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Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Poster

Art Nouveau is an artistic style characterized by free form, sinuous line, and organic motifs.

The Salon de l’Art Nouveau, opened in 1895 by art dealer Siegfried (aka Samuel) Bing (1838–1905) in Paris, was the first showcase for the “new” art style sweeping both Europe and the United States from 1890 onward. Before Art Nouveau, the late nineteenth century had been characterized by a balancing act between the strict order and historicism of the Neoclassicists and the emotional and visual chaos of the Romantics.

Looking to the natural world but moving beyond it for free-flowing, organic form allowed the practitioners of the “new art” to create graceful works that built on traditional styles but also transformed them. Some critics trace the visual style back to Celtic manuscript illumination with its interlacing knot patterns, others to the Rococo love of the curvilinear and extreme elaboration. Precursors include the works of English Aesthetic movement illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1862–98), Arts and Crafts designer William Morris (1834–96), and ukiyo-e Japanese printmakers, such as Katsushika Hokusai (c. 1760–1849).

In his book Pioneers of Modem Design (1936), Nikolaus Pevsner (1902–83) wrote, “… the curve undulating, flowing, and interplaying with others … .” He suggests that Art Nouveau was the transitional style to the modern era. It certainly incorporated many of the philosophical and societal trends of the period from 1890 to 1910. Whether it was a reflection of artists wanting to break free of societal norms or a quest for aesthetic purity removed from moral judgments, the explorations of Art Nouveau touched everything from graphic design to furniture and began the modern era, foreshadowing later modern trends such as abstraction and Surrealism.

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The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The architectural styles developed by the Sultans of the Deccan plateau that are appreciated in Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga, and Hyderabad, are motivated from Persian and Turkish structures.

Ibrahim Adil Shah II ruled the kingdom of Bijapur from 1580 to 1627. He is reputed to be one of the most compassionate and multicultural rulers in history and was a generous patron of the arts.

The sultan of Bijapur was a descendant of the Ottoman dynasty of Istanbul, Turkey. The sultan of Golconda was a Turkman prince who had taken refuge in India. The sultans were adherents of the Shia sect of Islam and were close allies of the Safavid rulers of Iran. A distinctive culture thus developed in the pluralistic community of the Deccan plateau. In India, the Deccan plateau became the prominent center of Arabic literature and scholarship.

Ibrahim Rauza is another valuable and most stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architecture. Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the sultans of this dynasty, developed and organized his own final resting place.

Arched Verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber of of Ibrahim Rauza, BijapurIbrahim Rauza consists of two core constructions: a tomb and a mosque with several smaller structures. All these buildings are built within a square enclosure with an attractive garden in the front. Both the structures are built on a platform that is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide, around a walled enclosure.

At the eastern end is the tomb and at the western end is the mosque. In between is an open yard in which are found an decorative tank and a fountain. Though the size and purpose of these two structures are different, the architect has productively attempted to produce an equilibrium between them in volume and style. Nevertheless, the tomb seems to be a grander structure than the mosque. The tomb consists of a principal chamber within an arched verandah and both are scaled by a dome. Tall minar-shaped turrets are built at four corners of the building. However, the most beautiful and crowning part is the bulbous dome at the upper story.

Carved ceiling of the Mosque of Ibrahim Rauza in Bijapur

The interior has an arched verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber. They are all abundantly adorned with intricate patterns. The chamber room is a small square of 18 feet each side; but it is elegant because of the introduction of a charmingly carved ceiling at the correct height. Thus, the Ibrahim Rauza has a well-executed plan of a building in its entirety, harmonizing architecture with ornamentation.

Ibrahim Rauza of Bijapur: stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architectureThe mosque forming the other part of the Ibrahim Rauza relates harmoniously in the mass of its proportion and architectural treatment as well as width of frontage. Though it seems slightly smaller, the comparisons overlook in terms of minars at four directions and a slightly smaller elongated dome. This congruence is the real uniqueness of the Ibrahim Rauza. Between the two and in the center is a beautiful entrance with two minars at each corners. Thus, the whole composition is highly appealing.

