Jan 15, 2022

trek to Sri Ramlingeshwara Devastana part-3

Part-1 and Part-2 of this article covered the walk to Ramteerth and an overall look of the temple site. We have 3 temples here- two temples are close together, and the third one is a stone's throw away. These two are the main temples whose construction seems complete.

The third temple which stands about 70 to 80 feet away is incomplete even though there's a Shivalinga idol in the sanctum. As you see only the Garbhagudi walls are done. The Antharala walls are still incomplete. The entire structure lacks any kind of roof. Also, as per my observations there are no inscriptions at the site.

The smaller temple is not really small. The front porch itself is six feet high. Overall the temple could be 13' to 14' high. The 'porch' can be considered as a Mukhamantapa which connects directly to the Garbhagudi. I'm guessing this temple was constructed first and then the bigger temple.

Architecturally both temples are same, The Shikhara are stepped and tapered. The Shikhara crown are similar, may be the sizes are different. Lets go around the temple once.

The ground behind the temple slopes down giving an interesting view. Usually temples are built on level ground but this site is quite special in that aspect. Talking of the terrain, one must see the temple on a ledge of a sandstone hill near Gajendragad which is a Chalukyan creation.

Like I said the ground really is steep. Directly behind the temple is a layer of dirt and boulders covering the monolith below. Rest of the hill is mostly exposed rock.

On the right hand side of the temple there's a layer of dirt. I feel this dirt bank was man-made to facilitate a flower garden for the shrine.

The temple, pond and garden area.
This temple has three entrances one each on the eastern, southern and northern sides. Unlike other Kadamba temples, this temple doesn't have balustrades at the entrances, instead a pair of platforms flank the passage. The temple floor is also raised from the rock-bed. This entrance seen here is the southern.

Stepping into the temple ...this is the view of the Antharala (vestibule connecting the Sabhamantapa and Garbhagudi) through the Sabhmantapa. The columns appear whitish- that's the remaining coat of lime. I hope someone scrubs the lime away and restore the original stone look. At the vestibule entrance are four pillars, one pair of bigger pillars and the inner pair are slimmer. The slimmer pair of pillars reminds me of Uttarakumara Gudi at Tambur village which also is a Kadamba creation.

A diagonal view of the Sabhmantapa. Flanking the Antharala entrance are four niches, two on each side. Inside the niches are idols of other gods.. Ganesha, Nagadevas & few others I couldn't recognise.

The Garbhagudi frame is simple, however the floor just next to the threshold is decorated with floral art in stone. Also a little idol of Basavanna sits on the vestibule floor. The idol looks quite crude, meaning the features aren't sharp. It is said that ancient sculptors sculpted idols of Nandi in a single day i.e. from dawn to dusk irrespective of the physical size. This I heard first at Lepakshi from a local guide. In case anything remains, its left incomplete for good.

The Ramlinga. During my first visit here i.e. Jan 2010 it was Sankranti day. A few local men were performing pooje in a traditional way. The idol and Garbhagudi were washed with water, idol adorned with a garland of white flowers, an oil lamp glowing softly and incense burning. I think the men gave me pooja prasad. This time the Garbhagudi was clean but no flowers as such. I got a few Thumbe flowers and placed them on the main deity and other idols too.

This is the view of the eastern side from the Antharala. Just next to the eastern entrance is the water pond. When the water level is at its highest it could be just 2 or 3 below the temple floor. With this I'm done seeing the temple. I move on to the third temple, the incomplete one.

This is one picture in which all three temples are visible separately i.e. their views are not overlapping. In the background is Machigad hill, amongst the thick vegetation are ruins of an ancient fort. The third temple was still in the early stage. I think the construction went on stages like this- 1. Garbhagudi, Antharala & Shikhara, and 2. add a Mukhamantapa. 

Side view of the third temple. Like most small & medium temple built by the Kadambas the exterior walls are plain. The temples are well built and elegant seven though they have plain looking walls. The Shikhara is what takes care of the temple's beauty. To name a few temples of Kadamba in this region-
  1. Halasi group of temples
  2. Thatteshwar Mahadev Gudi near Nandgad
  3. temples at Sonda fort
  4. Uttarakumara Gudi near Tambur
  5. temples on the banks of Haliyal fort water tank
The front-side view. None of these temples required a foundation because they were built on a rock hill. I think the rulers & temple builders had plans to construct more temples here. Every new king may be obligated to have a temple built. For that matter not just kings, even ministers or army chiefs or rich merchants had temples built. For some reason the site became dormant but good thing is that the temples are well preserved.

