Kannada, Kannadiga, Kannadigaru, Karnataka,

Kannadigarella ondaagi Kannadavannu ulisona, kalisona and belesona

Aihole is located near Badami

Aihole

Durga Temple (13),
Hucchimalli Gudi (5),
Ladkhan Temple (7),
Meguti Jain Temple (1),
Ravana Phadi cave temple (7),
Two-story Buddhist temple

The village of Aihole (pronunciation: eye-HO-lee) contains over 125 temples from the Early Western Chalukya and later periods (6th – 12th century). Shown here, and on the following pages, are six Early Chalukya examples from the 6th – 8th centuries. The locations of a few other temples are marked with bold x‘s on the map, just to give an idea of the richness of the site.

The architecture of Early Western Chalukya reflects diverse influences from neighboring areas. For example, as the Blue Guide (p. 331) explains, curved towers decorated with blind arches are found in central and western India; pilastered walls with panel inserts are a southern Indian style; while the Deccan style includes balcony seating, angled eaves and sloping roofs, and elaborately carved columns and ceilings. Readers can find, in the following pages, many examples of mixed styles, often on the same temple. For example, in the following temple (photo), the left hall is Dravidian (s. India); the middle hall is Rashtrakutan; and the tower is Deccan.

By way of showing the unity within this diversity, Huntington (p.337) identifies some typical features of Early Western Chalukyan architecture. These include mortarless assembly, an emphasis on length rather than width or height, flat roofs, richly carved ceilings, and, sculpturally, an emphasis on relatively few major figures, which tend to be isolated from each other rather than arranged in crowded groups. The aesthetic sensibility of sculpture from this period also seems to retain a certain “classical” quality – the term, by the way, is currently out of fashion – whose impulse does not carry over into later periods of Indian art.

Aihole is located near Badami in the state of Karnataka. The names of the temples are based on recent usage, and do not reflect their original dedications.

Aihole

Famous as the “Cradle of Indian Architecture”, Aihole has over a hundred temples scattered around the village. The oldest temple here is, perhaps, the Lad Khan temple dating back to the 5th Century. The Durga (Fort) Temple is notable for its semi-circular apse, elevated plinth and the gallery that encircles the sanctum. The Hutchimalli Temple out in the village – has a sculpture of Vishnu sitting atop a large cobra.

The Revalphadi Cave – dedicated to Shiva – is remarkable for its delicate details.

Not to be missed is the Konthi Temple Complex (Kwanthi Gudi), the Uma Maheswari Temple with a beautifully carved Brahma seated on a lotus, the austere Jain Meguti Temple and the two storeyed Buddhist Temple.

Getting here:
Rail: The nearest railway station is Begalkot.
Road: Aihole is connected by road to Pattadakal, Badami, Bangalore

Where to stay:
If you need any assistance with booking in any hotel in Karnataka or India in general click here

  • Tourist Rest House
    Aihole, Hungund Taluk
    Ph: +91-8352-41
  • Tourist Rest Houses of Tourism Department
Ladkana-Temple
Ladkana Temple
Ravana-Padi-Cave
Ravana-Padi-Cave

Aihole
Temples of Karnataka

Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about 500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road

Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Aihole is to the west of Badami, along the Malaprabha river, while Pattadakal is to the east. Pulakesi I, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami nearby. Badami was then known as Vatapi.

The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase to the 12th century.

The Ravanaphadi temple is a rock cut temple, with a rectangular shrine, with two mandapams in front of it and a rock cut Shivalingam. This temple dates back to the second half of the 7th century.

The prominent temple groups here are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group.

A group of three temples is referred to as the Kontigudi group of temples. One of these is the Lad Khan temple, named after a mendicant that lived in this temple in the 19th century , another the Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya math.

The Lad Khan temple consists of a shrine with two mandapams in front of it. The shrine bears a Shiva lingam. The mukha mandapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. The sabhamandapa in front of the mukha mandapam has pillars arranged in such a manner as to form two concentric squares. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs.

The Huchappayyagudi temple has a curvilinear tower (shikhara) over the sanctum (unlike the Lad Khan temple). The interior of the temple has beautiful carvings.

The Galaganatha group is one of nearly 30 temples on the bank of the river Malaprabha. The main shrine of the Galaganatha temple enshrining Shiva – Galaganatha has a curvilinear shikhara, and has images of Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance to ths shrine.

The Huchimalligudi temple at Aihole, built in the 8th century shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it shows an ardhamandapam or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine.

The best known of the Aihole temples is the photogenic Durga or the fortress temple. It is apsidal in plan, along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded adisthana and a tower – curvilinear shikhara. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamandapa and the sabhamandapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings.

The Meguti Jain temple stands on a hillock. The temple sits on a raised platform, and a flight of steps leads one to the mukhamandapa. The pillared mukhamandapa is a large one. A flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof, one can have a panoramic view of the plain with a hundred temples or so.

From a historic standpoint, the Meguti temple has an inscription on its foundation stating that it was built in the year 634 CE. This inscription also contains a reference to the poet Kalidasa.

Aihole

History

       Once the capital of the early Chalukyan dynasty (6th to 8th centuries), Aihole is a picturesque village on the banks of the Malaprabha river. Variously called Ayyavole & Aryapura in the inscriptions, Aihole is historically famous as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture. There are about 125 temples divided into 22 groups scattered all over the villages and nearby fields. Most of these temples were built between the 6th & 8th centuries and some even earlier

Only mere traces of a fort dating from the 6th century can be seen today. A large number of prehistoric sites have been found in Morera Angadigalu, near the Meguti hillocks in Aihole. Excavations near some temples have yielded traces of antique pottery and bases of structures constructed with bricks of pre-Chalukyan times. More temples are being excavated every day bearing witness to the vigorous experimentation on temple architecture which went on at Aihole more than 14 centuries ago..

Durga Temple
The temple derives its name from Durgadagudi meaning ‘temple near the fort’. Dedicated to Vishnu, the temple appears to be a Hindu adaptation of the Buddhist chaitya (hall) with its apsidal end. Standing on a high platform with a ‘rekhanagara’ type of Shikhara, it is the most elaborately decorated monument in Aihole. The columns at the entrance and within the porch are carved with figures and ornamental relief’s. The temple appears to be a late 7th or early 8th century construction.

Ladh Khan Temple

The experimental nature of temple building by the Chalukyas is best elaborated in the Ladh Khan Temple, located south of the Durga Temple. Not knowing how to build a temple, they built it in the Panchayat hall style. The windows were filled up with lattice work in the northern style and the sanctum was added later on. The sanctum is built against the back wall and the main shrine has a Shivalinga along with a Nandi. Above the center of the hall, facing the sanctum, is a second smaller sanctum with images carved on the outer walls. The temple, built about 450 AD, gets its name from a Muslim prince who converted it into his residence.


Meguti Temple

The only dated monument in Aihole, the Meguti Temple was built atop a small hill in 634 AD. Now partly in ruins, possibly never completed, this temple provides an important evidence of the early development of the Dravidian style of Architecture. The inscription dating the monument is found on one of the outer walls of the temple and records its construction by Ravikeerti, who was a commander & minister of Pulakesin II. Apparently a Jain Temple as seen from the seated Jain figure here, the superstructure rising above the sanctum wall of the temple is not original & the 16-columns porch and hall extension are later additions

Ravanphadi Cave
Located south-east of the Hucchimalli Temple, this rock-cut temple is assigned to the 6th century. The sanctum in there are wall is larger than these in Badami cave temples and it is provided with a vestibule flanked by carved panels, entered through a triple entrance. Despite the variety of images found here, the Mahishasuramardhini, the great Dancing Shiva linga with Ganesha and sapta-matrikas and the linga inside the sanctum an overall Shiva application

Hucchimalli Temple
This appears to be one of the earliest groups of temples in Aihole, located to the north of village behind the Tourist Home. The sanctum has a northern style “Rekhanagara” tower over it. The vestibule in front of the sanctum was introduced for the first time here.

