Melukote in Mandya district of Karnataka is a sacred Srivaishnava centre where the great saint Sri Ramanujacharya spent his early years after coming to Karnataka from the Chola country.
If a general view of Melukote is taken, two landmarks become most conspicuous by their location and they are the Narasimha hill and the Kalyani or the pushkarini. The beautiful holy water tank or the pushkarini is just at the western foot of the Narasimha hill. As a matter of fact, it is the main source of water supply to the entire town even today.
The pushkarini is considered sacred because of the belief that the great saint Sri Ramanujacharya used to take bath here when he was living at this place. Hence, a ritual dip in this pushkarini is considered sacred. Because of this sacred nature, a large number of minor shrines and mandapas were built around this tank in recent years, for the performance of various temple rituals and festivals.
The pond itself is almost square each side measuring 300 ft. On all the four sides are neatly built stone steps leading to the water of the kalyani. Of all the mandapas and shrines that are built on the border of the pushkarini, the prominent place goes to the Bhuvaneshwari mandapa. It is an elegant octagonal structure built over eight tall and slender pillars. This is an open pavilion with a broad and crisp eave running all-round. Over this is a parapet with decorations and niches and it is surmounted by a stucco tower in the centre. This was constructed at the order of Krishnaraja Wadeyar III in the early part of the 19th century. Though small, it is very elegant and has added a rare charm to the pushkarini.
Ahobila matha on the northwestern corner has an image of Lakshminarasimha installed in the 19th century. To the east are two more mandapas by the side of a sacred pipal tree. To the western side is what is called Pancha Bhagavatha mandapa. On the northern side is a small cell wherein is placed Adishesha. Then there is another mandapa with over fifty pillars. Then there are four more mandapas where the kalyanotsava of the deity Narayana takes place.
Then there is a Nagavalli mandapa and a Varaha mandapa. By its side is the Bindu Madhava temple with a five feet image of the god holding sankha, chakra, gada and padma. The image seems to be of the Hoysala period.
The other structures are Parakala matha, Venkataramana temple, Kanchi matha and Rama temple. Thus, the pushkarini is not only beautiful but also has many mandapas where many rituals take place.
The Kolaramma temple in the town of Kolar is not only popular but also one of the big temples of that district.
Kolar is an ancient town known by various names such as Kolahalapura, Kuvalala, Kolala and finally Kolara. This name Kolahalapura is connected with puranic hero Parashurama. According to another tradition a cowherd boy by name Kola got a large amount of money by means of a treasure trove and goddess Renukadevi advised him to build a temple in the name of Kolaramma and he devotedly obeyed the goddess and built this temple. Apart from these traditions, this was the original capital of the Gangas before they moved to Talakad. Later it became a part of the Chola kingdom and after the defeat of the Cholas by the Hoysalas, it came under the Hoysala rulers. Finally, it became a part of the Vijayanagara empire.
The Kolaramma temple is a Chola temple as evidenced by an inscription of 1033 CE. According to this inscription, the Kolaramma temple was built at the order of Rajendra Chola. His general Uttama Cholabrahmamarayan built this temple in stone, which was formerly a brick structure.
The Kolaramma Temple is built in the Dravidian or South Indian style; the pyramidal superstructure terminations in a curved roof over the sanctuary and the exterior pilastered walls with niches. The doorway is richly-carved with scrollwork and volutes encompassing mythological characters.
The ground plan of the temple is slightly unusual. It is a Dravidian temple. Its mahadvara has an imposing appearance and has well carved doorways. This is of the Vijayanagara period. In the centre of the prakara is the main garbhagriha. It has the images of Saptamatrikas (seven mothers) and an image of Kolaramma which actually is the image of Mahishamardini. She has eight hands holding different weapons and a demon under her feet. The fierce attitude of the sitting goddess is worth mentioning.
In another room, there are replicas of these images in mortar. It is believed that these mortar images were in worship originally before the stone ones came into use.
The goddess in the sanctuary was Mahishasuramardini, known as Kolaramma. This had replaced the original image of Kolarammma. The image has been replaced again by Saptamatrika figures.
There is another stone image of six feet in height called Kapalabhairava, locally referred to as Mukanancharamma. Some people believe that this was the original image of Kolaramma. However, this image is of great interest, as devotees believe that she will relieve them from the bite of the scorpion. Even today, people visit this temple for this purpose.
The temple is a center of Shakti veneration, a sect of ancient origins of the divine creative force of the Mother Goddess. Once a year people go to this temple and offer silver scorpion to this deity to ward off scorpion bite in future. The erstwhile maharajas of Mysore frequently visited this temple to get the blessings of Kolaramma. Thus, this ancient temple is interesting and important in the town of Kolar.
