Jan 31, 2015

Buddhist sculptures at Kanaganahalli-Sannati site

..continuing from Ruins of a stupa, Kanaganahalli-Sannati. This post is a collection of sculptures depicting life of Gautama Buddha and symbols of Buddhism. These pictures are not arranged in any particular order but each of them have a story in it.

November 28, 2014
This is a stupa with a egg shaped object in it. The two women on the outside seem to be fanning the egg shaped object. Flanking the stupa are richly decorated pillars. The tree here might be the Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.

A nine headed serpent forming five loops. The number nine is considered important in Hinduism, perhaps in Buddhism too. You can see multi-headed serpents in Jain images too.

A five headed serpent. Note the detailed work of its scales. The heads are unusual here, not like the ones seen earlier. On the right is a voluptuous woman, her hair in five plaits. Note the imaginary creature.. half elephant-half fish.

A stupa and a signature. No clue what the columns of squares represent, each columns has 30+ indentations.

Wheel with 32 spokes - this should be a Dharmachakra, one of the oldest known Buddhist symbols. Quoting a line from Wikipedia: "The Buddha is said to have set the "wheel of dhamma" (Dharmachakra) in motion when he delivered his first sermon."

This seems to be a meeting of princes with a monkey. Two princes seem to be wearing pearl necklaces. The prince with a cushion under his feet could be a king and monkey is paying obeisance. The pillar on the right is decorated with three lotuses.

Four young women. The two woman with coils around their lower legs could be princesses while the other two are their attendants. These women are wearing lot of jewelry like pearl necklaces, bangles, waist bands and  headgear.

This looks like a dream.. men, women, animals, birds, buildings, chariots and imaginary creatures.

Two princes and three midgets. The princes are attired in loin clothes, pearl necklaces and cloth headgear. They seem to be carrying some weapons in their hands.

A Stupa flanked by equally high columns. One column has a Dharmachakra while the other one has a lion. No idea what the mushroom like objects coming out of the Stupa. At the base is a man with hair tied in a bun over the head - this might be Buddha himself.

The Stupa image is part of the outer wall of Sannati Stupa. In the foreground is a pillar with a lotus and another wheel which might be a Dharmachakra in different form. On the right is a large temple with niches in its tapering Shikhara. The temple is flanked by two trees and in the foreground is an ox-cart, its oxen are relaxing, one is being fed by a man while the other is sleeping.

Another temple with eight niches in its Shikhara. The temple has seven pillars in its elevation. A stairway is seen behind the columns. This is a multi-storeyed building with access to terrace.

Seems like four princes are offering a heavy piece of garment to a princess. The princes headgears are different. At the top are ducks taking flight.

This is a depiction of railing around a stupa. On the pillars are lotuses and other flowers. At the bottom are two inscriptions.. probably signatures of people who created it.

Armed warriors charging into a battle. The warrior on foot is wielding a sword and a shiled. The warrior on horseback is an archer. Notice the lotus icon on the horse's neck.

Warriors on a charging elephant. One is a mahout, two are archers and the remaining two are just watching the action.

This is either a multi-storeyed building or a hillock with several stairways leading to its summit. There are two tile-roof houses at the base. At the top are two stupas and a tree.

This seems like a scene from a royal garden where servants are waiting for a prince to arrive. Three birds seen here must be peacocks.

This seems like a damaged base of a pillar. Note the smooth curvature and the intricate drawing of lotuses connected by waves.

This is one of the best sculptures I saw here. The tall women dominates the scene.. she must be a princess or an young queen. The necklace hanging down from her neck down to her abdomen is simply beautiful. She's wearing heavy ear pendants and anklets. The two women accompanying her must be her servants. One seems to be holding a mirror while the other one is carrying a box like object.

Coming to the last picture.. we have the emperor Ashoka himself here. He seems to be accompanied by his queen. A lady attendant is holding an umbrella over his head. two other attendants are fanning the royal couple. This is a rare sculpture of Empror Ashoka.