Gowda Temple

Close to Ladh Khan Temple & built in the similar lines, the Gowda Temple was dedicated to Bhagavati. Standing on a high molded base and having about 16 fairly plain pillars, this temple was probably built even earlier.
Surayanarayana Temple
Located to the north-east of Ladh Khan Temple, the sanctum of this temple has a 0.6 meter high icon of Surya along with his two consorts Usha & Sandhaya, being drawn by horses. The temple, dating from the 7th – 8th centuries, has a four pillared inner and a ‘Rekhanagara’ tower over the sanctum.
Konti Group of Temples
Situated in the middle of bazaar, the earliest of these temples was probably built in the 5th century. The first temple has panels of Bramha, Shiva & a reclined Vishnu on the ceiling.
Museum & Art Gallery

A sculpture gallery ismaintained by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Durga Temple compels.

Area 4 sq. Kms.
Altitude 593 meter
Temperature

Mean Max

Mean Min

Summer 41oC 28oC
Winter 31oC 20oC
Rainfall 58.4 cms
Best Seasons October to March
Clothing Summer – Light Cottons
Winters – Light Woolens
Population 2,549 (1981 Census)

Food Specialities

No specialty restaurants are available at Aihole. Small tea shops serving snacks can be found. Food can be served by the Tourist Homes at Aihole but on advance notice

Shopping at Aihole

Ilkal (36 Kms) is famous for its traditional handloom, art silk and silk sarees

Cultural Importance of the Town

  • Aihole has a Hindu temple in Ramalinga Temple & Muslim Mosque. The Ramalinga Temple situated along the banks of the Malaprabha river has its annual Car Festival in February-March


Durga Temple

Ladh Khan Temple

Meguti Temple

Ravanphadi Caves Temple

Hucchimalli Temple

    July 14, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | 2 Comments

    Temples of Karnataka-Karnataka Glory-Karnataka History

    Temples of Karnataka
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    Karnataka Glory Album
    http://picasaweb.google.com/vmkumaraswamy/KarnatakaGlory?authkey=THxXgxZx3_4

    Karnataka History Album
    http://picasaweb.google.com/vmkumaraswamy/KarnatakaHistory?authkey=MF3cjwEXAvM

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | 1 Comment

    Vitthala Temple at Hampi

    Vitthala Temple at Hampi
    Temples of Karnataka

    The most splendid of temples at Vijayanagar is the Vitthala temple, near the Tungabhadra river. It is considered to be the most ornate of the Vijayanagar temples.

    Hampi, now in ruins is the site of the ancient city of Vijayanagar, capital of the Vijayanagar empire (founded under the spiritual guidance of Vidyaranya of Sringeri in early 14th century) ) which brought about a renaissance of indigenous art and culture, as it defended the region against the  plundering armies from elsewhere.

    vithala.jpg (74204 bytes)

    Much of Vijayanagar is now in ruins, as when the rulers were defeated at the hands of the invaders at the battle of Talikota in the 16th century, most of the marvelous structures and edifices were systematically destroyed.

    Vitthala – Vishnu is enshrined in this  temple. The mahamandapam of this temple, in front of the sanctum – enclosed in the inner courtyard is of great beauty. It’s base is chiseled with friezes of the swan, the horse and the warrior. At intervals, there are projections with bas reliefs portraying the deification of the ten avataras of Vishnu.

    hampi2.jpg (18555 bytes)

    The steps on the east of the mahamandapam are flanked by an elephant balustrade. The facades are lined with forty pillars, each over 10 feet in height. Each group of pillars has a central pillar with slender shafts around. The center of the Mahamandapam has sixteen pillars decorated with Narasimha and Yali, forming a rectangular court. The ceiling of the Mahamandapam is also covered with sculptural work.

    Stone Chariot Hampi

    The stone chariot in this temple is of great fame. Its stone wheels, each shaped in the form of a lotus, are capable of revolving. It represents the sprakling creativity of the artistes of the fifteenth century. Temple chariots are often mobile reproductions of a temple. The stone chariot here is in turn a static version of the mobile temple chariot.

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | Leave a comment

    Badami

    Badami
    Temples of Karnataka

    Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about 500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road

    Badami or Vatapi was the center of ancient Chalukyan glory. It was home to several rock-cut temples and structural temples. Historically, Vatapi suffered defeat at the hands of the Pallava king Narasimhavarma Pallavan (Mamalla after whom Mamallapuram is named) and his general Sirutonda Naayanaar in the year 642 CE. Twelve years later, the Chalukyas recaptured Vatapi and led a successful attack on Kanchipuram the capital of Pallavas.

    Legend has it there were two demon siblings Vatapi and Ilvala, who had a trick by which they could kill and make a meal of mendicants passing by. Their tricks worked until Agastya muni came by and counter-tricked them and brought an end to Vatapi’s life. Two of the hills in Badami are supposed to represent the demons Ilvalan and Vatapi.

    There are several temples dating from the Chalukyan period in Badami.

    The first set of temples is a group of four  on a hill adjacent to the Bhutanata tank, connected through flights of stairs.

    The first temple dating back to the 5th century CE has gigantic carvings of Ardhanareeswara and Harira manifestations of Shiva in bas relief. It enshrines a Shivalingam. In the adjacent wall there is a carving of the cosmic dance of Shiva Nataraja depicted with eighteen arms.  There are also reliefs of Ganapati, Shanmukha and Mahishasuramardhini.

    The second temple bears images of Vishnu in his Varaha and Trivikrama incarnations. It is reached through a flight of 64 stairs from the first one. On its celing, are carvings of Vishnu on Garuda and several other scenes from the puranas.

    The third rock cut temple is reached from the 2nd temple through a flight of 60 steps. It is a 100 feet dep cave, with inscriptions dating this Vishnu temple to 578 CE during, the period of Kiritivarma Chalukya.  Here there are carved images of the Narasimha and Trivikrama avataras of Vishnu. There are also murals depicting the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

    Further up, is a Jain rock cut temple dedicated to the Tirtankara Adinatha with inscriptions dating back to the 12th century.

    Of the structural temples in Badami, the Dattatreya temple and the  Mallikarjuna are noteworthy. The Mallikarjuna temple dating back to the 11th century  is built on a star shaped plan. There are also temples with the Dravidian style of vimanas.

    Badami is noted for two early inscriptions dating events in history in the 6th century. The earlier one in sanskrit dates back to 543 CE, from the period of Pulakesi I (Vallabheswara), on a hillock. Near the Bhutanata temple, on a rock, there is an inscription testifying Mamalla Pallava’s victory over the Chalukyas in the year 642 CE.

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | Leave a comment

    Aihole

    Aihole
    Temples of Karnataka

    Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about 500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road

    Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Aihole is to the west of Badami, along the Malaprabha river, while Pattadakal is to the east. Pulakesi I, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami nearby. Badami was then known as Vatapi.

    The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase to the 12th century.

    The Ravanaphadi temple is a rock cut temple, with a rectangular shrine, with two mandapams in front of it and a rock cut Shivalingam. This temple dates back to the second half of the 7th century.

    The prominent temple groups here are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group.

    A group of three temples is referred to as the Kontigudi group of temples. One of these is the Lad Khan temple, named after a mendicant that lived in this temple in the 19th century , another the Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya math.

    The Lad Khan temple consists of a shrine with two mandapams in front of it. The shrine bears a Shiva lingam. The mukha mandapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. The sabhamandapa in front of the mukha mandapam has pillars arranged in such a manner as to form two concentric squares. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs.

