Thursday, October 20, 2011


Aghoresvara temple is a rectangular structure built of stone. It is built on a platform. The temple consists of a Garbhagriha, Open Sukhanasi and a Mandapa. The basement itself is six feet height and contains five different moldings of Kirtimukhas and lion faces with indented shape with projections here and there. This remains us of the Hoysala style. Over the platform with some space all round rises the wall of the temple with Devakoshthas containing sculptures of gods and goddess. The large number of pilasters makes the temple wall very attractive. Near the roof is a decorated eave. Over the Garbhagriha is the slender Sikhara which has decorated moldings of various types.
The kings of Keladi who were the subordinates of the Vijayanagara empire, became independent at the end of 16th century and ruled as independent kings till the last part of 18th century A.D., in parts of Malenadu and coastal Karnataka. Ikkeri was their capital for sometimes and they built the Aghoresvara temple here.
The Keladi kings followed a distinct style of architecture combining the elements of Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Sarcenic features. This is well known as Ikkeri style and the Aghoresvara temple built in about 1520 A.D, is a good example of this style. Today Ikkeri is a small village wit ruined buildings, forts, temples and palaces. During the period of the Ikkeri Nayakas it was a prosperous city.
The walls of the Mandapa also have friezes which contain decoration of monkeys, swans, amorous scenes and series of miniature Gopuras. The series of shallow niches on the walls at the upper level makes the walls attractive. The niches contain Dikpalas, Vishnu, Bhairava etc. The doorways also are highly decorative. There are flights of steps with elephants as balustrades. There is Pradakshinapatha from the Sukhanasi.
The pillars of the Mandapa show a variety. There is a Sivalinga inside the Garbhagriha called Aghorescara a form of Shiva. To the west is the shrine of goddess Parvati. The doorways and windows have pointed arches which perhaps is a Islamic influence. The Nandimandapa has a finely carved Nandi. Thus Aghoresvara temple is a good testimony to the architectural and sculptural tradition of the rulers of Keladi at their one-time capital Ikkeri.
There is an interesting play of colors in the temple as it exists today. What I am not sure about is if this was always like this or the temple was of Red or Green or brown beige color and the heavy rains in this region have played their part. There are sculptors that carry a distinct deep red color, beneath them a panel has a dark green color and then the usual brown beige. On the first look you are tempted to think that it is red or green stone, but when you go closer you realize that the single stone probably can not have all the three colors. Probably the stones were colored and I again have to bank on my wild imagination to think what color it would have been conceived by the original makers of this temple.
I am also intrigued by the technique that would have been used to color the stones, as the color still stands bright and alive even after centuries of heavy rainfall on it. Sometimes the images give an impression of being cast in metal and its only when you touch them that you know that they are stone. The carvings are intricate, the curves proportionate and the expressions dedicated.
There is an interesting myth engraved in this temple. On the left hand side outer wall, there is a Scorpio and two lizards engraved. Between the two lizards is a line dividing them. It is said that when the lizards cross this line are able to touch each other, the world would come to an end. Though cast on stone, I must say that the lizards are not too far apart. This may or may not have been a part of the original temple as it does not gel with the rest of the fine sculpture and is very raw as if carved by a novice.

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