Jun 12, 2011

Banashankari Temple Tank and Lamp-Tower

During my visit early 2000, the tank was dry, it's bed was in plain view. Many pilgrims would miss the customary bath. I guess North Karnataka was reeling under drought for the fourth year. The next visit, sometime 2009, the tank was full, a sight I enjoyed. I was here with Chetan and Dr.Kamat. We visited Banashakari Temple, had rotti & palya and moved on to Badami.

April 3, 2011.

This visit, Pushkarni was half full even during summer. On the left is the multi-level deepastamba, middle is the snana-ghatta ~ bathing place and to the right is Banashankari temple gateway.

The tank must be 80m x 80m. Three sides of the tank perimeter have stone shelters for pilgrims.

Long rows of sandstone pillars support thick slabs overhead. Built hundreds of years ago, thousand of travelers must have found this three-sided shelter a relaxing place.

The eastern perimeter. Every column, every beam in perfect alignment. Total quality control right from designing to execution.

Ports with steps to access water are provided at regular intervals. The distance between each bathing place is enough to give little privacy.

There's the imposing five story lamp-tower. Chetan and I had climbed up tower during my previous visit. The view from the top is little chaotic with modern construction around the temple, however the climb was adventurous, we got to see the inner beauty too. Every level has pockets (for oil) with little notches (for wicks). I wonder if they light up the tower. What a sight it would create after sunset, entire tower glowing with little lamps and the light reflecting in the water. I wish I could see it once.

As seen from street level. I marvel at the engineering precision and the artistic beauty in this structure. Its one great assembly of hundreds of stones sculpted to fit perfectly. And its been there standing for centuries. And the architecture; one can never get bored unlike modern day building designs.

We had step over the elephant's head to climb onto the first level. You can see two arms on either sides with pockets for oil & wick at the ends. The lamp on the right is damaged while the one on the left is intact.

Another lamp-tower, built on the wall around Shakhambari (another name of goddess Banashankari) temple.

Within the temple walls there are 3 or 4 smaller lamp-towers shaped like menhir. Over the last two years of travelling, during my visits to ancient temples in North Karnataka, I've seen 3 major designs in deepastambas: simple monolith design, tower with menhir at the top with a built-in stairway and the complex multi-level design. Banashankari temple boasts of all 3 types. The only other lamp-tower equal in height (or taller ) is the one at Mallya Temple on Bijapur-Gulburga Road.

The temple chariot stands idle through the year except for the annual fair.

Imagine the resources employed to carve, sculpt and move thousands of thousands of tonnes stones and build thousands of temples of matchless beauty. Temples, ponds, shelters are created for all to use, for the society, not for personal glory. Tombs and palaces of Muslim rulers are no doubt beautiful but they were made to glorify individuals. From what I've read, Muslim rulers have often employed prisoners and forced people into slavery to build their dream structures. Well, there are differences in cultures...

Do make it a point to visit Banashankari if & when you are at Badami. Its not just Badami Caves. Its not just Badami, Pattadkal and Aihole. It should be Banashankari, Badami, Mahakuta, Pattadkal and Aihole.

Banashankari Coordinates: 15°53'15"N 75°42'18"E



Ace said...

good pics

injamaven said...

very nice photos. Was here Jan '07 at a mela. lots of fun!

nalini said...

Very good information and photographs. Unfortunately I happened to see this only after our trip to Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole. Our taxi driver conveniently avoided Banashankari. Anyway good to read about it.