    The Huchappayyagudi temple has a curvilinear tower (shikhara) over the sanctum (unlike the Lad Khan temple). The interior of the temple has beautiful carvings.

    The Galaganatha group is one of nearly 30 temples on the bank of the river Malaprabha. The main shrine of the Galaganatha temple enshrining Shiva – Galaganatha has a curvilinear shikhara, and has images of Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance to ths shrine.

    The Huchimalligudi temple at Aihole, built in the 8th century shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it shows an ardhamandapam or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine.

    The best known of the Aihole temples is the photogenic Durga or the fortress temple. It is apsidal in plan, along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded adisthana and a tower – curvilinear shikhara. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamandapa and the sabhamandapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings.

    The Meguti Jain temple stands on a hillock. The temple sits on a raised platform, and a flight of steps leads one to the mukhamandapa. The pillared mukhamandapa is a large one. A flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof, one can have a panoramic view of the plain with a hundred temples or so.

    From a historic standpoint, the Meguti temple has an inscription on its foundation stating that it was built in the year 634 CE. This inscription also contains a reference to the poet Kalidasa.

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | Leave a comment

    Pattadakal

    Pattadakal
    Temples of Karnataka

    Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about 500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road.

    patadakl.jpg (19890 bytes)

    Pattadakal is an art historians dream. It has a set of nine temples built almost in a single file, showing the architects’ desire for experimenting in various styles. Pattadakal represents the culmination of early Chalykyan art. Four of the temples here are in the south Indian Dravidian architectural style while four are in the north Indian Nagara style while Papanatha temple exhibits a hybrid style.

    The Virupaksha temple, probably the most beautiful of all temples here is in the south Indian style and is almost a replica of the Kailasanatha temple of Kanchi. While the Kailasanatha temple of Kanchi served as a model for this temple (given the interaction between the Chalukyas and the Pallavas), this temple served as the model for the Ellora Kailasanatha temple built by the Rashtrakootas.

    The Virupaksha temple was built by Lokeswari one of the queens of Vikramaditya II in honor of his victorious battle against the Pallavas of Kanchi in the year 735 CE. The Mallikarjuna temple was built by her sister, also a Chalukyan queen.

    The Virupaksha temple faces east towards the Malaprabha river.  It has carvings depicting scenes from the puranas in each of the 18 pillars in the mukhamandapam. There are also carvings of Ravananugrahamurthy, Narasimha, Gajendramoksham, the dance of Shiva. The square vimana of this temple is in three levels. There is also an image of Lakulisa, showing the prevalence of the Pasupata sect of the Saiva religion in the Chalukyan land.

    Nearby is the Mallikarjuna temple, very similar to the Virupaksha temple but on a much smaller scale.

    The Galaganatha temple is built in the north Indian idiom and so is the Kasi Visweswara.

    Other temples here include those to Chandrasekhara, Sangameswara, Jambulinga, Kadasiddheswara.

    The Papanatha temple has a Nagara styleed Vimanam. It is decorated with scenes from the Ramayana.

    There is also a Jain temple from the period of the Rashtrakootas (9th century) here at Pattadakal.

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | 1 Comment

    Chennakesava Temple at Belur

    Chennakesava Temple at Belur
    Text: Gerard Foekema
    Images: Jayashree KannikeswaranBelur2.jpg (77954 bytes)



     

    Introduction

    The large temple in Belur is one of the most remarkablebelurad.jpg (31973 bytes) monuments from Hoysala times and region. It was commissioned by the Hoysala king himself to celebrate an important military victory in 1117 AD. This is exceptional, since nearly all other Hoysala temples were commissioned by rich officials or rich civilians. The king obviously wanted an extraordinary temple because it has been built in an architectural style foreign to the region. Moreover the monument is exceptionally large and its decoration very lavish. Many of the decorations were added later in the 12th century by the grandson and successor of the founder.

    The Cennakesava-temple stands in a compound with several smaller temples and a pond.

    Plan

    The monument consists of a shrine, an open hall and a platform. The shrineBelur3.jpg (59877 bytes) (vimana, mulaprasada) is larger than usual, its pedestal measures about 10 by 10 meters while a more usual size is 5 by 5 meters. Its architectural style is Nãgara (North Indian) but this is rather difficult to see because its tower is lost. The hall (mandapa) is of the open type, originally it only had a parapet. Later on the space between parapet and roof has been closed-off with magnificent screens, together with the further embellishment of the temple. The platform (jagati) is an essential part of the over-all design of the monument. It forms a unity with the rest of the elevation because it carefully follows the outlines of the shrine and the hall. Its three flights of steps add dignity to the entrances of the hall and it provides a walkway around the shrine (pradakshinapatha). Circumambulation of the shrine is an important form of worship.

    The shrine

    The design of the shrine was exceptional for the times and the region. It is Nãgara with a stellate plan. Both these aspects deserve separate notice.

    Stellate plans were new for southern Karnataka in 1117 AD but not uncommon in the north of Karnataka and in northern India. The kind of star found here differs from the northern examples because it is a 16-pointed interrupted star. Basically, the plan is a square. Including the projections that form the corners, each side of this square has five projections (bhadras, rathas). Of these, the intermediate projections are rotated through 22.5 degrees. The difference with a full star is the central projections that are not rotated but just orthogonal instead . In northern India, the most common form of stellate plan is also interrupted but 32-pointed. In that case the rotation of the projections is in steps of 11.25 degrees.

    The Nãgara design of the shrine was also new to the region. The most striking element of this design is missing today because the tower of the shrine is gone. It had a curvilinear outline and consisted of a central vertical band and four columns of miniature Nãgara Ñikharas per side. This kind of tower is called Bumija and is also found on some of the miniature shrines flanking the entrances of this temple. The Nãgara design of the large shrine is still visible in the articulation of its walls: each projection is articulated as a pillar. This gives the walls a very different character compared to shrines with a Dravida (South Indian) design, the design common to all regions of southern India including southern Karnataka.

    Also new is the decoration of the walls of the shrine with a row of large images. In earlier temples in southern India the walls were provided with niches, and only inside the niches there are large images of gods. The wall-images of the Cennakesava-temple are one of the large sculptural attractions of the monument. Their number is about 80, each projection and each recess of the shrine has one. It is on the southern side that the most striking depictions are found, among them Shiva dancing on a demon (Andhakasura), a horribly emaciated dancing Kali, a seated Ganesha, a pair consisting of a boy with umbrella and a king (Vamana avatara of Vishnu), Ravana shaking mount Kailasa (Ravana Anugraha murti), Durga slaying the buffalo demon (Mahisasuramardini), a straight-standing Brahma, a boar saving the goddess earth (Varaha avatara of Vishnu). The most impressive and mostBelur8.jpg (52764 bytes) venerated wall-images are on the two faces of the south-western corner of the shrine: Vishnu slaying king Hiranayakasipu (Narasimha avatara) and Shiva slaying the elephant demon . On the western and northern sides the images are less impressive and show less variation. Here two times a naked Shiva (Bhairava), Surya, another Varaha and another Andhakasura are the most remarkable.

    In ornate Hoysala temples depiction of numerous gods and attendants in a horizontal row of large images is usual, here in Belur this is found for the first time. Though the temple is dedicated to Vishnu, all gods of the Hindu pantheon are represented. The sculptural style of the wall-images is not yet the typical Hoysala style of later times. Comparison with other regions show that it is close to the style of similar wall-images of contemporary temples in the extreme north of Karnataka and in adjacent Maharashtra.

