Sunday, June 28, 2015

Someshvara Temple, Haralhalli

The temple is situated on the bank of river Tungabhadera facing east dedicated to Shiva assignable to 12th century of Kalyana Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI, built of schist stone. Inspiration kept in the temple, refers that Joyedevaras constructed the temple and granted lands for the maintenance of this temple at Vikramapura. The name of the village is now called Haralahalli. The earliest inscription found here refers to the rule of the Guttas of Guttal. Their ruler Vikramaditya II was ruling under the patronage of the Western Chalukyas. The Guttas were ruling from Guttavolal (modern Guttal) which is not very far from this village. In comparison to Guttal, Haralhalli seems to have more antiquities.
There are three temples in the village, that of Someshvara, Kaleshvara and Udchamma. Someshvara temple is standing in its full glory, except little damage to its main shikhara. Udchamma temple is a live temple of not much antiquity. Kaleshvara temple might be another triple-celled structure standing north of Someshvara temple. This is referred as Chikkeshvara temple in inscriptions. Inscriptions mention two more temples, that of Daseshvara and Tulvaleshvara, however these are not traceable now.
Someshvara temple is Ttrikuta temple having three towers intact. The main shrine is on west, the subordinate shrines are on south and north. Originally it was a single cell shrine dedicated to swambhu (self-originated) God Someshvara. During the rule of the Gutta king Joma II, in twelfth century CE, this single celled structure was converted into a triple-celled shrine on order of the then Kalamukha priest of the temple, Kalyanashakti. Joma II added two more shrines, one on north and one on south and dedicated those to Vikrameshvara and Gutteshvara. Both of these were dedicated to his predecessors, Vikramaditya and Gutta.
Though it is not specified whether northern shrine is for Vikrameshvara or the southern however it is not that hard to identify. Vasundhara Filliozat tells that Vikrameshvara is name of Vishnu and in accordance with the Kalamukha concept it should be enshrined in the northern cell. In this manner, the southern cell should be enshrining Gutteshvara.
 The temple consists of three Gabhagrihas with three Antaralas on west,north an south, a common Sabhamandapa and a Mukhamandapa with flight of steps. The main western Garbhagriha facing east is square and enshrined Shiva Linga on a square Pitha. The Garbhagriha Dwara has Panha Sakhas decorated with lozenges, creeper scrolls, etc. The door Jambs depicted wth saiva Dvarapalas and the Lalataba depicted with Gajaakshmi. Above the Garbhagriha has a Sikhara o Dravida style with Stupi and Kalasa. The outer walls of the Garbhagriha have Pancha Ratna on plain decorated with pilasters and Devakostaka in the middle of the Ratna.

The Antarala is square an its Dwara has Sakhas decorated with creeper scrolls. The door Jambs depicted with Saiva Davrapalas. The Lalatamba depicted with Gajalakshmi and above the pediment depicted with Brahma, Vishnu and Mahashvera in front of the Antarala is beautiful Chandrashala above the Antarala has Sukhanasi.
The northern and southern Garbhagrihas are similar to that of main western Garbhagriha and enshrines Shiava linga on square pitha and in front of the Garbhagriha doors, depicted with Chandrasala. The Antarala are similar to that of western Antarala and connected to Sabhamandapa above the Antarala have Sukhanasi.
 The Sabhamandapa is square and stands on four central pillars set on an elevated floor in the centre and corresponding pillars set against the walls. The Sabhamandapa has eight niches, two each on the west, north, south and east walls, contains some of the sculptures. The central ceiling is decoratdwith lotus flower in the centre. A couchant Nandhi is kept in the Sabhamandap.
The Mukhamandapa is square and stands on two pillars at the front, set on the Kakshasana. The Mukhamandapa has flight of steps flanked by balustrades. The outer walls of the Gabhagriha have sapta ratna on plan with offset and recessed and the central Bhadra in the centre on each sides of the Ratna. The walls are decorated with pillars and pilasters topped with Dravida and Nagara Sikhara turrets.
