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.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Allalanatha Temple, Kondajji, Hassan Taluk Hassan District.


Kondajji is noted for temple of Chennakeshava (Allalanatha). There is an extraordinary image enshrined in a very ordinary granite temple. The image is about 18ft tall, made out of black stone. This most exquisite deity bearing the beautifull conch (Sankha), the Cakra, the Gade (the mace) and the Lotus, has been taken as Varadaraja Swamy by most of the people. Allala Natha is another favourite name given to this Lord by the localites.

The decorative features found on the beautiful form of the Lord, the inexplicably delicate nicety of the sculptural work and the uniquely exquisite facial expression -every one of these aspects captivate the mind and heart of the spectator.

Both to the sanctuary and on to the loft built for the sake of pooja and Abhisheka, visitors have unrestricted access and this is a speciality of only this place.

The back and the backside of this varadaraja murthy are highly attractive in all aspects including sculptural ornamentations

Sridhara Temple (1250 A.D), Javagallu, Arasikere Taluk Hassan District.

While traversing the Belur-Halebedu-Banavara stretch, a tiny village called Javagallu catches one’s attention. This small, obscure village was once the flourishing town of the Hoysalas.

Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Javagallu, constructed in 13th century A D. Although the prototype of this style was available as early as A D 1121, in the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebedu, it took a century to catch the imagination of the architects. However the 13th century saw a spurt of temples constructed in keeping with this architectural style in Aralaguppe, Hosaholalu, Javagallu, and Somanathapura.

The Lakshmi Narasimha temple has three sanctums. The deity adorning the central sanctum is Vishnu in the form of Sridhara, a rare feature in itself as no other Hoysala temple has Sridhara as a central deity, followed by Venugopala in the southern sanctum and Lakshmi Narasimha in the northern sanctum. Only the central sanctum has the antarala (vestibule) connecting the navaranga and the sanctum. The basement of the temple has six carved friezes of elephants, horses, scroll, mythological scenes, makaras, and hamsas. Look carefully and one can identify scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. However, no inscription has been found regarding the consecration of the temple. The inimitable sculptor Mallitamma, who had worked on half-a-dozen temples built over a period of seven decades starting from Amritapura to Somanathapura, had a major role to play in the construction of this temple. Chika Mallitamma and Pamayana assisted him.

The outer walls exhibit the Chaturvimsati Murthy the 24 forms of Vishnu, leaving little place for the other gods and goddesses such as Brahma, Harihara, Parvati, and Mahisamardini.

The central vimana has staggering walls projecting forward to indicate the composition of pancharatha formation, with a three-tala tower vaulting high crowned by a modern kalasa. The other two vimanas are identical to the central vimana except for the latter's tower and sukanasi.

The navaranga consists of nine ankanas, divided by round pillars and the nine ceilings of concentric circles. Two niches in the navaranga contain Ganesa and Chamundi. A high compound wall surrounds the temple and a mahadwara built during the Vijayanagar period is the only entrance to the temple.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hoysala Temples in 19th century and in 2009

Belur Temple in 1868 and 2009

Halebid Temple, in 1856 - in 2009

Halebid Temple, in 1865 - in 2009

Halebid Temple, in 1856 - in 2009

Somanathapura Temple, in 1865 - in 2009

Somanathapura Temple, in 1865 - in 2009

Somanathapura Temple, in 1968 - in 2009

Somanathapura Temple, in 1965 - in 2009

Chenna Kesava Temple & Someshwara Temple (1234 A.D), Haranahalli, Arasikere Taluk Hassan District.

Haranahalli is a small town situated about eight kilometers to the south of Arsikere on the main road leading towards Hassan. This town is called by various other names. While some people call it Haruvanahalli, the others refer to it as Hiriya Somanathapura. Haranahalli is well known for its beautiful temples, the prominent ones among them being the Kesava and the Someshvara temples that are renowned for the Hoysala style of architecture.