The Chennakeshava temple at Belur is perhaps the best specimen of Hoysala architecture and sculpture. The place was known as Velapura or Velapuri.
Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana defeated the Cholas at Talakad and to commemorate this great event built many temples in 1117 CE, of which Chennakeshava temple at Belur is the most important and beautiful. The entire temple is built of soapstone and stands on a platform also of star shape of 32 angles.
The outer wall of the temple from bottom onwards has tiers of minute sculptures consisting of rows of elephants, lion faces, creepers, ornamental frieze, dancers in small niches, female sculptures in between pillars, and the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Above the friezes are wall sculptures of gods and goddesses in various poses under finely carved canopies. These sculptures are so varied and finely ornamented, it looks like an open air museum.
The ornamented windows called jalandhras which were added at a later date allow sufficient light and air to enter the interior of the temple. Over the sculptures and on the level of the roof are bracket figures known as silabalikas or madanikai sculptures. They represent beautiful damsels in various moods representing feminine charm and grace and perhaps these are the best creations of the Hoysala sculptors of the Belur temple. Vishnuvardhana’s queen Shantaladevi is associated with these sculptures.
The interior of the temple consisting of a garbhagriha, sukhanasi, navaranga and a mandapa takes us to a new world of sculptures with lathe turned pillars of various designs. One of the pillars known as Narasimha pillar could be turned on its axis. There are many delicately carved ceilings and they represent the best specimens of that type. The doorway of the garbhagriha is another specimen of delicate carvings unsurpassed for intricate designs.
Inside the garbhagriha is the sculpture of Chennakeshava or Vijayanarayana of about nine feet in height holding sankha, chakra, gada and padma in his hands, with a karanda makuta (crown) at the head. Bhudevi and Sridevi are standing at the bottom. Famous sculptors like Dasoja, his son Chavana, Nagoja, and others made this beautiful temple, the pride of Karnataka.
Besides this temple, the prakara has many more temples like Kappe Chennigaraya temple, Devi temple, and others with a mahadvara and a gopura.
Hemakuta, literally meaning gold hillock, is one of the most charming hillocks in Hampi. It is dotted by over fifty structures of different types—including temples, mandapas, galleries, and gateways of various dimensions.
Though Hampi itself is characterized as a garden of boulders, the Hemakuta hill takes a major share in this compliment. Every boulder here tells a story of mythological and folk nature and takes the visitor to an era of religion and romance. Shiva and Parvati become closer to the visitor at this hill and it gives a rare experience of unalloyed joy.
Actually, it is a fortified area, which has three entrances in east, north, and south. Originally, some of the temples of this hill were taken to be Jain basadis but now it has been proved beyond doubt that they are Shaiva temples. In fact all the temples of this area are Shaivite ones. Another point of interest is some of these temples were built in the fourteenth century (early Vijayanagara period).
Located to the south of the famous Virupaksha temple, which has one of the tallest gopuras (170 ft), the other temples at Hemakuta are smaller ones and one can easily see a contrast. Thus, there is might and elegance side by side on this hillock.
Another interesting feature of this area is the presence of one celled (ekakuta), double celled (dvikuta) and three celled (trikuta) temples near to each other. These temples though small in dimensions arrest our attention by the northern type (nagara) sikharas almost in a cluster.
- A ekakuta temple has a garbhagriha, antarala and a navaranga. The navaranga has kakshasana (stone bench) on the three sides. It is a granite temple with Kadamba Nagara sikhara.
- The twin temple has two garbhagrihas, two antaralas and two navarangas with two entrances. The sikharas belong to a type called Kalinga Nagara. It was built by Kampilaraya of Kummatadurga.
- The third temple is a trikuta (three celled) and it was built by Kampilaraya, son of Mummadi Singeya Nayaka. It has three garbhagrihas in three directions, with a common navaranga and a mandapa. Nearby is another trikuta temple also built by Kampilaraya.
All the garbhagrihas originally had Shivalingas. Thus, the Hemakuta hill presents a panoramic view of Shaiva architecture of a unique type.
Yoga, an ancient discipline, has become popular worldwide. The selling of yoga and debate over its origins have led to discuss as to whether yoga should be branded at all. Some yoga instructors have gone so far as to patent their variations of yoga; others in the yoga community declare it is a religious and/or spiritual practice and as such should not be declared as intellectual property.
Yogacharya (Yoga Expert Guru) B.K.S. Iyengar was born in India to a family of thirteen children, ten of whom lived. His brother-in-law Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, introduced Iyengar to yoga through the yoga school he ran. Iyengar was not successful in the beginning, and it was only in 1952 when Iyengar met Yehudi Menuhin that he became internationally known.
