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Evolution of Early Chalukyan Art – the Historic Meguti Temple, Aihole

Ravikirti Inscription - Meguti Temple, Aihole

Aihole, ancient Ayyavole, now in Bijapur district was a great centre of early Chalukyan architecture. In fact this was the cradle of Chalukyan temples. Literally more than one hundred early-Chalukyan temples were built here in the sixth and seventh centuries CE.

Meguti temple is one such temple at Aihole. This temple is built on a hillock and looks prominently even from a distance.

The Meguti Temple is also famous in Indian history and literature for the inscription written by the celebrated poet Ravikirti. This inscription mentions Kalidasa and Bharavi by name and for this reason highly useful for fixing the date of both these poets as the inscription is dated 634–35 CE. From this evidence, it becomes comprehensible that this temple was built in 634–35 CE. It also gives a graphic description of the eminent conquests of Chalukya Pulakesi II.

This is a Jain temple and stands on a basement of 4 ft and faces north. The temple consists of a garbhagriha, pradakshinapatha, antarala and a mandapa. The outer wall of the temple consists of two thick decorated moldings. The mandapa portion is open with square pillars above the moldings. Below the base moldings are carved chaitya type niches, amorous couples, musicians playing on musical instruments and wrestlers.

Evolution of Early Chalukyan Art - Meguti Temple, Aihole

The square garbhagriha has a sitting tirthankara under a tree. Some scholars recognize him as Mahaveera. He is flanked by two chauri bearers on each side. Above the garbhagriha is another garbhagriha, which can be entered from the sukhanasi. In general, Jain temples (basadi) contain two garbhagrihas one over the other. On the western sidewall of this, is a very beautiful female sculpture which may be either Ambika or Siddhayika or Sujata. On her sides are chamara bearers and below are the sculptures of monkey and a swan. The upper garbhagriha has no sikhara over it. Its walls are also unadorned except niches, which are now empty.

Though this temple is not highly attractive from the point of view of the embellishments and decorations, it is notable in understanding the evolution of early Chalukyan art under the background that this is a dated temple assignable to 634–35 CE. This is the earliest dated temple of the Chalukyas of Badami.

This is one of the early temples where the Chalukyan architects were making experiments in the construction of a perfect temple. From the famous Ravikirti’s inscription this temple is better known than others.

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Balestrand’s Dragon Style or Swiss Chalet Style of Architecture

Dragon Motif and the Viking Protective Function

Located on the Norway’s most spectacular Sognefjorden fjord, Balestrand is small town that was named by Henrik Wergeland (1808–45), the Norwegian a poet and playwright, in 1832. Bale was the name of a farm here; in Old Norse this meant a ‘Grass-covered Field sloping down to the Sea’ with strand meaning ‘seashore.’

The Dragon Motif in Switzerland Style of Architecture

Surrounded by fjords, mountains, waterfalls and breathtaking panoramas, Balestrand was the adopted home of numerous 19th-century national romantic painters, whose paintings and presence contributed to an explosion in tourism—a vestige that continues to this day. Balestrand is perfectly situated for rest and relaxation as well as for exploring the surrounding area on the optional excursions.

Red Villa in Balestrand with Dragon Style or Switzerland Style

Switzerland Style is the name given to a way of building with heads of dragons and hallways which we find in many villas from the 1890s along the fjord in Balestrand. The architecture has very little to do with Switzerland. The villas are a result of an effort in trying to make a national style of architecture in wooden houses.

Dragon Heads Rising from the Gables in Balestrand Architecture

This architecture was inspired by old store houses on pillars, stave churches, and so on. The architect Karl Norum has drawn several of the houses, and they are mainly precut in Trondheim. By means of a catalog, the owner could order heads of dragons and other decorative elements according to taste.

Red Dragon-head Villas in Balestrand Architecture

Any visitor to Balestrand will be charmed by its setting and its welcoming locals eager to share the artistic history of their Nordic ecstasy. The famous white gingerbread Kviknes Hotel at water’s edge, the red dragon-head villas on the lane skirting the fjord, and the yellow and brown stave-like St. Olaf’s Church not only signify the architecture of the national romantic period but lend a fairy-tale ambiance to this quietly rolling patch of landscape thrust between mountains and sea.

