The Magnificent Bhoganandishwara Temple Complex in Nandi (near Bangalore)

Sculptures at Bhoganandishwara Temple Complex

Bhoganandishwara temple in Kolar district is one of the finest Dravidian temples in Karnataka.

Actually it is not a single temple but a complex built over a period of more than six centuries beginning from eighth century A.D. According to inscriptions this temple was built by Ratnavali, the queen of Bana king Vidyadhara. As Bana Vidyadhara ruled during the last quarter of the eighth century A.D., the earliest part of this temple should have been built by that time. There are many Chola inscriptions of eleventh century A.D. in this temple.

The temple consists of a huge prakara of 320 feet long and 250 feet broad. The original temple consisted of two garbhagrihas, two sukhanasis, navaranga and two nandimandapas. The northern garbhagriha had an image of Bhoganandishwara while the southern garbhagriha was dedicated to god Arunachaleshwara. Sukhanasi and navaranga have finely carved jalandhras with sculptural embellishments. The nandi mandapa has Chola inscriptions and perhaps this was built during the Chola period.

Bhoganandishwara Temple Complex in Nandi

The four pillars in the navaranga are carved with minute sculptures on all the sides. The ceiling over these pillars is huge and has Siva and Parvati along with eight dikpalas. In front of the navaranga entrance is the nandi mandapa with doorways on east, north and south. In front is a kalyanamandapa built of black stone. There are ceilings of ashtadikpalas. The beams have fine sculptures of Siva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, etc. The pillars are also carved with gods and goddesses like Hanuman, Vishnu, Lingodbhava, Krishna, Surya, Tandavesvara, Brahma, Gopalakrishna etc. The patalankana in front of the mukhamandapa is surrounded by an open verandah which stands on an ornamental plinth.

The outer walls of the early shrines have decorative plinths with pilasters, turrets and jalandhras with some sculptures here and there. In the prakara are found two shrines of a later period which have Prasanna Parvati and Apitakuchamba aspects of Devi as consorts of Bhoganandishwara and Arunachalesvara. To the north outside the encloser is a hall known as Vasantha mandapa which has sixteen fine pillars. Opposite to it is another mandapa with four pillars known as Tulabhara mandapa. To the north of this is a tank called Sringitirtha. Thus the entire temple complex is vast and attracts a large number of pilgrims from all over Karnataka.

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