There are many icons on the exterior walls of the temple, located above the architrave and on the floors of tower. These icons are the work of more than one artist. The name of few sculptors is engraved on the socle of the sculpture. We find names like Nemoja, Baicoja among the sculptors here. Important icons found here include, Mahishasura-mardini, Adi-Varaha, Shiva as Natesha, Shiva as Somanatha, Ganesha, Ugra-Narasimha, Yoga-Narasimha and Surya.
It appears that the temple is dedicated to dance and music as Shiva as Natesha is present on the sukanasi stele of the northern and southern shrine. Also are seen various dancers and musicians installed all around the temple, on vimana walls and on parapet walls of the porch. The temple was associated to the Kalamukha sect of Shaivism, but was it really dedicated to the dance and music aspect of Shiva and that sect
Kaleshvara or Chikkeshvara Temple – Originally it would have been a triple-celled structure however at present only two shrines have survived. From the ruins it is clear that there was an additional shrine attached to the common mandapa shared by these two shrines. As per inscriptions, it could be Chikkeshvara temple which was built during the reign of the Yadava king Singana in thirteenth century CE.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bankapur Fort and Peacock Sanctuary

Bankapur fort as once a strong fortress with a large and deep ditch but either allowed to go to decay or demolished on several sides. The granite ramparts and gateways on one side were in good order; the rest was out of repair. One of the fort walls runs across the back of the Nagareshwar temple and is built on it.
Bankapur is a small town in Haveri district. The earliest known reference of Bankapur is found in a Kolhapur Jain manuscript, dated 898 CE, where it is mentioned that the great city of Bankapur was named after the Chellaketan chief Bankeyaras who was a feudatory of Rashtrakuta king Amoghavarsha-I.
Bankapur peacock sanctuary situated in Bankapur village of Shiggon taluk, is just 2.5 km from the NH-4, 22 km from Haveri town towards Hubli. This sanctuary is situated on 139 acres of land which has the remains of the historic Bankapura Fort
The peacock sanctuary in Bankapura is the only second sanctuary in the country that is exclusively engaged in the conservation and breeding of peacocks. Understanding the great presence of peacocks in the region, the Government of India declared Bankapura as a peacock sanctuary on June 9, 2006. Any visitor to this sanctuary will not return without seeing a flock of peacock, our national bird, happily dancing in the sprawling sanctuary, without a care in the world.

The high mound and deep trenches of the land have provided a perfect home for these birds. According to a rough estimate, there are more than 1,000 peacocks and peahen in the sanctuary. Also, minimal human intervention has helped in the breeding of these birds. They walk royally on the four km mound and also perch on green trees.
Bankapura Peacock Sanctuary is covered with Acacia, Neem and Ficus plants. Crops such as maize, Jowar and Horse gram are grown here. Many species of medicinal plants are found here. Known for having huge numbers of peacock and additionally birds like Woodpecker, babbler, extraordinary horned owl, jaybird, green-buzzing insect eater, robin and nightjar are seen here.
The officials of the Department of Veterinary Sciences have shown great interest in the conservation of these birds, making it easy for the Forest Department to carry on with their job. According to experts, Bankapur is considered to be a safe haven for pea fowls because of its topography.
The sanctuary is located on the cattle breeding farm which was set up in 1919 after the First World War. The farm is located in 90 acres out of the total 139 acres of the sanctuary.
There are a number of other birds like wood pecker, great-horned owl, babbler, magpie, robin, green bee-eater, nightjar, spotted maina, paradise flycatcher, Indian robin, spotted dove, parakeets, kingfisher, grey hornbill, blue tailed bee eater, blacked winged kite, tailor bird etc.  The fort also houses an animal farm for breeding cattle and rabbits.
