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.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hoysaleshwara – Shantaleswara Temple (1141 A.D), Halebedu, Belur Taluk, Hassan District.


Today's Halebedu was the then capital of the Hoysalas. It stood aloft inside a long stone fort running for about 10Kms. Dorasamudra was the name attached to that big town. Though there were many sculptural niceties in the form of temples and other buildings filled with art and architecture, mostly what we see today are only their remains. Nevertheless as a live symbol of Hoysala Architecture, the twin temple of Hoysaleshwara – Shantaleswara can be witnessed all most relieved even today. During the reign of Vishnuvardhana Raya this temple was erected by commander in chief Ketha Malla about 1120 AD though the first phase of the temple appeared to be completed in 1141 A.D. It has centrifuged all most all the beauty of Hoysala style of Architecture into itself and thus has proven to be a great gem in that lineage. The stone carvings standing along the length and breath walls reflect devotion in the Gods. The delineation in literally solid figures of the serials of the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha epics have been presenting hundreds of morals and models for the life of every one infused with real humanity in him. These themselves are the unwritten, big epics touching the mind and heart of even illiterates.

The idols of the door guards are very tall and drawing our attention inescapably to themselves because of the delicate artistic ornamentations over them. On the southeast corner there exists a little museum of sculptural art. On the east there is the biggest tank of Halebedu beside the temple. In the inscriptions it has been designated as Dorasamudra. The name "Adobe of the Dora Samudra " for the capital of the Hoysalas was derived from this tank itself In the 13th Century the dam was built across the Yagachi near Belur in order to canalize water into the Dorasamudra tank. This fact has been discovered through the inscriptions and relics left over.

A separate Maha Dwara (Main entrance) and a Navaranga (the long and broad interior hall) always precede the sanctum in each temple. Inside the northern sanctum there is the Siva linga going by the name Shantaleshwara. And inside the other sanctum - sanctorum is the Hoysaleswara Siva linga. In front of the eastern entrance of each temple there is a colossal idol of Nandi, carved out of monolithic stone. In addition to the above two sanctums, one of Sun God is also found existing where in shines a seven ft high idol of the Sun God.

There exist four entrances to the twin temple, out of which the southern one is especially bedecked with the beauty of very delicate artwork unimaginable in a stone plate. In front of this entrance there lays an eye capturing 8 ft. lofty Ganapati idol in a hefty form. The eastern entrances are also attractive.

Around this very temple rows or bands of elephants, horses, lions, crocodiles, creepers and swans are found in the form of solid roll models, the bands being arranged one over the other along the enveloping the wall surfaces. There are also arrays of idols depicting the epics in a continuously rolling serial fashion. Beautiful sculptural masterpieces have been contained as engraving in the walls themselves.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jain Basadis, Basadihalli, Hassan District.

Even though this countryside looks like a separate village situated near Halebedu, it was prominent part of Dorasamudra during the rule of the Hoysalas. Within this well-established area on the east of the inner fortress, there were several huge and highly rich Basadis (Jinalayas). Most of them have been ruined, and today there are Basadis of the Hoysala age only within one single compound.

Parshwanatha Basadi (1133 A.D)

The big Basadi Facing the entrance of the compound is called Vijaya Parshwanatha Basadi. This was completed in memory of Ganga Raja, the commander of Vishnuvardhana Raya 1113 AD, by his son Boppadeva. Originally as a memoir of the title of Ganga Raja it had the nomenclature styled as Dhrohagharatta Jinalaya (Dhohagharatta, 'the pulveriser of treachery' was perhaps the title of Ganga Raja). During the opening ceremony of the Jinalaya, Vishnuvardhana Raya became victorious in the battle of Bankapura. So this was renamed as Vijaya Parswanatha Jinalaya and was honored with royal donations for its maintenance. This Basadi looks simple at the outside, but possesses very rich decorations inside. The sculpture of the underside sealing, called Bhuvaneshwari, is very attractive. The round pillars of nice splendid black stone found in the navaranga portion. There is a special place for such exquisite pillars in Hoysala architecture, there stands in the sanctum - sanctorum a 14 ft high idol of Parshwanatha in the sthanaka posture.

Attached to the walls of the navaranga there are in all 24 peethas (seats) indicating the erstwhile existence of the idols of 24 Teerthankaras there. They have all vanished today. Infront of this basadi there is a Mukha Mantapa (Portico Hall) comprising many pillars, along with a big inscription describing the construction of this Jinalaya. Many more inscriptions found here have become official records of the Government.