The Kesava temple (popularly known as Lakshmi Narasimha temple) is situated in the center of this old Hoysala town. The records reveal that three brothers -Peddanna Heggade, Somanna and Keshanna- obtained a free site from the natives and constructed the temple in 1234 AD. The Hoysala king Narasimha II bestowed the brothers with more acres of land later for the development of the temple.

Mallitamma, one of the best-known Hoysala sculptors of the 13th century, is the main sculptor of the Kesava temple. He is believed to have worked for the Nuggehalli, Hosaholalu and Somanathapura temples also.

The wall above the basement is horizontally divided into two halves. Above the cornice is a row of turrets borne on single or double pilasters. The Kesava temple is constructed on a platform, which is about four feet tall. The basement is divided horizontally into five flat cornices each bearing a frieze of sculptures. This includes a long creeper scroll band and separate rows of yakshas and yakshinis, horsemen, makaras and swans.

The lower half of the wall has 140 images including those of Dharani Varaha with Hiranyaksha, Dakshinmurthi, Bhairava, Kalingamardhana, Rati Manmatha, Govardhanadhari, Durga, Harihara, Vamana, the six-handed Veenasaraswati, Brahma, Lord Vishnu with Lakshmi, Mahishasuramardhini, Kodanda Rama, Lakshmi Narasimha, Parashurama, Balarama, Trivikrama, Kesava, Mohini and Arjuna, among others.

The hall, navaranga, with an extra ankana on the east has niches of Saraswati, Ganesha, Lakshmi and Bhudevi. The four pillars of the navaranga have the usual lathe turned bell-shaped designs with fine beaded work. The ceilings are artistically done in various shapes such as concentric circles, eight-pointed star, eight-petalled concentric padmas etc.

The south cell doorway flanked by dwarapalas has finely-done jambs with star-shaped pilasters. On the Garuda pedestal in the cell stands a fine image of Venugopala. The doorway of the north cell has a sculpture of Lakshmi Narasimha, who is flanked by Prahlada, Garuda and a large numbers of devotees. The sanctum doorway of the temple is beautifully carved to perfection.

The Someshvara temple situated about 200 meters to the northeast of Kesava temple is also very similar in workmanship, but different in architectural plan. While the Kesava temple has three cells and one entrance, the Someshvara temple has only one cell and three entrances. Though there is no mention about the year of construction of the temple in any inscription, it is believed to have been built around the same time the Kesava temple was constructed.

A high platform with five cornices runs across the temple following the outline. The basement has five flat-faced cornices with friezes of elephants, horsemen, swans, etc. The wall is divided into upper and lower halves, above which is the usual row of pilasters bearing turrets of varied shapes.

Some of the images on the wall include those of Tandava Ganesha, Mohini, Dharani-Varaha, Harihara, Trivikrama, Lakshmi, Durga, Bhairava, Govard-hanadhari, Mahishasuramardhini, Venugopala, the eight-handed dancing Saraswati, Parvati standing with Ganesha and Kumara, the six-handed dancing Shiva, Kalingamardhana, the three-headed beardless Brahma and the six-handed Tandaveshwara, among others.

The tower of the temple made of soapstone has four tiers of turrets, which are ornamented with images of Yaksha, Tandaveshwara and others. The projection over the tower is ornamented with fine-beaded work.

The navaranga has nine ankanas and three extensions to the east, south and north. It also has six niches including those of Saptamatrika, Saraswati, Mahishasuramardhini, Ganesha, Shanmuka etc. The four central pillars are in the shape of a round bell, while the remaining six are star-shaped. The two pillars near the doorway (east) are more ornate and their bases have sculptured panels of Kailasa lifting Ravana, Govardhanagiridhari, Venugopala and others.

The navaranga has twelve artistic ceilings in varied shapes such as octagonal circles, concentric circles and octagons. The sanctum doorway has a flat padma ceiling.

Kedaraeshwara Temple (1219 A.D), Halebidu, Belur Taluk , Hassan District.

