Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Standing Stones of Nilaskal, Shimoga

After visiting the prehistoric site of Byse, while driving back on the highway connecting Nagara with Nittur, a PWD board that read Nilaskal caught our eye. Nilaskal, a pre-historic site was on our to- explore list from quite sometime and now was our chance to find out what was in store here. On inquiring at a local general store on the other side of the road, we were told to take the immediate right turn and drive until we reached a school,besides which was a field, the site of Nilaskal. Nilaskal in Kannada means a standing stone, and this village is rightfully named so due to the presence of these stones. In no time we were in front of the school and parked the vehicle by the side. As we got down, we immediately spotted a big stone fallen near the school compound while a bigger one stood erect inside the school premises. Our search for  more such stones began and without much difficulty we entered the field that housed Menhirs of various sizes, standing tall and proud, many had fallen. They were spread far and wide across the field. While the scientists believe that these stones are aligned in a way that the rays when the sun rises and sets during the solar solstice fall in between these stones, the alignment pattern still remains a mystery even today. Sad to know this site remains neglected.
Pre Historic Site Nilaskal
Menhir Inside School Premises 

Pre Historic Site Shimoga
Tallest Menhir Found Here

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Karnataka's Khajuraho - Bagali


Bagali, Davangere
The Kalleshwara Temple Complex
 Bagali is a small village located in the Harapanahalli taluk of Davangere district. The Kalleshwara temple here is considered to be one of the rare temples of India. Unique in its style and appearance, it is popularly regarded as Karnataka's Khajuraho. There are very few temples in India where the goddess and god of love (Rathi and Manmatha) are carved as Dwarapalakas. Here one can see the beautifully carved images of them guarding the temple. This temple was built during  the 9th century AD by the Rashtrakutas which later underwent modifications under the reign of Chalukyas and the Hoysalas.  
Kalleshwara Temple, Davanagere
Pillared Alley
Lathe Turned Pillar
Heavily Decked Door Jamb
Exquisitely Carved Lintel 
Temple Priest Feeding the Royal Elephant
Dwarf Drummer
Lord Bramha,Vishnu and Maheshwara
The Goddess and God of Love (Rati and Manmatha)
  Bagali is referred to as Baguli and was one of the capitals during the  rule of Hoysala King Ballala II. However, to a large extent the credit of building this temple goes to the Western Chalukyan king Vikramaditya VI. The main temple of Kalleshwara is extensively carved and has been built to perfection. The open Sabha mantapa/ Natya mantapa of the temple has 59 exquisitely carved pillars and none are similar. The four central pillars are the most beautiful with the detailing on them being parallel to none. While the ceilings of the mantapa are beautifully carved, the door-jambs are very skillfully executed and go on to serve as the perfect examples of Chalukyan architecture. 
Kalleshwara Temple Bagali
Sundari
  • Lord Ganesha
    Lord Ganesha
Killing of King Hiranyakaship
 Lord Shiva in the form of a big Linga is worshiped here even today. Many small shrines  dedicated to various gods are present around this temple. While major portion of the temple exteriors remain simple, the upper portion is adorned with reliefs of erotica. Though the erotic carvings beat that of Khajuraho in number (in depicting the various postures), they are far from being as perfect. With 62 carvings, it stands proudly as one housing the largest collection of erotica images. The prototypes of these images were taken to Paris for further examination as  a part of study and are now a part of the Paris Museum.
Erotica
The Water Source
Extensively Carved Hero Stone
The Temple Complex

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Temples of Udri, Shimoga

      The village of Udri is located on the border of Soraba taluk of Shimoga district. Also known by various names such as Uddhura, Uddhare and Uddharapura in the inscriptions found here, Udri is described in the inscriptions as the principal defense and treasure house of the chiefs of Jiddulige-Nadu, one of the territorial divisions of Banavasi province of the Hoysala period. Udri houses a few temples belonging to that period.

Dwarapalaks Hoysala
Life Size Dwarapalaka
Udri Shimoga
Lord Veerabhadra Swamy Temple
     The first temple we visited was dedicated to the couple god Lakshmi Narashima. Though the temple was simple in architecture, the idol  of the deities were quite intricate resembling Hoysala style of artwork. The other temple dedicated to Lord Ishvara had simple exteriors with a Nagari Shikara while the Vestibule housed beautifully carved Jaina figures in a sitting posture being attended to by the chamara bearers. The interiors of the temple were quite exquisite with beautiful lathe turned pillars and well carved ceilings. Interestingly, the lintel over the Sukhanasi and the entrance of the temple have carvings of seated Jaina figures, suggesting this very likely to be a Jain temple which in due course of time may have been converted into Ishvara/ Shiva temple. A number of Sati stones were found around the temple. These stones are referred to Sallekhana, one of the practices of Jainism.

Lakshmi Narashima Temple Shimoga
Lord Lakshmi Narashima Temple
Lord Lakshmi Narashima
Lord Ishvara Temple or Jain Temple
Lintel with Jaina Figures  
Inscriptions and Sati Stones
      Hereon we moved on to another Shiva temple which was almost in ruins, giving it a very rustic look. The carvings on the temple were much more intricate and detailed than the above two, suggesting that this could have been built much later. The last temple we visited was dedicated to Lord Veerabhadra and had been completely renovated. The life-size idols of Shaiva Dwarapalakas present here were truly a masterpiece of art. There were also a few unique hero stones around this temple in which the images of  heroes were similar to aliens. 

Lord Shiva Temple
Exquisitely Carved Lintel

Sati Stone
Weirdly Carved Hero Stone  

Information credit : Archaeological Survey of India

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