Scholars have felt that if this were to be built of marble, the Ibrahim Rauza would have been a close challenger to the glory of the Taj Mahal.

Through architectural wonders such as the Ibrahim Rauza, the Adil Shahis immortalized themselves through this structure which is at once a combination of majesty and beauty.

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History and Architecture of the Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

Achyutaraya (1530–42 A.D.) temple complex is an imposing and magnificent cluster of temples in Hampi. However, it is called Achyutaraya Temple, an inscription of 1534 A.D. refers to this as Tiruvengalanatha or Venkatesha temple, and King Achyutaraya built it in 1539 A.D.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, pradakshinapatha, sabhamandapa, mahasabhamandapa, kalyanamandapa, Devi shrine etc. All these are enclosed in two prakaras one within the other.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The outer prakara has main gates at northern and western directions, whereas the inner prakara has the gateways at north, east, and west. All these gateways had gopuras, which are in ruined condition now.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The square garbhagriha, which originally had an image of Lord Venkatesha, is now empty. Its doorway is ornamented and has Vaishnava dvarapalas and Gajalakshmi at the lintel. Above the garbhagriha is a Dravida type sikhara. The square sabhamandapa has four pillars in the middle set on an elevated floor in the centre.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The mahasabhamandapa stands on thirty pillars set in five rows. The pillars exhibit typical Vijayanagara features. To the south-west is the Devi shrine and its garbhagriha is empty now. Its sabhamandapa has a sculpture, which has been identified as that of King Achyutaraya, the builder of this temple.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The sculptures of this temple exhibit good workmanship. The bass-reliefs of combination of bull and elephant arrest our attention. The pillars in general are neatly executed with elegantly carved sculptures of gods and goddesses.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

To the west is a large and rectangular kalyanamandapa or marriage pavilion. It has over one hundred pillars with sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, and Vishnu etc.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

In front of this complex are low-pillared mandapas, which had bazaars, or markets where merchants used to stock in heaps pearls and other precious stones and sell them. Many foreign travelers have graphically described this pearl bazaar the type of which never existed anywhere in the world except Hampi. That was the glory of Vijayanagara.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

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Luxurious Living for the Adil Shah Royal Family in Bijapur’s Sath Manzil

Sath Manzil palace built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II

Sath Manzil as the name itself signifies is a seven storied structure and in this case a palace. It was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the greatest rulers of the Adil Shahi dynasty in 1583 CE. Actually, Ibrahim II is better known for his massive creation of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur.

Sath Manzil stands near Gagan Mahal to the southwest of the latter, and enclosing a vast quadrangle known as granary. Though named Sath Manzil, today it is a structure of five stories only with a height of about 97 ft. There is a narrow staircase which connected the fifth story to the sixth which does not exist now. In the same manner, there should have been a still smaller connection between sixth and seventh and this justifies the name Sath Manzil. Ibrahim was not satisfied by the previously built Gagan Mahal that was both a palace and a durbar hall. Hence, Ibrahim II planned exclusively a palace in keeping with his status. Naturally seven storied building did not exist in Bijapur and hence Ibrahim thought of building a seven storied palace.

Sath Manzil Bijapur - 1860 Steel Engraving - Print

Sath Manzil for royal family of the Adil Shahi dynastySath Manzil palace was far more extensive than it is today. Therefore, what we see today is only a partial palace and the remaining parts have been destroyed. The Chini Mahal or Faroukh Mahal, which is close by, formed a part of the original palace. A passage along the terrace above the range of rooms on the west side of the quadrangle connected the Chini Mahal. The building was specially erected for pleasure and royal bath as can be understood from the frequent occurrence of ornamental baths and cisterns in various rooms. They are all connected by the water pipes laid from story to story through masonry. Thus, this lavish distribution of water pipes and bathing cisterns is a unique feature of this building.

