Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kashivishwanatha Temple, Lakkundi

 Kashivishwanatha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva built in 11th century A.D., which is just about 1 km from the bus stand, although there is no entry ticket for this temple but it is still undertaken from Archaeological survey of India (ASI). The place is well maintained by the government and is a protected monument. The complex consists of Kashivishwanatha Temple and Suryanarayana temple opposite to each other and also Nanneshwara Temple on the other side of the road.
The center of cultural and temple-building activity of the Western Chalukya Empire lay in the Tungabhadra river region, where large medieval workshops built numerous monuments. These monuments, regional variants of preexisting Dravida(South Indian) temples, defined the Karnata dravida tradition Lakkundi in particular was the location of the mature phase of the Western Chalukya architecture and the Kasivisvesvara temple marks a high point of these achievements. According the Henry Cousens, it is one of the most ornate temples in the Kannada spoken region of India.
The existence of a 1087 CE inscription on a beam in the temple Mantapa (hall) and the plainness of that part of the temple suggests that the original construction may have been simpler and that the profusion of decoration may have been added to the other parts of the temple at a later period, with the end of Chola invasions of Chalukyan territory. Most of the inscriptions in Lakkundi date from 1170 CE onwards. It is known that Hoysala king Veera Ballala II annexed Lakkundi (also known as Lokkigundi) from the Seunas of Devagiri and made it his capital around 1193 CE. It is possible that the temple may have received embellishment during his rule
This is a double shrined temple (dvikuta). The shrine facing east is dedicated to Kasivisvesvara (Hindu god Shiva whose universal symbol, a Linga, stands three feet tall in the sanctum. The other shrine, which faces the main shrine is dedicated to the sun god Surya and is called Suryanarayana. The Surya shrine faces west, an unusual occurrence among Surya temples, which normally face east. The Kasivisvesvara temple epitomizes the shift in Chalukyan artistic achievements, towards sharper and crisper stone work not seen in earlier constructions, taking full advantage of the effect of light and shade. Special attention was paid to moldings, arches and other details on the tower, and decorations on doorjambs and lintels.
 The architects in the Karnataka region seem to have been inspired by architectural developments in northern India. This is evidenced by the fact that they incorporated decorative miniature towers of the  Sekhari and Bhumija types, supported on pilasters, almost simultaneously with these developments in the temples in northern India.

 The miniature towers represented shrines, which in turn represented deities. Sculptural depictions of deities were generally discreet although not uncommon. Other northern ideas they incorporated were the pillar bodies that appeared as wall projections Well-known constructions incorporating these features are found at the Kasivisvesvara Temple and the nearby Nannesvara Temple.
 According to Cousens, the doorpost mouldings on the southern and eastern doorway are worthy of mention. On both sides of the southern doorway are four inner bands of scrolls which run up the sides and around the lower part of the entablature above. Next to these bands, on either side, in the centre, are tall columns or pilasters supporting the lower cornice above beyond these columns, on either side, are four more bands of decorative mouldings. On the lintel of the doorway is a dedicatory block containing an image of Gaja-Lakshmi with an elephant on either side, In fact, in the Kannada spoken regions, it is common to find the image of Lakshmi in the dedicatory block on the lintel irrespective of the temple's original dedication; whether the principal deity was Shiva, Vishnu or Jaina
Above the lower cornice, the entablature consists of small figures, now numbering only three (must have been eleven originally) standing under cusped arches. Above these figures is a valance of beads hanging in festoons. According to art historian Cousens, the decoration on the eastern doorway, though not a fine as on the southern doorway, is worthy of praise for its filigree work. The doorway to the shrine (sanctum) rivals the exterior ones in finish. The dedicatory block on the lintel has an image of Gaja-Lakshmi and her elephants. Above the cornice is a procession of men and animals. These images, which are barely six inches tall, include horsemen and musicians. Above these images are the trinity of Hindu gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
 Old Kannada inscription of Vikramaditya VI dated 1087 A.D on temple beam.
 The ornamentation on the outer wall of the shrine consists of prominent central niches above which is a miniature tower (Shikhara or aedicule) which is purely nagara (north Indian) in style and cuts through the principal cornice. The decorative arch above the miniature tower is a conspicuous ornamental feature of the superstructure. The miniature tower–arch combination is repeated up the superstructure of the shrine.
 The finial (Kalasha) and the capping structure of the tower is missing. In the temple hall, the pillars, their capital, and brackets figures above the capital (which include little lions, kirtimukhas and scrolls) are evidence of expert workmanship, the kind found on ivory or silver. The artisans fully availed the workable properties of finely grained stone (soapstone) to produce polished pillars whose shafts have a rounded appearance obtained by using a lathe.
 Then there is the Kirtimukha or the legendary face which was the main sign of the rulers of those times and these are seen carved on the outer part of the temple. This temple has a door on the southern side. This door too has a lot of paneled patterns. There is Makara which is a very strange creature with an elephant trunk, a peacock tail and a crocodile body. This is supposed to be a Hindu mythical animal and is considered to be the vehicle of the Gods Varuna and Ganga. Lord Shiva is shown as an infant in the temple and is supposed to be the only place where the Lord is shown in this manner.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Brahma Jinalaya, Lakkundi.