This is another beautiful temple on the banks of the tank Dorasamudra. It is as far as five hundred meters (500mtrs) east of Basadi village. As per the tradition of the Hoysala architecture, the temple stands on a raised pedestal, and is girdled by bands of Elephants, Horses, lions, crocodiles, Swans and mythological stories, creepers and so on arranged in different tiers. In the front entrance there are the stone meshes of artistic work (Jalandra). On the other three sides there are idols of gods and demi gods.

The sculptural masterpieces of Vrshabharoodha (the ox rider) the Gajasuramardana (the slayer of the elephant demon), the Kaliyamardana (the slayer of the Kalinga Serpent) and others are exceptionally fine. Inside has navaranga containing beautiful round pillars and Bhuvaneshwari ceiling too. There are two sanctum which are both empty. Around the temple gardening has been done well. The Kalyani (Sacred pool of water) on the north - east corner has been completely covered up now.

Veera Ballala II and his younger Queen Abhinva Ketala Devi built the temple of Kedareshwara in 1319 A.D. This temple was praised by Ferguson two centuries ago as "Gem of Indian Architecture". He expressed that if this temple had been illustrated in any thing like completeness there was probably nothing in India which would have conveyed a better idea of what its architecture was capable of doing. Unfortunately portions of the temple collapsed more than 70 years ago and it was not possible to bring it to its original shape.

In the beginning, its Navaranga hall a smaller shrine on either side while over the main shrine raised a beautiful star-shaped vimana of smooth stone. The other walls, the tower, the doorway and the ceiling were more magnificently carved and the temple looked like a divine piece of jewellery than a building. The basement of the temple which stands on a high platform has a large number of sculptured friezes showing the marching of elephants, charging horse, lion, mythical animal, swans and finally designed creeper scrolls, they are all from stories of Ramayana,Mahabharatha and Bhagavad-Gita in a large sculptured band.

The upper part of the wall has nearly 180 beautifully carved images of various Gods and Goddesses. Those Gods and Goddesses stand under elegantly designed floral arches and some of them are finely shaped and finished. Inside the temple, we can see a few elegantly carved star-shaped pillars but the ceilings are of greater interest. Mostly they are some simple dances full of carvings. The doorway also shows a greatness of fine workmanship.

Betteshwara Temple (1209 A.D), Agraharabelguli, Channarayapatana Taluk, Hassan District.

Agraharabelguli is an enchanting hamlet situated about 25 kms from Channarayapattana in Hassan district. It houses the magnificent temple of Kesaveshwara, which is popularly known as Betteshwara. An inscription near the main entrance of this Hoysala structure, which was consecrated in 1209 AD, serves as a useful record for obtaining many important details about the temple. It makes a mention of Kesiraja, a commander under the Hoysala Emperor Ballala II, who is believed to have constructed the temple.

The main attraction here is the magnificent Keshava image 5 1/2 ft high, installed in the northern Garbhagriha, with four hands each adorned with conch, disc, club and lotus. Within the temple complex lie two spaciously decorated porches where a Nandimantapa is attached with a 4 ft tall Nandi. Another notable feature of the temple is the existence of a two-storied mahadwara of the Hoysala period.

There is also a reference to an agrahara called Kesavapura, which was built, at the same spot. The inscription also makes a mention of two tanks called Kesava Samudra and Lakshmi Samudra, which were excavated here.

The majestic temple has a starlet plan facing the east. Though the temple has plain exteriors, the interiors are highly decorative, with the makara thoranas of the sanctum and sukhanasi being highly ornamental. The navaranga, like in any other Hoysala temple, has nine different Bhuvaneshvari with floral decorations and intricate carvings. The Ashtadikpalakas in the central Bhuvaneshvari is noteworthy for its fine details. There are four lathe-turned pillars of the typical Hoysala style, which are much taller when compared to other pillars. Elegant sculptures of Saraswati, Bhairava, Ganapati and Sapatamatrikas adorn this temple, where the linga is placed in the main sanctorum.

