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.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Kallesvara Temple, Bagali

It would be hard to explain and understand that how village which remained a centre of attraction almost for about six centuries lost its glory and went into oblivion. Bagali narrates its story in about 45 odd inscriptions spanning across 6 centuries and 4 great dynasties though at present it has been reduced to a small village.
The earliest inscription found here is of the early 9th A.D. pertaing to the times of Rashtrakutas. Later inscriptions are of Chalukyas of Kalyana, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers. Bagali is referred as Balgali during the medieval period was an important Aghrahara right from the times of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyana who were succeeded by the Hoysalas and Vijayanagara.
The Kallesvara Temple was constructed during the region of the Western Chalukyan King Ahavamala in 987A.D. and constructed by Duggimayya. As per the Inscription the main deity is known as Kalideva. The east facing temple is constructed close to the embankment of a huge tank of the village Balagi to its north.
Beautiful Sculpture depicting Hiranyakasupu being killed by Narasimha Swamy
The shrine Surya facing the Shiva were built dedicated to sun god. The face of Surya is most artistic and is commentary on the success of the skill of the sculptor who carved it. The serene expression of the face is remarkable.
The total effect is one of majesty, grace and dignity and expression his compassion towards the fellow beings and hence is considered as the best in this type much of the drapery on the bust of the image ornamentation comprising jewelry around his neck and chest.
The temple on plan consists of a Garbhagriha, an Antarala, A Mahamandapa with an entrance to the south and east, A huge open Sabhamandapa, A shrine for Surya with an astylar Mukhamandapa built slightly away from the main entrance, all of which are in east west orientation, A shrine of Narasimha with a separate Antarala and passage is added to the north of the Sabhamandapa of the main temple.
The Sabhamandapa is well known for its fifty four ornate pillars supporting the highly decorated ceiling of these twenty four pillars are located over the Jagati provided with Kakshasana.
The temple is also known for its intricately carved doorways with multiple door Jambs. The estern end of the Sabhamandapa accommodates an ornate well executed couchant Bull (Nandi).
There are eight sub-shrines built around the main temple excellent sculptures of late Chalukyan style are kept in the Mahamandapa of the temple and they includes Shiva, Umamahshvara, Ganesh, Kartikeya, Surya, Anantashayana, Saraswathi and Mahishamardini.
Erotic sculptures are rarely seen in Kalyani Chalukyan temples, the Balligavi temple being the excepton here erotic sculpture is limited to a narrow bans of friezes that run around the exterior of the temple or on panels in the Sikhara.
There are some erotic sculptures which are a testament to the open mindedness of our ancient people and give some insight to the sexual practices a thousand years ago. The images found here depict weird practices, which probably would remain an enigma to everyone. Many panels depict extra marital sex and adultery.
Thus the sculptors have successfully recorded intimate personal lives of the people of that era for the benefit of posterity. Different panels could be very profitably studied in order to trace initiation to logical conclusion of erotic activities. There are several panels which indicate that very intimate moments are prerequisite to kindle sexual desires.
 Art historian Adam Hardy classifies the architectural style of the temple as "Late Rashtrakuta Vimana with erotic carvings, and a closed Mantapa, fronted by a Later Chalukya non-mainstream open Mantapa, the building material for which is soapstone".
The existing tower over the shrine may be a later day re-construction. The temple, whose premises have yielded 36 old Kannada inscriptions, there are as many as thirty six inscriptions in the temple assignable to the 10th -11th century A.D. which record donations to the Gods Kalideva and Narasimha.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Huvinahadagali, The village of flower boat

Huvina hadagali has a group of temples each with separate deity and are referred to as Kallesvara, Channakeshava, Benne Krishna, Yoganarayana. All these temples are nestled 100 meters surroundings. From the inscription it becomes clear that Huvinahadagali was a great Shaiva & Vishnava center and was under Rebbaladevi wife of the brave Brahman general Ravideva period of Kalyana Chalukya.
Huvu means flower; Hadaga means boat and Halli means village. Therefore it is a village of flower boat. It is believed that when the city of Vijayanagara flourished flowers needed for temples and palace were floated down from Tungabadhra from this place. As if to confirm this even today it can be seen number of old wells and gardens in this place.
The Kallesvara temple in the town of Huvinahadagali, is a Kalyana Chalukyas temple as evidenced by an inscription of Kalideva has been dated to 11th century A.D. The Kallesvara temple consists of a Garbhagriha, an Antarala, Mandapa and two Mukhamandapas at the east and south. The extant portion of the Adhishthana has the mouldings of Upana and Adhopadma.
 In elevation the indented walls have double pilastered turrets flanked by tall slender pilasters reaching up to the eves. At the Adhishthana level architectural members decorated with dentils support projecting eaves. In the region at Mukhamandapa S shaped massive eaves are provided. The Garbhagriha walls have niches projecting prominently with sloping eaves and turret above. The front sides of the niches have flying Gandharvas supporting bracket figures.
The Garbhagriha houses a small Siva linga on a pitha. Locals said it is Saligrama Shivalinga which is most sacred and powerful stone. The Garbhagriha doorways are elaborately carved with five Sakhas. At the base of each Sakha are beautiful female figures with Dvarapalas. On the lintel is a band of hanging festoons and the Lalata has a figure of Gajalakshmi. The Antarala doorway is simple with Purnakumbha based pilaster.
 The square Navaranga has four Chalukyan pillars of great beauty with a moulded base. The figures on the lower block of the pillars include Madhava, Padmanabha, Hrishikesa, Kesava, Manmatha, sculpture of Ganesha are excellent examples of Chalukyan art. Channakeshava temple is situated next to the Kalleshara temple this temple consists of two Garbhagrihas, Antarala, Naaranga and two Mandapas.
 The other temple Murudevara Temple is very close to the Kallesvara temple, here 3 temples are enclosed within an open Mukhamandapa measuring 80*40 ft. There are 3 Garbhagrihas inside the Mandapa, at the extreme east beautiful Shrine of Yoganarayana, at center Shiva and west Bala Kriahna (Benne Krishna). Yoganarayana and Benne Krishna shrines are fully decorated with different types of detailed ornaments best examples of plastic art shows superb Chalukyan workmanship.