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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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Architecture of the Famous Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud, Mysore

Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud, Mysore

Nanjangud located 25 kilometers from Mysore Nanjangud is a famous sacred town about 25 kilometers from Mysore. It is famous all over Karnataka because of the Srikanteshwara or Nanjundeshwara temple and people throng the porticos of this temple daily in large numbers. Fairytale has it that the sage Gautama stayed at Nanjangud and offered puja to the Shiva Linga, known as Srikanteshwara or Nanjundeshwara. The town attained holiness because of the “sangam” where the Gundlu and the Kapila join. The spot is called Parusharama Kshetra where the sage Parushurama is said to have been recompensed for the sin of decapitating his mother.

Nanjangud, also called as “Dakshina Kashi” (Southern Kashi)

Enclosed within a gigantic prakara its Dravidian stucco gopura is impressive. The small square garbhagriha with its cylindrical pillars in the antarala were built in the Ganga period of about ninth century. The mandapa in front of the original sanctum has lathe turned Hoysala pillars of 13th century. The dancing Ganapati is also a Hoysala sculpture. To the left of the main shrine is a shrine of Narayana and behind is a shrine for Chandikesvara. To the northwest of this is the Parvati shrine with a pillared sabhamandapa. The Parvati and the Narayana shrines as the gopura are the creations of the Vijayanagara period. To the right of the main shrine is a small shrine of Subramanya seated on the back of a peacock with seven-hooded Naga. The main shrine has a stucco sikhara of the Vijayanagara period. Mysore Wadeyars also made additions to the temple. The nine storied tall gopura of the Dravidian type was built by queen Devajammanni, queen of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III in 1849. Opening to the courtyard is a shrine for Nandi that is about 6 feet in height, donated by Dalavoy Vikramaraya. Another attraction is the huge stone bull which is 8ft in height. This was established by Dalavayi Vikramaraya in 1644. In its front is the Tulabhara mantapa. The ritual of weighing the devotees against any commodity is done here. Commonly people balance themselves against rice, jaggery, sugar etc.

The Maharajas of Mysore used to be illustrious devotees of Nanjundeshwara. Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was a celebrated believer and used to visit the temple on Mondays. In actual fact the Srikantadatta Wadiyar seems to be a favor from this God. The sanctified Sivalinga which is more than a thousand year old continues to fascinate devotees from far and wide.

Devotees of Nanjundeshwara, Srikanteshwara Temple

In addition to the main deity, there are many shrines for goddess Parvathi, Ganesha, Nataraja, Sharada, Subramanya, Navagraha etc. The twelve-monthly fair (Jatre) takes place during March–April which attracts thousands of devotees. Half-a-century ago, there used to be a dining hall called Shivakuta, opposite the temple kitchen. The devotees used to be served prasada here. Many old women used to take prasada here daily. Some of them had taken a vow not to use a plate or a leaf but to eat on the floor. This Shivakuta is not there today; today we have a luxurious dining hall.

Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud, Mysore The vast prakara has decorated niches that house 122 images in all including Dikpalas, Virabhadra, Dakshinamurti, Tandavesvara and Shiva in various aspects, Ganapati, Saptamatrika etc. The linga in the main garbhagriha is about three feet in height, to which worship is offered. The Parvati image is about five feet in height and it is a beautiful sculpture of the early medieval period. Thus, the whole temple has a history of over thousand years starting from the tenth century. Krishnaraja Wadeyar III was a great patron of this temple and his statue with his queens is found in this temple. Traditionally this place is connected with Gautama and Parashurama and is on the banks of the sacred river Kapila. Even Hydar Ali and Tipu Sultan are said to have made some grants to this temple. According to popular belief, Tipu’s elephant got afflicted by an eye-ailment and no doctor (hakim) was able to heal it. Somebody suggested that he should pray to Sri Nanjundeshvara which he did. A wonder happened and the elephant’s eye was cured and impressed by this, Tipu called the god Hakim (doctor) Nanjunda. He gifted an emerald green Linga to the deity.

Architectural Highlights of Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud

Architectural Highlights of Srikanteshwara Temple

A persistent idea in Indian philosophical, theological, and mythological systems is that of a cosmos expressed through a succession of emanations. Diverse traditions of dogma and practice share this vision of the advancement from the one to the many. Temple designs repeatedly exemplify the same kind of pattern. Within the diverse traditions of Indian temple architecture, an binding format is noticeable both in the formal structure of individual temple designs, which express a dynamic sequence of emergence and growth, and in the way in which temple forms develop right through the development of such edifying—often regional—traditions.