Menuhin was suffering from sleeplessness and Iyengar showed him an asana which caused him to fall asleep, and wake up so rested that he spent several hours with the yoga teacher and later came to believe that yoga assisted his violin-playing. Iyengar paid frequent visits to the west where his system of yoga was adopted by schools and centers. Iyengar yoga is known for its use of such props as straps, chairs, or blocks in empowering students to accomplish the traditional asanas, or body postures. One of Iyengar’s earliest books, Light on Yoga (1966), is a clarification for Westerners of Patanjali’s thought.
Iyengar is specifically linked with the idea of yoga as a spiritual activity, and a discipline that he explained as “the quest of the soul for the spark of divinity within us.” In every movement, students should be psychologically aware, as yoga is more than a system of aerobic or flexibility exercises.
Iyengar yoga teachers are among the most meticulously trained in the field of yoga. A teacher must finish two full years of training and supervision to be certified at the introductory level. The New York Iyengar organization requires teacher candidates to be experienced in practicing Iyengar yoga up to Level III and to uphold a home practice.
- “The union of nature and soul removes the veil of ignorance that covers our intelligence.”
- “Yoga allows you to find an inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life.”
- “Yoga is a means and an end.”
- “When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake.”
- “By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind.”
- “Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.”
- “My body is my temple and asanas are my prayers.”
- “Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.”
- “It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”
- “Your body exists in the past and your mind exists in the future. In yoga, they come together in the present.”
- “As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle.”
- “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
- “Words cannot convey the value of yoga—it has to be experienced.”
- “The supreme adventure in a man’s life is his journey back to his Creator.”
- “Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.”
- “The art of teaching is tolerance. Humbleness is the art of learning.”
- “Be inspired but not proud.”
- “Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained. Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.”
- “It is while practicing yoga asanas that you learn the art of adjustment.”
- “Body is the bow, asana is the arrow, and the soul is the target.”
- “When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world. When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God.”
- “Life means to be living. Problems will always be there. When they arise navigate through them with yoga—don’t take a break.”
- “True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness.”
- “Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.”
- “Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed.”
- “When I practice, I am a philosopher. When I teach, I am a scientist. When I demonstrate, I am an artist.”
- “Focus on keeping your spine straight. It is the job of the spine to keep the brain alert.”
- “How can you know God if you don’t know your big toe?”
- “Do not stop trying just because perfection eludes you.”
- “Breath is the king of mind.”
- “Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek, but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal.”
- “Your body is the child of the soul. You must nourish and train that child.”
- “There is no difference in souls, only the ideas about ourselves that we wear.”
- “It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.”
- “Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you have to choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it.”
- “The hardness of a diamond is part of its usefulness, but its true value is in the light that shines through it.”
- “Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.”
- “One’s spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one’s fellow beings.”
- “Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.”
- “Willpower is nothing but willingness to do.”
- “Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.”
- “You exist without the feeling of existence.”
- “Confidence, clarity and compassion are essential qualities of a teacher.”
- “You must purge yourself before finding faults in others.”
- “Do not aim low, you will miss the mark. Aim high and you will be on a threshold of bliss.”
- “You do not need to seek freedom in a different land, for it exists with your own body, heart, mind, and soul.”
- “Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.”
- “Yoga is the golden key that unlocks the door to peace, tranquility and joy.”
Sri Virupaksha or Pampapathi was the family deity of the early Vijayanagara kings and this was incorporated even in their sign manual as found in copper plate inscriptions.
Situated on the southern bank of Tungabhadra river, the original temple with Virupaksha Sivalinga was perhaps first consecrated in the twelfth century A.D. With the establishment of the Vijayanagara kingdom additions were made twice. The first addition of a sabhamandapa took place during the period of King Mallikarjuna in the middle of the fifteenth century A.D. The second addition of a maharangamandapa took place during the period of Krishnadevaraya in 1510 A.D., to commemorate his coronation in 1509 A.D.
The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, sabhamandapa, and a maharangamandapa. The square garbhagriha has a Shiva Linga. It has a Dravidian type of sikhara with a kalasha on the top. The square sabhamandapa has four central pillars and sculptures of gods and goddesses of which Bedara Kannapp, Kiratarjuniya, Bhairava are important. It has two entrances at the north and south.
The maharangamandapa added by Krishnadevaraya contains 38 pillars with entrances on three sides with flights of steps decorated with balustraded elephants.
The pillars contain relief sculptures of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The ceilings have paintings of Tripurantaka, Parvati Kalyana, procession of Vidyaranya, etc. There are also stucco figures of Parvati Kalyana, Kalarimurti, Mahishamardini, etc.