Adinatha Basadi

Adinatha Basadi to the right of the Parshwanatha Basadi is another one of a very simple style. Devara Heggade Malli Mayya built it. It is a little one containing proportionately a little navaranga and a little sanctuary. A Saraswathy idol exists in the Deva Koshtha (House of Gods) of the navaranga. Since the original idol of the sanctuary is broken, it has been deposited in the neighboring Santinatha Basadi.

Saantinatha Basadi

This is a high and broad Basadi situated on the right of the Adinatha Basadi. One going by the name Madhukanna Vijayanna built this beautiful Jinalaya in 1256 AD with the substantial encouragement offered by the association of the businessmen of Dorasamudra. The outer wall of this Basadi is of course very simple. But here too, in the navaranga portion, there is huge shining round pillars taking their appropriate positions.

A monolithic 15ft idol of Santhinatha stands in sanctum in the sthanaka posture. Once in 12 years the Head Bathing Festival (Maha Masthakabhisheka) takes place here. Facilitating the bathing performance brick steps have been built in a convenient way. In front of the Basadi entrance there is a measuring column call Manastambha as lofty as 30ft.

All these three Basadi’s comprehended with in one compound have common Pushkarini on the north -east corner of the compound.

Yoga Narasimha Temple (1122 A.D), Santigrama, Hassana Taluk Hassan District.

Among the Hoysala temples of this place the Yoganarsimha Temple has been built by one called Acala Prakasa Muni during reign of Veera Ballala. The ring of nine forms of Narasimha (Nava Narasimha Vritta) incorporated in the ceiling of the Portico of the temple is a rare sculptural work. This vritta is supposed to have mystic powers. Narasingimayya father of the Hoysala Queen Santala-Devi built the Dharmeshwara Temple in 1122AD. Visitors who enter Santhigrama are first welcomed at the end of the main road by the commanding appearance of the Kesava Temple which is standing high on a raised pedestal.This Santhigrama village was donated to Shantala- Devi the loving Queen of Vishnuvardhana Raya.

Prasanna Chenna Kesava Temple (1117 A.D), Beluru, Belur Taluk,, Hassan District.

Hassan district is the crown of Karnataka's Sculpture Kingdom. The invaluable Kohinoor of this crown happens to be the temple of Sree Chenna Kesava at Belur. This has exploited all the beauty available in the world sculpture, was established on 10-03-1117 A-D by king Vishnuvardhana Raya of the Hoysala Empire. The successors in the lineage of Belur administrators have protected and refined continuously this unique treasure and have brought it to the present stage with a spirit of dedicated maintenance. This town Belur was the capital of the Hoysala Kingdom in its inception stages. Previously this town was being alternatively called Belahuru, Baelaa Pura and Vaelapura. To begin with the sacred Sanctums of Vijaya Narayana (Chenna Kesava), Kappe Chenniga Raya (Kesava) and Lakshmi Narayana were established. Eventually they have been followed up with the construction of many more Sanctums (Garbhagruhas) like those of Veera Narayana, Soumya Nayaki, Sree Rama, Anjaneya, Alwars and so on, along with the regular features of a Vaishnava Temple such as the Garuda Gamba, the Gopura, the Balipeeta, & the Deepastamba, the Store Room (Bhandara), the Sacred Kitchen section (Pakasala), the Yoga sala and the Kalyana Mantapa. The delicacies of minute details delineated through the Hoysala Art, inch by inch, on the stone screens of the walls and ceilings of the temple of Sree Chenna Kesava, seem to be inexhaustible, even if the visitors are allowed days and months to go through in a spirit of devoted speciation and study for their genuine experience of surprise and ecstasy. Through this temple the world has availed the unparallel benefit of top class feminine beauty captured and impounded forever in permanent structure in the form of the matchless dames in Litho Art renowned as Silabaalika's.