    The hall

    Also the hall of the temple is very large and very ornate. Originally it was an open hall without full walls, it had a parapet-wall and a roof only resting on pillars. Its plan is not a square but a stepped diamond, which is usual in this kind of open halls. The parapet-wall is very high in this case, more than two meters, and is topped with a slanting seat-back. This seat-back is decorated with panels showing mythological scenes. Below it are numerous horizontal bands with lavish sculptural decorations and depictions, some of them extremely delicate.

    Above the seat-back elaborate screens are found, added later in the 12thBelur3.jpg (59877 bytes) century and making the interior of the hall dark and mysterious. Additions from the same times are the world-famous bracket-figures (mandanakai) found at the top of the pillars between the screens. These sculptures, about 40 in number, are so delicate that it seems nearly impossible that they are made of stone. Evidently the sculptors of these miniatures also considered them as a tour de force and sometimes provided them with boasting texts. Many of this bracket-figures are signed by their artist.

    The hall has three majestic entrances, each with two flights of steps, one up to the platform and one up to the floor level of the hall. These flights of steps are flanked by miniature shrines. The doorways are elaborate and especially their lintels are masterpieces of delicate sculpture. They show avataras of Vishnu in the centre of an arch of foliage (torana). The arches spring from the mouths of two water monsters (makaras).

    The interior

    Originally the interior received much daylight, but the added screens make it dark and mysterious. The top of the thick parapet-wall is a seat. Due to the size of the building the parapet is very high here, and therefore small steps are provided for reaching the wide top. Hundreds of people could sit here and watch dancing performances in the hall.

    The many pillars of the hall again show that the Hoysala king wanted to build a temple surpassing all others. The variety among them is extremely large and one of them is even decorated with life-size figure sculpture. The four central pillars are the most heavy ones. They are very large specimens of ornate lathe-turned bell pillars, and their production also was a great technical achievement. They support a domed ceiling that is one of the most elaborately decorated ceilings in all India.

    The sanctum

    As usual the sanctum consists of a square vestibule (antarala) and a square holy cella (garbhagiha). The entrances of both are flanked by life-size sculptures of door guardians (dvarapalas). They bear a mace (gada) and for the rest attributes characteristic for Vishnu. In the cella stands a cult-image of Vishnu, an extremely large one bearing clockwise a wheel (cakra), a mace (gada), a lotus (padma) and a conch (shankha). Indeed this is the order of attributes corresponding with the form of the god called Kesava. “Cenna” means good, respectful in Kannada, the language of Karnataka.

    Date and stylistical position

    In this case, happily, there are several inscriptions telling about the erection and the consecration of the temple. This happened in 1117 AD by king Vishnuvardhana. The style of the temple is a new kind of Nãgara derived from the contemporary temples found in the region around the imperial city of Kalyana, located in the extreme north of present-day Karnataka. The Calukya of Kalyana were the overlords of the Hoysala kings. Undoubtedly, by commissioning a temple in the style of his overlords, Vishnuvardhana wanted to demonstrate claims of power and independence.

    Further reading

    More detailed information about this temple can be found in the following publications.

    Dhaky, M.A., 1996. Belur, Cennakesava temple complex, Cennakesava temple. In Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture – South India – Upper Draviada – Later Phase, page 313.

    Foekema, Gerard, 1994. Belur, Cennakesava-temple. In Hoysala Architecture – Medieval temples of Southern Karnataka built during Hoysala rule, page 96.

    Krishna, M H., 1931. Belur. In the Annual Report of the Mysore Archaeological Department for the year 1931, page 25.

    Narasimhachar, R., 1919. The Kesava Temple at Belur. Government Press, Bangalore. Reprinted in 1982 by Cosmo Publications

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | 1 Comment

    Gomateswara – Sravanabelagola

    Gomateswara – Sravanabelagola
    Temples of Karnataka


    This is one of the most popular Jain pilgrimage center in South India, an is known for its collossal monolithic statue of Gomateswara, on top of a hill. Sravanbelagola is at a distance of 93km from Mysore.  The nearest railhead is Hassan (49km). Belur is at a distance of 86 km from here. The Karnataka State Tourism Office, organizes day trips which cover Sravanabelagola, Halebidu and Belur in a single day.

    The temple to Gomateswara is built on top of a hill, in between two hills – at a height of 3000 feet above sea level.  A flight of 500  steps provides access to this temple. Views of the neighborhood from the top of the hill are spectacular.

    Gomateswara

    The image of Gomateswara is an awe inspiring one. Carved out of a single block of granite, this 50 feet high statue, stands majestically on top of the hill. This image was created during the period of Chamundaraya, a minister of the Ganga King Rajamalla.

    The neighboring area abounds in Jaina bastis and several images of the Jaina Theerthankaras.

    Festivals: The Mahamastakabhishekam festival is held once in 12 years, when the image of Gomateswara is bathed in milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins.

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | Leave a comment

    Halebidu

    Halebidu
    Temples of Karnataka

    Temple of the Month – June 2000

    Halebidu the ancient Hoysala capital houses the ornate Hoysaleswara and Kedareswara temples, and is one of the well visited tourist attractions of Karnataka. Halebidu is located at a distance of 149 km from Mysore and 31 km from Hassan. The Karnataka State Tourism Bureau offers a rather hectic tour package (from Mysore) covering Sravanabelagola, Halebidu and Belur in one day.

    Halebidu Temple

    The Hoysaleswara temple dates back to the 12th century CE. It was built by Ketamalla a minister of Vishnuvardhana the Hoysala ruler who also built the Belur temple and the Mahabaleshwar temple at Chamundi Hills near Mysore.   Halebidu was sacked by the armies of Malik Kafur in early fourteenth century, after which it fell into a state of disrepair and neglect.

    The Hoysaleswara  temple enshrines Hoysaleswara and Santaleswara. Hoysaleswara is named after the builder Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and Santaleswara after his wife, Queen Santala.  The sancta are built on a stellar plan, with a sukhanasi, navaranga and Nandi Mandapa. Each of these (temples)  resembles the Belur Chennakesava temple in plan.

    The Hoysaleswara temple is a masterpiece, studded with a profusion of carvings. Thousands of figures appear on its walls. The basement of the temple has the most richly sculptured friezes. Horsemen charge, war elephants charge, all in stone. Scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata add to the grandeur.

    Halebidu Friezes

    Art historian James Fergusson writes of Halebidu thus  The Hoysaleswara temple may be probably considered as one of the most marvellous exhibitions of human labor to be found even the patient east. The mode in which the eastern face is broken up by the larger masses, so as to give height and play of light and shade, is a better way of accomplishing what the Gothc artists attempted by their projections. This however is surpassed by the western front, where the variety of outline and arrangement and subordination of the various facets in which it is disposed, must be considered as a masterpiece of design in its class.

    Halebidu friezes contour

    If the friezes were to be spread olong a plain surface, it would lose more than half its effect, while the vertical angles, without interfering with the continuity of the frieze give height and strength to the whole composition. The disposition of the horizontal lines of the lower friezes is equally effective. Here again, the artistic combination of horizongal and vertical lines and the play of outline and of light and shate far surpass anything in gothic art.

    There are pierced windows on the walls, about a meter high each, with divinities set on pedestals with canopies above. The south door is beautifully sculptured.

    Halebidu Projections

    The Kedareswara temple built by King Ballala II, at Halebidu now in ruins is considered to be a a gem of architecture. As with the Hoysaleswara temple, this temple has classic friezes, and scenes from the epics.  There are a hundred and eighty images set under floral toranas in the upper parts of the walls. Also nearby, are Jain temples dedicated to Parsvanatha, Santhanatha and Adinatha.

