Saturday, October 10, 2015
Siddheswara temple, Haveri
The Haveri district dates back to the pre-historic era. There have been evidences about civilizations that existed on the Varada and Tungabhadra river basins. The Siddhesvara temple boasts of 1300 stone carvings. These carvings clearly reflect the style of the rulers then the Rastrakutas and the Chalukyas.
Haveri has been associated to the legendary king Nala of Krtayuga. According to an inscription Nala excavated a tank but a snake came up as an obstruction to the running water. Nala tried to control the snake. When the latter came on the surface of water, the king said ‘Pav-eri’ (Pav = snake, eri = mounting up) and the snake climbed up. Following this event, the town came to be called as ‘Pavari’ which later became ‘Haveri.
Haveri was also known as Nalapuri according to inscriptions. According to a legend, it is said that king Nala, dreamt a dream in which the local tank burst into flood and the whole town was about to be swept away. At that time a large snake came and lay against the flood forming a bund and stooped the flood. Therefore, the town came to be known as Haveri (Havu + keri = place of snakes).
Haveri was situated inside Banavasi-12000 during the times of the Western Chalukyas and Kalachuris under them. The town was very much patronized by the Suena rulers as many inscriptions of theirs are found here. Surprisingly there is no Vijayanagara inscription found here
The Bombay gazetteer mentions the sprawling cardamom trade in the town. No cardamom was grown locally, but it was brought from Kanara uplands, washed here at Haveri and then sent to Dhundshi, Hubli and Mysore. In Haveri, was a small well of brackish water impregnated with lime and possessing bleaching properties, the bales of cardamom imported from Kanara were washed in this well. When dried, the husks become of a light cream color. This trade flourished till the early fifties, but industrial advancement rung the knell of cardamom trade.
The prime aspect of the Siddheswara temple is that it faces westwards instead of eastwards. Most of the temples erected during the Chalukyan era face eastwards and it is strange how the Siddhesvara temple was constructed in this particular manner. This west facing temple is a Ekakuta (single celled) structure.
The temple is comprised of Garbhagrha, Aantarala and Rangamandapa. Around the temple, over the Vimana, are carved various sculptures such as Varahi, Lakshmi, Kali, Bhairava, Surya, Maheshvari, Kaumari, Ganesha etc. Presence of various matrikas suggests the probable Shakti affluence over the temple.
It is still not very clear as to which deity was worshipped here. It is presumed that the principal deity that worshiped was Lord Shiva. As per accounts given by historians, the temple would have previously been a Vaishnava temple and later became a Shaiva temple. This is clearly evident from the various architecture and stone carvings within the temple.
Henry Cousens tells that it is possible that the temple was built as a Vaishnava shrine, later moved to Jains who chipped away all the images, and at last it fell to Lingayats in whose control it is at the moment. The god is referred as Siddheshvara in all Chalukya inscriptions. Since the Suenas, the god is referred as Svayambhu-Siddheshvara. The earliest inscription mentioning the temple is dated 1109 CE however this is not the foundation inscription; therefore it can be safely assumed that the temple was constructed in last quarter of eleventh century CE.
Antarala is as big as sanctum and is square in design. Its western doorway has Hindu trinity, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu on its lintel. Besides them are shown Ganesha and Kartikeya on either side. All these five gods are enclosed inside a Makara Torana. Two perforated stone slabs are on either side of the door jambs. No Dvarpalas are found on the jambs. Inside the Garbhagrha is a small Shivalinga. Its small size reflects the Svayambhu (self-emanated) character as it does not protrude much from the ground level.
Ranga mandapa is supported on eighteen pillars including four central pillars. Benches with slanting back rests run across the Mandapa. The fourteen pillars are in form of half-pillars supported on these banches. The Mandapa has three openings, on north, south and west, all supported by Bhadramukhas (porches). The Mandapa would have undergone major changes as inscriptions talks about gifts of pillars in about thirteenth century CE.
The ceiling of the Rangamandapa is divided in twelve parts and each part divided into twelve compartments. All ceilings are decorated with hanging lotus buds except north-western part. That part of ceiling is decorated with a sculptural panel depicting Ashta-matrikas and Shiva as Gajantaka in center. Ashtamatrikas are Brahmi, Kaumari, Indrani, Lakshmi, Maheshvari, Varahi, Chamunda and Yami.In the same complex, on south of the Siddheshvara temple is another temple dedicated to Narasimha incarnation of Vishnu. An exquisite image of Narasimha adorns the Garbhagrha. The temple Mandapa has varied sculptures of Shiva and Parvati (Umamaheshwari. Shiva is superbly depicted with four shoulders holding the attributes like a bean chain, Trishul and Damaru.
The architecture of the Siddhesvara temple is quite unique and exclusive. Soapstone was used for the construction of this temple. The exclusive work done in the temple is evidence of the Chalukyan rulers who encouraged artisans.