The temple of Sree Chenna Kesava, which was built during the Hoysala regime of Vishnuvardhana Raya, was developed in due course by his son Narasimha Raya and his grand son Veera Ballala. They decorated the temple with Jalandhras (the stone mesh windows) the entrance doorframe art, the special pillar and the thorana. During the time of Veera Ballala, the Vasudeva Pushkarani, Dhanyaagaara (storehouse of grains), and Pakasala (sacred kitchen) were constructed. A few more special additions were accommodated during the reign of the rulers of Vijayanagara following the decline of the Hoysalas. Mainly it was during the time of Harihara Raya, (1395 AD) that, one by name Gunda Danda Nayaka raised the beautiful 7 (Seven) storeyed Gopura out of stones and burnt bricks bound by lime mortar. And then during the reign of King Deva Raya his commander Bice Dandanayaka (1414 AD) prepared and installed the unique tall Lamppost, the Kartika Deepotsava Stambha. Unfounded in the ground but simply placed over a stone platform, this tall Monolithic granite column is symbolic of the excellence of architectural science possessed by the Vijayanagara reign architects. Even today this column, by its stature and stability, baffles the visitors from the entire world over. The big tank of
Belur is known as Vishnu Samudra. It was built during the time of Narasimha Raya under the circumspection of Padmarasa.

Later in the so called golden age of the Vijayanagara reign at the time of Krishnadeva Raya, a chief by name Basappa Nayaka of Utpatanahalli made the north end of Vishnu Samudra quadrangular, arranged comfortable steps on all three sides to climb down to edge of the water, and thus converted it into a comfortable Pushkarni for the devotees to use the sacred water for the daily austerities. He also built an Island Mantapa in the midst of the Pushkarani for the sake of the sacred Float Festival, and choultries too on the banks of the tank for the camping facilities of travelers who would visit for partaking in the different festivals and pooja of the place. These can be found even today. During the rule of the Vijayanagara kings themselves the smaller temples of Saumya Nayaki and Ranga Nayaki were brought to existence on both the sides of Sree Chenna Kesava's main temple, representing the divinely graceful loving presence of both Sreedevi and Bhoodevi beside the lord.In addition to these many other temples rose up in Belur during the rule of the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara Kings.Belur had a beautiful girdle of a mud Fortress. This was constructed while Belur was still the capital even before Dorasamudra could be the relic of the fortress containing broken stumps of the huge and high mud walls, and the deep trenches surrounding them, can be seen even today.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Maha Lakshmi Temple (1114 A.D), Doddagaddavalli, Hassana Taluk, Hassan District.

As you drive down from Hassan enroute Belur, you will find a small hamlet called Doddagaddavalli, situated just 16 kms away from the Hassan town. The Doddagaddavalli temple here is considered to be one of the first temples built in the Hoysala style. It is a Chatuskootachala or four-celled temple and probably the only Hoysala structure of its kind in Karnataka. In fact, it is said that a merchant called Kullahana Rahuta and his wife Sahaja Devi in 1114 AD constructed this temple. The Lakshmi Devi temple here is situated in a courtyard, enclosed by a seven-feet-high stonewall. The temple has two main entrances - one facing east and the other facing west. Some of the main attractions of the temple here are the four small shrines surmounted by stone towers and the Hoysala crests found at the corners of the enclosure. The groups of stone towers are constructed on the lines of Kadamba Naagara style, resembling pyramids from one end, and 18 carved pillars support the mantapa in the front.
Although this temple is not built on a star-shaped, three feet platform, which is usually the case with the Hoysala style of construction, it is resplendent in the unique architectural style of the Hoysala period. The main sanctum of this temple has the presiding goddess Lakshmi Devi, beautifully sculptured, measuring about 3 feet high, with an attendant on either side.
The other ceilings have floral designs in the middle besides circular panels carved with the figures of regents of the eight directions (Ashta Dikpalakas). These carvings represent a workmanship of high order. While the sculptures of Gajalakshmi, Thandaveshwara and Yoganarasimha on the sanctum doorway are fascinating, the doors of the east mahadwara are highly decorated. One of the main attractions of the temple is the elegantly carved goblins or Betalas, situated in the vestibule (sukanasi) of the eight-handed Kali shrine.
Rectangular in shape, the temple has four cells attached to a common hall. While Maha Lakshmi and Bhutanatha linga occupy east and west cells, Kali and Bhairava are located on the north and south cells respectively. The Bhairava appears to have replaced Vishnu, probably in the later years, as the carving of Garuda at the entrance indicates. The main idol - Maha Lakshmi is in standing posture and is a little more than one meter in height. Flanked by chowri bearers, she has four hands with Shankha, Chakra, Rosary and Mace in each of them. The idol of Kali is a terrific figure about a meter high with eight hands, seated on a demon. The temple was derelict and remained unknown for a long time. Recently though, it was fully renovated by the Archeological Department as it is considered an important monument.
The shrine of Kali is designed as per Hindu mythology. Two nude Goblins one of whom hold a raised sword on one hand and head of a human on the other; guard either side of the entrance. The four tall towers of the shrine enhance the temple’s beauty. Apart from the main shrines, an additional structure is found in the northeastern direction. Protected by stonewall, the shrine has four small cells with towers, similar to the main shrines. Judging from the manner of its construction, this must have been a hasty late addition to the existing cluster of shrines. A pratoli type porch near the west gate of the enclosure has an exquisite sealing with stone pillars on all the sides. The center of the sealing has a fine carving of Thandaveshwara. The eastern entrance leads to a lotus pond, located adjacent to the temple complex. If an additional tower is built near the temple, it is possible to view all the nine towers of the shrines here, which, without doubt, would offer a spectacular view of the complex. The temple is located 20 km northwest of Hassan town, 13 km off Hassan-Belur road. The road that goes on the left would lead to the monument.


