples.

Jaina Temple

A church is built besides the famous Jaina temple @ Pattadakal. It is a unique picture present the visitors who come looking for an ancient heritage. Many a miss out this church thinking it as some stone structure, only one ventures into the frontal portion one can find the true colours. My intention is not to breed hatred but request all religious believers, including hindus to stay a clear 200 feet away from all heritage sites. They are invaluable treasures. Each and every monument is a potential World heritage site. Another glaring commission is that of repainting these heritage sites with modern paints which literally murders the past heritage. Some of these structures are worth millions or priceless. This temple has been rebuilt by ASI with all its markings is clearly visible.

Badami, ancient Chalukyan Capital

When the lightening struck Shidilgudi( Shidilpadi ) in 10000 BC, which literally means in Kannada a cave formed out of lightening strike, history unfolded in Badami and its surroundings. The Mesolithic cave man began hunting various wild animals, drew pictures using the blood of the preys on the rocks and sliced the meat with sharp stones. They literally ate the raw wild pig meat and threw carcass for the vultures to prey upon after removing the hide which formed the lion cloth to hide their vitals. The Mesolithic men stayed in Shidilgudi which 3 km walk from the main road.



Pulakesi I shifted the capital from Aihole to Badami in 543 AD, considering the strategic importance of the location which is surrounded by impregnable hillocks and a tank of fresh water. The location of the palace should be in the Museum area. There are steps leading to the hillock, which is virtually unexplored. Most of these empires would obviously had one of the best palaces. It is a mystery how they have been left out.



Lajjagauri


“Tree of Life “
emerged during the mythical period. So goes the fabled story when Shiva and Parvathi were newly married, they were busily engaged in carnal pleasure for ages at kailash parvath ( meaning the caves in the mountain ) They were ignorant to the fact that Asuras ( demons ) were harassing devas and mortals no end. The helpless sages, disciples, and others approached Lord Shiva at the enterance of the abode of Lord Shiva who was literally on his honeymoon bliss. The visitors unable to awaken Lord Shiva enter into the cave, where the couple are in unison, the surprise entry captures Parvathi literally nude. She immediately picks a Lotus leaf and covers her face in embarrassment from intruders un welcome presence. So eventually the diety came to be known as Lajjagauri, goddess of virginity. The missionary copulation posture is beautifully sculpted by the artisan of the chalukyan era, symbolizing the perfection of erotic era in Indian temple architecture. Friends these erotic rendering was undertaken 575 AD, whereas Khajuraho was sculpted in 1050 AD almost 500 years later.

The beautiful and serene atmosphere with a lake; impregnable defense of Badami landscape captivated Pulkesi II ( 609-642 AD) who married the princess Devi from Alupa dynasty from Barkur. She obviously brought along with her artisans who had rich experience of carving wonderful edifices. Inorder to proclaim his victory over the Pallavas and re-capturing the territory Badami was commissioned as a modern capital of the emperor. This added as incentive to meaningfully employ the artisans from the Alupa empire. The artisans from Kanchipuram too were deployed to work on with dexterity.

Pulakeshi II, who was Ereya, spread his reign by first defeating his uncle Mangalesa who was trying to spread his genes. Than he took over the crown and annexed territories below the Narmada belt and extended it upto the cavery belt. His major victory waa against Harshavardhan and he died battling Pallava's Narasimhavarman in 642 ad who occupied Badami temporarily.

In ancient times Badami was famous as Vatapi, who were demons. The two hills at Badami signified two demons Vatapi and Ilavala, who used to trick people and slaughter them. The great sage Augastye bought an end to the misery of the merchants, who were tricked by the demons into the trap. The lake in front of the temple signifies a tribute to the sage Augastye for bringing salvation to the
travelers.

Basically there are four cave temples at Badami. The first temple dates back to the 5th century AD with Lord Shiva in Rudra Tandav posture, it is known as Ardhanareeswara. The carving of Shiva with eighteen arms is just majestic and ultimate grandeur. There are few other statues of Shiva in various incarnations. The first cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva mainly, who is also known as Destroyer in GOD abbreviation.

The second cave temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is the Generator in GOD abbreviation. There is a rock cut sculture of Varaha form of Lord Vishnu. There are several sculptures refering to the ancient fabled stores too in this cave. Brahma completes the triology as the operator in the hindu myth.

