Thursday, June 21, 2012

The splendid beauty of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple– Nuggehalli (1121 AD)

When we visited Narasimha temple it was mid-noon and the temple premise was overflowing with devotees while we entered inside the temple priest had not allowing us to take photos of sanctum hall and Navaranga, So I couldn’t able to capture any photos of this, the beautiful images of Keshava, Narasimha, Gopala, innumerable variety of ornaments on the ceilings and doorways. The temple is generally known as the Lakshminarasimha temple though the main god is here Keshava.
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is a good example of a richly decorated Hoysala temple built in the Trikuta (three towers) Vimana (prayer hall) style with fine sculptures adorning the outer walls. The material used is Soapstone and the temple is built on a raised Jagati (platform) of about 4 feet high, the exterior of the original temple is divided into 19 faces (as in the base-plan) inclusive of niches. The size of the original temple can be considered small, to which a larger open hall was later added.
The central sanctum with an Antharala enshrines cult-image of Kesava. In the northern and southern shrines (both without the Antharala), we find cult-images of Lakshmi-Narasimha and Venugopala respectively. The sculptures of this temple are of a high order and are of the same class as those of Hosaholalu & Somanathapur and are the works of Mallitamma, Baichola and others.
At the later date during the Vijayanagar period additions to the temple in form of the present Navaranga with its square granite pillars was constructed in front of the original porch which has lathe-turned soapstone pillars and complete eaves. An Alwar Sannadhi was added during this period housing Sri Ramanuja, Sri Somayaji etc. The hajara in front of the Patalankana with 18 high fluted pillars are of still later construction belonging to somewhere about 1700 A.D. The south and north towers are also of about the same date and are made of brick and mortar.
From outside, the temple actually looks like a Ekakuta temple because the two lateral shrines are simply extensions of the wall of the Mantapa. A large open hall with tall pillars with faces was added during later times making the original porch and closed Mantapa look like the inner portion of the temple. The central shrine has five projections per side and the tower is complete though without the Kalasa. Since the shrine is square in plan, the topping roof (helmet like sculptured stone) follows the same plan.
 
Originally the Mahadvara made of soap stone supported by plain pillars existed. In front of the Mahadvara stood two fine elephants which are not placed in front of the Hajara (the elephants are well carved and horseman is cantering on either side of the trunk). Additions and reinforcement were done during the Palegars reign notably adding the images of the presiding deities on the Mahadvara. On either side of the Mahadvara around the temple there is a Pakara wall of heavy stones which encloses a rectangular courtyard. Originally only the main cell had a tower made of soapstone. To give the effect of Trikutachala two masonry towers have been built in the Palegars days.
This temple with its exquisite carvings, giant wall - shrines, friezes, an embellished tower and a Sukanasi all standing on a platform, are bewitching to one’s eye. The central Vimana only has the original tower while the other towers on the lateral Vimanas are the later additions made to the existing roof. The steps originally provided to the platform in the eastern section, is now enclosed by latter extensions of the frontal portion. Thus, it has lost its functional unity with the temple.
Like other Hoysala temples around the bottom of the temple wall runs a frieze of elephants. The animals are caparisoned and generally have two exaggeratedly small men riding on the back of each. The animals are shown playing with their trunks, fighting with each other or with enemies. The most interesting groups are – elephants wearing Armour, fighting each other, two elephants with one head etc…
Immediately above the row of elephants is friezes of horsemen, some of which are galloping forward, others are involved in fighting and still others moving slowly as in a procession. Above this is a long creeper scroll with lion faces in the corners and buds, flowers, monkeys, birds, deer etc, in the convolutions. This frieze is neatly executed.
This temple with its exquisite carvings, giant wall - shrines, friezes, an embellished tower and a Sukanasi all standing on a platform, are bewitching to one’s eye. The central Vimana only has the original tower while the other towers on the lateral Vimanas are the later additions made to the existing roof. The steps originally provided to the platform in the eastern section, is now enclosed by latter extensions of the frontal portion. Thus, it has lost its functional unity with the temple.
 There are three tiers of decorative smaller roofs bearing their own Kalasa that form the body of the tower. The superstructure on top of the vestibule forming the nose also has two tiers of decorative roofs. This is why the Sukanasi looks like an extension of the main tower. The two lateral shrines also have five projections per side. The top of these shrines and the wall of the Mantapa are crowned with a row of decorated roofs just like the main shrine.
The wall images of various gods are of nearly the same size of about 3ft in height including the base and Toranas. The pedestals have friezes of scroll work having Padmas, Garudas, Lion faces, Kirtimukhas etc. The base is bold and well executed. The Toranas above the figure are mostly composed of creepers, turned and twisted into beautiful shapes. The images have been sculpted using the Navatala measure (and not Dastala – as seen in Belur); but they are beautiful and are finely worked. Those on the southern half of the temple were carved by Baichoja while those on the north side were made by Mallitamma. Both these sculptors have signed their names in many places.
Three walled-shrines in the surrounding walls of the central Vimana add to its splendor, enhancing the overall beauty of the temple. A cornice divides the outer walls horizontally. The lower portion is embellished with around 120 large wall images depicting anecdotes from popular epics of Mahabharata & other Purans.
These wall - images are mainly the work of the then popular sculptors Mallitamma and Baichoja. The sculptor name is chiseled in quite places. This fact is supported by the attestation borne by these images. The story of Bhagavata, Story of Krishna, Vishnu as Vamana, Varaha, and Arjuna shooting the fish, are a few images, among many, are outstanding examples of fine sculpting by these master sculptors. On friezes, apart from the usual Makaras (Mythological animal; having features of different animals like peacock tail, lion legs, boar body etc), Hansas, elephants, we find stories associated with Lord Krishna.
Nuggehalli Lakshmi Narasimha Temple gives soul setting experience with amazing carving of temples and incessantly showering blessing of Lord Narasimha.

7 comments:

Ashok said...

Superb Photos of beautiful temple with good information...

Vaish said...

A real testimony for the bygone stone masons from India. What a detailed art work they are - particularly impressed with those solo sculptures and narasimha's.

Vaish said...

A real testimony for the bygone stone masons from India. What a detailed art work they are - particularly impressed with those solo sculptures and narasimha's.

Muralidhara Subbaraya said...

Rakesh, you always amaze me with your insight and photography.
Hoysala architecture is my favorite also.
http://www.IndoTemple.com

Srini said...

Beautiful capture of the carvings on the walls of the temple. Amazing photographing Rakesh. Your write up on temple and its architecture is equally impressive. Good going.

Srini said...

Beautiful capture of the carvings on the walls of the temple. Amazing photographing Rakesh. Your write up on temple and its architecture is equally impressive. Good going.

Chandra Sekhara Rao Ghanta said...

Beautiful pictures and detailed narration. You must have taken lot of pain in collecting the information so detailed. Thank you for sharing the pictures of this glorious temple.