    July 8, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | 1 Comment

    A Glimpse of Karnataka-The Temple of Mukt®¿vara at Cau·ad¡napura

    A Glimpse of Karnataka-The Temple of Mukt®¿vara at Cau·ad¡napura

    http://ignca.nic.in/ks_28_cn.htm

    The present State of Karn¡¶aka is situated between longitudes 74 degrees and 12 minutes East; 78 degrees and 30 minutes East and latitudes 11 degrees and 30 minutes North and 18 degrees and 45 minutes North. Its area is 1,91,791 sq. KMS.Its population is 4,48,06,408, according to the Census of 1991.

    Different forms and spellings of the name:

    Karnataka

    Karn¡¶aka

    Kar¸¡¶aka

    Physically Karn¡¶aka is divided in five main regions:

    a) The Kanara Coastal Belt, a strip of very fertile land, 30 kms wide at the most, along the West coast.

    b) The Sahyadri or Western Ghat, a picturesque chain of hills, culminating at 1925 m. with the Baba Budan peak, often covered with monsoonal type of forest.

    c) The Eastern Ranges, a transitional belt between the hills and the plateau; which combines the advantages of the rainy western hills and the drier eastern plains.

    d) The Southern Plateau, bordered on the south by the hilly transitional belt between the plateau and the plains of Tamiln¡du, dominated by red soils and an agriculture based on rice, ragi and coconut.

    e) The Northern Plateau, north to a line from Chikmagalur to Chitradurga, characterised by large tracts of rich black soils and the cultivation of jowar, wheat, cotton and oil seeds.

    The same chain of hills makes the climatic division of Karn¡¶aka: to the west the hot monsoonal regime with some 5ms of rain per year; to the east the more temperate climate with a gradually declining quantum of rainfall, from the 2 ms of the Eastern Ranges to the 50 cms of the dry northern plateau.

    Tu´gabhadr¡ River at Haralahalli near Cau·ad¡napura.

    The Sahyadri chain is a north-south water-divide between the numerous westward rivers going to the Arabian Sea and the large eastward rivers.

    Westward rivers: Mandavi, Kalinadi, Gangavali (or Bedti), Sharavati (with Gersoppa Falls), Haladi, Svarna, Netravati.

    Eastward: Krishna and tributaries: Don and Bhima on its northern bank, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha,Tungabhadra on the southern. Tungabhadra is itself the result of the junction of Tunga and Bhadra and has important tributaries: Kumudvati and Varada on its northern bank, Hagari on the southern.

    The geological map of Karn¡¶aka displays remarkable parallel belts of the Dharwar system which characterizes the south Deccan. The most prominent are the Dharwar-Shimoga, the Gadag-Chitradurga and the Kolar schist belt. They provide a schist of fine texture which has been the choice stone of medieval architects. The same Dharwar system includes also a wealth of ore deposits, such as the iron and manganese of Sandur, the gold of Kolar etc. A long belt of granite from Bellary to the south has provided a good material of construction in the southern part of the state.

    Temple of K®dar®¿vara at Balligave.

    Sogayisi baÆda m¡marane

    ta½televa½½iye p£ta j¡ji saÆ

    pageye kukilva k°gileye p¡·uva

    tuÆbiye nallaro½mogaÆ

    nagemogado½ pa½aÆcaleya

    k£·uva nallare n°½po·¡va be

    ¶¶uga½o½am¡va naÆdana

    vanaÆga½o½aÆ banav¡si d®¿ado½

    C¡gada bh°gadakkarada g®yada

    go¶¶iyalaÆpiniÆpuga

    ½g¡ram¡da m¡nisare

    m¡nisarantar¡gi pu¶¶al®

    n¡giyum®n° t¢rdupude t¢rido·aÆ

    maRiduÆbiy¡gi m®¸

    k°giley¡gi pu¶¶uvudu

    nandanado½ banav¡si d®¿ado½

    TeÆka¸ag¡½i s°Ækido·aÆo½nu·i

    g®½do·aÆiÆpan¡½da g®

    yaÆ kivivokko·am birida

    malligega¸·o·am¡da keÆ dalam

    paÆge·ego¸·o·am madhumah°tsava

    m¡do·am®naneÆ ben¡

    ra´kusavi¶¶o·aÆ nenevudenna

    manam banav¡sid®¿amam

    “In Banav¡sid®¿a beautiful mango groves pleasing to the eyes, young betel leaves, j¡ti jasmins, campaka flowers, singing cuckoos, buzzing bumble-bees, lovers meeting their beloved with smiling faces are to be seen everywhere in hillocks and pleasure gardens.

    O, they are men, those who are abodes of renouncement; enjoyments, affections, chants, discourses; if born, one should be born like those men there, if not, like a cuckoo or even a small buzzing bee in Banav¡sid®¿a.

    When the southern breeze passes gently by my side, when the sweet sounding speeches fall on my ears, when fully blossomed jasmins are at sight, when spring festivities are celebrated, even if there is a goad point on my neck, I will not cease to think of Banav¡sid®¿a.”

    Temple of Nagar®¿vara at Balligave.

    Banadase* n¡·o½elli na·en°rppa·am

    alliye ramyavarppa nan l

    danavanamalli r¡jisuva hegge

    Reyalliye ¿°bhevetta kab

    bina posad°Æ¶amalliye vir¡jipa

    p£go½avalli k°ki½a

    svanada vi½¡savalli be½igeyu½a

    dh¡nyam samriddha saÆ-ku½am ll

    ‘In Banav¡sin¡·u wherever one walks or looks, there are delightful gardens, shining big water tanks, new sugarcane orchards, tanks with flowers (lilies), there resounds the sweet singing of cuckoos, all harvests of grains and vegetables are rich there.”

    ll kaÆ ll Ë n¡·a kaÆpa¸aÆ

    vasaudh¡n¡r¢tilakadante raÆjisi!

    sukhasant¡nado½esevudu siriyi

    t¡nagga½av¡giresedu n£RuÆb¡·am ll

    “N£RuÆb¡·a was a kaÆpa¸a in that n¡·u (Banav¡sin¡·u) which was like a tilak shining on the forehead of the lady earth, resplendent with children and wealth in plenty.” (Rattihalli inscription no. 1)

    From the Rattihalli inscription no. 2. (lines 11 to 14)

    “A multitude of bees sucking the sap revolved around newly blown lotuses in beautiful tanks, groups of silvan ladies, wives of silvans tuned their sweet voices to the humming of intoxicated bees, and the charm of their body was equal to that of Tam¡la groves, in that Banav¡side¿a.”

    “Besides, mango groves with their young sprouts, bouquets of flowers, heaps of fruits, give excessive joy to multitudes of cuckoos, throngs of bees, hosts of parrots causing great joy to the heart; the juice emerging out of ripe fruits, running in streams, satisfies the desire of rice fields in that viÀaya.”

    “Thus, with stately grace, the goddess LakÀm¢ of Banav¡si was shining with the elegance of N£Rumb¡·a, her crest jewel.”

    Coconut trees surround fully the mango groves with their waters, mango trees surround banana groves with their sweet juices, banana trees surround fully grown sugar-cane fields looking like rows of fruit carriages, fully grown sugarcanes irrigate rice-fields with their well ripe juice, who knows to describe the plentifulness of Guttavo½al?”

    Top


    HISTORY

    Major dynasties who ruled Karn¡¶aka upto 16th century:Maurya Asoka 3rd cent.B.C.

    S¡tavahana, 171 B.C.-174 A.D.

    Kadamba of Banav¡si, 350-540

    Ga´ga of Talak¡·, 350-1050

    C¡lukya of B¡d¡mi, 500-757

    R¡À¶rak£¶a of Malkhed, 752-973

    C¡lukya of Kaly¡¸a, 973-1189

    Kalac£ri of Kaly¡¸a, 1142-1184

    Y¡dava of Devagiri, 850-1334

    Hoysala of Ha½eb¢d and B®l£r, 1022-1342

    Sangama of Vijayanagar, 1344-1485

    S¡luva of Vijayanagar, 1486-1505

    Tuluva of Vijayanagar, 1491-1576

    KadaÆba kings. (350-540 A.D.).