Krishnadevaraya renovated the main eastern gopura, which is 170 feet in height, and it dominates the entire area. This main mahadvara or the gateway with its Dravidian gopura rises in ten diminishing tiers and is famous as ‘hiriya gopura’, meaning a huge gopura.
This gopura has many stucco figures and decorative elements. The Bhuvaneshwari shrine contains beautifully executed Chalukyan doorway and Chalukyan pillars of the twelfth century A.D.
As this is a living temple, devotees throng the portals of this temple to worship at the shrine of the sacred Virupaksha linga and to see the remnants of the Vijayanagara architecture and sculpture.
Vijaya Vittala Temple is one of the important temples in Hampi. Its construction began during the time of Krishnadevaraya in 1513 CE, and it continued even during the reign of his successor Achyutaraya (1529–42 CE) and perhaps it was not completed as per the grandiose plan of its builder Krishnadevaraya.
Facing east, this temple is in the centre of a quadrangle measuring 500 ft by 310 ft, and it has three gopura entrances in north, south, and east. This vast temple complex can be divided into three parts namely the outer mukhamandapa, the central rangamandapa and the interior sukhanasi and garbhagriha.
The outer mukhamandapa stands on a five feet basement and has three entrances. The entire mandapa has 56 pillars of composite nature and each one appears to be an independent monument. The ceilings have lotus designs.
Through the above mandapa one enters into rangamandapa, which is the most beautiful part of this temple. The pillars, the pilasters, and the niches exhibit Dravidian characters. The composite pillars of this mandapa are especially noteworthy for their decorative nature and delicate carvings of gods and goddesses and scroll work. In the centre is a grand enclosure of sixteen extremely beautiful tall pillars.
At the western part of it is the doorway leading to the sukhanasi and garbhagriha. There is a pradakshinapatha, which has pierced windows (Jalandhras) to allow sufficient light and air. Inscriptions mention that Krishnadevaraya added phalapuja mandapa and kalyanamandapa to this structure. Perhaps the garbhagriha had a Vishnu image in the form of Vitthala to which deity regular worship was offered and various festivals were celebrated on a grand scale.
Another important attraction of this temple is the stone chariot in front of the rangamandapa. The ratha or the stone chariot looks like a miniature Dravidian temple, which originally perhaps had a brick tower. It has four wheels, two on either side and it is said that it could be turned on its axis. This chariot has an image of Garuda, as it is a Vishnu temple.
This temple is so characteristic of the Vijayanagara art, it is taken as a symbol of Vijayanagara architecture, and sculpture, as it is a harmonious blending of sculpture and architecture for which the Vijayanagara architects and sculptors were famous all over the country.
Though Mysore has been a stronghold of traditional Hinduism from time immemorial, it has been famous for the harmonious coexistence of other religions also. This is testified to by many churches and mosques, which have been serving the cause of religion of their followers without any hindrance. Saint Philomena’s Church on the Ashoka Road (and practically at the entrance of Mysore coming from Bangalore) is a testimony for the religious tolerance of the people of Mysore.
There was a church known as Saint Joseph’s church built in 1840 and it was reconstructed and was renamed as Saint Joseph and Saint Philomena’s cathedral. It is said that Sri Thamboo Chetty, the then Dewan of Mysore in one of his visits had brought a piece of bone and drapery of the famous religious savant from Magnano in France from Peter Pisani, Apostolic Delegate of the East Indies and he wanted to consecrate them in a suitable church for this purpose.
The cathedral was designed by French architects and its foundation was laid by the then Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadeyar II in 1933. This church is modelled on Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and the Gothic Church at Cologne in Germany.
Unique Architectural Style with Some Greek Features
The most attractive part of this edifice is the two tall imposing pointed towers at the facade itself. The two towers rise to a height of 165 ft. The elegance of this structure is enhanced by miniature pointed towers at different points, adding further height to the cathedral.
The vertically fashioned tall windows at regular intervals add a great charm. The pointed triangular gothic motifs at different places is another attraction.
The church has a crypt in which is a statue of Saint Philomena in a catacomb-like cell. A piece of her bone is preserved at the center of a beautiful shield. There is also a piece of her drapery. Hence, this is important to Roman Catholics.
The interior of the cathedral is decorated with attractive colonnades and glass paintings made in France. Particularly noteworthy are the paintings of crucification of Christ and John baptizing Christ. The annual Saint Philomena’s feast is held in this cathedral. Large numbers of Roman Catholic devotees visit this sacred cathedral.
Hundreds of tourists of all religions to Mysore visit this cathedral daily to see the lofty and beautiful, tall and imposing towers and the architecture of a rare type not generally seen in many areas of this country.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.