Heads of Dragons in in Balestrand Architecture

Kviknes Hotel has been owned by the same family since 1877. You can opt for a more modern stay in the 1960s wing, but we’d endorse a room in the original building, parts of which date from 1752. There’s an old world charm to them with spectacular views over the water.

Architecture Along Fjord in Balestrand

In 1891, Eilert Normann built a summer home on the Sognefjord. This a red villa in what is called “dragon style” or “Switzerland style” borrowing a motif from the Vikings, with dragon heads rising from the gables.

Balestrand Dragon Style or Switzerland Style of Architecture

Normann was the first artist to build a house in this particular style, which became the prototype for the ones that came later. These houses created the special atmosphere of the town and were of great importance to tourism.

Dragon-like Heads and Serpentine Bodies in Norwegian Architecture

In Switzerland Style, the dragon motif is revived in an architectural context. The dragon symbol so often employed by the Vikings “had a protective function” that made it the ideal adornment for a shelter.

Dragon Motif is Revived in an Architectural Context in Norway

Creatures with dragon-like heads and serpentine bodies can be traced in Norway as early as the Bronze Age. They were well developed by the time of the Vikings, who carved them on their long boats, wagons, sleds, tents and beds. Later the dragon appeared on drinking vessels, at the portals of churches and in other places.

Architecture in Wooden Houses in Norway

The dragon heads jutting out from the gable peaks were typical of stave churches, and were adopted as an important symbol during the national romantic period, as Norway sought to assert its cultural identity.

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Architectural Charm of the Chalukyan Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka

Architectural Charm of the Chalukyan Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka

Durga temple is the biggest and arguably the most attractive temple at Aihole. Though it is called Durga Temple, it has nothing to do with goddess Durga or Durgi. The name of the temple may have derived from the word ‘durga’ meaning fort. As one enters Aihole from the north, this temple is found near the fort and people should have named it Durga (fort) temple.

Durga Fort Temple in Aihole - Chalukyan Architecture The most important charm of this temple for which it is celebrated is the apsidal character of the posterior part of this architecture. Generally apsidal or gajapristha form is found in Buddhist monuments. Nevertheless, this temple being non-Buddhist and yet having an apsidal posterior part is an mystery, which has not been explained satisfactorily by art historians. Conceivably one of the architects experimented with this type of plan in the Hindu temple and it did not become popular and for this reason given up. There is a comparable apsidal temple at Mahakuta, very close to Aihole which was also an primitive Chalukyan art center.

The temple consists of an apsidal garbhagriha, sabhamandapa, a mandapa and a mukhamandapa in east-west axis and the temple opens to the east. The temple has a base of six different moldings. The temple is entered through two flights of steps to the south and north of the mandapa. On the basement are square pillars all the way through the construction including the apsidal garbhagriha.

Hindu Temples Architecture during Chalukyas - Durga Temple, Aihole

The rows of pillars contains two pradakshinapathas, which is an exceptional architectural feature. The longish sabhamandapa has been divided into three portions by its pillars. The large number of pillars in this temple have been utilized by the artists to carve a large number puranic stories and self-supporting sculptures. These sculptures are of high order and add refinement and charisma to this temple.

Shiva Dancing Statue Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka On the pillars of the mukhamandapa are found passionate couples in various suggestive poses. On another pillar is found Shiva dancing on apasmara. The inner wall of the mukhamandapa has Ramayana panel, Ardhanarisvara and Ugranarasimha killing Hiranyakashipu. The front entrance of the mandapa is well carved with dvarapalas, Yamuna and Ganga, and further sculptures.

Unfortunately, there are no inscriptions to date this temple. Derived from stylistic evidence, various dates have been assigned to this temple. While many scholars consider 600 C.E. as the date of this temple, some others assign it to seventh century C.E.

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The Unique Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

Gaudara Gudi near to the Ladkhan temple at Aihole is another interesting monument of Karnataka architecture. It is not known as to why it is called by that name (Gauda = Village headman).

A few years ago, the Archaeological Survey of India conducted excavations here and this has shown that Gaudara Gudi is former than the Ladkhan temple. As the precise date of the Ladkhan temple is also not known, the exact date of Gaudara Gudi cannot be fixed. On stylistic grounds, it has been surmised that this temple should have been built in the early part of the seventh century CE.