The Hoysalas History

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. The scholars, however, have not been able to accept the Hoysala association with the legendary family nor could they agree with the theory the Hoysalas hailed from Dwaraka in Gujarat.

The story relating to the founder of the kingdom named Sala, tries to explain the family designation "Hoysala" by splitting the term into "poy" or " hoy" and "sala". According to this tale Sala, a young student was directed by his teacher Sudatta Muni, who asked him to smash tiger (poy-sala i.e., "smash, oh Sala), when it rushed in the precincts of the temple of goddess Vasantika (Vaishnavi Devi, tutelary deity of Hoysala Monarchs) at Sosevur (Angadi, Mudigere Taluk, Chikkamagalur District). Sala is said to have hit the ferocious tiger and killed it, winning thereby the appreciation and blessings of Guru, who commanded him to establish a kingdom. This account became so popular that it is narrated in all the elaborate Hoysala epigraphs, which describe the hero Sala as the originator of the family. The event gained prominence that the figure representing the story of Sala attacking the tiger with a dagger, became the royal emblem of the family, and it is seen almost in every Hoysala temple.

Sala Nripa Kama or Kama Hoysala (C. 1000 - 1045. A. D.) was the first known ruler of the Hoysala family. He is said to have fought several encounters against the Cholas, sometimes in association with the Kadambas and perhaps with the Gangas. His son and successor was Vinayaditya (C. 1045 - 1098 A. D.) and his reign, constituted period in which the strength and resources of the Hoysala territory was conserved and consolidated. His policy was on friendship and collaboration with his Chalukya overlords, whom he assisted against the Cholas. He maintained matrimonial relations with the Chalukyas, and his son Ereyanga remained in the Chalukya capital to render his master valuable military assistance against the rivals.

After Vinayaditya's death, his son Ereyanga ruled for a brief, uneventful period (C. 1098 - 1100 A. D.). His eldest son, Veera Ballala I (C.1100 -1108 A. D.) however, must have made a bold bid for independence by disobeying the Chalukya authority; and also by undertaking daring schemes of conquests. But Chalukya Vikramaditya VI was able to secure the submission of Veera Ballala I, who was forced to abandon his bid for independence. Veera Ballala I died issueless. His younger brother Vishnuvardhana Raya succeeded him in 1108 A.D.

The Hoysalas patronized Jainism. The legend has it that the founder of the kingdom, Sala was blessed by Sudatta Muni a Jaina Teacher. Vinayaditya and Ereyanga were devout Jains; so was Vishnuvardhana Raya’s queen Santaladevi who was a disciple of Prabhachanda Siddantadeva.

The generals of Vishnuvardhana Raya like Gangaraja Mariyane, Bharata and Punisa were all jains. The entry of Sri Ramanujacharya into Karnataka inaugurated a period of popularity for Srivaishnavism.

The reign of Vishnuvardhana Raya witnessed the advert of Sri Vaishnavism into Karnataka. According to traditions, Vishnuvardhana Raya who was formerly a Jain and known as Bittideva came under the influence of Sri Ramanujacharya and became a Srivaishnava. Numbers of Vaishnava temples were built during this period at Belur, Talakad, Melkote, Tonnur, Gadag and other places.

However, Vishnuvardhana Raya’s chief queen, Shantala Devi, remained a devout Jaina, and they provided for succeeding generation a fine example of religious tolerance.

Many of his generals, including the redoubtable Gangaraja, were jains; and many basadis were constructed and generous grants given during his rule. Vishnuvardhana Raya transferred his capital from Belur to Halebid, which was then known as Dorasamudra.