A cluster of magnificent black-faced languor’s (monkeys) was seated on a path going to a large mud-rock mound that must have constituted a part of the fort wall in ancient times. Quite separated from them was another languor chewing meditatively on a cud. A little later, it was witched by my side in a few large steps with very impressive speed. It seemed to be six feet tall and gave me a feeling that he could easily have been a proud member of any army. The languors were everywhere and we must thank the forest department for not officially making it a languor sanctuary.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Nagareshwar temple, Bankapur

Nagareshwar temple is located in the grounds of Bankapur's famous peacock sanctuary; one sees more peacocks painted on signboards than they are seen in the sanctuary. The temple base was about ten feet below the level of the ground. One had to climb down a few steps to see the temple fully.
Local refer this temple as Aravattu-kambada-gudi, meaning 60 pillared temple in Kannada, as the great hall of the temple is supposed to be supported on sixty columns. However, originally it had only fifty-two columns. Six columns were added by Muslims who converted it into a mosque. Another two are between this Mandapa and inner hall, so counting all it comes to sixty. The carvings on the pillars of Chalukyan period are rarely repetitive, some of the carvings that seemed to be unique.
 This large temple has a big mandapa which is open for entrance from three sides. This large mandapa is connected with a small hall or navaranga through a porch. Navaranga is also entered from three sides, east, south and north. Low parapet wall runs on all sides of the outer large mandapa. On this well are provided numerous mini-shirnes with Nagara tower. Above these shrines are miniature images often describing some story such as Vishnu’s Trivikrama episode. Inside the hall, runs a stone bench on all sides.
 Many of these miniature images are chiselled off by Muslim when the temple served as a mosque during the occupation of the Bijapur army. However, what remains depict the genius of the artists and their imagination. There are two beautiful arabesque windows, one on each side of the entrance of the inner hall. Both of these windows are damaged leaving only few jagged frames.
The doorway of the hall is also devoid of its various images during the Muslim rule.  I realized that the important face is the Kirttimukha’s (lion-face) with bulging eyes that appears everywhere. The word Kirttimukha means glorious face for various reasons which we won’t get into here. It is not an ordinary face of a lion, the faces usually portrayed with bulging eyes with two strands emerging from its mouth. In some interpretations this is the face of a monster swallowing its tail following Shiva's order so that it was finally left with its face.
One of the features of the temple at Bankapur is the markings on the floor of the temple which seems to have been formed by rubbing or by constant dripping of water from leaking roofs over long time. A cursory inspection of the roof shows little sign of recent leakage the local people insist that these are marks left by the Pandavas who spent their year of vanavas at Bankapur.
Though this is often said to be a Jain temple, however Henry Cousens differ with this opinion. And he seems to be correct as the inscriptions speak of donations to Shiva temple. Inscription speaks an Acharya Vimalashakti of Kalamukha lineage belonging to this temple; therefore this temple was dedicated to Shiva and was associated with Kalamukha sect. But there was a Jain temple for sure in Bankapura as inscription talks about it.
During the occupation of the Muslim king of Bijapur, this temple was converted into a mosque. However they later built another mosque inside the fort. To convert this temple for their usage, they squared off the back corners of the hall, which were originally recessed like the front. They then built up a wall upon the bench to meet the beams under the cornice, and finally inserted a Mihrab (prayer slab) within the doorway that led towards the shrine. In this process they chiseled away all the small images flaunted on the front parapet wall of the temple.
The destruction such destruction is there almost all over the temple and one has to go towards the back to find a few that has not been damaged fully so as to get an idea of how it could have been. The temple at Bankapur was evidently the "superb temple" that Adil Shah destroyed and replaced with a mosque when he took the city in 1575'. We have little idea of what this temple could have been. A Madhwa Brahmin's house has the presiding deity (Lord Narshimha) of Bankapur below the ground level to protect it from Muslim aggression during later part of the 18th century.
At the same time whatever the destruction that has taken place, the ordinary people of this country must remain one of the most creative craftsmen who can fashion images of god at will and almost in an instant. No matter how much one destroys they will come up again with the same cheer and song that come so naturally to them even if a fear of religion is thrust on them. 