Gaudara Gudi is a fascinating and irreplaceable structure. It has a basement of four and half feet in height with thick moldings. This temple consists of a garbhagriha, a pradakshinapatha and a mandapa. Sixteen square shaped pillars with abacus hold the roof. The roof is in two tiers one above the other and is made of sloping stones. The lower eave-like molding has some decorations. At the western side of the roof are found low sikhara-like part, which is made of two tiers, the outer edges of which have decorative moldings.

Description of Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

The temple has a flight of steps in the middle of the mandapa. The columned mandapa has on its base a series of pumakumbhas. Behind them are kakshasanas. The pillars are heavy and thick. The beams inside are well carved and have bass-relief sculptures of floral patterns, animals, and human beings. Some of them have chaitya windows.

The garbhagriha is small and it has very beautiful carvings on its doorway. Its outer walls have three koshthas that once perhaps contained three sculptures which are now missing. The side and upper jambs of this doorway were intricately carved with floral design. The lintel has in the middle a flying Garuda in human form. He is flanked on either side by pilasters. What is more important is the sculpture of Lakshmi above the garuda. The ornamented and seated Lakshmi holds lotus flowers in her two hands. On both sides are elephants performing abhisheka to her.

Mandapa of Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

Below in the pond are two more elephants. Such Lakshmi motifs are found in Badami also. Founded on this sculpture of Lakshmi, it is supposed that this temple was dedicated to Bhagavati or Lakshmi. So therefore, this may be considered as one of the earliest temples of Lakshmi in Karnataka. From all these characters, this temple occupies an important place at Aihole.

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The Distinctive Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Ladkhan temple is a significant temple at Aihole because of the method of its construction which marks an important stage in the evolution of the Chalukyan style of architecture.

The temple is called Ladkhan Temple because a gentleman named Ladkhan lived in the temple and consequently the local populace began to call it so. If truth be told, early India scholars like Percy Brown and others considered this temple to be the earliest in Aihole and assigned a date 450 CE. On the contrary, modern researches have revealed that it is not that early and scholars designate it to seventh century CE.

Numerous sculptures of amorous couples in Ladkhan Temple of Aihole It has a distinctive plan and does not give the mark of a temple at all in the first instance. In reality, it looks like a mandapa with rows of pillars. The temple consists of a small garbhagriha attached to the rear wall of a square sabhamandapa and a rectangular mukhamandapa/em>. Hence, there is no pradakshinapatha. The interior of the sabhamandapa is divided into two parallel enclosures with the help of a row of pillars.

The garbhagriha has a Sivalinga and therefore it might have been a Siva temple initially. The rectangular mandapa in the front is smaller in size and provides an entrance. As there is a good image of Surya, some scholars consider it as a temple devoted to Sun. The garbhagriha entryway has Garuda in human form on the doorjamb.

The temple stands on a cellar with moldings and the uppermost molding is very thick, over which rises the wall of the temple. A similar molding is found at the roof level. But what is more interesting is the roof itself. The posterior portion has a square in two tiers with a slight slope in all the four directions. On them are placed stone rafters in reproduction of wooden roof of the earlier buildings. Similar is the roof of the front mandapa, which is rectangular. On the roof of the sabhamandapa is an upper garbhagriha opening to the east with pillars and pilasters without any sikhara. These architectural features have made this temple unique.

Ladkhan Temple - Earliest Temple in Aihole

There are a large number of sculptures on the pillars and the koshthas. Numerous sculptures of amorous couples and the jalandhras are very eye-catching. The roof of the mandapa has a naga holding a lotus. The upper garbhagriha wall has niches in which are found sculptures of Vishnu, Surya, and Siva. Bearing in mind all the architectural features the Ladkhan temple is considered to represent an important stage in the development of early Chalukyan art.

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Beauty and Majesty of the Adil Shahi Architecture of the Jumma Masjid in Bijapur

Beauty and Majesty of the Adil Shahi Architecture of the Jumma Masjid in Bijapur

Jumma Masjid at Bijapur has the characteristic of expressing the early characters of the Adil Shahi architecture. In fact, some features of the earlier Bahamani style can also be seen in this monument. Thus it is a good example for the beginning of the Adil Shahi style which culminated in other monuments as it Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Rauza.