He was an enthusiastic builder of temples; fine arts were fostered by royal patronage, and his queen Shantala Devi was well – versed in music and dance. Vishnuvardhana Raya was aware that his duty was “Dushta Nigraha” and “Sishta Rakshana”, that is, punishing the wicked and protecting the pious ones.

In short, the reign of Vishnuvardhana Raya saw the Hoysala kingdom maturing into a position of strength, from where it could forge ahead into wider regions of opportunities and achievements.

Vishnuvardhana Raya was succeeded by his son Narasimha I (C 1152 – 1173 AD) who found greater pleasure in his teeming and sumptuous harem than in the strenuous duties of administration. The kingdom was threatened by the uncompromising feudatories and by the invasions of Kalachuri Bijjala. When Narasimha failed to tackle the situation, his indignant son, Ballala II (C 1173 – 1220 AD) seized the throne.

His rule marked the pinnacle of Hoysala fortunes. He not only subdued many refractory chiefs like the Kongalvas Chengalvas and the Pandyas of Uchchangi, but also registered a remarkable victory over the Seuna ruler, Bhillama V in the battle of Soratur (1190 AD).

It brought him, for a period, sovereignty over Belavola.
Ballala II entered into matrimonial allegiance with the Chola ruler Kulothunga III. When his Pandya vassal overthrew Kulothunga, Ballala sent his crown prince Narasimha II to the Chola King’s rescue, and after successfully accomplishing the task, justifiably assumed the title, “Cholarajyapratishtapanacharya”.

Thus a new dawned in which the Hoysalas were increasingly sucked into the whirlpool of Tamil politics. Ballala II was, beyond question, an outstanding ruler of the dynasty, who brought to his kingdom an unprecedented military glory and consolidated it with a wise, sober administration.

Ballala II was succeeded by his son, Narasimha II (C 1220 – 1235 AD). More than once did he rush to the help of the Chola ruler, Raja Raja III, whose position had been rendered precarious by his turbulent feudatories.

In fact, Hoysala army, which was called Berunda, was permanently placed in the Tamil country for the protection of the hapless Chola ruler, who gave up Kannanur to the Hoysala King. Narasimha II also had to fight against the Seuna ruler, Singhana but not with conspicuous success.
Narasimha’s son and successor Vira Someshwara (1235 – 1253 AD) was brought up in the Tamil country, and so he more often than not remained at Kannanur, involving himself in the intricate politics of the region. The northern regions of the Hoysala kingdom must have suffered neglect, and the Seunas who chewed up some areas exploited the situation.

Vira Someshwara partitioned his kingdom between his two sons; Narasimha III (1253 – 1292 AD) ruled from Dorasamudra while Ramanatha (1253 – 1295) ruled from Kannanur. Their rule witnessed on exhausting civil war, and the Hoysala kingdom was indeed the worse for it.

Narasimha III ’s successor, Ballala III (1292 – 1342 AD) was the last great ruler of the dynasty. He reunified the Hoysala kingdom, fought against the Seunas and the Raja of Kampili, and sought to play the role of an arbiter in the Pandya politics. But his rule witnessed two sweeping waves of Muslim invasions from the North.

In 1311 Malik Kafur, the all conquering general of Ala - Ud - Din Khilji, swooped down on Dorasamudra, Ballala had to bow before the hurricane and purchase peace at a huge cost of wealth. In 1327 – 28, the forces of the Delhi sultan Muhammad - Bin - Tughaluq reached the Hoysala capital and Ballala again thought it was right to submit to the superior might of the invader. However, Ballala III met his end in his conflict with the Sultan of Madura. In the battle of Koppam Kannanur (1342 A. D.), Ballala was killed and though his son Ballala IV celebrated his coronation in 1343 the Hoysala kingdom soon lost its identity. Most of its dominions were merged into the newly established kingdom of Viajanagara.

Hoysala Empire (1000 – 1346 A.D)

Sala Nripa Kama (1000 - 1045)

Vinayaditya (1045 - 1098)

Ereyanga (1098 - 1100)

Veera Ballala I (1100 -1108)

Vishnuvardhana Raya (1108 - 1152)

Narasimha I (11521173)

Veera Ballala II (11731220)

Narasimha II (12201235)

Vira Someshwara (12351253)

Narasimha III (12531292)

Ramanatha (12531295)

Veera Ballala III (12921342)