Poetry In Stone – Somnathpura

In India, the aim of art was never to imitate nature or to re-create reality through illusionistic devices. Rather, the goal was to produce an idealised form. Sculptors did not model their images on living beings: whether the subject was a god or a mortal, the artist strove to convey a stylised ideal. Here I present some images from Chennakesava Temple Somnathpura.

The Chennakesava Temple, also referred to as Chennakeshava Temple and Keshava Temple, is a Vaishnava Hindu temple on the banks of River Kaveri at Somanathapura, Karnataka, India. The temple was consecrated in 1258 CE by Somanatha Dandanayaka, a general of the Hoysala King Narasimha III. It is located 38 kilometres east of Mysuru city.

The ornate temple is a model illustration of the Hoysala architecture. The temple is enclosed in a courtyard with a pillared corridor of small shrines (damaged). The main temple in the center is on a high star-shaped platform with three symmetrical sanctums (garbha-griha), set in a square matrix (89′ x 89′) oriented along the east–west and north–south axes.The western sanctum was for a statue of Kesava (missing), the northern sanctum of Janardhana and the southern sanctum of Venugopala, all forms of Vishnu.The sanctums share a common community hall (sabha-mandapa) with many pillars. The outer walls, the inner walls, the pillars and the ceiling of the temple are intricately carved with theological iconography of Hinduism and display extensive friezes of Hindu texts such as the Ramayana (southern section), the Mahabharata (northern section) and the Bhagavata Purana (western section of the main temple).

Somnathpura – high star-shaped platform:
Godess

The outer walls of Somnathpura temple is covered with amazing sculptures of Gods, Goddess , warriors , people and Demi Gods. Each of these sculpture is a masterpiece; Intricate carvings of necklaces , bangles , toe rings , anklets and jewellery around waists are just pure bliss; Even the waist and the navel is perfectly carved! its beauty at its best . It makes me just wonder how it would have been during its glorious days.

Hand of God

This is mesmerising! Look at that hand , every finger , including nails , rings are sculpted with amazing dexterity, this was good 900 years ago ;The temple was ravaged by war and time however even now this looks amazing, we can just wonder the grandeur in 12 century AD.

Stanakas-–-Static-Postures-Vaishnavam

This is a posture which is depicted in majority of sculptures of Somnathapura.

Vaishnavam pose . in this the feet are kept two and a half Talas apart from each other. One of them should be on the ground in the natural posture, the other is lifted and turned sideways with the toes stretched and turned towards the shin. This amount of detail implies the person who sculpted this had knowledge of the Bharatanatyam , a classical and one the most expressive dance forms of south India.

There have been lots of effort to destroy these sculptures during wars of medieval India, you can see a sword impact line on this sculpture.

Half Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana)

An intermediate yoga position involving a greater arrangement of thighs, hips, knees, ankles owing to the elevation of one foot. It is an ancient asana in yoga, predating hatha yoga, and is widely used for meditation in Hindu, Tantra, Jain, and Buddhist traditions.

Feet of the Goddess

Most of the sculptures in Somnathpura stand in this position with feet perpendicular to each other , the details of toe rings, anklets and even nails is something to notice and here every sculpture is decorated with these ornaments.

Krishna

Krishna , or Keshava with flute , conch, Chakra and in Vaishnavam posture.

God and Goddess

Here you can Goddess on the lap of the God and her feet on the lotus . if you observe closely you can see the lotus flower bent due to the fact there is a divine feet placed on it, What attention to detail! Blessed we are to witness these treasured art in India. Incredible India.

Dancing Goddess

Amazing details on this one with every hand holding corn ( not sure i always thought corn was a later import) , lotus , chakra etc There are musicians also and again every ornament is intricately carved along with laced clothing and the position of the legs in Vaishnavam posture.

Dancing Goddess accompanied by musicians

This is a classical depiction of Dancing Goddess accompanied by musicians . The size of the Goddess is big compared to others in this, probably the artist wanted to show the power of the omnipresent figuratively. The details , especially the ornaments and the feminine posture and the smile on the face is just pure beauty.

