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

Mahamallapuram – Confluence of Heritage and Sea.

Into the sea

As part of our Vismaya ( www.vismayaforcause.org ) outing , I visited Mahamallapuram and this blog is a collection of my pictures , thoughts and commentary about the place.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a historic city and UNESCO World Heritage site in Tamil Nadu, India. During the reign of the Pallava dynasty, between the 3rd century CE and 7th century CE, it became an important centre of art, architecture and literature. Mahabalipuram was already a thriving sea port on the Bay of Bengal before this time. A significant amount of coins and other artefacts excavated from this region also indicate a pre-existing trade relation with the Romans even before it became a part of the Pallava Empire.

Mahabalipuram’s early history is completely shrouded in mystery. Ancient mariners considered this place the land of the Seven Pagodas. There are others who think that Mahabalipuram suffered from a great flood between 10,000 and 13,000 BCE. Controversial historian Graham Hancock was one of the core members of a team of divers from Indian National Institute of Oceanography and the Scientific Exploration Society based in Dorset, UK who surveyed the ocean bed near Mahabalipuram in 2002 CE. He is more inclined to believe the flood theory. His exploration also afforded him a fair glimpse of the vast extent of submerged ruins of the city. After his underwater exploration, he reportedly commented, “I have argued for many years that the world’s flood myths deserve to be taken seriously, a view that most Western academics reject … But here in Mahabalipuram, we have proved the myths right and the academics wrong.”

Many opinions exist about the origin of the name of the site too. The most popular explanation is that the place is named after benevolent King Bali, also known as Mahabali. The ancient Indian text of Vishnu Puran documents his exploits. After sacrificing himself to Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu, he attained liberation. “Puram” is a Sanskrit term for a city or urban dwelling. Mamallapuram is the Prakrit version of the original Sanskrit name.

Architectural Master pieces (Pallava Gems)


During the rule of Mahendravarman I (600 CE – 630 CE), Mahablipuram started to flourish as a centre of art and culture. He himself was a well known poet, playwright and orator. His patronage helped the creation of a number of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This period of artistic excellence was duly continued by his son Narasimhavarman I (630 CE – 680 CE) and subsequent Pallava kings. Here are some of the Monuments

Shore Temple :

The Shore Temple (built in 700–728 AD) is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. At the time of its creation, the site was a busy port during the reign of Narasimhavarman II of the Pallava dynasty. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India.

Shore temple
Shore temple
Monolithic Tank
Monolithic Tank
Nandi and the temple
Nandi and the Temple
Bull and the temple
8th century Tank

Beaches and Life !

Mahabalipuram is also known for beach amidst the rocks and lagoon; It makes it a perfect combination of history, tourism and beaches ideal for vacation. The beach stretches for about 20 km and there are numerous lovely beaches present all along the coastline perfect for a little relaxation. Also, at this captivating beauty of Mahabalipuram a dance festival is organised by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Tamil Nadu every year where one can get to see extremely talented classical dancers performing against the backdrop of the sea.  Here are some images

Beach Blue hour
Beach Blue hour
Prayer
Prayer
Sunrise
Sunrise
Into the sea
Into the sea
Morning chores
About to be reclaimed
About to be reclaimed
Sea shells on sea shore
Sea shells on sea shore
Morning surf
Morning surf
Sunset
Sunset on the beach
In Love with the sea
Splash on the rock
Splash on the rock

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh 

Text Credits :wikipedia

Frozen in Time- Lepakshi

Recently I had been to Lepakshi! This was my second visit. This time I wanted to shoot some different perspectives and also used a technique called hyper focal distance *** (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance ).

I also converted the images to monochrome , to eliminate the distractions  of colour and show the true character of the sculptures which have stood witness to grandeur  and also destruction.

Temple

The Veerabhadra temple is in Lepakshi in the Anantapur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Built in the 16th century, the architectural features of the temple are in the Vijayanagara style with profusion of carvings and paintings at almost every exposed surface of the temple. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.The fresco paintings are particularly detailed in very bright dresses and colours with scenes of Rama and Krishna from the epic stories of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas and they are well preserved.

The temple was built in 1530  by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda. The cost of building the temple was sponsored by the government.According to Skanda Purana, the temple is one of the divyakshetras, an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva.

The presiding deity deified in the sanctum sanctorum is a near life-size image of Veerabhadra, fully armed and decorated with skulls. There is a cave chamber in the sanctum where sage Agasthya is said to have lived when he installed the image of the Linga here. The ceiling in the sanctum above the deity has paintings of the builders of the temple,Virupanna and Viranna, regally dressed and crowned with headgear similar to those adorning the Krishnadevaraya’s bronze statue in Tirupati. They are depicted, with their entourage, in a state of reverential prayer, being offered sacred ashes of their family deity.

 

Where is it located ?

The temple has been built on the southern side of Lepakshi town, on a low altitude hillock of a large exposure of granite rock, which is in the shape of a tortoise, and hence known as Kurma Saila. It is 140 kilometres away from Bangalore. The approach from the National Highway NH7 to Hyderabad that takes a branch road at the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border leading to Lepakshi, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away. Another route to reach the temple is taking a route from Hindupur. It is situated 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Penukonda, located in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Poetry in stone  ( I will let the images speak for themselves )

 

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh 

Text Credits : wikipedia

Lepakshi

The Veerabhadra temple is in Lepakshi in the Anantapur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Built in the 16th century, the architectural features of the temple are in the Vijayanagara style with profusion of carvings and paintings at almost every exposed surface of the temple. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.

Location

The temple has been built on the southern side of Lepakshi town, on a low altitude hillock of a large exposure of granite rock, which is in the shape of a tortoise, and hence known as Kurma Saila. It is 140 kilometres away from Bangalore. The approach from the National Highway NH7 to Hyderabad that takes a branch road at the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border leading to Lepakshi, 12 kilometres away. Another route to reach the temple is taking a route from Hindupur. It is situated 35 kilometres from Penukonda, located in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh

History

The temple was built in 1530 (1540 is also mentioned) by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda

According to Skanda Purana, the temple is one of the divyakshetras, an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva.

Mythology

Lepakshi’s origin has two interesting myths associated to it. But, both the tales are impregnated with grief and pain. But, he couldn’t withstand Ravana’s power and fell off to Earth after losing his wings. It is believed that Jatayu’s wings fell on the rocks here. When Lord Rama commanded the bird to rise (Le-Pakshi), the place got its name. Moreover, we can see footprints of Lord Rama at one of the rocks in Lepakshi.

Lape-Akshi

Another prominent legend is that Veerupanna and Veerana were two brothers who worked for the Vijayanagar King. Veerupanna’s son was blind since birth and it is believed that he got back his eyesight while playing around the Shivalinga in the temple premise. This story reached the king that Virupanna was using the royal treasury to cure his son. The king gave orders to take away Virupann’s eyesight and blind him.

Hearing this, Virupanna himself took off his eyes and threw them against the walls of the under constructed Kalyana Mantapa inside the temple premise. Thus, the place got its name as Lape-Akshi (village of the blinded eye). Even till date we can see blood stains on that wall and those stain marks has been confirmed as real blood stain marks by British scientist.

Le-Pakshi

This story originates from the epic Ramayana. It’s said that Jatayu had a furious battle with Ravana when he tried to rescue Sita from Ravana’s abduction attempt.

There is a very large Nandi (bull), mount of Shiva, about 200 metres (660 ft) away from the temple which is carved from a single block of stone, which is said to be one of the largest of

 

Here are some of my picture’s where I have tried to capture the beauty of this divine and enchanting place

 

 

Conclusion

Visit to Lepakshi is a divine experience in itself and it makes you wonder about the immaculate skills of artisans which were displayed in building this marvel. Their hard work and determination has been truly immortalized!

 Text Source