Jal Mandir or Water pavilion in BijapurWater cisterns are found on all the stories of this building. The walls of these bathrooms were painted with human figures and others decorative motifs. The walls were also gilded beautifully and luxuriously. Another noteworthy feature of this beautiful building is the extensive use of wood as in the case of pillars, window frames, window screens, and brackets. There is another building called Jal Mandir or Water pavilion, which originally formed a part of this grand palace. It also had floorings decorated with colored tiles of different designs. Thus, Sath Manzil is famous for luxurious living of the royal family of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Such buildings are rare.

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Splendors of Sculptures and Architecture of Hazara Rama Temple, Hampi

Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi

Hazara Rama temple is one of the most elegant temples in Hampi. Its construction was started in the year 1513 A.D., under the orders of Krishnadevaraya and was completed before the end of his reign.

Horizontal friezes Hampi Hazara Rama Temple.jpg From Bangalore, it was extensive journey of 353 kilometers to Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagara empire, our first stop, along a uncomfortable narrow tarred road. We reached Hampi at about 6:30 p.m. and parked under a tree whose branches canopied throughout the road. Close by was the Hazara Rama (a thousand Ramas) temple which was splendid in the depending dusk. It is a quadrilateral temple complex set within well-tended lawns, destined for the secluded worship of the Vijayanagar kings. The air was cool and gleaming twilight rays moderated the sharp lines of the granite edifice. We admired the fine statuettes on the outer walls encircling the complex exulting when we recognized the figures.

Hampi's Hazara Rama Temple: Sculpture of Kalki holding in his four hands sankha, chakra, sword, and shield and riding a horse Actually, it is a royal chapel or a private temple for the use of the royalty. The temple opening to the east has a flat roofed dvaramandapa with symmetrical pillars. Passing through the doorway one enters into a square rangamandapa, which has blackstone tall pillars. These pillars are very attractive and contain sculptures of gods and goddesses, like Ganesha, Mahishamardini, Hanuman and different forms of Vishnu.

The sculpture of Kalki holding in his four hands sankha, chakra, sword, and shield and riding a horse is especially noteworthy. The rangamandapa has entrances to the south and north and the western entrance leads to the sanctum. One of these doors leads to the open enclosure from which the garbhagriha and its beautiful vimana become visible.

The outer wall of the prakara and Horizontal Friezes are great attraction at Hampi Hazara Rama Temple

The outer wall of the prakara also built of stone is a great attraction in this temple as it is divided into five horizontal friezes, each containing from the bottom upwards rows of elephants, horses, and Krishnalila stories in addition to some gods like Subramanya, Ganesha etc. Particularly interesting are the stories relating to Rishyasringa, Putrakameshti yaga, Sita svayamvara scene in which Sivardhanush is being carried.

To the north of the main garbhagriha is the shrine for the goddess. Though it is small in dimensions, it is very attractive from the point of view of ornamentation. The antarala of this shrine has on its eastern wall bas-relief of God Narasimha. On its doorway is found a Vaishnava saint giving something to a king. Some scholars have identified this as Vyasaraya and the king as Krishnadevaraya. At the northeast is the Kalyana mandapa built in 1521 A.D.

Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi This is the only temple situated in the core of the royal zone between the residential and ceremonial enclosures. Dedicated to Vishnu in his aspect as Lord Rama, this 15th century temple, is the finest example of a compact Dravida Vimana type of temple. In plan it has a sanctum, vestibule, pillared dance hall, with an entrance porch to the North and South. The Eastern porch is extended into an elegant pillared pavilion. There is a shrine for the goddess to the North which is also elegantly sculpted.

The temple is known for its sculpted friezes depicting the Ramayana, in three tiers, running all around the main shrine, and the narrative sculptures of the Lava—Kusha story on the Devi shrine. It is because of this that the temple was called the Hazara Rama. In addition, the temple is also known for the narrative sculptures of the Bhagavata, especially of Bala Krishna, and the sculpted polished pillars of the Mahamantapa (main hall). It was undoubtedly, the temple of the royal patronage.

Thus, the Hazara Rama temple at Hampi is a special temple built within the palace enclosure and on this account, it may be construed that this was built exclusively for the royalty for their personal use and contains good decorations and ornamentations done by the expert sculptors and architects of the Vijayanagara Empire.