Third cave temple is the most prominent and dates back to 578 AD. This cave temple according to inscriptions found is said to been built under the patronage of Kirtivarman Chalukya. There are images of avtars of Vishnu, in the forms of Naraimha and Trivikarma. The murals of Shiva Parvathi too is seen in this cave. There are traces of paintings of purana on the façade of this cave temple which is the largest and has a beautiful court yard beyond comparison. The view of the augustya lake is exotic and the perfect portrait scene for 100 different angles of photoshoot ops. One should just try video shooting and photoshoots in various forms of lighting to perfect the art of photography. I simply tried 25 different options, but was running out of memory space for more.

There is a Neolithic cave in between the third and the fourth cave. The cave paintings traces are just seen in a dim manner, it looks uninspiring when compared to the other caves. Probably the historians during the ancient time realized the importance of preserving the heritage of Neolithic mankind and kept the original cave blank. It is my surmise that this cave forms an important epicenter of Neolithic civilization, which is lost to world due to modern trespassing and natures vagaries.

The last Cave belongs to the Jaina period, which is dedicated to the Adinath Tirthankar. There are number of murals of the saint in various forms, most of them following the digambara tradition, which in sublime form is the naked truth. This is the ultimate in digambara form for a sainthood to transform into a state of relinquishment of worldly pleasures.

Many a tourists do miss the opposite hillock which contains a veritable history. A group of temples known as Bhutanata. This temple is fantastic film shooting spot, where the film GURU has been filmed. One can witnesss the lake bed with dhobis washing their clothes along with the local women folk. The echo of their pounding of clothes can be heard high above on the Shivalaya hill. The rustic atmosphere of the houses while one transgresses into the bylanes has to be seen to be believed.

One small temple house the Vishnu in Dasha avatar posture. Here the lord is seen resting on huge snake with the hood protecting the Lord. These structures seem to have been cleaned recently to give a factory fresh appeal. On opposite small hillock Karnataka Govt. seems to be experimenting a landscape filled with Neolithic depiction of their lifestyle, which is long in the making. Present in its semi-finished condition gives an ugly sight to watch amidst the grandeur. Incidentally a kannada film shooting titled as Veera Madikere Nayaka was in progress, with adimanava scenes being shot.

A hillock opp to the Bhutanata complexes houses a magnificent collection of sculptures pertaining to Jaina and Lord Shiva. It is worth watching and shooting the same for our album.

There Ancient inscriptions, one pertains to Kappe inscription, where the Mahamalla Varman claims victory over the chalulkyans in 642 AD. There is another important inscription of the architect who tries to find a solution to a ticklish problem. Once he discovers the solution he records it for posterity on the rock hill.

The entry to the magnificient fortress is closed from the cave temple complex on Vatapi hills. It is reliably learnt there were misfortunate incidents of tourist slipping and succumbing to injury. On the other side one can really experience the thrill of climbing a well paved and tiled staircase. The blend of architecture in the Yellama temple is absolutely fabulous. One note of caution is that it is filled with monkeys, one should not venture in a carefree style carrying all the food stuffs in a bag, monkeys are known to snatch at purse, bags and polythene bags. It is better to deposit their valuables in the counter or vehicles below. The ascent to the Mantaps through the crevice is fabulous experience. The high point of the watch tower can be approached on this hillock, one of the watch towers has a cannon, without the gunpowder loaded of course.

Tipu Sultan has left his mark in this place with a mosque, palace in ruins and a tomb stone for one of his generals who may have been a martyr during his battle with the enemies.

Badami can be covered either through NH4 via Gadag or through Hubli. The other alternative route is through hospet, koppal, gadag and Badami. The total distance from Bangalore to Badami via Hubli would work out to 498 Kms. There are no of accommodation facilities available depending on one’s pocket, it is better to reserve their hotels either through KSTDC or directly with hotels. My advice to people traveling to Badami is to never hurry up, you never know you may end up discovering what others may not have observed. The museum @ Badami has one of the finest collections of artifacts of era ranging from Neolithic to Tipu sultan period. The caretakers of the museum can dish out wonderful historical facts if one goads and motivates them. I was surprised that all these workers don t take tips and are keen to observe that the tourist do not vandalise the treasures of the by gone era. My quest to re-discover Badami is unfinished…………may next time around I will sitting in one of the caves inhabited by Neolithic race and posing for a photograph.