Another exclusive feature of this temple is the large number of Saiva sculptures made of stone and metal. On the left side of the prakara are found the stone sculptures of puratanas (Saiva saints) and of Siva himself in different forms and actions, such as Chandrasekhara, Andhakasura, Dakshinamurti etc. These were prepared during the period of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III. Thus it is a fine gallery of saiva sculptures. Another attraction is the stone sculpture of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III with his four wives. He gifted two wooden chariots (1819), silver horse, elephant, Nandi etc.

Brick and mortar gopura of Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud

The Nanjundeshwara temple is one of the vastest in Karnataka. It is a temple complex of various periods. No less than four periods of its composition can be traced. It is a Dravida type structure. It is 385 ft long and 160 ft wide. The small sanctum (garbha-griha) was the earliest and built during the period of the Gangas or the Cholas (about 11th Century AD). The anterior mantapa in which the devotees sit was a later addition during the Hoysala period of the 13th Century AD. The next stage of construction took place during the Vijayanagara period. During this period, brick and mortar sikhara was constructed over the shrine. In fact, there is an inscription of Krishnadevaraya in this temple. The next stage of development took place during the period of Mysore Wadiyars, Dalavayis (Chiefs) of Kalale and Dewan Purnaiah. Actually most of the new constructions took place during the period of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III.

Most prominently, the brick and mortar gopura was built in 1845. This massive gopura is 120 ft high and is built in seven tiers. At the top of the gopura are seven gold-plated Kalasas, each about 10ft in height. Another attraction is the huge stone bull which is 8ft in height. This was established by Dalavayi Vikramaraya in 1644. In its front is the Tulabhara mantapa. The ritual of weighing the devotees against any commodity is done here. Generally people weigh themselves against rice, jaggery, sugar etc.

Rathotsava Chariot Procession

Rathotsava Chariot Procession of Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud

A distinctive feature of this temple is that it has devotees from both Vaishnava and Srivaishnava sects. Srikanteshwara is a family deity of thousands of families in Karnataka and these families visit this temple regularly either or before performing major functions at their homes. The annual rathotsava or the chariot procession at Nanjanagud is a renowned religious ritual that attracts thousands of people from far and near. People turn out in droves for the yearly Panchamaha Rathothsava. The central Car Street was occupied by believers and pilgrims from Mysore and the nearby regions converge at the temple confines to get a peek of the recitation event which climaxed with the drawing of five chariots devoted to various deities. Rathothsava is preceded by an extravagant set of rituals at the Srikanteshwara temple with consecrated hymns accompanied by the conventional ensemble of musical instruments. After the rituals and special prayers, the first of the five chariots called the ‘Ganapathy Ratha’ is drawn by the devotees and this was followed by the ‘Chandikeshwara Ratha’, the ‘Gautama Ratha’, ‘Subramanya Ratha,’ and lastly the ‘Parvathi Ratha’. The cynosure of all eyes was the ‘Gautama Ratha’ which practically equals the height of the main tower of the temple and is supposed to be at least 90 feet high. Government authorities and law enforcement make exceptional preparations to transfer the chariots and to ensure that the chariots did not veer off the road anyway stationing cranes and other heavy machinery to cope with emergencies.

Dip in the Kapila river at Srikanteshwara Temple, Nanjangud

On Mahashivarathri festival, devotees show up on Nanjangud at daybreak to take a dip in the Kapila river before having a darshan of Lord Srikanteshwara. Special prayers began with the abhisheka and chanting of the Rudra Chamakam that continue right through the day. Chants of “Om Nama Shivaya” reverberated throughout the day. Rudra Chamakam, which is drawn from the Yajur Veda and is a description of Lord Shiva in his myriad forms, is considered significant during Mahashivarathri.

Mahashivarathri festival devotees in Nanjangud Thus, Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud is one of the holiest of Shaiva pilgrim centers in Karnataka. Large Hindu temples are chiefly centers of learning, repositories of artistic and cultural relics, and sites for ceremonial endeavors.

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Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore

Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore

Lalitha Mahal Palace is one of the most gorgeous and splendid heritage buildings in Mysore, perhaps in Karnataka itself, next only to the Maharaja’s palaces at Mysore and Bangalore.

Mysore being a princely state under the British, many distinguished foreign visitors used to visit Mysore for numerous purposes. They used to stay in Mysore palace itself. But this was not suitable for the stay of foreign dignitaries for obvious reasons. Hence the then ruling king Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV thought of constructing a building wholly for the foreign guests, where they would be more at home. Naturally he thought of a European classical building rather than an Indian palace.

The Maharaja immediately commissioned a famous architect by name E.W Fritchley. He selected a vast site near the foot of the Chamundi Hill, far away from the noise and pollution of the city. The magnificent building was completed in 1931 under the close guidance of the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV at a cost of about thirteen lakhs of rupees.