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Architectural Grandeur of the Historic Varahaswamy Temple in Mysore Palace Complex

Sri Varahaswamy Temple, Mysore Palace Grounds

When sightseers visit Mysore, the capital of Wadiyar dynasty, the most-frequented places include the Chamundi Hill, Palaces, Krishna Raja Sagara, Kukkarahali Lake, Jaganmohana Art Gallery, Brindavan Gardens, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore Zoo, specially for the Dasara festival. Though the Wadiyars were well known for their religiosity, it is unfortunate that most of the temples built by them in the premises of Amba Vilas Palace are either overlooked by the natives or ignored by the tourists who get scarce knowledge about them.

The temples in and near the Mysore Palace are:

  • Shweta Varahaswamy Temple
  • Ambujavalli Mahalakshmi Temple
  • Gayatri Temple
  • Trinesvaraswamy Temple
  • Kodi Kala Bhairava Temple
  • Kodi Someswara Temple
  • Bhuvaneshwari Temple
  • Prasanna Krishnaswamy Temple
  • Khille Venkataramana Swamy Temple
  • Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple
  • Kote Anjaneyaswamy & Kote Ganapathy Temples
  • Sri Panduranga Vittala Temple
  • Vara Prasadi Ganapathy Temple
  • Kote Maramma Temple

Consecutive Mysore Maharajas built some of the temples in the Palace during the 14th and 15th centuries. The purpose of building these beautiful temples by the Maharajas was to reestablish the welfare and affluence of the royal family as well as their subjects.

If prudently scrutinized, one can find a temple at all directions. Most of the temples in the Palace are built in such a way that it presents a perfect symmetrical structure in the Palace complex. Even today, pujas in these temples are performed very faithfully. Most tourists are not aware of these temples’ presence as they are secluded and the attention is only on the Mysore Palace.

The famous Mysore Palace has a vast enclosure surrounded by a fort. Within this fort were built some temples, mostly for the personal use of the royalty. One such temple is Sri Varahaswamy temple.

Actually, the entire temple is a Hoysala structure as if built by the Hoysalas at this place. However, it is mentioned that this temple was built by Dewan Poornaiah with the architectural and sculptural slabs that were available at a Hoysala temple in Shimoga. Thus, it is a reset Hoysala temple during the period of Dewan Poornaiah when Krishnaraja Wadeyar III was the Mysore king. From this point of view, this is an excellent example of reconstructing a temple at a far off place when the technology of this type had not been developed as it is today. The temple has a mahadvara and a huge stucco gopura at the entrance.

Hoysala Architecture in Sri Varahaswamy Temple of Mysore Palace

The temple has a basement of horizontal moldings of different types. In fact this temple was built on this basement. There are three horizontal moldings at the bottom over which are found the wall with pilasters and niches. In the middle of the wall runs round the entire temple another eve-like molding over which the wall continues. At the roof level is a decorative eave and additional moldings. The sikhara is of a typical Hoysala type with various tiers.

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, navaranga and a mandapa of the later period. The garbhagriha doorway is well executed with minute decorations. The navaranga has well carved pillars also. The garbhagriha has a fine stone image of Shweta Varahaswamy. This image was originally at a place called Srimushna in South Arcot district of Tamilnadu. The Mysore king Chikkadevaraja Wadeyar (1673–1704) brought this image from Tamilnadu and consecrated it at a temple in Srirangapatna.

Garbhagriha has a fine stone image of Shweta Varahaswamy in Sri Varahaswamy Temple, Mysore When this temple was destroyed during the period of Tipu Sultan, this sculpture was shifted to Mysore and consecrated here in 1809. The utsavamurti (image meant for procession) of the temple was also a gift of king Chikkadevaraja Wadeyar. There are also images of Manvalamuni and Vedantadesika donated by Krishnaraja Wadeyar III. The inner wall of the prakara has a painting of the coronation of Sri Rama done in 1865. The navaranga also has some paintings of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Thus, the temple is one of the interesting temples within the precincts of the Mysore palace.

Every year, hundreds of devotees participate in the Bramhotsava of Lord Shwethavarahaswamy located in the Palace premises with religious fervour and gaiety. Hundreds of devotees witnessed the auspicious event as the decorated chariot of Lord Shwetha Varahaswamy, went round the Palace premises. More than 15 vedic scholars led by head priest of the temple chant slokas praising the mightiness of Lord Varahaswamy.

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The Heritage Building of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

History of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

History of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

Oriental Research Institute is a prominent establishment having a fertile and precious compendium of Sanskrit manuscripts. It is the depository of over 50,000 manuscripts. The Institution was founded in 1891 by the then Government of the Maharaja of Mysore with the purpose of collecting, editing, printing and preserving old Sanskrit and Kannada manuscripts. It was commenced in the type of a library at the Maharaja’s College, one of the respected colleges in the then Mysore State, and afterwards, when the current building was built to mark the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, it was moved to the present-day building. The building is located behind the Maharaja’s College, near the University secretarial headquarters, the Crawford Hall.

In the start, the library was under the directorial management of the Department of Education. The Department of Archaeology was also contained in the same building. Later on, it was detached from the Department of Education and the Department of Archaeology was also transferred from there, making it an absolute depository of old manuscripts collected from different parts of India.

Due to the earnest efforts of great scholars like Mr. Kasturi Rangachar, Prof. D.L. Narasimhachar and Prof. T.N.Shrikantayya (Tee.Nam.Shri.), perpetual overseeing work was done and the edited works were published in two series – Bibliotheca Sanskrit and Bibliotheca Kannada. It accomplished worldwide fame when Prof. R.Shama Sastry, celebrated scholar, traced from among the collection the monumental work, ‘Artha Shastra’ of Kautilya and published it. Since then, the Institute has brought out the abundant material available from among its collection in a number of prestigious publications.

When the Mysore University was started in 1916, the library was placed under its management to empower research and study of the manuscripts by Sanskrit and Kannada students and scholars of the University. A supervision committee with the Vice-Chancellor as Chairman and reputed academics was constituted. By 1918, the library was well arranged with an office and four sections:

  1. manuscript collection
  2. publication
  3. printed books, and
  4. research.

In 1943, the name of the library was changed to Oriental Research Institute. In 1954, the post of the Director was created. To preserve and safeguard the palm leaf and paper manuscripts, microfilm facility was installed in 1954. When the Institute of Kannada Studies was established in the Mysore University, the collection of Kannada manuscripts was shifted from the Oriental Research Institute to the Institute, located in Manasa Gangotri campus, in 1966.

In addition to publishing the ancient manuscripts by comprehensive research and study by scholars involved for the purpose, the Institute has also brought out a descriptive directory of Sanskrit manuscripts.

The Heritage Building of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

The Heritage Building of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

The beautiful building housing the famous Oriental Research Institute attached to the Mysore University is located amidst heritage buildings such as Athara Kacheri (Deputy Commissioner’s Office), Crawford Hall and Maharaja’s and Yuvaraja’s Colleges in Mysore. Actually, it was built in 1891 in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and hence it was popularly known as Victoria Jubilee Institute.

The building is a rare specimen of European classical style of architecture combining Gothic, Corinthian, and Romanesque elements. The building faces north and is built on a podium, which gives the advantage of height to the structure. Flights of steps at east and west lead to the center of the structure, which is a spacious hall.

The most attractive part of this hall is the dome, which is of Mansard or curb type roof having slope on all the four sides. The topmost portion has a square flat roof. On either side are colonnades with series of double Corinthian pillars with north-south sloping roof. On either side of the colonnades are two rectangular halls with four Corinthian pillars supporting low triangular triforia. These triforia is ornamental with cut moldings.

Architecture of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

In keeping with the contour of the triforia, the roof of this rectangular hall is in east-west orientation. At the ground level of this hall is an arch-shaped balcony, which enhances the grace of the structure. Thus in one small building three different types of roofs are accommodated.