    C¡lukyas of B¡d¡mi: (c.500-757 A.D.)

    R¡À¶rak£¶a. (c.752 A.D.- 973 A.D.).

    K¡v®riyiÆdam¡ g°

    d¡varivarmirdda n¡·ad¡ kanna·ado½

    bh¡visida janapadam

    vasudh¡valayavil¢navi¿adaviÀayavi¿®ÀaÆ

    AdaRo½agam kisuvoßal¡

    vidita mah¡kopa¸a nagarad¡ purigerey¡

    sadabhistutamapokkuÆ

    dada na·uva¸a n¡·e n¡·e kanna·ada tiru½

    PadanaRidu nu·iyalum nu·i

    dudanaRid¡rayalum¡rpar¡ n¡·avargga½

    cadurar nijadim kuRit°

    dadeyum k¡vyapray°ga pari¸ata matiga½ ll

    C¡lukyas of Kaly¡¸a (973 A.D.- 1189 A.D.)

    n¡s¢d asti bhaviÀyati kÀititale

    k¡ly¡¸akalpaÆ puram

    no d¤À¶aÅ ¿ruta eva v¡

    kÀitipatiÅ ¿r¢vikram¡rkopamaÅ l

    “On the surface of the earth there has not been, there is not and there will not be a town equal to Kaly¡¸a. None has seen nor heard of a king like Vikram¡rka.”

    Kalac£ris (c.1142 A.D. -1184. A.D).

    Sevu¸as or Y¡davas of D®vagiri (c. 850 A.D. to 1334 A.D.).

    Hoysala of Halebid and Belur (1022 A.D. – 1342 A.D.).

    Top


    RELIGION

    Siva in-the form of lakut¢¿a, at Galagnath.

     

    The history of K¡½¡mukhas in Karn¡¶aka goes back to the eighth century when the C¡lukyas of B¡d¡mi were the overlords of the region spread between God¡vari in the north and K¡v®ri in the South. In an article by Dr. G.S. Dikshit there is a reference to an inscription from Pa¶¶adakal dated 755 A.D. which mentions an Ëc¡rya named Jµ¡na¿iva who had come to that place from Mrigathanik¡h¡raviÀaya on the north bank of the Ganges and who was honoured by the C¡lukya queen Trailokya Mah¡devi. Further the professor writes: “Since Jµ¡na¿iva is a name common to K¡l¡mukhas, he might be one of the first amongst the K¡l¡mukhas, or followers of the L¡kula¿aiva cult, to come to Karn¡¶aka.” The modest beginning of K¡l¡mukha-P¡¿upata movement during the rule of the C¡lukyas of B¡d¡mi continued to be active in the times of the R¡À¶rak£¶as. But, the time was not favourable enough for their activities probably due to the presence of Jains and Buddhists in the kingdom. But in subsequent centuries K¡l¡mukhas, and P¡¿upatas flourished immensely. Their golden days commenced with the advent of Kaly¡¸a C¡lukyas to power, especially with the accession of Vikram¡ditya VI to the throne in 1075 A.D.
    According to informations recorded in inscriptions, we may safely say that L¡kula¿¡ivas came to Karn¡¶aka from the four corners of India, Ka¿m¢r, K®d¡r, Bengal, Maley¡½a and R¡m®¿varam. Those who came from K¡¿m¢r settled down in the region of B¢j¡pura; those from K®d¡r made Banav¡side¿a in modern áimoga district as their headquarters. Once established in Karn¡¶aka these áaivites modified the mode of their worship, rituals, customs and manners to fit themselves in the local contexts of the kingdom. In Karn¡¶aka they showed their affiliation to ár¢¿aila irrespective of their original place. It is yet unknown from when and why ár¢¿aila gained importance. May be due to the reason that it is one of the five jyotirli´ga centres of India. In its earlier stages ár¢¿aila was under the control of K¡p¡likas. Taking into consideration the facts recorded in an inscription, we can say that, probably, by mid-eleventh century it came under the domination of K¡l¡mukhas, and P¡¿upatas, Since then, the place has not ceased to increase in importance. K¡l¡mukha and P¡¿upata saints and their schools known as ma¶ha appear quite frequently in inscriptions. The subjects that were taught in these schools (ma¶has) became part of contents of epigraphs.

    Of the two main branches in L¡kula¿aiva school, K¡l¡mukha and P¡¿upata, the former belonged to áaktipariÀe and the latter to SiÆhapariÀe. Possibly, K¡l¡mukhas, attached more importance to the áakti or the goddess, P¡¿upatas to the lion (siÆha) Her vehicle. Whether it is áaktipariÀe or SiÆhapariÀe they aligned themselves on the school at ár¢¿aila which they called Parvat¡vali.

    In áaktipariÀe there were many branches notably M£varak°¸e at Ba½½ig¡ve, Ki¶¶ag¡vesantati at Ra¶¶iha½½i and another called Be½½esantati.

    According to Pamp¡m¡h¡tmya the derivation of the name K¡l¡mukha is as follows: Kal¡mukha means that in which the kal¡s are well-established. That which has relation with only kal¡mukha is accepted as kal¡mukha. Those who practice that, are taught as being kal¡mukha. Niv¼tti, pratiÀh¡, vidy¡, ¿¡nti, ¿¡ntyat¢t¡. All these are kal¡s in the present [doctrine].

    A v¢ra¿aiva devotee worshipping the linga in his hand. South wall of the ra´gama¸·apa.

    Basava, the founder of the future V¢ra¿aiva movement, has been the finance minister of the Kalac£ri King Bijjala. The believers of Lakul¢¿a áaiva, K¡l¡mukha and P¡¿upata schools had become powerful. Building temples and making grants for temple services was their motto, the primordial means they proposed to attain liberation. But, those who did not have enough wealth to participate in these activities, nor to contribute in any way, were unhappy and worried. Moreover, all revenues of villages and fields were going to the temples. The king’s treasure ceased to increase. In order to save the people and the kingdom, Basava found a very simple way.

    He awakened the sense of duty in people’s mind and heart and campaigned with the motto k¡yakave kail¡sa “Work is Worship”. Do your duty and the god will come to you. If the duties are accomplished with devotion that is enough to please the Almighty. To make his thoughts go directly deep in the hearts of common people, Basava used the literary genre of vacana “saying”. In simple words he propagated his ideas. In no time he met with unprecedented success. Many joined hands with him to give an impetus to his principle “work is worship”.

    In one of his Vacanas he says :

    u½½avaru ¿iv¡layava m¡·uvaru, n¡n®nu

    m¡·ali ba·avanayy¡ enna k¡l® kaÆbha,

    d®hav® d®gula enna ¿irave honnaka½asavayy¡,

    sth¡varakka½ivuƶu jaÆgamakka½ivilla

    k®½¡ k£·alasaÆgamad®v¡

    “Those who are wealthy can construct temples but I am a poor one. My body is the temple, my feet are the pillars and my head is the pinnacle; Lo ! god K£·alasa´gama, listen, a Li´ga installed in a temple is perishable but not the devotion of a mendicant ja´gama”.)