The sculpture is rare because of the presence of the emperor's name on it. At the top is an inscription which is supposed to read "Raja Asoka."

There were many more sculptures. Perhaps I will create another post some other time.


Jan 24, 2015

Ruins of a Stupa, Kanaganahalli-Sannati

November 28, 2013
The intention of visiting Sannati was to see and photograph the only major rock edict in Karnataka. On reaching Sannati-Kanaganahalli, there was more to see than expected. There was ruins of a Buddhist stupa, excavations in progress. The site is heavily protected, even a policeman was posted on site, round the clock. Here's the post about the inscription - Ashokan major rock edict of Sannati
Ruins of the Stupa..

A board posted by ASI reads as follows:
The remains of a Maha-Stupa, which is unique in several aspects, were brought to light through excavations at Kanaganahalli (forming part of Sannati) by the Archaeological Survey of India during the years 1994-2001.  It is referred to a Adholoka Maha-Chaitya (The great stupa of the netherlands) in the inscriptions. It is a well developed stupa constructed in locally available limestone with elaborate ornamentation, ayaka platforms in the cardinal directions. The vedika (drum) anda (dome) portions were built of heavy, dressed, wedge shaped blocks of limestone and the inner core was filled by alternate layers of rubble and earth. The stupa measures nearly 22m in diameter (at the railing) and rose to a heigh of 17m. The Stupa has shown at least three constructional phases- via, Maurya, Early Satavahana and Later Satavahana periods, datable from 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD. As many as 10 small and big brick structures in the form of votive Stupas, chaitya - grihas, pavilions for accommodating sculptures and Buddha-padas and the plan of a vihara-complex are also laid bare around the Stupa. These structures appear to have been destroyed due to severe earthquake.
In addition to the structural remains, as many as 60 dome-slabs with exuberant sculptural rendering of selected Jataka stories, main events in the life of the Master, portraits of Asoka - the Mauryan emperor and more than Satavahana monarchs and certain unique depictions of Buddhist 72 drum-slabs decorated with variety of dharma-chakras, Stupas, the first sermon, Bodhi tree, Naga Muchulinda, vihara complexes including Jetavana are discovered. More than 10 inscribed sculptures of the Buddha in round, of which two are standing and others are seated; over a dozen ornate Buddha-padas are also found. Besides fragments of ayaka-pillars, umbrella stones and shafts, parts of sculptures of Yakshas and lion, the innumerable carved architectural members of the railing and other parts of the Stupa have also been unearthed. Significantly the excavations have yielded more than 250 Brahmi inscriptions with varied palaeographical features.
The magnificent Stupa, the sculptural fragments, the inscriptions, coins and other antiquities from Kanaganahalli throw immense fresh light on the historical, cultural, religious and chronological aspects of the Maurya-Satavahana times besides the spread of Buddhism, ramification and standardization of Buddhist art, architecture and iconography by providing clinching evidences.

The site as seen on Google Maps. Its located in black soil fields of Kanaganahalli village, on the left bank of river Bhima. The Stupa's circular plan is clearly recognizable here. Around the circle are several rectangular patches- these are red brick piles.

As seen from east. The electrical poles with a transformer is a good reference point. The ASI team here is working hard collecting pieces, identifying them piece by piece and trying to put them together to recreate the original form. Its like trying to assemble a complex jigsaw puzzle. Besides the officers the main person involved in this activity is Hajimsaheb, a man of great experience with historical artefacts.

as seen from south-west
ruins of a brick structure
stone pillars supported by metal pipes are part of the circular railing
brick structure on the south-east side if the Stupa
part of the railing on north-east side
railing pillars and sculptures placed in approximate locations
hundreds of such sculptures to be assembled to solve the big puzzle
part of the base where the rubble inside is exposed
railing pillar with lotus mural and a model stupa in the background
closer look at the stupa wall created by dressed lime-stone blocks
slabs laid on the walkway between the main wall and railing
shaped blocks form a shallow channel around the main wall

Dharma Chakra mounted on a pillar
About 100' away from the stupa ruins are blocks arranged in two concentric circles, each of the blocks have sculptures of real world and mythological animals. Some of the animals depicted are bull, buffalo, elephant, lion, horse, pig, and donkey. Majority of the sculptures depict imaginary creatures with body of lion.