The main attraction of the temple is, however, the magnificent five and half foot tall Kesava image installed in the northern sanctum. Standing on a two-and-a-half foot high pedestal, it is one of the best representations of Kesava in Hoysala style, with a restrained look on the face and the four hands adorned with shanka, chakra, gada and padma. The highly ornamental prabhavali depicts the ten manifestations of Vishnu, with the representations of Matsya and Kurma shown as fish and tortoise, respectively. Buddha is represented here as the ninth manifestation of Lord Vishnu. There are two porches in the temple, one facing east and the other facing south. The eastern porch is a spacious one with has an entrance leading to the south. There is a Nandimantapa attached to the porch, with a four feet tall bull.

Another notable feature of the temple is the existence of a two-storeyed Maha Dwara of the Hoysala period. This temple is a complete Hoysala structure, but for the mortar shikhara added in the later days.

Catteshwara Temple (1200 A.D), Catacatti Halli, Belur Taluk, Hassan District.

This village 4 km of northeast of Halebedu is a Trikootachala (a triplet of sanctums) of Catteshwara. One Cattaiah Perumale constructed this. The linga in this temple is known as Cattleshwara Linga. In a sanctuary situated in front of this 6 ft high idol of Sun God is found installed. In-between these two sanctums there are other sanctums containing the idols of Harihara. On the outer surface of the walls there are no special sculptural features. Yet the outlook is beautiful. The temple has become weak and is beginning to crack.

Hulikere Kalyani (1163 A.D), Hulikere, Arasikere Taluk Hassan District.


This can be taken as a milestone in the art of constructing Kalyanis or Pushkarinis. This beautiful sacred pool of water is situated in a small village called Hulikere, 5 Km from Halebeedu. In this pushkarini, constructed like a well under the ground level, there are stone stairs up to the mid height from the bottom on all the four sides. Above that level there are 12 sanctums with pinnacles (Shikhara's). Amidst them are also 14 sanctums without peaks are pinnacles. In the place of another possible sanctum there are the down taking steps.

The 12 sanctums of this Kalyani may be most probably representing the twelve Zodiac constellations. While the total number of sanctuaries may be standing for the 27 stellar constellations. So goes the surmise done by connoisseurs. In that case there existed a unique architectural design in this pushkarini representing the celestial sphere and its different constellations. Then this discovery marks a very new astounding fact of the Hoysala architecture. As this great pool is filled ¾ with water during the rainy season, its full beauty is discernible only during the summer season.

Hulikere is 5 kms from Halebidu on Halebidu – Hagare road. Hagare is on Hassan – Belur road. There is a signboard mentioning about the Kalyani which can be easily missed. Take a left here and after a km is the Kalyani.

Iswara Temple (1200 A.D), Arsikere, Arsikere Taluk, Hassan District.

Arasikere, a prosperous commercial hub of Karnataka on Bangalore-Shimoga road has its own place in history from time immemorial. It derives its name from a large water tank built in 11 century AD by Mahadevi, queen of Hoysala King Ereyanga. It was also the birthplace of Umadevi, queen of Ballala II.

With such royal connections, it is no wonder that the place has witnessed the glory of the Hoysala Empire. Several inscriptions recognize the place as Sarvagnapuri, Jayagonda Ballalapura, and Vira Vijaya Ballalapura etc. Famous medieval poets like Devaparya, Trivikrama Pandita, Santinatha among others have showered abundant praises about its place, people, tanks and lush green fields and farms. Art, wisdom, and wealth had brought this place the epithet of "Ayyavole of South" in line with the Aihole of the Chalukyas.

Though the inscriptions are full of details of innumerable temples built by sculptors like Ketoja of Sarasvati Ganadasi, Echoja of Puligere, Singoja today only a Siva temple stands in the center of the town as a testimony for the past pride and glory, exuberance and grandeur.

The Sivalaya is a rare architectural marvel in the entire line of Hoysala temples. It looks like three stars, in one line forming a unique constellation of their own. This Ekakoota temple with a single cell, antarala (vestibule), and navaranga is connected to an open mantapa through a porch. The vimana, navaranga and mantapa are all star shaped and two lateral entrances through the porch provide access to the temple and to the open mantapa.