Aihole, an erotic legacy




“It is dusk, a time for foreplay to begin @ Aihole “ felt the artisans of the chalukyan era. The artistic freedom for the artisans to depict erotica was witenessed in plenty. For skeptics it may sound like an exaggerated marketing gimmick to promote a tourist destination, for lovers of heritage it real passionate plea inviting them to explore the fourth century passion play exhibited on granite. No wonder Aihole is considered to be school and cradle of architecture in Indian History. On the banks of river Malaprabha flourished a civilization beyond imagination, unknown to the invading Ghori’s, Ghazni’s, Moghuls, Sultans or even Tipu Sultan. However the amount of artifacts missing from the site of Aihole seems to be mindboggling. If one can conjure up 500 temples in and around this ancient city of Aryapura according to inscriptions, it points out to systematic approach to rediscover the same. ASI has set up an office and doing precisely the work of re-inventing and sprucing up the destination. With a little help from Govt and local populace, if they could relocate 50 odd families residing in and around the monuments we can discover an ancient world beyond imagination .


HISTORY








Aryapura or modern day Aihole was the first capital of the Early Chalukyan Kings. Majority of the temples are of Vaishnavite origin, than Shivite or Saivite along with Jaina origin. The Mayura hotel complex houses a crude foundation plan of a Hoysala temple. For some unknown reason the plan has been aborted, the star shaped structure is clearly evident and from the foundations along with the rock hewn structures for constructing the pillars and other façade elements. Another possibility is that this site might have housed the palace of the Kings which has been demolished and the entire treasure has been smuggled. I hope ASI preserves this structure for posterity because the ASI office itself is located adjacent. In this manner one can probably discover many a facts which are on speculative ground, including looking a pristine skyline in the dark when there is a power cut. One can see from the terrace a number of shooting stars, constellations, etc. Power cuts may be curse to the public but it brings forth another dimension to the ancient civilization.








Recent excavations seem to be pointing towards civilization existing prior to the Chalukyan period, probably dating back to Ashoka period or Mauryan period. The Buddhist influence in temple construction is prominent in the Lad Khan temple. It is believed that this structure was originally meant to be meeting place for the king and his ministers. It was not built as a temple, but converted into a temple due to alternate plan. The number of temples constructed points to one significant fact which may be missed by many historians is where is the trace of the Royal Palace where the Kings resided. It is surprising omission or clever subversion of the fact that all these structures have razed to the ground with systematic loot of the treasury filled with gold and precious jewelleries.

One of the most impressive temple in Aihole is the Durga temple which has been constructed based on the Buddhist chaitanya halls. The temple has perforated windows and statue of Durga destroying the demon Mahishasura.


Ravanpadi is one of the oldest Rock cut temples in India, it maybe a transformation of old Neolithic man’s dwelling place. There is shiv ling in the centre and on the façade beautiful picture of Lord Shiva dancing in his fabled Rudra tandav style.


Melguti temples are dedicated to Jain thirtankara. It is located on the hillock, one has to climb a small hillock with a well laid out 124 steps. The complex is built like a fort, with separate living quarters below. The main temple has depiction of Jain thirtankara, along with upstair structure approachable through a stone ladder. This temple has been re-built by ASI

Huchhappayya Temple, is once again a rebuilt temple which is well landscaped and maintained. This temple is an experimentation of sex education. The first clear indication that sex is not a taboo. Most of the sculpture on the façade of the temple which signifies that foreplay was an essential part of the good conjugal married life. One of panel shows a women literally stroking the penis of her partner. Another displays a man trying to have an intercourse with a women standing and lifting her torso towards his phallus. Another depiction shows the protagonist stroking the breast of his lover. Since the temple has been rebuilt careful conservation effort has gone to protect monument which is more than 1500 years old. But nevertheless it is left to the imagination of the onlooker how rich the erotica would have been rest of the wall panels but for its loss due to aging factor.

Ramlingeswar Temple, it is located on the Banks of Malaprabha river. It is basically shivaite lingas on the centre stage. These temples are still used for some utsav with concrete roads leading to temple precints. The show of ancient heritage is lost due to mindless painting of the temple.