 Lakkundi was an ancient Agrahara and a great centre of educational and religious activities, particularly during the rule of the Chalukyas of Kalyana. It was also a provincial capital during the period. It was also associated with the famous woman Attimabbe who was a patron of the famous Kannada poet Ranna. Attimabbe is said to have built many Jaina temples at Lakkundi of which Brahma Jinalaya is well known.
After building the Brahma Jinalaya she requested the Chalukya King Satyasraya (997-108 A.D.) to make gifts. Thus her name is associated with this temple. Though there are many Jaina temples at Lakkundi, Brahma Jinalaya is the earliest of them all.
 This Jaina temple is a good example of the Kalyana Chalukya architecture. The temple consists of Garbhagriha, Antarala, Navaranga and a Mukhamntapa. The square Garbhagriha contains in the centre a fine black stone image of Tirthankara Mahavira on a lion pedestal. He is flanked on both sides by Chamara bearers an there is a triple umbrella above. There is also a low relief sculpture of Padmavathi Yakshi.  In the Garbhgriha are sculptures of Brahma and Sarasvati on both side and the latter is broken now.

The square Navaranga has in the centre four Chalukya pillars of great beauty. The base of the pillars has low relief sculptures of dancers, musicians, mother and child etc. The doorway is finely carved with creeper and has Gajalakshmi on the lintel. On both sides are the sculptures of Chaturmukrahma Brahma and Padmavathi Yakshi. The open Mukhamandapa has 28 fine pillars and Kakshasana, and balustraded entrance of flight of steps.
There is another small temple on the north of the main temple. The Mandapa of the temple has not survived. An image of Mahavira, which head is broken, is placed over the platform of the Mandapa. The Shikhara of the temple is also lost.

 There is also a museum in Lakkundi, managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The museum has a collection of diverse artworks along with gold coins that were issued under the reign of various kings.

 The exterior of the temple consists of basement with mouldings and walls with pilasters and niches in between. The upper portion has a decorated eave. Over the Garbhagriha is a five tiered of the Dravida type. There are two more chambers at the floors over the sanctum. This on the whole Jaina Basadi is not only big but also beautiful and is a good contribution of the later Chalukyas to Jain architectural heritage of Karnataka in general and that of celebrated Attimabbe in particular.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad

Hyderabad trip part - 4
The Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad is a repository of the artistic achievements of diverse European, Asian and Far Eastern countries of the world. The major portion of this collection was acquired by Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan popularly known as Salar Jung III. The zeal for acquiring art objects continued as a family tradition for three generations of Salar Jungs.
 In 1914, Salar Jung III, after having relinquished the post of Prime Minister to H.E.H., the Nizam VII, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, devoted rest of his entire life in collecting and enriching the treasures of art and literature till he lived. The precious and rare art objects collected by him for a period of over forty years, find place in the portals of the Salar Jung Museum, as rare to very rare pieces of art.

 After the demise of Salar Jung-III, the vast collection of precious art objects and his Library which were housed in "Dewan-Deodi" the ancestral palace of the Salar Jungs, the desirability of organizing a Museum out of the Nawab's collection dawned quite soon and Sri M.K. Velodi, the then Chief Civil Administrator of the Hyderabad State approached Dr.James Cousins a well known art critic, to organize the various objects of art and curios which were lying scattered in different palaces of Salar Jung III to form a Museum.

 With a view to perpetuate the name of Salar Jung as a world renowned art connoisseur, the Salar Jung Museum was brought in to existence and was opened to the public by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India on 16th December, 1951.

 However, the administration of the Museum continued to be vested in the Salar Jung Estate Committee till 1958. Thereafter, the heirs of Salar Jung Bahadur graciously agreed to donate the entire collection to the Government of India through a Compromise Deed based on a High Court Decree on 26th December l958.
 The Museum continued to be administered directly by the Government of India till 1961. Through an Act of Parliament (Act of 26 of 1961) the Salar Jung Museum with its Library was declared to be an Institution of National Importance. The administration was entrusted to an Autonomous Board of Trustees with the Governor of Andhra Pradesh as its Ex-officio Chairman and ten other members representing the Government of India, the State of Andhra Pradesh, Osmania University and one from the family of Salar Jungs.
 The Museum has a magnificent global collection of art objects and antiques not only of Indian origin, but mostly from countries Western, a sizable collection hails from Middle Eastern and Far Eastern origins. Apart from these, there is a Children's section, a rich reference library which contains reference books, large collection of rare manuscripts etc. Thus, this Museum has become popular, not only as a place of interest but also as an institution for education.

 Out of the several rare objects, one of the important and interesting object collected by Salar Jung I was “Vellied Rebecca” an enchanting marble statue which was acquired by him from Rome in 1876 during his visit to Italy.  The western collection are from England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany.  A set of Ivory chairs said to have been presented by Louis XVI of France to Tippu Sultan of Mysore deserve special mention.  A jade book-stand “Rehal” having the name of ‘Shamsuddin Altamish’, an archer’s ring inscribed with the legend Sahib-e-Quran-e-Sani, title of the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan are masterpieces.
 A dagger and a fruit knife made in jade decorated with precious stones are said to belong to Jehangir and Noorjehan respectively.  A good number of Indian Miniature Paintings in early style of Western India of 14th and 15th Centuries representing Krishna Leela themes are also form part of the Museum’s Collection.
 There are good numbers of Arabic and Persian Manuscripts dated to 19th century and Shah-nama by Furadausi are also among the valuable collection of the Museum. A rare manuscript entitled ‘Lilawati” on mathematics and an ancient medical encyclopaedia transcribed in India is in the collection. Oil and water paintings form an important part of the European collections. 

Ref : Salar Jung Museum official website