Another notable feature of this building is the addition of Hoysala sculptures brought here from a ruined Hoysala temple. In the same way, many stone inscriptions also have been brought and kept in the garden opposite the building along with some Hoysala sculptures.

At present, this building houses the Oriental Research Institute attached to the Mysore University. This is a vast repository of ancient palm leaf manuscripts and is a research center publishing ancient works. In fact this Institute is famous internationally because of the discovery of the manuscript of Kautilya’s Arthasastra by the great scholar R. Shamashastry. Thus, it is famous not only for its architecture but also for the palm leaf manuscripts. This institute is visited by hundreds of research scholars interested in Indology, not only from India but also from many other countries.

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Brick Jaina Basadi in Talakad, Karnataka

Brick Jaina Basadi in Talakad, Karanataka

Talakad on the banks of the river Cauvery was famous as the capital of the early Western Gangas and continued as an important cultural centre till the times of the Wadeyars. Now it is famous for its amazing sand dunes and the panchalinga darshana. Archaeological excavations were conducted here and they revealed many brick structures of antiquity and the present Jaina temple is one such structure excavated here.

The Western Gangas were great patrons of Saivism and Jainism as evidenced by many inscriptions and structures. They are known to have built a Vijaya Jinalaya at Talavanapura or Talakad itself and perhaps the excavated Jaina temple may be the same as the one referred to in the inscription. Unfortunately only the foundation of this temple could be traced but not the superstructure. The entire temple was built of well-burnt bricks.

The brick temple consisted of three garbhagrihas in a row horizontally, an antarala and a mukhamandapa with a provision for pradakshinapatha. All these structures are enclosed within a prakara wall also of bricks. The main garbhagriha is square (3.25 mts) with two rectangular sanctums on each side (3.25 x 1.80 mts). In front of these sanctums is a small oblong porch (2.8 x 11.00 mts). All the three garbhagrihas have separate doorways in the front opening to the common porch.

Tirthankara Parsvanatha with five hooded serpent and an umbrella and Padmavati Yakshi in Talakad The separate mukhamandapa in front of the sanctums is square with thick foundation walls. The entire structure was built over a basement or a plinth consisting of various types of mouldings. Perhaps some pillars were used at different points. Perhaps these and other wooden pillars supported wooden framework of the roof above. Thus the brick construction was strong as well as elegant.

Very close to the garbhagriha was found a stone image of Tirthankara Parsvanatha. It is in high relief. He is standing with a five hooded serpent and an umbrella above. There is a sculpture of Padmavati Yakshi at the left holding an umbrella over the serpent. This is a rare sculpture. This was the image which adorned the main garbhagriha of this temple. Thus this brick temple provides evidence for Ganga patronage to Jainism at Talakad itself.

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The Majestic Gopuram and other Architectural Highlights of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna

Architectural Highlights of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna

Srirangapatna, very near to Mysore city, is on the banks of the river Kaveri and is thought of as one of the holy places in Karnataka. It formed a part of Ganga, Hoysala and Vijayanagara kingdoms and afterward it became famous as the capital of Tipu Sultan. However, it is famous as a sacred place because of the river Kaveri and the Sri Ranganathasvami temple.

Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangapatna is one of the larger Dravidian temples in Karnataka. Customarily famous as the Gautama Kshetra, it is said that a Ganga feudatory by name Tirumalayya built this temple in 894 CE, and named this place as Srirangapura.

Ranganathaswamy: Vishnu reclining on the huge coils of Adishesha with seven-hooded head. Temple in Srirangapatna.

The garbhagriha has an immense image of Vishnu lounging on the huge coils of Adishesha with seven-hooded head. The God is shown as sustaining his head on his right hand while his left hand is stretched over his body. He wears a tall crown and other ornaments. Near his legs are images of Kaveri or Lakshmi and sage Gautama. This is one of the most beautiful reclining images of Vishnu. The sukhanasi has well designed ceilings with lotus in the center. The navaranga is a fine structure and contains round bell-shaped and eight-pointed star shaped pillars. On two sides of the navaranga doorway are two gigantic dwarapalas.