Veerabhadhra temple
: This temple seems to be of recent origin rather than ancient. The temple premise clearly indicates that it is designed for gathering with platforms erected at various levels. The main diety is Veerabhadra



Galganath complex has a group of thirty odd temples big and small. It has erotic sculpture displayed in a miniature format. A Classic missionary style sex is exposed in absolute perfection. Another sublime form of sex with an animal is depicted on the wall panel. Various forms of scuttle and mellowed down activities are also on display on the wall panels of the temple. The complex also houses an asokan type of arched pillar. An artifical shed may be house the domestic animals is also quite prominent part of the complex. It looks as if there is one upmanship among the artisans to prove their sculpting capability.

For sake of paucity of time we ended up covering only 60 percent of the monuments. One needs to have a full day programme to do full justice to Aihole. There is a good KSTDC guest house with dormitory type of accommodation as well. However incase one wishes to have more option halting at Badami is advisable.














Somnathpur Temple, Hoysala heritage

Thank GOD, Somnathpur temple is under the care of ASI and there is no priest performing mumbo jumbo. ( No insults intended, since I myself am a Hindu) This is perhaps the primary reason why the temple is maintained in pristine condition. The landscaping is excellent and it attracts more foreigners than domestic tourists being closer to Mysore. Vandalism is minimum on the temple. Some portions of the missing link have been replaced by ASI.

The artisans who were unemployed after the Belur & Halebeed temple needed work so it seems, the general thought of bettering the design and concept of his masters. Somanth, who was a general wanted his name to be remembered in the annals of history, he commissioned the construction of this magnificient edifice during his period ( 1254 – 1291 AD ).

Soap stones have been used to carve out the magnificent statues which have been embedded inside the temple. Images of Venugopala, Keshava and Janardhana are installed in three different chambers. The beautifully carved pillars form the support structure for the edifice. Ceiling of the temple is intricately carved with lingas ( phallus shaped ) which is unique feature of the temple. The art of compression and miniaturization is seen to be believed.

The grandeur of the Hoysala era is exhibited on the outer panels of the temple. Various scenes from the epics are depicted. The battle scenes are intricately carved adding to the grandeur. One gets a sneaking inkling that this temple dates back to the Ganga period which seems to have crumbled and the premise seems to have been reconstructed by the general to propagate his fame.

Mallitama, Masanthamma,Chameya, Bhameya etc are few of the artisans who have engraved the magnificient somathpur edifice. One of the most drawbacks of planning authorities is that the Guide fees fixed seems to be extremely unreasonable. ASI should infuse some discipline so that all the visitors are motivated to use the local guide. Rs 25/- would be a reasonable fee for a family for a bus group of 30 members Rs 200 would be ideal.

The heat is extremely unbearable if one visits the spot in summer, but we were lucky to have benefited cyclonic weather. It is better to finish the trip before 10 am. A coir matting roll would be ideal if it is rolled across as if it is a red carpet. Visitors are advised to carry an umbrella, it protects oneself from sun, rain and wind, elements of nature.

Somnathpur is just 37 kms from Mysore, do not miss this wonderful heritage at any cost. It signifies the penultimate artistic talent of our artisans during the hoysala era. Entry fee Rs 5/- Still camera free, Video Rs 25/- Parking Rs 10/-

Talakkad, Curse of Allemellu

Talakkad was an ancient capital of the Gangas. The earlier capital of Gangas was Avani @ Kolar district. The cholas invaded Avani and defeated the Gangas who were forced to retreat more than 200 kms into Talakkad. After the decline of the Gangas, Talakkad was ruled by Pallavas, Cholas & Hoysalas. Vijaynagar emperors too left their mark in this place. Till the independence the Wodeyars of Mysore reigned supreme. Talakkad is blessed with Kabini and Cauvery rivers forming its boundaries.
Once upon a time Talakkad was fabled to have more than 300 temples, some temples got buried under the sand dunes, and others became dilapidated. The ASI keeps digging out newer sites which lay buried.