The blocks found here are definitely not enough to completely recreate a Stupa but definitely some of the important parts are here while many of them are lost, never to be recovered. Nevertheless ASI team is carrying out the work diligently..

Check out the following post- Buddhist sculptures at Kanaganahalli-Sannati site.

Jan 21, 2015

Raachi Gudi, Aihole

December 16, 2011
Raachi Gudi is one of the temples on the western border of Aihole village, near Eniyar Gudi. A board at the temple compound gives out some information about this temple:
This is a XI century Kalyana Chalukya temple and it is a Shiva temple with three Garbhagrihas (Trikutachala). The temple is on a high pedestal, and the Garbhagrihas have a common vestibule with entrances in three directions, and there is a huge Mukhamantapa with Kakshasanas and half-pillars standing on them. It contains Nandi. The Rangamantapa in between has four pillars, and the only two Shikharas on the Garbhagrihas remain.

Rachi Gudi is one of the well preserved temples of Aihole. Village students come here to read their books and also some people to sleep peacefully :)

Hope to add more pictures some time future.

Jan 17, 2015

Veniyar Gudi complex, Aihole

December 16, 2011
Eniyar or Veniyar Gudi is situated on the western outskirts of Aihole village, Its a group of eight temples. Even though in ruins, you can make out the unique temple designs, like any other spot in Aihole. Rachi Gudi, Eniyar Gudi, Kunti gudi and Huchchappayana Matha are all the western side of Aihole. A small board gives out some information about Eniyar Gudi:
This is a complex of eight temples assigned to the XI and XII centuries of the Kalyana Chalukya times. The first shrine has no image in the sanctum. Its sanctum door is well wrought with Gajalakshmi on the lintel. The second facing the east too has no image. The third one has a Shivalinga with fine Dwarapalas. The fourth shrine facing the north has some Badami Chalukyan features but no image in the sanctum. The fifth one facing the west has a fine Varaha image on the north wall. The sixth one has on the lintel of the sanctum, in addition to Gajalakshmi, beautiful images of Ganapathi and Karthikeya. The seventh one is a Trikutachala. The eighth one has a Saptamatrika panel.

This group of temples has a mix of primitive and newer temple designs. Probably the most primitive temple designs (going by their present conditions) could be found here. The best way to reach this temple is by walk from Durga temple complex. This complex being aloof and having lot of open space, its a convenient spot for villagers to sun dry their farm produce. And this particular temple villager's favorite spot to rest and watch their wares. The temple has a roof which is partly flat and mostly sloping. I'm not sure if this temple's Shikhara was ever completed. The smaller temple is just three walls and a roof. Both temples are east facing while remaining temples face north or west.

Also there's a Kalyani behind these temples.

This is the temple which has Gajalakshmi on the lintel. The temple would have been an elegant structure in its heydays. It resembles Hucchimalli temple little bit.

Temple in Badami Chalukya design. It has an open Sabhamantapa with Sukhanasi. A vestibule connects the Sabhamantapa to the Garbhagudi.

Another North facing flat topped temple has a pillar aligned to the deity. Unlike others this temple's exterior is not plain.

At first look, this doesn't seem like a temple. Looks more like a cattle house. Its a primitive and basic looking structure.

This is a Trikutachala meaning temple with three sanctums ~ Garbhagudi. Ideally a Trikutachala has three Shikharas but they are missing here.

The last temple is probably the largest. This is the temple with a Saptamatrika panel. This temple was intended to have a stepped roof and a Shikhara. Either the work is incomplete or the temple was damaged.

To know about other monuments here check out what to see in Aihole.