Sunday, July 31, 2016
Bhimeshvara Temple, Nilagunda
Nilagunda was an important village with artistic activities during the time of the Chalukyas of Kalyana. Nilagunda is famous for Shiva temple built by the Chalukyas of Kalyana and located on the bank of huge lake and surrounded by hillocks of sandstone amidst scenic beauty.
The village is referred as Nirgunda in its inscriptions there exists remains of few ancient tanks hence the name Nirgunda seems appropriate for it. The village was part of Vikkiga-70 which in turn was under Kokali-500. The numeric number against the region specifies the number of villages under its jurisdiction. The earliest inscription found in the Bhimeshvara Temple here, dated 1087 CE, mentions land grant to five-hundred Brahmans who came from Dravidian lands. This land grant was of the village Nirgunda, present Neelagunda. Few years later, few more additional villages were also granted to the same Brahmans.
As there is no foundation inscription of the Bhimeshvara Temple, hence it cannot be said with surety that the village was formed by populating that with Brahmans from other places. However, it might be that these Brahmans were called for some specific reasons and were settled at Neelagunda. Also it can be inferred that this event would have taken place during the rule of the Chalukyas of Kalyana as the antiquity of the temple in question cannot be taken back further than their rule.
The Bhimeshvara temple is seems to have been built in about 11th century A.D. The temple is in Vesara style. The temple consists of three Garbhagrihas, each with an Antarala on the north, west and south, opening into the Sabhamandapa and Mukhamandapa on the east with lateral steps at the entrance, and a shrine attached to the mukhamandapa on the east.
The walls have projections and recesses decorated with Vesara turrets on double pilasters and with Dravida turrets on single pilaster. The western cella has its superstructure intact and as a whole it is Tritala Vesara vimana. Each Tala is composed of composite Sala, Panjara and Kuta units. Under the kirtimukha of each sala is Siva as Nataraja, Mahesvunara, etc.
The shikhara has many carved panels on its top depicting Brahma, Shiva and various goddesses. There are few curious sculptures as well; the one showing a man wearing a foreign robe is of interest. The niches on south, west and north facade have Narasimha, Shiva and Subramanya respectively. There are many small panels carved just above the Adhishthana of the base. There are depicted Kamadeva-Rati, Rama-Hanuman and various dancers, Yakshas etc
Very imposing Sculpture of Shiva and Parvati of about 5 feet in height is situated inside the Mandapa. Shiva is seated with his wife Parvati on his lap with sympathetic smile on her lips such sculptures are rare. His front hand is held up in Abhaya mudra which is a symbol for protection. His last hand is wrapped around a much smaller version of His wife Parvati.
When the husband and wife are together in sculpture Shiva is generally larger. There is a lotus flower carved into the front of the base. This reflects our ancestors used sculptures to develop a close relationship with the gods depicted.
The sanctum hall doorway is carved with five Sakhas and at the base are Saiva dvarapalas flanked by female Chauri-bearers. Similarly the doorways of the northern Garbhagriha and the west Antarala are finely carved. In the center of sanctum hall is a pedestal on which is found a Shiva Linga called Bhimeshvara.
The sabhamandapa has four ornate pillars on the raised floor at the center. Its interior niches accommodate sculptures of Ganesa, Mahishamardini, Saptamatrikas and seated Yaksha. A small bull is kept in front of the west Garbhagriha, in the Sabhamandapa. This is one of elegant temples of the Chalukyan period.
The Garbhagriha doorway is finely carved with scroll work and has Saiva dvarapalkas holding Trishula and Damara. The Antarala doorway is profusely carved with dvarpalas at its jambs. There are two Dvarapalika sculptures which fully decorated with different types of ornaments with fine hair dress. Ddoorway has Gaja-Lakshmi on its lintel and dvarpala at the jambs. The lintel has an exquisite representation of the Hindu Trinity, Shiva with Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya and Nandi are in the middle, Brahma with Sarasvati on the left and Vishnu with Lakhsmi on the right.
There are four subsidiary shrines around the western garbha-griha in the sabha-mandapa. Two are flanked on the either side of the western garbha-griha, one housing Ganesha and other Mahishasura-mardini. The other two shrines are on the southern and northern walls, one having Sapta-matrikas and the other has an image of yaksha which, probably, originally was on the Shikhrara of the temple.
The central ceiling of the Sabha-mandapa is executed in two overlapped lotus fashion. On its vertical panels are carved Ashta-dikpalas (eight directional guardians) with their respective mounts. The temple Vimana has interspersed projections and recesses.
The projections are decorated with shikharas of Vesara style supported on pilasters while the recesses are decorated with Sikharas in Dravidian style supported on a single pilaster. Channabasappa puts this temple in the Vesara style category. However the Stupa on the Shikhara top is square in shape which puts it’s under the Nagara style.
Gazetteer mentions that this temple was never completed, the tower over the west shrine being unfinished and some of the blocks along the base being left plain. But this is not the case, the tower of the west shrine is almost complete however there is no tower on top of the other two shrines which appears left incomplete.