The Jumma Masjid mosque was built by Ali Adil Shah I in about 1570 AD. It is the largest and most beautiful mosque in Bijapur with series of arches. In fact, the arches are the most important character of this building. It seems it was never completed because it still lacks two minars, which were intended to flank the two sides of the eastern entrance. Though unfinished in this respect, it presents an elegant look.

The mosque is a huge structure with a rectangle of 450 feet long and 225 feet wide. The walls of this building offer a vast area of simple and plain masonry. However, the monotony of the simplicity is relieved by exterior decorations.

The uniqueness of this mosque is the construction of two rows of arches one above the other. The builder has selected the lower rows for ornamentation. The mosque contains a courtyard which is a square of 155 feet each side. This has a row of seven arches on each side and over them projects a wide and deep cornice on brackets.

Two rows of arches in Jumma Masjid of Bijapur The interior of the sanctuary is equally elegant and impressive. It consists of a large quadrangle, which measures 208 feet in length and 107 feet in width. This is divided into five aisles with the help of arches.

The innermost part is a square nave, each side measuring 76 ft. It has twelve arches, three on each side. These arches intersect above and produce an octagonal cornice that supports the base of the dome. The shape of the dome is pleasing with small isles and small arches all round and a decorated parapet above. Thus, it provides a decorative base for the dome. The mihrab consists of elaborate mural design in relief with bright colors.

Ali Adil Shah I on his return from his victorious and memorable expedition against Ramaraya of Vijayanagara and his treasury overflowing with spoils of war, naturally thought of creating a place of worship (mosque).

The Sultan summoned architects and artisans from Persia and elsewhere and hence the structure has become a building of great elegance, beauty, and majesty.

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Exquisite Architectural Temples and Heritage of Pattadakal, Karnataka

Chalukyan Architects Made Experiments with Various Styles of Architecture

Types of Temple Architecture in Pattadakal Pattadakal was a city bubbling with political and artistic activities throughout the time of the Western Chalukyas of Badami more than eleven centuries ago. Situated on the left bank of the river Malaprabha and contained by hillocks of red sandstone amidst scenic splendor, this location became sacrosanct and it was the sincere choice of the kings to carry out the numerous coronation (patta) ceremonies and hence it came to be called Pattadakal. It is also called Kisuvolalu and Sanskritised as Raktapura.

Group of Dravida and Nagara Temples Pattadakal

Along with Aihole and Badami, Pattadakal became a cradle of early Chalukyan temples. It is generally believed that the Chalukyan architects made experiments with various styles of architecture even before the silpashastras standardized them. Hence, scholars are fond of calling these places as workshops of architecture.

In point of fact, Pattadakal represents the final or culminating phase of the early Chalukyan style of architecture. There are no less than twelve worthy temples of the Chalukyan period at Pattadakal.

World Heritage Site -- Group of Temples, Pattadakal

Exquisite Temples and Get a Glimpse of Our Heritage Both Dravida and Nagara type of temples were built at Pattadakal during the reign of the early Chalukyan kings. Sangamesvara, Virupaksha, Mallikarjuna and Jaina temples belong to the Dravidian technique, whereas Galaganatha, Papanatha, Kasi Visvesvara, Kadasiddesvara and Jambulinga temples belong to Nagara or north Indian style.

From the sequential standpoint, the temple building- pursuit as known from the dated specimens started here from the beginning of the seventh century and sustained up until the middle of the ninth century CE.

Thus, three hundred years and more saw a splendid epoch in the evolution of temple architecture in Karnataka in general and Pattadakal in particular.

Early Chalukyan Temples in Pattadakal

Workshops of Temple Architecture in Pattadakal There were master architects like Revadi Ovajja, Anivarita Gunda, supported by sculptors like Changamma, Pullappan, Baladeva, et cetera. It also had the guidance of dance masters like Achalan and devadasis like Chalabbe. More than all, the early Chalukya kings, their queens like Lokamahadevi and Trailokyamahadevi and others, officials and ministers not only helped in building some of these Pattadakal temples but also gave generous grants of land and money for the fitting maintenance as well as the rituals in these temples.

It is but natural that hundreds of visitors both from India and abroad visit these exquisite temples and get a glimpse of our heritage. Hence, UNESCO has declared Pattadakal as a World Heritage site, a great honor indeed to Karnataka.

Silpashastra in Chalukyan Temples in Pattadakal

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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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