    This kind of diffusing ideas through vacanas became very popular. Every follower of Basava began to compose vacanas and set them to music and sing or recite them. Another principle that Basava adopted was to worship an image of áiva of one’s own choice, that is to choose the name of any image of áiva installed in a temple, be seated at home, take an effigy of a small Li´ga, place it in the palm of one’s left hand, offer all the services like bath, sandal paste, flowers, bell, incense etc. and with concentration on that Li´ga mentally make áiva present in the form of Li´ga one is wishing to pray. This is actually a principle found in Ëgama texts. But, in Ëgamas the worship of áiva in temples is emphasised, whereas Basava proposed to do it at home. According to him going to the temples is not necessary. In case one cannot find time to express one’s devotion to god at home, carrying a small image of Li´ga on one’s body is sufficient. As devotees began to wear a Li´ga on their body, in subsequent centuries, they were called Li´gins and later Li´g¡yats. Now this is one of the most powerful communities in Karn¡¶aka. Some modern historians think that the preachings of Basava curbed temple construction activities. But, this is a baseless attack. In fact, his teachings came as bliss in disguise and became instrumental in the development of temple architecture and embellishment.

    Basava also tried to suppress the age old thorn of Hindu society, i.e. the caste system. But this revolutionary idea led to the assassination of King Bijja½a. Basava had to run away from the capital. The whole system ended in chaos. It could only be revived in the fifteenth century when the vacanas were codified and classified under the different categories of the âa¶sthala m¡rga “the six-stage way” and brought out under one general title á£nyasamp¡dane. Thus vacana literature became a genre par excellence.

    Before the detailed description of áaiva worship, which is its main subject, a standard áaiv¡gama, the Ajitatantra, begins with an exposition of the theological concept of áiva as supreme principle called brahman, using a typical upaniÀadic vocabulary:”Only that one who is áiva, superior to all, stable, supreme soul, great lord, whose form is existence, consciousness and felicity, who is free from existent and non-existent manifestations, who is all-pervading, only him is named by the sages with the word brahman. “In the ¿aiva tradition áiva is known as free from beginning, middle and end, free by nature from the stain entity, powerful, omniscient, perfect, non limited by directions of space, times etc., beyond the range of speech and mind, without parts, without action, all-pervading, always all-experiencing.”

    After introducing the concept of God, the Ajitatantra introduces the concept of worship. It emphasizes the difference between the worship of a yogin through only mental processes, fixation of the mind on God etc., and the activities of other men of lesser mental capacity. Only the former experiences the supreme áiva. The latter is not qualified to enter into relation with him. The concept of the supreme is the concept adapted to the concept of mental practice of yoga.

    “The worship of this áiva can be the inner worship of yogin-s only. Men who take pleasure in the practice of yoga, whose mind is purified by the eight components of yoga, restraints etc., worship him in the middle of the lotus of their heart, no others. The action of worshipping him is superior. Without his worship, with any other [rite] there is no benefit for embodied souls.”

    There is another, concurrent, concept of God adapted to the concept of worship in the form of rites comprising not only mental attitudes, but also speech activities and bodily gestures. Both types of worship are not conflicting but complementary. Tantra deals chiefly with ritualistic worship, Yoga chiefly with mental actions and psychological states.

    30b-32. The undertaking of the inner worship falls upon someone sometimes; the undertaking of the outer worship falls upon those who have a little knowledge. Being aware of that, this lord of gods, áiva, who stands inside everything, who extends his grace to all and gives to creatures experience and liberation, this áiva became Sad¡¿iva whose body is the five brahma[-mantra-s] manifestly.

    33-34a. From him arose Ì¿vara, the origin of all the gods, free from decline. From [Ì¿vara] I was born and from me you, the teacher of the universe, arose. From you, in the lotus of your navel, sprung forth Aja, the grandfather of the world.

    34b-35. The consciousness who inhabits áiva should be celebrated as M¡y¡. Others [call her] “Root principle [of matter]“. She also stands in a relation of material cause and effect in five bodies. Hear her establishments.

    36-38a. From her [is born] the deity Manonman¢ resting in Sad¡¿iva. From [Manonman¢] is born Gaur¢ resting in Mahe¿vara. From [Gaur¢] is born Um¡ who is mine; she should be Bhavapriy¡. From [Um¡] is born Padm¡ resting on you, ViÀ¸u. And from [Padm¡] is born V¡¸¢ resting upon Brahman.

    The concept of kal¡ is important in all schools of áaivism and plays a special role in the religion of k¡l¡mukhas. It is closely related to the concepts of áakti and bindu. There are two aspects of áakti. On one side, it is the spiritual essence of God, the power of universal knowledge and action called d¤k-kriy¡-áakti or cit “consciousness”. On the other side it is the prak¤ti or material cause of all that is not cit. In áaiva philosophy the latter has two forms, pure and impure called bindu and m¡y¡. M¡y¡ is the well-known concept of the matrix of the world, psychic and material, of common experience. It produces all the constituents of human body, senses and mind etc. It provides a matter for the bound soul, which transmigrates in worldly lives.

    Bindu is a purer form of m¡y¡. It provides matter for the higher souls in the hierarchy, who are close to liberation, such as Vidye¿vara-s delegates of the supreme áiva in his functions of creation etc., Mantra-s instruments of his grace etc. Bindu is divided in five parts kal¡ which form a scale and are from the lowest to the topmost: niv¤tti, pratiÀh¡, vidy¡, ¿¡nti, ¿¡ntyat¢t¡. They are related to ¿akti-s or powers of áiva having definite functions. The concept of these functions, as defined by M¤gendr¡gama in the chapter on adhvan in its Vidy¡p¡da illustrates well the hierarchy and the names of the kal¡-s in relation to the attainment of liberation:

    “Those powers by which [áiva ] does the opening of the light of [consciousness of] the soul, are the Lords of worlds called niv¤tti, etc.”

    Two important points appear here. The worlds which are transformations of m¡y¡ and bindu are grouped under five heads, which are the kal¡-s, niv¤tti, etc. Each group is ruled by a Lord who is a ¿akti of áiva. These five ¿akti-s have a common character, which is to contribute to the awakening of the powers of knowledge and action of the souls, and thus to contribute to the attainment of their goal.

    Their respective functions are as follows:

    “The [¿akti] by which [áiva ] checks the creation of elements and living species, is the checking power; the place where it occurs is called check [point] (niv¤tti), and the Lord [áiva considered] in this place is called possessor of niv¤tti.

    The [¿akti of áiva] by which the fall of the checked soul [in lower births] is suppressed is the pratiÀ¶h¡ [stabilising power]; its location [is called stabilisation pratiÀ¶h¡)] and the Lord over it is possessor of pratiÀ¶h¡.

    The [¿akti] by which [áiva] gives the soul a knowledge the contents of which do not come from verbal testimony or inference [i.e. direct experience], is the vidy¡ [power giving direct experience]; its location [is called place of direct experience vidy¡]) and the Lord over it is Lord of vidy¡.

    The [¿akti] by which Hara achieves the pacification of all the sufferings of the soul is the ¿¡nti [pacifier]; its location is called place of pacification ¿¡nti) and the lord who accomplishes it is possessor of ¿¡nti.”

    This passage of M¤gendr¡gama deals with only the above-mentioned four kal¡s. There is a fifth one called ¿¡ntyat¢t¡ beyond ¿¡nti. It is easily identifiable as the supreme áakti of áiva. And the M¤gendr¡gama itself in its Kriy¡p¡da qualifies it as bindu – antasaÆ¿ray¡ (VII, 82) “having a residence at the top of bindu”.

    Linga called Spar¿a-linga, temple of Galagesvara at Galagnath.

    Li´ga is first a philosophical concept defined thus by Ajitatantra:

    puruÀasya tu yac cihnaÆ

    puruÀavyaktik¡ra¸am l

    sad¡¿ivasya talli´gaÆ

    áivali´gam iti sm¼tam ll

    “That which is a sign of the soul, i. e. a cause of manifestation of the soul, such a sign for Sad¡¿iva is traditionally known as áivali´ga.”

