Friday, December 25, 2015

Belagavi Fort

The Fort Entrance 
The fort of Belgaum is an old fort built in the Chalukyan era which subsequently underwent modifications during the Bahmani rule. Though it seems like the fortification remains intact, the overgrown creepers and plants on the fort walls make it obscure. Sadly, most of the portions of the fort have least or no maintenance. There are many monuments inside the fort area such as the Kamal Basti, Old Jaina Temple, Shiva Temple, Military Durgadevi Temple, the Jamia Masjid and so on.
The Mighty Fort Wall
The High Fort Wall
 On the opposite side of the Kamal Basti is another ruined Jaina temple facing south. Based on the inscriptions, the temple can be dated to have been built roughly around the 10th century. While the garbagriha and sukhanasi have completely disappeared, the ruined temple now survives only with a navaranga and mukhamantapa. They are built on a lowly elevated Jagati (platform). The navaranga entrance door is intricately carved with various geometrical patterns and floral designs. The pillars of the navaranga are huge, unusually tall and mostly plain with varying cross-sectional shapes and beaded carvings on its circular portions. The mukhamantapa has a kakhshasana (stone bench) and four pillars in its front. The parapet of the kakhshasana (stone bench) in the mukhamantapa exhibits on its external side, rows of artistic geometrical motifs at the base and impressive statuettes of musicians, drummers and dancers at the top portions with bands of floral designs and miniature pillars in between them. It proves to be a great piece of art-work. The outer walls of the temple are plain having horizontal mouldings and projections with koshtas or niches on the eastern and western walls. 
The grand Entrance of Mukhamantapa
Pillars of the Navaranga

Artistic Motifs at the Parapet Base
Musicians, Drummers and Dancers at the Top Row
Intricately Carved Door-Jamb
The fort area also houses a ruined Shiva temple facing east and built during the 12th century. Originally this temple is believed to have been built as a trikutachala with three garbagrihas.  Devoid of any shikaras, the only remains of the temple now is the navaranga with four doorways and four pillars. The pillars have engravings of floral designs and geometrical patterns. The entrance doorway is grand with multiple door jambs and fine carvings along with an image of Lord Ganapathy at the center of the lintel. The architrave on the doorway of the navaranga is adorned with sculptures of Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara in the accompaniment of drummers and musicians and other gods. They have pierced windows decorated with floral carvings.  The outer walls are plain with a few partly damaged sculptures of madanikas in various poses. A few meters away from the ruined Shiva temple is the Jamia Masjid which unfortunately looks completely abandoned.
Side-View of Old Jinalaya
Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara on the Architrave
Pierced Window with Floral Design
Pillar with Varying Cross-sectional Shapes
North-Entrance







Outer Wall with Partly Damaged Madanikas

Monday, December 7, 2015

Belagavi - Kamal Basti

Belgaum also known as Belagavi, the largest district of Karnataka houses many monuments of historical importance. Amongst them, a few of  which have survived the tests of time and now included in the ASI’s protected monuments list  include the Kamal Basti/Kamala Basadi or Ratta Jinalaya, an old Jain temple inside the fort area of Belgaum. Built in the later Chalukyan style in 1204 A.D. by Bichana, a minister of Kartavirya IV of Ratta dynasty, Kamal Basti catches one’s eye for its neat geometrics that are meticulously executed.
Belagavi - Kamal Basti
The Grand Entrance
The Kamal Basti has a garbagriha, sukhanasi/antarala (vestibule/ante-chamber), navaranga and mukhamantapas. The garbagriha facing north is star shaped and houses an idol of Bhagwan Neminatha, the 22nd thirthankara, replacing the original image of Shanthinatha, is seated in the Dhyana (mediation) posture and carved in black stone. The prabhavali behind the idol is quite artistic with floral designs and makara toranas. The garbagriha entrance has intricate carvings on its door jambs.
Kamal Basti
The Majestic Door Frame

 The antarala in front of the garbagriha has perforated window screens at its entrance with carvings of makaras and image of seated Jaina figure on its lintel.The lathe turned pillars of the navaranga have floral designs and geometrical engravings. Idols of a few thirthankaras can be seen inside and in the wall niches.The mukhamantapa has three entrances with stone benches on its periphery. The ceiling of the mukhamantapa is decorated with a profuse carving of a huge lotus, because of which over a period of time the Basti also came to be known as Kamal (lotus) Basti. On the ceiling can also be seen the projected idols of ashtadikpalakas in the eight cardinal directions (two seem missing) and comparatively smaller images of jaina thirthankaras in between them. The glossy lathe turned pillars of the mukhamantapa though mostly plain with minimal carvings are very skillfully executed.
The Lotus Adorning the Central Ceiling
The Beautiful Lathe Turned Pillars 
 The lovely shikaras atop the garbagriha and mukhamantapa are of Kadambanagara style (stepped pyramidal type). The central ceiling of the mukhamantapa bears resemblance to Tarakeshwara temple of Hanagal (Haveri district). The external walls are plain with horizontal mouldings/bands and exhibit various patterns of geometry. It surely is a visual treat to the eyes and only intrigues us with the kind of techniques and methods used and the skill possessed by men of those times for such brilliant execution. This temple is maintained by the ASI with the help of local caretakers. Well maintained gardens around the temple only add to the temple’s beauty.
Ancient Jain Basadi
Jain Basadi of Belagaum

The Majestic Mukhamantapas 
Places to Visit in Belagavi


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 
Natya-Mantapa
  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 

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