The front view. The planned size of this temple seems to be same as the main temple here.
The deity is another Linga. Not sure if it's called Ramlinga or Shivalinga. Since this place is called Ramtheerth this could be another Ramlinga. Looking at this temple, I feel ancient builders installed the deity first and then built the structure around it.

In the water pond is a small collection of idols. The largest piece here is a piece of the Shikhara, which is fixed in the front like a forehead. On the far left is an incomplete and damaged sculpture of Vishnu. The idol on the right is a standing Eshwara holding a Trishula. The idol is damaged hence its not used for worship. Apart from these idols, I haven't seen any other pieces of sculptures.

Having done wit the temples, we can now check out the surroundings... rocks, hill slopes, other hills and paddy fields in the plains below. A very interesting landscape here. If it were earlier, around sunrise, there's a possibility of seeing some interesting birds. 

We'll check out the natural beauty of Ramtheerth in the following post- trek to Sri Ramlingeshwara Devastana part-4.

Jan 8, 2022

trek to Sri Ramlingeshwara Devastana part-2

...continued from trek to Sri Ramlingeshwara Devastana part-1.

This spot, a big granite mound, is approximately ⅔ way of the 4 km path. This is another landmark in the route. On this rock is a small temple built of granite blocks. To my knowledge this little structure is as it was when I saw it a decade ago. 

Across the granite mound, the path enters jungle area again. This forest is connected to the main jungle on the slopes of Machigad hill. 
On the left hand side of this path is a valley through which a stream flows. The stream would be sight to behold during rains and a few days after the rains. Now its a meagre flow, yet it flows. This spot is where wild animals come for a drink of water. During the previous visit i.e. October 2010, I remember hearing a wild boar grunt somewhere on this stretch. I thought I was imagining things until one of my colleagues said he felt hearing the same. Also, if one waits silently and watches, exotic looking birds can be ssen. Two times I saw birds with long tail feathers. Probably a jungle fowl. Even 

A grassy clearing in the thick forest. One might see hares or deer here, if lucky. However these grassy slopes are a boon to farmers living around here, they let their cattle graze here. Some even get their goats and sheep.

This bend is another landmark a this spot connects Machigad hill and Ramteerth hill. To the left is Ramteerth and to the right is Machigad. To the right are some rocky mounds (see inset), they are like seats for those like to rest before they start trekking the uphill stretch.

The continuously ascending path towards the summit where the temples are situated. 

In between there's a rock-bed with veins. The texture looks like elephant hide. The dark color and vein like formation is an indication that this rock is igneous. After this spot is a S-bend, then the temple comes into view.

Ramlingeshwar Devastana profile comes into sight. The summit is just a couple of hundred meters now. To the right is a crude little structure similar to the one seen about a kilometer before.

The dirt path continues on to the left. One can either go that way or just climb up the rock... I chose the latter. 

Looking back at the way I came. The taller mound in the background is Machigad. From here the fortification walls are not visible, every bit is concealed in the vegetation. 

From where I stood, directly in front of me was a series of square holes. Also signs of rock being quarried at this very spot were visible which definitely are ancient. Probably dating back the time Ramteerth temples were constructed.

This is said to be built during Goa Kadamba rule i,e in the XII Century CE. Architecturally Ramlingeshwar temple is similar to Buvaraha Narasimha group of temples at Halasi, so its highly possible they were built around the same period of time.

The water pond comes into view now. The temple builders plan included a source of fresh water and space for a flower garden. The bigger temple is east-facing and the smaller one is north-facing. The third temple in the background is also north-facing.

The water pond holds enough water to last for a year. Going by other photos of this place, the pond is deeper in the center. Half the perimeter of the pond is rocky and the other half is dirt which is convenient to grow flowering plants. BTW, the other name for this shrine is Rameshwar. 

The summit is a small plateau... if you look around the temple there are slopes in every direction. 

What a lovely sight this is, so peaceful. The dark rock surface, the two temples, a water pond and a tree, The small tree near the smaller temple wasn't there during my previous visit. It looks like a 2 to 3 year old tree.

The third temple which is a stone's throw away is incomplete. Probably it's construction was commenced years after completing the main temples here.

This place is truly an unique one. I can't remember another historical place like this... this reminds me of Chadragutti fort summit. At the summit are water tanks, shelters for guards and rampart walls but no temple.

We are yet to the see the inside of the temple and the hill surroundings. We'll see them in the following part trek to Sri Ramlingeshwara Devastana part-3.