In front of the navaranga is a large pillared courtyard with an opening near the dhvajastambha. Most of the pillars in this courtyard are of Hoysala workmanship, of different designs such as square shaped, star shaped, cylinder shaped etc. It is believed that later some of the Hoysala pillars have been used here to restructure the pillared courtyard and perhaps the navaranga also. There are some minor shrines housing Manavalamuni and Srivaishnava Alwars. On the south-west is a shrine of Lakshmi as Ranganayaki, the consort of Ranganatha, a sculpture of the Vijayanagara period. Some of the pillars have 24 forms of Vishnu with labels.

Garuda is the mount (vahana) of the Lord Vishnu, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangapatna

To the east is the pillared large mukhamandapa of late Vijayanagara period. All these are enclosed within the vast prakara wall, which has an striking mahadvara with a stucco gopura of five tiers with kalashas. Thus, the Ranganathaswamy temple is a temple multiplex built in various periods, and is famous all over Karnataka for the fine reclining Ranganathaswamy image.

History of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna The oldest inscription regarding the temple dates back to 894 AD. It is believed that Tirumalaya, a secondary king of the Ganga dynasty, built the shrine and named the town Srirangapura. Supplements to the temple were made during the successive centuries by Hoysala kings, Vijayanagara rulers and Wodeyars of Mysore.

Ranganathaswamy Temple is built in Dravidian style and faces east. A seventy foot tall gopura envelopes the gateway. The main murti worshipped in the temple is that of Sri Ranganathaswamy in a reclining posture on the coils of seven-hooded serpent Ananta. Goddess Lakshmi, who is known as Ranganayaki, sits near his feet. There are two huge dwarapalaka sculptures guarding the doorway to the assembly hall, which has neatly cut granite pillars typical of Hoysala architecture. There are abundant secondary shrines in the temple which houses murtis of Sri Rama, Krishna, Narasimha, Gopalakrishna, Sudarshana and Lord Vithoba.

Architectural Highlights of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Dravidian style

The significant festivals in the temple are Lakhsha Deepotsava or Makara Sankranthi Brahmotsava in Pushya month (January), Ratha Saptami Brahmotsava in Magh month, Magh Purnima, Sriranga Jayanti in Vaishakh month, and Uyyalotsava in Ashada month.

Sri Ranganatha pilgrimage sites along the river Kaveri The temple attracts a large number of visitors all through the year. It is one of the five important pilgrimage sites along the river Kaveri for devotees of Ranganatha. These five sacred sites are together known as Pancharanga Kshetrams in Southern India. The other Pancharanga Kshetrams are the famous Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Srirangam), Parimala Perumal Temple, Sarangapani Temple, and Sri Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple.

The other attractions in Srirangapatna consist of the Gumbaz / Mausoleum of Tipu Sultan, Daria Daulat (The palace of Tipu Sultan,) Water Gate, Garrison Cemetery, Scott’s Bungalow, Lord Harris’s House, Tipu Sultan death memorial, and Sangama (the amalgamation of the three holy streams that create the island of Srirangapatna.) The Srirangapatna fort is a big monument. The total length is 5 km and renovation needs huge funds and large number of skilled workers. Restoration work on the fort has been pending for a long time, but has not been undertaken due to lack of money. Not only the fort, other major monuments from the period such as gun houses, the rocket launch site, and the remains of Tipu’s palace in Srirangapatna are in bad shape too. Prominently, the remains of Tipu’s palace in front of Sri Ranganathaswamy temple needs to be preserved and popularized among tourists. The sites have a huge tourism potential if preserved and presented well.

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Beauty and Majesty of Gagan Mahal in Bijapur, Karnataka

Gagan Mahal, Bijapur

Bijapur in the Deccan plateau of south-western India was the capital of a Muslim kingdom, founded by the Yadava dynasty in the 12th century. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Bahmani Muslims in the 14th century. Its era of independent magnificence was from 1489 to 1686 when the Adil Shahi sultans made it their capital and were in charge for Islamic architecture of exceptional quality. In 1686, the Mogul emperor Aurangzeb defeated Bijapur, but was powerless to exercise firm control and the region soon fell under Maratha sway, from which it elapsed into East India Company hands in the early 19th century.

