This is eight in the series on the rich cultural heritage of ancient temples in India. 2o kms apart twin towns of Belur and Halebid are home for temples known for their exquisite Hoysala architecture. The temples at both these places are built by renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya in the 12th century.
Both the Hoysaleswara temple of Halebidu and the Chennakesava Temple of Belur have intricate sculptures and friezes. They include elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and sensuous dancers. Inside the temple are a number of ornate pillars.
As some of these sculptures represent scenes from Hindu epics, some of the sculptures in these temple look similar. One such sculpture is daemon King Ravana lifting Kailasa mountain. Atop the mountain is Lord Shiva with Parvati. This is based on Hindu epic Ramayana.
Another sculpture is Arjuna hitting the eye of fish using his bow and arrow looking at its reflection in the water near his feet. This scene is carved beautifully with some minor differences. This is based on Hindu epic Mahabarath.
There intricate sculptures at two different temples are carved very similar to each other. How could they achieve these in the ancient times? Were the ancient civilization so advanced that they knew techniques of photography and photocopying. There are more than thousand sculptures in each of these temples. It is possible that some of them are similar to each other and we may be able to identify them if observed them with interest.
Aghoreshwara Temple of Ikkeri is a well proportionate structure, built of granite. It was built by Keladi Nayaks in the 16th century. The architecture of the temple is a unique mix where Dravidian style is combined with style from the Deccan.
The temple has ornamental doorways in three directions North, West and East with North as main entry point. The sculptures on either side of the huge doorways are striking. The temple is reddish pink in color all around.
The carvings and lattice work on the windows of the temple are simple and quiet unique. The carvings on the stone walls of the temple are intricate. In contrast to the temple color there are two small black stone elephant sculptures at the entrance.
The Garbhagriha, which is built of huge stones, houses Shiv linga. Outside the Garbhgriha doorway there are two niches, those to the right containing the figures of Ganesha and Subramanya and those to the left figures of Mahishasuramardini and Bhairava.
The huge stone Nandi is housed opposite to the temple in open stone mantapa. The surface of Nandi is very smooth and appears as if it has been polished.
Tanaji Malusare was a brave warrior and a leader in the army of Maharaja Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire in the 17th century.He is known for the battle he fought to recapture the fort Kondana near Pune for his King Shivaji.
Kondana fort is at the top stiff cliff and is known to impossible to be captured by using force. He planned to storm the extremely well-guarded fort in the middle of the night. Tanaji and his troops scaled the fort with the help of monitor lizards (the iguana). They fought a fierce battle to recapture the fort. He fought with another brave man Udaybhan Rathod from the opposition ranks even after he lost his shield. It is known that Tanaji fought Udaybhan by tying a cloth over one of his hands and using it to ward off Uday Bhan's sword attacks. Tanaji and his men managed to capture the fort, but Tanaji lost his life in the battle.
Maharaja Shivaji renamed the fort from Kondana to Sinhagad in his honor. His words after hearing about the demise of Tanaji were "Gad ala pan Sinha gela" He meant "Won the Fort, lost the Lion"
Varaha Cave Temple in Mahabalipuram is a rock-cut temple. It is a 7th century small monolithic temple with a mandapa. The mandapa is guarded by sculptures of two Pallava doorkeepers. In front of mandapa are two pillars and two semi-columns that have horned lions carved into the bases.
Inside the mandapa the walls have four large sculptured panels, which are finest examples of ancient craftsmanship. The delineation and modeling of the figures are remarkable.
On the panel to your left is Lord Vishnu incarnated as Varaha raising goddess earth from the ocean. There is still hint a red color at the top of the panel. Opposite to this is the panel showcasing Trivikrama overcoming the demon king Bali.
At the rear are the two panels on either side of opening - Gajalakshmi seated on lotus and bathed by elephants, Durga with four arms.
This temple in Manjeshwar is most ancient temple in the area. The temple is in a low laying area and has to be approached by going down the slope.
This temple like many other ancient temple was ravaged by both man and nature. The portions of the temple was devastated by cyclone in 1677. The temple was later looted by various people several times from 1750 and 1799. In 1804, it was renovated by the Gowda Saraswath Brahmins. The inner sanctum was recently again renovated in 2010 -2010.
The main sanctum has images of the three deities. Besides the image of Shiva, there are images of Lord Narasimha (Ananteshwar) and Subramanya. There is a peepal tree outside the temple with various snake sculptures around the tree. There is also a small little temple pond near the temple.
In Udaygiri (State: Madhya Pradesh) which is 13kms away from Sanchi there are a series of rock-cut sanctuaries and images excavated into hillside. These carvings in the caves are carved during the Gupta Empire between 4th and 5th Century. The literal translation of Udaygiri is the 'Mountain of the Sunrise'.
The caves here are numbered for convenience of identifying. The most famous sculpture is the monumental figure of Vishnu in his incarnation as the boar-headed Varaha. Another interesting sculpture is that of Shivlinga where hair is tied up into a topknot.
I think there are alltogether 14 to 16 caves. I could explore only few caves due to shortage of time. This was the last place that I visited during my trip of Madhya Pradesh state. We shall explore the following caves in detail very soon.
The coastal village of Manjeshwar is part of Kerala state and it is bordering Karnataka State. It is known as 'Pancha Bhasha Bhumi' as five languages namely Kannada, Malayalam, Tulu, Urdu and Konkani are prominently in use here.
This place is at a distance of approximately 21 Kms from Mangalore.