Curse of Talakad
: The feudal lord of Talakad Srirangaraya lived along with his wife Alamelamma. They used to send their ornaments every Friday to the Ranganayaki temple @ Srirangapatna, to decorate the goddess. One Friday, when she was not feeling well, she forgot to send the jewels. The King of Mysore was annoyed at not receiving the ornaments, he sent his army to fetch the valuables. Alamelamma refused to part with the jewels. She tied all the valuables to her Sari and jumped into the river Cauvery near Malingi cursing the King and the Land. The curse surprising is working on the kings and it has turned the land barren.

“ Let Talakkadu become sandy,( desert type ) Let Malangi become a swamp, Let the rulers of the Land become Issueless “ Since then Talakkadu became a land of sand dunes and Wodeyars were cursed being childless. Talakad was fabled to be filled with more than 300 temples, one can see traces of the same, with temples scattered all over the territory. There is Mallikarjuna temple on the hillock and one can see the river cauvery in all its splendour from the peak. The vehicle can be taken almost to the peak by road. One has to climb a few steps to reach the temple. The priests in the temple are young ones. It is fun to witness the pooja and archana being performed by young budding priests. Talakkad is filled with temples, Panchlinga or 5 Lingas is fabled and sacred. In these temples too Young priests perform the pooja. There is Veerabhadra temple by the side of the Panclinga temple.

It is better to hire a guide to take a tour of Talakkad. We were fortunate to hire our Guide, Madiah, who is 50 plus and is full of stories. It takes a full 2 hours to take a tour. Madiah tells the fabled story in his own style, explains the architectural importance of various temples. The ASI has recently discovered an ancient house of the Ganga period near the sand dunes, it is kept a top secret by the department, since it is not fully excavated.

One gets to see the magnificent temple under reconstruction, which was buried under the sand dunes. The ASI was able to resurrect one temple, and the other temple is being meticulously being pieced together, once it is completed it may a wonderful edifice retrieved. One gets to taste cashews enroute to the temple. The cashew fruits seems intoxicating. The amount of granite stones carved out for completing the temple is mindboggling. The missing links are being assembled, with each piece being numbered and serially laid out. One has to just move it like a jigsaw puzzle to reconstruct. Talakkad may become an important tourist circuit once this temple is completed.

Cauvery river which is situated approximately 2 kms away is a beautiful spot for bathing. The water is flowing and clean, one has to watch out not to cross the boundary, where the curse of Alamellama can drown the frolickers. There are number of coracles if one wishes to take a ride in the swirling cauvery river. It can be an adventure on its own. But one is cautioned to look out for the whirlpool which can be fatal which can overturn the Coracle boats.

Talakkad can be reached from Mysore via Somnathpur or from Blore one needs to deviate at Maddur to reach Talakkad which is 35 kms away from Maddur. Talakkad is a great weekend getaway and if one plans to stay over one can look for options at Resort and Mutts or alternatively at Shivsamudra.

Shravanabelagola, Dedicated to Gommateswara

LEGEND

Chamunda Raya, a general with Ganga King, was impressed by the fabled Bahubali’s exploit and his renunciation of worldly pleasures and power over his kingdom. Bharata was crowned as emperor based in Ayodhya, but his brother Bahubali was based in the south as per succession plan of Rshabanath, who abdicated and took sanyas. Bharatha the younger son wanted to annex his elder’s brothers kingdom too by hook or crook. Both the armies were assembled face to face. The generals realized the futility of blood shed, they asked the brothers to have a personal duel to establish their sovereignty. Thus the battle of wits began Dristhi Yudda – looking at each other without winking, Jalla Yudda – sprinkling water at each other till one gives up and Malla Yudda – big wrestling match where one back is pressed to the floor in consecutive manner. All these battles were won unanimously by Bahubali. Yet the final move of trying to chop his brother’s head with a weaponry was also foiled. Even though Bahubali triumphed over his brother, he gave up his kingdom due divine intervention to give up worldly pleasures and follow the path of Dharma. This was an eye opener to his brother Bharata who started worshipping his elder brother akin to God. This fabled story was inspiration galore for general Chamunda Raya to commission 58 feet monolithic statue with the help of Nemichandra with great pomp and show.