The building is an imposing two-storied magnificent structure. The projecting square porch at the ground floor and slightly projecting first floor porch with a trefoil pattern at the roof level are very pleasing. Both the floors have twin Ionic columns, eight on either side of the entrance which give a pleasing effect to the edifice. Two tiered domes are placed on all the four sides with one each at the middle. However, the most striking dome is the three tiered one which is just above the circular entrance hall. Actually it is at a great height and dominates the entire area including the elevation. One lakh bulbs were used to illuminate the palace on weekends and explained about the facilities for foreign tourists at the palace.

Magnificent Interiors with woodwork, stone work, or stucco at the Lalitha Mahal Palace Mysore

Though planned by a foreigner, the craftsmen were all local who had attained great mastery in the art of construction—be it woodwork, stone work, or stucco. This is evident from the richly-laid ornamental motifs on walls and ceilings, wall panels, window shutters and door Jambs. The imported tiles and some fixtures add a touch of royalty to the building. The balustrade staircase just facing the entrance branches off to right and left to reach the first floor is a pretty piece of Italian marble. Thus from top to bottom and from one end to another is an epitome of royalty. Even international guests are amazed at this dream-like edifice. Today it is a prestigious hotel of the government of India and attracts discerning tourists from abroad as well as within the country. Even important distinguished persons of the government also stay here, and enjoy the touch of royalty of the bygone ages of Mysore.

Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel is owned by the State of Karnataka and has been leased out to India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC.) The Lease Agreement is valid till 2023. There is a particular clause in the agreement which clearly states that “in case of a possible disinvestment, the hotel shall be given back to the State at the book value.” Hence the Management of ITDC have two choices: Manage the property till 2023 and then hand it over to the State Tourism Department or hand it over to the State right away at the book value. In case they feel they can’t run the hotel, the State of Karnataka is free to do whatever they want thereafter.

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Magnificent Architecture of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka

Muhammad Adil Shah's architectural treasures in the city of Bijapur in northern Karnataka

Celebrated for its Muhammad Adil Shah’s architectural treasures, the city of Bijapur, in northern Karnataka has in recent years gained celebrity, both in the popular domain as a destination for travel and tourism, and in the intellectual domain as an object of academic study.

Even though art-historical studies of Bijapur have tended to focus attention upon the monuments and urban layout developed during the Muhammad Adil Shah’s period, the city was already evidenced by a cosmopolitan population and architectural activity before Muhammad Adil Shah transformed it during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to function as their capital. Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza in Bijapur continue to draw hundreds of visitors every day.

There have been no reductions in the number of Indian tourists visiting the two sites, there has been a decrease of between 50 and 100 in the number of arrivals from abroad compared to last year. In order to attract more tourists, the Archaeological Survey of India has taken steps to upgrade Bara Kaman, Gagan Mahal, Chota Gumbaz and the Citadel Wall.

Magnificent Architecture of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka

Gol Gumbaz, literally meaning round dome is a tomb of Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-57 CE) planned by himself even before his death. Thus, this monument is one of the largest and most outstanding single buildings in the entire country. This mausoleum is one of the finest structural triumphs of the Indian builders because of its astonishing size. It is a square building with each side measuring 205 ft and its height is 200 feet. The building consists of four thick walls topped by a dome, the outside diameter of which is 144 ft. The interior of the hall measures 135 ft across and it is 178 ft high. Thus, it has over eighteen thousand square feet. It is said that this is bigger than the Parthenon of Greece, which is one of the enormous and magnificent structures. Thus by the sheer size of various parts, Gol Gumbaz reigns supreme in the world of architecture.

Architecture is the construct of life and tradition and has to be understood as such. All plastic art forms are symbiotic on each other for their fullest expression, with the performing and literary arts playing supplementary and complementary roles in the overall composition. India, home of an ancient culture, has long been noted for its civilizational forays, which encompassed varied scientific ideas and technical skills. Its geographical position in the ancient world enabled it to become an internationally important center for integrating and transmitting new scientific ideas and techniques.

engineering wonder and Geometric precision of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka

However, this is not all. Gol Gumbaz is considered an engineering wonder by the skillful composition of its various parts, the harmonious combination of arches, cornices, foliated parapet and ultimately in the interior to support the vast dome. It is so ingeniously planned to convert the square hall into a circular one by making it into eight angles over which the entire load of the dome rests. This dome is the biggest in Asia and the second biggest in the world. The dome itself is a plain plastered vault with six small openings and is 10 ft in thickness. The interior surface of the dome is placed twelve feet from the inner edge of the circle to distribute and transmit its huge weight downwards on to the four walls. The conversion of a square hall while going up into an octagon and then into a circle finally is a great engineering accomplishment. One can climb to the top through the six-sided enclosed staircases with small domes on all the four sides, which add a grace to the structure. Geometric precision was achieved for the various elements of the dome, including the cast joints, the curved tubular sections and the fixings, through meticulous workmanship.