    It is remarkable that the word Li´ga is explained here in its common meaning of sign or cause of manifestation. It is something from which one can, not only infer the existence of the soul and Sad¡¿iva, but also perceive it directly. It is an object which makes another entity manifest. It is also remarkable that the expression áivali´ga “Li´ga of áiva” is explained as referring to Sad¡¿iva. The worship of the Li´ga is the worship of Sad¡¿iva, i. e. the form of áiva manifested under the form of five mantra-s addressed to five faces of the god. Even if the faces are not represented on the Li´ga, the worshipper pictures them in his mind and addresses his actions to them.

    Linga and Nandin, temple of Som®¿vara at Haralhalli.

    The Li´ga is also a mythological concept, well-known in Pur¡¸as and áaiv¡gamas. The account of Ajitatantra is as follows. It involves three hierarchised manifestations of the supreme áiva: Sad¡¿iva who is the Li´ga, Ì¿vara and Rudra. ViÀ¸u and Brahman are also manifestations of the Supreme and of still lower rank. The narration is done by Rudra to ViÀ¸u.

    k£¶astha¿ ca mah¡devaÅ

    sarvak¡ra¸ak¡ra¸am ll

    tvad¡der yo mam¡dis tu

    tasy¡py ¡diÅ sad¡¿ivaÅ l

    “2b-3a. Sad¡¿iva, the unchangeable, great god, cause of all the causes, is the origin of that entity who is the origin of me, origin of you.”

    “3b-5. Both of you, N¡r¡ya¸a and Brahman, even though you are omniscient and omnipresent, were unable to perceive me, your mind being afflicted by delusion. Full of delusion and infatuation about the superiority in strength of one upon the other, each one claiming “there is none superior to me”, out of jealousy in each towards the other, both of you, desirous of killing yourselves mutually, furious, were going for your destruction”.

    “6-7. Then, seeing such a delusion in both of you, lords of gods, áiva, the origin of all the gods, embodied in ¿abda-brahman, in order to enlighten you, bore the form of a fire-column, creating wonder, and he, the supreme Lord, stood between [you both]“.

    “8-10. You, best among gods, went to the greatest astonishment. Wondering: “what is this?”, ready to examine it, with the desire to see its extremities, you went towards the top and the bottom of that form of the Li´ga, with the respective bodies of a haÆsa and a boar. Both of you, lords of all the worlds, came back, without fulfilling your purpose. Bowing down and praising the lord of gods, you stood on his sides.”

    “11-13. Then, seeing your devotion, áiva, the lord of all the gods, despatched there Ì¿vara, as giver of knowledge to you. And this lord of gods, this peace-maker [said] to you: “you do not know the lord of gods, cause of all, imperishable, Sad¡¿iva, the great god, leader of the gods. I, Rudra, and you two, all of us are born from his grace.”

    “14-15. This [column] is the sign of him. I, Rudra, and you, let us make a similar [Li´ga] with different materials, as we desire, and let us always worship the Lord of gods. Worshipped on the head of the Li´ga, the omniscient will always give knowledge, to calm down delusion.”

    “16-17a. Seeing our procedure of worship, the fourteen-fold world will worship the Li´ga, and it will bestow the highest fruit.” Having spoken thus, Ì¿vara suddenly disappeared with the Li´ga.”

    The deity is conceived as an abstract entity, which has numerous external manifestations. There are several degrees of manifestation of the supreme. The idea of manifestation is expressed in Sanskrit by the root aµju “to become manifest” and the preverb vi which indicates the idea of separation. The supreme áiva is a-vyakta “non-manifested”. It differentiates itself in a new entity called vyakta-a-vyakta “manifested and non-manifested”, then in a third one called vyakta “manifested” fully. By “manifested” is understood the quality of being accessible to the senses. Manifestation is achieved by the Supreme God himself through parts (kal¡) of its power (¿akti) in its aspect of pure material cause (bindu). Therefore the supreme is also called niÀkala “without [manifesting] part [of power]“. The second entity is sakala-niÀkala, the third sakala. Each entity has a name: the supreme is áiva, the second Sad¡¿iva, the third Mah®¿a. áiva is one, the other two have subdivisions: Sad¡¿iva five, Mah®¿a twenty-five. This is clearly stated in áaiv¡gamas such as V¡tula¿uddha:

    “The essence of áiva is well-kown as niÀkala, o Mah¡s®na. In this [scripture] Sad¡¿iva is told to be niÀkala and sakala. One should know Mah®¿a as sakala. Thus there are three aspects. One should know áiva as one. Sad¡¿iva should be of five aspects. Mah®¿a, o Mah¡sena, has twenty-five divisions.”

    The supreme áiva is not the subject of any representation in the temple, because of its unmanifested nature. It is dealt with in rituals only through a mantra, called m£la-mantra “the root-mantra”.

    Sad¡¿iva appears in the temple in the form of the li´ga, which can be told to be manifested, since it is a visible object, and also non-manifested, since it is a purely geometrical shape, not revealing any particular aspect of the manifest God. The aspect which remains non-manifested in the Li´ga is properly called Sad¡¿iva or S¡d¡khya. There are five S¡d¡khyas or five heads which remain in the imagination of the worshipper. In rituals the visible Li´ga is not the real object of worship. It is a support on which the worshipper superimposes the five heads by means of mental representation (dhy¡na). The heads are not manifested. They remain in the mind of the worshipper. They are introduced in the rituals through mantras called brahma-mantras. This concept is very important, for it is the very basis of the religious activity, which integrates mental representations in pure ritualistic actions. It answers perfectly to the religious need of integration of mental and material actions.

    “He (áiva) should be sakala and niÀkala for the purpose of meditation and worship; o Mah¡sena, this form is well-known as S¡d¡khya.”

    The third áaiva entity, Mah®¿a, is the fully manifested form, with characteristic features and actions, detailed descriptions of which are given in mythological accounts of Ëgamas and Pur¡¸as. In general the diverse myths about áiva depict him with the attributes of a king, with a benevolent attitude to submissive and loving subjects or with violent actions against enemies. áiva is the Lord of the universe, chastising powerfully the evil forces and giving grace to devotees. He has a palace on a mountain, Kail¡sa, and a court of other submissive gods, celestial beings, saints, sages, yogins, etc.

    “One should know Mah®¿a as sakala, conducting creation, maintenance and destruction [of the world]. This bodily form should be diverse through twenty-five varieties.”

    The temple of Mukt®¿vara at Cau·ad¡napura, west facade.

    The elaborate theological concept of the supreme god manifesting himself in several grades is well reflected in the architectural concept which comprises a general volume sheltering the Li´ga and numerous secondary structures dedicated to the outward manifestations. The former is the garbhag¤ha, the secluded cella, innermost centre of the monument. The latter have the form of the main temple in reduced size and are superimposed on its external face.

    The monument as a whole, with its tower in pyramidal form can be taken as the representation of the Kail¡sa mountain. The interior and central cella sheltering the Li´ga is the private residence of the god-king in his palace. The court of that king is provided with architectural spaces, which are the miniature images of temples arranged outside on the walls. The relation of manifested-cum-non-manifested with the fully manifested is transcribed in the architecture by the disposition which gives a secluded and hidden shelter to the Li´ga, and outward, fully exposed places to the manifested images.

    The reduced representations of temples are frequently treated as decorative architectural motifs by historians of art. But they can also be understood as being something more than a decoration. They have a close connection with the main structure, and must have a theological dedication, as well as the main structure. The dedication of some of them to the external manifestations of the deity is shown through images of several m£rtis placed on their prominent face or even inside them in the case of niches.

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    July 1, 2007 Posted by | KARWAR taluk, Temples of Karnataka | Leave a comment

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