The vimana is the cynosure of this splendiferous architectural achievement. The 16-pointed star shaped vimana is famous for its geometric combination of three different kinds of aedicules consisting of eight-pointed stambha, followed by another one rotated by 22.5 degrees, and the third one rotated by 45 degrees.

The vimana rests on a pedestal of several molded cornices, above that stand majestically sculptures of deities. In between two stambha aedicules, the harantara section has small sculptures of attendants, standing below a variety of decorative towers. It was a matter of pride for the medieval sculptors to exhibit their knowledge of silpasastra by decorating the exterior walls of the vimana with varied styles of temple like Nagara, Dravida and Bhumija in miniature forms and this Sivalaya too has several such decorations.

The tower above the main cell rises majestically in five talas capped by a beautiful padma above which a modem metal kalasa is fixed. The large bull sitting on the sukanasi, perhaps not an original one takes the place of the usual Hoysala crest of Sala killing the tiger.

The exterior walls of the navaranga too have the unusual feature of stambhas rotated by 45 degrees giving an impression of a semi star shape to this part of the temple too.

In all other Hoysala temples either staggered squares, or indented squares form the outer walls of the halls. Here in the center of the walls have small shrines forming a niche for the deities, and some of them show even 2-3 talas resting on one another. Other decorations follow the vimana described earlier.

The architects' obsession for stellate plan, perhaps, had found its best expression in the open mantapa, which is in the shape of a 16-pointed star. The inside of this open hall has eight round shaped exquisitely carved pillars to support the ceiling. The stone benches follow contour of the star supported by 24 small elephants.

The usual slanting railing provides the necessary backrest for the dignitaries who would watch pooja and other performances. While the large circular ceiling of the mantapa has five rows of carvings and sculptures, the Ashtadikpalas form part of the ceiling of the little open porch leading into navaranga.

The interior of the navaranga is none too less important in its exuberance with eight wall shrines. Nobody seems to know when these ornate niches in the navaranga were denuded of their sculptures.

Today only emptiness greets the visitor. The pillars and ceilings of this temple can only testify the ingenuity of the unknown sculptor who unlike other sculptors of his time has left nothing behind about himself except his expert craftsmanship.

The builder of this structure was Raejimayya Danda nayaka.

Chenna Kesava & Nageshwara Temple (1200 A.D), Mosale Hosahalli, Hassana Taluk, Hassan District.


Mosala or Mosale Hosahalli, a small hamlet lies amidst the fascinating natural scenery of Hassan taluk, holds two unique temples noted for its rich architectural value.

Mosale is situated at about 12 kms from Hassan town on the Hassan-Holenarasipura Road. Old stories say that in ancient days sage Jamadagni had a hermitage in this place and the village was earlier called as Musala, which means a pestle. The two temples are good examples of Hoysala Art. The antiquities of these temples are not yet known. However, from their architectural character and style, they may belong to 13th century AD.

Constructed on the lines of Hoysala architecture, the twin temples (Trikootachala type) dedicated to Nageshwara and Chenna Kesava respectively stand side-by-side, a few feet apart, is identical in design and workmanship.

The temples made of soapstone consist of a sanctum, a sukanasi, a navaranga and a porch (mukhamantapa) with a jagathi on either side. The sanctum of Chenna Kesava temple holds six-feted Chenna Kesava idol beautifully sculpted.

The prabhavali placed behind Chenna Kesava has the images of Matsya, Koorma, and Varaha etc representing incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Sridevi and Bhudevi placed on either side of Chenna Kesava are attractive. The doorway of sanctum has a Gajalakshmi. Rangamantapa has a lotus-shaped, artistically designed ceiling carved with the figures of Indra, Agni, Varuna, and Vaayu - the Astadikpalakas sitting on their vehicle.

The Nageshwara temple has a sanctum, a sukanasi, navaranga and a mantapa. One can see a beautifully sculpted Nandi idol here. The Nageshwara and Chenna Kesava temples have an elaborately carved with intricate geometrical patters and marvel designed ceilings.