MAHAMASTHABHISHEKA


Another reason for commissioning the statue in reverence of Bahubali’s exploits was because the wife of Chamunda Raya broke the bad news about his mother vowing not to drink a drop of milk unless a statue is built in memory of Bahubali’s exploit. Kalika Devi visited the sacred spot and stayed on the chandragiri hillock. She asked her son Chamunda Raya to fire an arrow to decide the spot on which the Bahubali’s image will be sculpted. The arrow fell on a huge monolithic rock on the Vindyagiri hillock, where the statue was sculpted with the theme of Bahubali’s meditative posture. Some claim that the image was already in existence from the time of Chandragupta Maurya who abdicated his kingdom and renounced the world in a true Jain tradition. Chamunda Raya had only discovered the idol and re-intalled the idol. But the age of the idol goes back to 981 AD, which disproves the fabled theory which tries to belittle the achievement of the general.

Chamunda Raya was obviously thrilled by his contribution to Jainism. He called for a great ceremony to be part of inaugural function. He wanted the priests to dedicated Bahubali’s statue to the revered soul by bathing the idol, with milk, sandal wood, honey, tumeric water, etc. The priest tried to bathe or anoint the idol, but all the liquids poured never crossed the naval part. This was fabled to be a lesson of humility to Chamunda Raya by the great saint.

An old lady Gullak ajji or Guli Ajji , who is fabled to be incarnation of Lord Padmavathi, bought a cup of pure milk in a lotus leaf and successfully drenched the statue throughout the body. From thereon the practice of bathing the Bahubali was continued with great fervour once in 12 years with 15 different combinations : 1. Water 2. Coconut 3. Plantains 4 Jaggery 5. Milk 6. Curds 7. Poppy Seeds 8. Golden Flowers 9 Silver flowers 10 Stone sugar 11 Dates which were symbol of common usage. Later the following aristrocratic items such as 12 Ghee 13. Almonds 14. Sandalwood paste 15 Honey 16. Silver coins 17 Cashew nuts 18 Saffron etc was added to the ceremony.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :

Shravanabelagola has been immortalized by this unique monolithic statute consecration on the 13th of March 981 AD. Chamundaya was the Yejmana, or the host of the anointing ceremony of the Statue of Bahubali, which is also known by the name of Gommateswara. Gommata in the vernacular mean a huge monolithic statute of Bahubali. In Sanskrit, it mean Manmatha or goddess Kamdev, who is supposed to goddess of sex. No wonder the naked figure of Bahubali has immortalized erotica before the Kamasutra were sculpted on Khajuraho. A sense of humility was achieved even in the naked form by its creator as well progeny.

Chandragiri hills was much more popular from the time of Mauryas, since Chandragupta Maurya, who had successfully repulsed the attack of Alexander the greats successor. Chandragupta gave up his worldly connection and went into a state of samdhi on the chandragiri hillock. The name stuck on as a dedication to this great emperor.

Subsequently the Gangas, Nolambas, Kadambas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar empire have all contributed their might in developing the area in around Sravana belagola. There are 14 temples or basadis. One particular basadi has a first floor too too which when explored gives one a sense of adventure and extreme humility of the grandeur exhibited. One can imagine the harmony that existed in ancient times.

The highest state of meditation is displayed in the form of kayotsarga pose , an yogic posture which symbolizes the ultimate control over bodily functions without mobility. The posture signifies complete control over the worldly pleasures, needs and wants, a world far away for grief and happiness, stress and tension and ultimate triumph over birth and death in this world. The smile on the face of the statue radiates the triumph over myriad mental conflicts in human mind. One is required to walk the entire stretch of the hillock on bare foot on both the hillocks. It is advisable to undertake the climb either early morning or towards sunset. The ascent to the Vindhyagiri mountain wherein the Bahubali or gommata statue can test ones physical fitness, which steep 600 odd steps, whereas Chandragiri has only 300 steps, which can be slippery during rainy season. But the ascent is very easy in many portions. It is advisable to first climb chandragiri, to practice and appreciate the triumph of human spirit and ideology of the Jains.

Both the Hillocks are photographers delight. I hope the history of Chamunda Raya will be subject of a bollywood flick some day for the world to realize how he fulfilled the dream of immortalizing Bahubali, the lord of ultimate renounciation. The Jain Mutt has been promoting the cause of Jainism which has accommodation and boarding facility for the pilgrims.

Acknowledgements : www.jainsamaj.org Encyclopedia of Jainism