Ali Adil Shah I ascended the throne and aligned his forces with other Muslim kings of Golconda, Ahmednagar and Bidar, and jointly, they brought down the Vijayanagara empire. With the loot gained, he instigated ambitious projects. He built the Gagan Mahal, the Ibrahim Rauza (his own tomb), Chand Bawdi (a large well), and the Jami Masjid.

The Shah was supreme power but in real practice, the Jagirdars, who acted as his counsellors or advisers, regulated his sovereignty. If the ruler possessed personality and keen intelligence, he could maneuver the chiefs by playing off one against the other, but if he was a minor, or did not fully devote himself to the affairs of the state, they dominated him. With the growth of the territories of the state after 1565 and the resultant increase in the Shah’s prestige and powers, he began to conduct the business of the state with the help of ministers who were placed in charge of various departments of the administration. These ministers held office during his pleasure only. However, whenever the Shah’s authority was weak, they assumed larger importance.

Spandrels of the Gagan Mahal arches in Bijapur, decorated with fish-like and other creatures Gagan Mahal, so called because of its tallness almost touching the sky, was built during the Adil Shahi Sultan Ali Adil Shah I who ruled from 1550 AD., to 1580 AD. In keeping with his victories and wealth that he amassed, he planned to make his capital Bijapur a beautiful and imposing city with many elegant buildings. Gagan Mahal is one such building.

Gagan Mahal was built in 1561 AD., at the order of the Sultan Ali Adil Shah as his palace as also for his durbar. Thus, it served the two fold purposes of Sultani residence and royal court hall. The greatness of the building lies in the fact that it is a congruent combination of both these purposes. The private residential area was on the first floor just above the royal assembly hall. Two massive wooden pillars supported its wooden floor. It had wooden projecting balconies from where the family members of the Sultan, particularly the ladies could watch the spectacle in front, be it royal assembly or sports or any other royal event, including watching the Sultan seated on the throne. Staircases were provided on the back wall for going up or coming down. The staircases also led the inmates to the living rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and other parts of the residence without being watched by outsiders. Thus, it provided safety, refuge, and privacy to the royal family.

The description of a city in Persian language is one of its fascinating characteristics. For poets and writers, the subject matter gives the occasion to admix poetic imagination with historical realities as well as the actual existing features of the buildings, such as, gardens and water bodies. A beautiful description of Devgiri or Daulatabad in the works of Amir Khusrau is illustrative of the point. There are plentiful descriptions of the beautiful city of Hyderabad, Bijapur, and Aurangabad in the south, Kashmir, Lahore, Kangra, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Lucknow, Narnol, Hissar and others in the north. Notwithstanding the abundance of material on cities in Persian literature in various libraries and museums, neither the works are well known nor were they used to reconstruct the cityscape.

Beauty and majesty of the Gagan Mahal in Bijapur

The beauty and majesty of the Gagan Mahal structure is the vast central arch, which has a span of over sixty feet. On its both sides were two smaller spanned arches thus giving a rare spectacle of three arches in a row of superhuman magnitudes. This was indispensable because it faced the Durbar hall and the Sultan and his ministers had to have full view of the happenings in front such as sports, wrestling, music etc. Thus, it served a convenient purpose and added majesty to the building. There is a great deal of woodwork in Gagan Mahal. The complete ceiling of the main hall was of wood being supported by heavy beams, wooden window frames and projecting balconies and eaves and pillars. Most of them were painted and gilded to give a royal effect. This palace had its significant periods also. When Mughal emperor Aurangazeb defeated the last Adil Shahi ruler Sikandar, Aurangazeb sat on the throne at this palace and Sikandar was brought before Aurangazeb in silver chains as a captive.

Regrettably, most of the Gagan Mahal is in ruins today except the three main majestic arches symbolizing the strength and glory of the Adil Shahis.

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