The domed, centrally-planned design adopted to mark the site of Jesus’ death and resurrection was adopted as well for Christian martyria and baptisteries. However, both the architectural form and the symbolical associations of these Christian buildings were themselves obligated to earlier, non-Christian traditions. With regard to construction, both Christians and Muslims shared a common legacy of building materials, techniques, and tools passed on from the Greco-Roman, Persian, and even the earlier Etruscan worlds. The geometric references of both Christian and Islamic sacred buildings were not merely rooted in mystical thought with no scientific basis. Rather, such mystical thought was familiarly bound with pre-modern cosmology.

Corbelled dome is the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur and Whispering Gallery

The most awe-inspiring example of a corbelled dome is the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur. It is generally overlooked that the third largest dome in the world is built upon the megalithic principle. The distinct bricks set in the horizontal courses are embedded in so much of mortar that the dome becomes a mass of mortar to which the bricks have been added. It is believed in some quarters, for structural reasons, that the masonry of the Gol Gumbaz does serve only to transmit vertical stresses to the masonry. However, in all probability for the architect here, the traditional experience of mortar in dome was to safeguard stability for such a massive and unique structural heroic of this kind. If the cast dome of the Gol Gumbaz deserves to be called a corbelled because of its horizontally set bricks, most of the vaulting at Bijapur is pure cast forms that are not liable to collapse even when most of the underpinning has been destroyed. Many unique shapes of ceilings were possible because of the pioneering use of mortar, which is very stable.

Another greatness about this tomb is that it is a whispering gallery where even the mild sound is multiplied hundred fold and reverberates. That is the reason why this is famous all over the world as a whispering gallery. Within the center of the building and below the ground level is the real tomb of its creator Muhammad Adil Shah and his relatives. Nevertheless, what are seen on the ground now are the imitation tombs. Thus, Muhammad Adil Shah gave to the world a great and marvelous structure exhibiting the engineering skill of medieval India, which has won admiration even from modem engineers.

The rich culture, heritage, and architecture of the north Karnataka region are something to be cherished. The region is not only known for its rich cultural heritage but also for great talents in arts and literature.

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Kadamba Temple, Gudnapura in Karnataka

Kadamba Temple, Gudnapura in Karnataka

Gudnapura in North Kanara district is just five kms from the famous ancient city of Banavasi which was the capital of the early Kadambas. Gudnapura suddenly became famous because of the discovery of an inscription of Kadamba Ravivarman. The inscription has been inscribed in box-headed characters of Brahmi of the sixth century AD. This inscription furnishes some very important evidences regarding Gudnapura which perhaps was the area where a large number of royal buildings existed. The inscription states that king Ravivarma built a temple for Manmatha and set up this pillar with this inscription. While mentioning the boundaries of the temple it states that to the right of the temple was a palace of the king while to the left there were two dancing halls (nrityashala) and in front was harem (antahpura). Taking the clue from these details, the Archaeological Survey of India conducted excavations at the site and this resulted in bringing to light two brick structures, with various antiquities.

Kadamba Temple of Gudnapura in Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka

One of the brick structures has been identified as a temple. It consisted of a garbhagriha and a longish mandapa and both are enclosed within a prakara. This provides inner circumbulatory passage. The mandapa had wooden pillars. The mandapa had two entrances. A large number of flat but apsidal small tiles have been discovered in the excavation and perhaps they were used for the ground and roof. Some of these tiles have small holes. Large number of iron nails have been found in the excavation and hence it is suggested that these roof tiles which had holes were fixed to wooden beam with the help of these nails. The bricks used here are of high quality and some of them measure 38 by 19 by 17 cms.

In front of the temple is another structure made of laterite bricks and it may belong to a slightly later period. Unfortunately there is no clue to know the god which had been consecrated in the garbhagriha of this temple.

It is of interest to note that the Gudnapur inscription mentions a temple for Manmatha and some scholars equate Manmatha with Bahubali. Perhaps this temple can be identified as the one mentioned in the Gudnapur record. A copper casket with a lid in the form of a tortoise was found in the excavation. Thus the excavation has yielded very interesting data regarding the temple architecture of the early period at Gudnapura, close to ancient Banavasi of the early Kadamba period.

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