As you move around the temple, the images of gods and goddesses are seen on the walls of the temple. The exquisitely carved figures of Saraswathi, Ugra-Narasimha, Kalingamardhana, Madanika, Apsara and Giridhara are neatly arranged on the outer walls of the temple attract the attention of tourists. Each temple has an elegant tower in front, which is carved a fine figure of sala with the tiger. The creeper torana, windows, panels and pillars are very attractive.

Bucheshwara Temple (1173 A.D), Koravangala, Hassana Taluk, Hassan District.

A small village about 12 kms north east of Hassan town, Koravangala's green and lively landscape would fascinate any visitor. Among its picturesque settings is a 12th century Shiva temple that stands as a masterpiece in Hoysala architecture. Originally known as Kora Mangala, the place was a flourishing Agrahara. Out of three Shiva temples in the place, two were dilapidated and the biggest of them called Bhooteshwar or Bucheshwara has survived to this day. Inscriptions around the temple site give us an idea of the temple's construction and the various grants it received. One of them specifies the name of Bhutanatha Raja or Buchi Raja, a Brahmin officer from the family that serves Hoysala king Narasimha I, as the man who constructed it.

The inscription also states consecration of the temple coincided with the coronation of King Ballala in 1173. Located at the center of the village, the temple has a large tank on the side called Mukasamudra. Though originally built over a large platform, today it stands almost equal to the ground.

Apart from a porch, the temple consists of a Mukhamantapa, a grand Navaranga, an open Sukhanasi and Garbhagriha. A small shrine for Surya is also connected with the main shrine.

The Mukhamantapa is supported by 32 pillars and adorned with thirteen ceilings carved with flat lotus flowers. It has two entrances facing north and south.

Made in different sizes, the pillars are shaped like bells and lathe, with finely carved beads all round. Pilasters carved elegantly with scrollwork support porches at the entrance. The south entrance has an imposing presence with soap stone elephants at the sides, and Dwarapalakas with female Chamaradharis on the jambs.

The Navaranga has neatly carved ceilings. The northern part of it has an enticing image of Krishna. On the lintel, above the entrance to Navaranga, a fine image of Gaja Lakshmi is also found. Idols of Ganapathi, Saraswathi and Saptha Matrikas adorn the corners of the Navaranga. On the right side is a figure of Dashina Murthy.

The Vimana above the Garbhagriha is made of soapstone. It consists of turrets in four tears with numerous sculptures. An exquisite Hoysala crest adorns the Vimana's facade. The sanctum sanctorum has a huge Shivalinga made of Blackstone. Every section of the temple has wonderful sculptures that mark this temple out from many others.

A row of large idols carved in single and double pilasters with turrets above them adorn the outer walls. Figures of Vishnu, Narasimha, Varaha, Venugopala, Natya Saraswathi, Kaliyamardana Krishna, etc can be found there. On the wall panel the carving of the Gajendramoksha sequence is absolute marvel.

Koravangala can be reached easily through the road cutting off from Hassan-Arasikere road. Several local buses and taxies are available from Hassan.

Kesava Temple (1163 A.D), Hullekere, Arasikere Taluk Hassan District.

Is a small village near Gandasi. It lies on the Arasikere - Tiptur road. On a mound on the backside of this village stands a Kesava temple of the Hoysala style. As it stands high on a mound a pedestal has not been provided. There are verandas on all the four sides as in the Somanathapura temple and there is a portico on the eastern side.

The temple is small in size but very handsome. Even though the sculptural features on the surfaces of the outer walls are not much, there are 12 forms of Vishnu on the southern side and the 12 remaining forms on the northern side. On the west there are the sculptural works of Dharani-Varaha. Over the head of the temple there is an attractive sikhara. In the sikhara the
special feature of sala's brave posture is incorporated as the main symbol of the Hoysalas. At the entrance door (main entrance) there are two mammoths and a huge inscription, in stone. Inside are the navaranga and a sanctum with the image of Sree Kesava.