Mar 4, 2017

Basavanna Temple, Lepakshi

October 11, 2015
This was probably my fourth visit to Lepakshi. We were travelling from Bengaluru to Hyderabad; our journey had started early morning and we'd reached Lepakshi by 6-30. Here we are looking at the great Basavanna in the first light of the day.

A small board planted here described this statue as follows-

Basavanna Temple, Lepakshi

The gigantic bull in couchant posture is a grand cut out sculpture of a huge granite rock. This monolitic sculpture is a unique example of its kind in the country. It faces west and looking towards the Nagalinga located behind the Veerabhadra temple. It is ten meters in length and six meters in height. It is decorated with a necklace, muvvahara and hara of bells and has short horns.

The massiveness in size has not been secured at the expense of artistic beauty. The bull is depicted in the characteristic pose of Nandi. It is noticeable that the head is held aloft at a higher angle than usual.

Consequently, the expression of submission which is typical of Nandi before Siva, is conspicuous by its absence here. From the standpoint of proper proportion in the formation of various limbs and excellent finish secured in the workmanship, this Nandi is an excellent piece of the Vijayanagara period.

Vijayanagara empire existed between 1336 CE and 1646 CE. While the empire was ruled from its capital Hampi, in the great battle of 1565 at Talikoti, Vijayanagara army was defeated and Hampi was ransacked. The empire somehow survived with the its capital at Penukonda. During this time, the rulers built lot of temples in the surrounding places. Some of the places where temples have survived to this day.. Penukonda hill, Lepakshi, Gudibanda, and Gummanayakana. There can be other spots as well. So going by the available information, I'm guessing this Basavanna to be created around 1580 CE.
Legend says that Basavanna statues were always carved in single days i.e. the sculpture team had only one day to actually carve it out. The team would begin work at dawn and by dusk has to end the work. As I go around the Basavanna, it is evident that the proportion have been maintained well. One characteristic of this Basavanna is- this depicts a young bull.

Among the decorative items is Kirthimukha which appears on both sides of the body. Also seen here is a portion of the bell-necklace which goes around the neck. Check out the detailing of the necklace.. individual links have been carved out so carefully.

Where there's a Basavanna, there has to be a Shivalinga. This Basava too is facing its Lord which is 358 meters away within the walls of Sri Veerabhadra Swamy temple.

Here's the Shivalinga seated on the coils and sheltered by the hood of a five head serpent.

Within sight of Basavanna is this rock formation carrying quarry activity signs. These ricks were being sized down for some building nearby before being abandoned.

On another rock within sight are sets of lines. This could be a sculpture's diary showing the number of days worked. So it seems that the concept of daily wages existed back then.

We move on towards Sri Veerabhadra Swamy temple.

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