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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

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.

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