If the monotheistic god of Islam or Jews brooks little tolerance for other gods, our infinite-theistic approach can brook intolerance and come out unperturbed absorbing al destruction and coming out in a new creation. That is what Bankapur teaches us. The secular snakes in could be the past and the future.
HISTORY- What is historically interesting about this for site is that it has had several levels of rulers who date back at least to the 5th century AD and to earlier times. The earliest known reference of Bankapur is found in a Kolhapur Jain manuscript, dated 898 CE, where it is mentioned that the great city of Bankapur was named after the Chellaketan chief Bankeyaras who was a feudatory of Rashtrakuta king Amoghavarsha I. The above might be true as it is evident from inscriptions that Rashtrakutas would have ruled over it.
Bankapur served as the capital of the Rashtrakuta king Indra-Vallabha as found in an inscription from Boganur in the Navalgund Taluk. Bankapur would have been an important town associated with Jainism. Inscriptions found here mention as Jain temple patronized by the ruling chiefs. Five different Jain schools were established at the town during that time as evident from inscription. Western Ganga kings are known for their patronage towards Jainism this all suggests that Bankapur was an important Jain centre during ninth-tenth century CE.
Bankapur was also famous as a Kalamukha center. Nagreshwar temple inscription talks about land grants given to a Kalamukha priest, Vimalashakti. Shakti in his name suggests that he might have belonged to the Shakti-parishad branch of Kalamukha sect. It is not strange to find Kalamukhas vestiges in Bankapur. Gadag and Haveri, both near Bankapur, were very important Kalamukha centres in the past. After the Rashtrakutas, Bankapur being situated under Panungal-500 (modern Hangal) came under the Hangal Kadamba chiefs. They ruled as the feudatory chiefs under the Western Chalukyas. After the fall of Western Chalukyas, it was ruled by Suenas and Hoysalas. After the Hoysalas, the town came under the Muslim rule before moving into the Vijayanagara kingdom.
 The third Bahmani king, Mujahid Shah (1375-78 CE), demanded Bankapur fort from the Vijayanagara king Bukka (1356-1377 CE), but the latter did not give up. In 1406, the eighth Bahmani king, Sultan Feroze Shah (1397-1422 CE), took over Bankapur from Vijayanagara king Deva Raya I (1406-1422 CE) getting about 60,000 Hindu prisoners. Deva Raya ceded for peace, giving his daughter in marriage and the Bankapur fort to the Sultan. Bankapur played a very important role in Krishna Deva Raya’s battle with Sultan of Bijapur. Krishna Deva had almost the entire south under his sway. He was anxious to secure horses for his troops. Bankapur was on the way from Goa to Vijayanagara.
In 1512 CE, Bankapur chief sent a congratulation message to Portuguese on Afonso de Albuquerque’s capture of Goa. He also asked for permission to import three-hundred horses a year. The request was granted. It was necessary for the Bankapur chief to be on cordial relationship with Portuguese so that horses can be obtained. This political settlement was very beneficial for Krishna Deva Raya.
In 1573, Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur moved against Dharwad and Bankapur. Bankapur, under his chief Velappa Ray, defended bravely the fort for one year and three months. But he had to surrender at last to Adil Shah as he did not get help from his masters. Firishtah mentions that Adil Shah destroyed a superb temple inside the fort and himself laid the first stone of a mosque which was built on temple’s foundation. In 1673, Abdul Karim Khan, of the line of the Savanur Nawabs, was appointed governor of the province of Bankapur under the patronage of Bijapur. In 1747, Nawab of Savanur made a treaty with the Marathas in which he gave up all his land keeping Bankapur, Hangal, Hubli to himself. In 1755, Savanur was besieged by French general Bussy. To save Savanur, the Nawab pledged the Bankapur fort to the Holkars. In 1776, Hyder Ali took over Bankapur and Savanur. In 1780, Tipu Sultan celebrated Muharram in Bankapur. In 1802, Bankapur was ceded to British by Peshwa. These were restored to him in 1803 in exchange of Bundelkhand.