Thanks for visiting and reading this , Let me know your thoughts and feedback.

Good Light to all,

Goutham Ramesh

Hoysala-a small glimpse into great empire

History:

The Hoysala Empire was a Kannadiga power originating from the Indian subcontinent, that ruled most of what is now Karnataka, India, between the 10th and the 14th centuries. The capital of the Hoysalas was initially located at Belur but was later moved to Halebidu.

The Hoysala rulers were originally from Malenadu, an elevated region in the Western Ghats. In the 12th century, taking advantage of the internecine warfare between the Western Chalukya Empire and Kalachuris of Kalyani, they annexed areas of present-day Karnataka and the fertile areas north of the Kaveri delta in present-day Tamil Nadu. By the 13th century, they governed most of Karnataka, minor parts of Tamil Nadu and parts of western Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the Deccan Plateau.

The Hoysala era was an important period in the development of art, architecture, and religion in South India. The empire is remembered today primarily for Hoysala architecture. Over a hundred surviving temples are scattered across Karnataka.

Well known temples “which exhibit an amazing display of sculptural exuberance” include the Chennakeshava Temple, Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu, and the Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura. The Hoysala rulers also patronised the fine arts, encouraging literature to flourish in Kannada and Sanskrit.

Hoysala Architecture

The Hoysalas usually dedicated their temples to Shiva or to Vishnu (two of the popular Hindu gods), but they occasionally built some temples dedicated to the Jain faith as well. Worshippers of Shiva are called Shaivas and worshippers of Vishnu are called Vaishnavas.While King Vishnuvardhana and his descendants were Vaishnava by faith, records show that the Hoysalas maintained religious harmony by building as many temples dedicated to Shiva as they did to Vishnu.

In a Hoysala temple , a cuboid cell, the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) houses a centrally placed murti (enshrined icon) on a pitha (pedestal). The shikhara (superstructure), rises over the garbha griha and together with the sanctum they form the vimana (or mulaprasada) of a temple. A ribbed stone, amalaka, is placed atop the shikhara with a kalash at its finial. An intermediate antarala (vestibule) joins the garbha griha to an expansive pillared mandapa (porch) in front, chiefly facing east (or north). The temple may be approached via entrances with gigantic gopurams (ornate entrance towers) towering over each doorway. In the prakaram (temple courtyard) several minor shrines can be found.

The vimanas are either stellate, semi–stellate or orthogonal in plan. The intricately carved banded plinths, a distinguishing characteristic of the Hoysala temples, comprise a series of horizontal courses that run as rectangular strips with narrow recesses between them. Also, the temples themselves are sometimes built on a raised platform or jagati which is used for the purpose of a pradakshinapatha (circumambulation).

An abundance of figure sculptures covers almost all the Hoysala temples. These sculptures , shows stories from mythology and also act as a window into the culture at that time !


Hoysala Emblem

Hoysala Emblem

There is an interesting story associated with how the Hoysala dynasty was named. It is said that a young boy named Sala and his teacher were in a temple in Angadi when a tiger approached them menacingly. The teacher handed Sala an iron rod and said “Poy Sala” which translates to ‘strike Sala’. Sala took the rod and kill the Tiger with a single blow. Sala went on to set up a vast kingdom and took his teacher’s cry as his family name.

The figure representing Sala attacking the tiger became the emblem of this royal family and can be seen in almost every temple built by the Hoysalas. However, the story has a number of discrepancies and is considered folklore by many historians.
Another interpretation of this emblem is that it represents the victory of King Vishnuvardhana over the Cholas as the tiger was the emblem of the Chola dynasty. Here is a sneak peek into the rich history of Hoysalas.

Poetry In stone, some images

Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Nuggehalli
Typical Hoysala Temple outer wall
Intricate Sculpture
Dancing Godess, Nuggehalli
Mantapa, Somnathpura
Lord , Somnathpura
Somnathpura
Poetry
Temple wall
Shila Balika
Shila Balika
Stacked Gems
God
God
Inside Somnathpura

” My Wish , is to capture these Hoysala Gems and present it as a Coffee Table Book this year”

Hope you liked the post,

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh