Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Lost Chalukyan Town of Ambali, Bellary

      'Ambali', a small village in Hagaribommanahalli taluk of Bellary district that seemed unusually busy with the harvesting of onions, is home to a very beautiful Chalukyan temple dedicated to Lord Kalleswara (Shiva, Ishvara) built during the 10th century. Ambali is located off the Kottur - Hadagali main road, about 10 km from Kottur towards Hadagali. After travelling a few kilometers from Kottur, we decided to inquire about the directions and realized we were heading away from our destination and had traveled quite far. Hereon, following the right directions we reached Ambali in quite some time. 
The Harvest
Cheerful Posers
       The Kalleswara temple belonging to the Chalukyan era is beautiful and stands tall with pride. The temple is simple in its appearance with fine interiors. The temple facing east consists of a garbagriha, antarala, natya-mantapa and mukha-mantapas on the north, south and east directions respectively.
Kalleshwara Temple Ambali
The Kalleshwara Temple 
  The garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum) houses a Shivalinga and has an ornate pancha (five) shaka (jamb) door frame decorated with lozenges, creepers, musicians, dancers, birds, lions and elephants. The door jambs have dwarapalakas attended by Rati and Manmatha. The lintel of the garbagriha has a well sculpted Gajalakshmi with elephants on either side. The threshold of the door in front has a decorated moon-stone or semi-circular stone slab (chandrashila).
Lord Kalleshwara 
Garbagriha Door Frame
Lintel Carvings
Decorated Moon-stone
       The antarala door way is intriguing with lozenge flower decorated perforated screens. The door jambs have sculptures of dwarapalakas. The lintel of the antarala (sukhanasi/vestibule) has a beautiful carving of Nataraja (dancing shiva) who is watched by goddess Parvati and attendants who include Lords Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi along with Lord Brahma and Goddess Saraswati, and the ashtadikpalakas (guardians of the eight cardinal directions) mounted on their respective vahanas (vehicles/mounts) on either sides. This depiction ends with stylized makaras (crocodile with florid tail) at the ends of the lintel. The exterior walls of the sanctum houses mouldings or friezes consisting of a miniature lions (simha), elephants and makaras with strings of pearl tassels in combination. There are three finely carved miniature shikaras on the three walls of the Garbagriha. The moulded adisthana (basement or plinth) has indentations up to the walls which resolve into manch-bandha pattern whose projections carry niches. These are treated with dravida turrets raised on slender pilasters. The turrets (vertical projecting towers) are crowned with kirtimukha (glory-faced) makara torana. The shikaras above garbagriha is comparatively plain and of Dravidian style.
Makara Frieze 

 The natya-mantapa situated at the center has four lathe pillars with sculpted bases similar to the ones in many other Chalukyan temples. The mukha-mantapas have a Jagati (platform/stone bench) on which are present a set of pillars circular in shape and are lathe turned while the others set on ground along its periphery have dissimilar distinct shapes and are skillfully executed. The ceiling of the mantapa has a lotus motif.
The Dravidian Shikara 
Miniature Shikara
Pillars of Mukha-Mantapa

This temple comes alive and is very well maintained. There is a lady care taker appointed by the ASI who does her job wholeheartedly and it definitely shows off. The garden surrounding this temple gives an increased aesthetic value of the environs. The locals take pride in the beauty and history of this temple.     
ASI Information Board 

References :
1. ASI
2. Temples of Karnataka - Book by KM Suresh 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Places to Visit Around Bangalore Part -11

Continued from here..

Type: Hill, Fort, Temple Town 
Distance from Bangalore: 110 km
Trek Distance: 1.5 km (One Way)
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - Old Madras Road - Till Mulbagal 
About: Mulbagal forms the eastern gateway to Karnataka and is popular for its Anjaneya temple and Namkeens (Savories). The fort is supposed to have been built during the Vijayanagar period which later underwent renovations during Tippu's rule. There are 2 big boulders on the peak of the hill known as Mahadeva Gundu and Babaiah Gundu. More
Mulbagal Fort 
57. Hulukudi 
Type: Hill, Fort, Temple Town 
Distance from Bangalore: 80 km
Trek Distance: 1.5 km (One Way)
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - Doddaballapura - Right turn towards Devanahalli -  Right turn after 6 km - about 4 km to reach the hill base
About: Hulukudi is an erstwhile town of the Cholas. There are many inscriptions here belonging to this period. There are also many temples on the hill and in the village - Veerabhadraswamy temple, Narashima temple, Mukaneshwara Temple, Anjaneya temple and others. There is no much history known about the fort . More
Nandi Enclosure, Hulukudi Fort
8. Lepakshi 
Type: Temple Town 
Distance from Bangalore: 110 km
Directions from Bangalore: A) Bangalore - Doddaballapura - Gauribidnaur - Hindupur - Lepakshi
                                           B) Bangalore - Devanahalli - Chikkaballapura - Bagepalli - Lepakshi 
About: The Vijayanagar King Virupanna is known to have built the Veerabhadra temple here. Though it has passed through the hands of many kingdoms, the  contribution of the Vijayanagar Kings is vast. This place is also associated with the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The fresco paintings on the ceilings are remarkable, leaving one to only wonder about the immense skills people possessed during those times. The statue of Nandi situated at about 600 meters from the temple is another excellent piece of artwork of the Vijayanagar period. More
Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, Lepakshi 

Type: Hoysala Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 120 km
Directions from Bangalore: A) Bangalore - NH 48 - Right turn at Nayakanahalli - Santhe Bachalli
About: The Mahalingeshwara Temple here serves as a very good example of Hoysala architecture that flourished during the 12th century. The temple interiors are beautifully executed. The Veeranarayana temple is supposed to have be built during the Vijayanagara period. More
Hoysala Temple
Mahalingeshwara Temple Santhe Bachalli
60. Kendatti Madivala 
Type: Prehistoric Site 
Distance from Bangalore: 50 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - NH 7 - Left turn at Kendatti - Kendatti Madivala
About: The standing stones/Menhirs here tell a wonderful story about the skills of these prehistoric people. This site is spread across a few acres and one can witness the various prehistoric burials. More 
Pre historic Site
Stone Circle, Kendatti Madival

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hampi Unseen Part 6 - Cave Paintings of Mosalayyana Gudda

"Such a place does not exist here, I have been working here for the past thirty years and never have I heard of a hill named Mosalayyana Gudda", these were the words of a lady in response to the query of the whereabouts of Mosalayyana Gudda (Gudda-Hill)! These words were totally out of sync with  the book I was referring to with regards to Mosalayyana Gudda. My friend  gave me a puzzled look after which we decided to continue towards the much known Vijaya Vittala temple. Surprisingly, the information board put up opposite the temple entrance gave us the exact location of the hill we were in search of! Wasting no time, we walked curiously towards the hill and reached its base.
Cave Paintings Hampi
Mosalayyana Gudda
While we were anxious about finding the cave paintings, a local shepherd boy came to our rescue and confirmed about the presence of paintings on a few rocks. After further discussion with him, we realized we were close to the site of cave paintings. The boy was bound to his duty of taking care of sheep and hence was unable to guide us to the caves personally. We thanked him and as we climbed the hill, we began to examine every rock that we came across for paintings. We looked around for quite sometime, yet there were no signs of any paintings. Walking along, we reached a reasonably plain stretch of land  surrounded by heaps of rock, making it difficult to find the cave paintings.
Hampi Cave painting
Pile of Rocks which housed the Paintings
Musical Rock Hampi
Musical Rock 
After a small break, our hunt continued. While we checked every rock carefully, a red color paint on the rock caught our eye and we reached that pile of rock straight away and eureka! We had found it. There they were! We had to climb a big boulder to have a closer look at the paintings. We were so thrilled and my friend admitted that he had never seen anything like this before. We carefully examined the cave paintings and spent a good time admiring the skills of the pre-historic people.
Cave Paintings Karnataka
First Look @ Cave Paintings
Line Paintings of Humans
Bull Painted 
Bull Rock Carving 
I revisited this site with my wife and four of my best friends. Everybody was equally excited to witness these pre-historic paintings. Further climb led us to the peak of the hill from where the views were amazing, giving us a chance to click some great shots.
Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi
Vijaya Vittala Temple

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