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.
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.
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.
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.
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.