The origin of the Hoysalas is a matter of much interesting speculation and controversy. Like their distinguished contemporaries, the Seunas, the Hoysalas too claim their descent from Yadu (Lunar Dynasty) and call themselves the Yadavas. The conventional titles like, "Yadavanarayana", "Yadavakutambrad-yumani" and "Dvaravatipura-varadhisvara" are common to both the Seunas and the Hoysalas. These details are compiled from internet and by various sources by the Blogger over the years.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chenna Kesava Temple (1250 A.D), Aralaguppe, Tiptur Taluk, Tumkur District.

While traveling from Bangalore to Shimoga, after Kibbanahalli cross and 15 km before Tiptur a big signboard reads “Way to Chenna Kesava temple, Aralaguppe.” A couple of kilometers on this deviation bring us to the spellbinding 13th century architectural beauty of Hoysalas.

Aralaguppe was known as ‘Alariguppe’ according to inscriptions from the bygone era. The Chenna Kesava temple here has all the usual characteristics of the Hoysala architectural style, which is said to have been introduced first in the Hoysaleshwara temple, Halebid.

The raised platform following the contours of the stellate plan of the main temple, circumambulatory path ay to go round the temple, carved repetitive friezes for basement cornices, introduction of a second chadya or eave between the figure sculpture, turreted pilasters and decorative miniature towers, exuberant ornamentation of the figure sculptures, are all the predominant features of Hoysala architecture. In the absence of any inscription available, this style alone has helped the art historians to assign this temple to 13th century.

The Chenna Kesava temple stands on a raised platform in the centre of the village. This is Ekakootachala temple a single celled temple, with its star shaped garbhagriha and tower is of a simple ground plan consisting of an antarala (vestibule), navaranga and an entrance ankana fitted with pierced stone windows, which allows subdued light into the temple. The temple follows the contours of the vimana and has a flight of steps in the front flanked by two miniature towers on each side.

The decorative friezes running around the temple wall provides many spectacular scenes. The row of six friezes carved one above the other, separated horizontally by deeply cut recesses, consists of caparisoned elephants, horses, creepers, mythological frieze, makaras and lastly hamsas. The mythological friezes tell the story of Ramayana and Bhagavata. The lowest friezes of elephants and horses are picturesque representations of the turbulent wars fought by the Hoysalas to build and consolidate their empire. The makaras and hamsas are indicative of the peacetime prosperity, wealth and happiness of the subjects.

The wall decorations are as profuse as in any other ornate Hoysala temple.
Here also we see the regular scheme of dividing the outer wall into two portions by a horizontally running cornice. The lower half has the sculptures standing below a canopy of creepers. Most of them are the Chaturvimsati Murthy, the 24 forms of Vishnu and other deities with six hands and are the most spectacular iconographic specialty of this temple. Because normally they are shown only with four hands. Above these sculptures, the upper half of the wall shows varied forms of miniature towers, turrets on pilasters.

The vimana of this temple is in the shape of 16-pointed star and consists of koota aedicule each one rotated by 22.5 degrees, 45 degrees, and 22.5 degrees successively. The tower of the vimana with four talas has a vedike and koota roof at the top, which follows the contours of the sanctum below. The top kalasa is missing.

The outer wall of navaranga is of staggered squares and represents a saptaratha structure. Some of the sculptures here bear the name of 'Honnoja' on their pedestal while some others have only 'Ho' as a short form of the sculptor's name. This terse name without any titles or claims keeps us in darkness as far as the sculptor is concerned.

The navaranga is of the usual nine ankanas or divisions and has two niches containing Ganesha and Mahishasuramardini, both of exquisite workmanship.

A six-feet tall slightly damaged Kesava idol is kept in the navaranga and perhaps, was the original deity that adored the garbhagriha, but at present there is a smaller idol for worship. The pillars that support the navaranga and the ceilings are elaborately worked. The fine workmanship of the pillars is eye-catching.

But unfortunately the exquisite beauty of this temple has been marred by another temple, which is built for Ugra Narasimha, annexing the southern wall of the Chenna Kesava temple. Unless one has access to the garbhagriha of the Narasimha temple, it would be impossible to see the sculptural beauty of half the southern wall of Chenna Kesava temple.

Though Mysore archaeological report 1935, talks of removing this obstruction and building a separate temple for Narasimha, perhaps due to the unwillingness of the local villagers the project has remained on paper only. If not for this one flaw, the condition of this temple is fairly good.

Pre-Hoysala shrine

A pre-Hoysala shrine, the Kalleshwara temple attracted the attention of experts, as the Natesha in the middle of the ashtadikpalakas panels over the mukhamantapa ceiling, is considered the most beautiful sculpture found in the State.

Consisting of garbagriha, antarala, and a mukhamantapa (with three lateral shrines), the temple's sanctum sanctorum is adorned with a huge black-granite Shivalinga.

While the adhishtana is made of granites, the temple's walls and towers are constructed with bricks. The outer walls are insipid without projections and
recesses, but for the lone niche at the antarala that divides the vimana from the mukhamantapa. Pilasters built closer at the temple's interiors however, appears more refreshing.

The extraordinary ceiling of the mukhamantapa, with the Nolambas style portrayal of Umasahita (Shiva and Parvati together) at the central panel, is a stark contrast with the otherwise ordinary interior.

The image of Gajalakshmi on the doorway adds charm to the place. The four lathe-cum-pillars, with cubical bases, supports the navaranga's ceiling. Apart from the Shiva-Parvati panel, the ceiling has eight other carvings of ashtadikpalakas, depicted with their consorts and vehicles. Four vidyadharas, with garlands in their hands, face up to the Natesha (with the expression of approaching him from the corners of the panel's beams).

These garland-bearing vidyadharas are quite common to Nolamba architecture; a clear evidence of the elegance and comprehensiveness of their style. The Natesha, meanwhile, is a remarkable three-dimensional image, wearing jewels such as the katibandana and tassels. The dancing lord is accompanied by three bhutas playing a three-headed percussion instrument. They are also seen with ayut and other symbols.

The northern and eastern lateral shrines contain idols of Kesava and Surya, while the southern one contains the Umasahita mounted over a large stele with a lotus pedestal and a prabhavali with a couple of flying vidyadharas.

Located 20 kms above Tiptur, Aralaguppe can be reached by trains running in the Bangalore - Tiptur - Arasikere route. 120 kms from Bangalore, the village can also be reached by road from Tiptur.

1 comment :

  1. I loved the detailed explanation about sculptures in the temple...would like to read other posts soon...