Dec 29, 2018

Itagi Mahadeva Devasthana - part 3

August 15, 2018
Having covered the dozen odd temples and the well in this complex, lets take closer look at some of the sculptures of the main temple starting with a column embedded into a wall. Simply marvelous design.. what kind of a mind could imagine such shapes and produce them as well. Wondering if they were humans. Or has man degraded with passage of time?

Different view of the above. Perfect lines, perfect angles and graceful curves.. repetitions are exactly same, no difference at all.

Here's a comparison of two contrasting forms of artwork - while one is full of curves and bumps, the other is lines and angles. Chalukyan sculptors were equally comfortable with both types. Not sure if sculptors specialized in one type though. This ferocious looking face is known as Keerthimukha. The mural dropping from the head is perfectly symmetrical. The curvy portions are very detailed, every little bump is similar. This temple has atleast two dozen Keerthimukha and they are exactly same. Talking about the pillar, I tend to think of a machined component. This pillar design is seriously captivating. There are two projections in this pillar, wondering what thy are for. There are hundreds of such cubical projections around this temple.

Here we have a third form of artwork.. combination of curves and lines.This is one of the best pillar designs I've ever seen. Personally I think, Chalukyan temples demonstrate better designs compared to Hoysala and Vijayanagara. Need to compare Kadamba and Chalkyan art some time.

These two blocks are pillar bases positioned atop a wall. Miniature pillars on a pillar base. On the rim of the seating platform are miniature Keerthimukha

Keerthimukha enclosed in a triangle. This is inside the main temple, on the ceiling, positioned at the four corners of square base of a circular dome. You can see the dome in part-1 of this article.

Back to the temple exterior, close to the roof is this handsome sculpture consisting of contrasting features.. ferocious face and the peaceful lotus. I think Keerthimukha are like Drishti Gombe.. to keep protect the temple from evil eyes. 

Yet another form of Keerthimukha on the walls. This is damaged, parts of the jaw has chipped away. The popping eye depicts the heights of anger.

If I'm not mistaken this too is called Keerthimukha. An imaginary creature with a long tongue and strong set of teeth. Going by the teeth, this creature must be herbivorous. This type of face is also seen where water flows out such as Garbhagudi drain and rooftop rainwater outlets.

Here's a richly decorated rainwater drain.. the imaginary creature looks like an elephant. So it seems the previous sculpture is a modified form of elephant head.

Turning our attention to a voluptuous girl attired in jewelry and stylish headgear. On her sides are pedestals with the elephant like creature. A dwarf is her attendant.

The main temple is east facing, the main entrance opens directly to the Sabhamantapa, there's no door frame in the front. However, it's side entrances are grand. Both looks same by form and dimensions but each is unique in design. A portico shelters the door frame. The portico roof has a concave dome with carvings which looks like wood work. This picture below shows just a part of the wall above the door frame. See the bottom right of the picture, just above the frame is hollow sculpture, like box made of wire frame. This is one of the sculptures which makes Itagi Mahadeva temple special.

A closer look at the wire frame box in the door frame. Amazing work! What tools were used to carve stone to this form.

Another view of the wire frame box. Its hollow inside. You can see this type of sculpture in other door frames as well. At places the length is two or three feet. Sculpting a 9' x 9' (approximate dimension) monolith into a door frame with such details is an incredibly extraordinary feat. No scope for any errors, pure perfection!

Top left corner of the frame.. such complex design.

Having visited this temple two times, I want to see it one more time, probably spend an entire day staring at its walls and pillars.

At one of the smaller temples, noticed these grooves and rust marks on floor slabs. Its known that Chalukyan builders did use steel strips to bind blocks in certain situations. I remember seeing such strips at Malgitti Shivalaya in Badami.

Lastly, before I close this post, I want to share this picture a series of pits on floor of the main temple. This is handiwork of people who loved playing games. You can see this pattern of pits in few other ancient temples of North Karnataka. Seems like it was a popular game.. probably the players used split tamarind seeds or cowries as dice and pebbles or seeds for pawns. Good to play games to keep the mind sharp.

If you are travelling between Koppal and Gadag, do visit Itagi. Its barely 10 kms from the highway. Note there's another Itagi in Gadag district which is known for Itagi Beemavva temple. Itagi Mahadeva temple is in Koppal district.

Dec 22, 2018

Itagi Mahadeva Devasthana - part 2

August 15, 2017
Itagi temple complex consists of about 15 temples and a well. The first part of this article is only about the main temple i.e. Mahadeva Devasthana. This part will cover the remaining temples and well. This west facing temple is diagonally opposite to main temple. As you see, this is an incomplete structure. On seeing such structure, partly skinned mango comes to my mind. One can get an insight into building techniques of those times. Given the space constraints here, looks like this is more or less the size (length and breadth) when finished.

This structure is close to the south-east corner of the complex, it has twenty sides and two doors on north and south faces. The front portico has sloping roof, this design is mostly seen in Kadamba temples. Next to this is another larger structure, double in size, square in plan.

Here's the plain, simple looking structure. The entire front face has am open pillared hall. Not sure if this was meant to be a temple, it could be a chatra ~ a lodge. To its right is the stepped well (see inset) which has been restored by archaeological department.

Neat job by stone dressers and builders. I've seen these types of wells in ancient temples all over Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh. People back then had dedicated so much of their time and energy into spiritual development. Such activities also provided employment which in turn curbed poverty and crime. Leaders were committed to maintaining peace in the society.

In the space between the chatra, well and main temple is this idol of Lord Brahma, the creator of this universe.

As seen from the southern side of the well. The well is designed to accommodate good number of people at the same time. On the sides are platform to keep personal items.. clothes, pooja material, etc. There are four east facing temples on the left hand side and straight ahead are south facing.

Lets take a closer look at the smaller temples. This complex has seven temples of this size, all in this stage of construction. Chalukyans had this practice of building smaller temples around the main temple.. can be seen at Aihole and at Papnashi groups of temples near Alampur in Andhra Pradesh.

Looks like a body builder. A finished temple would be a well dressed body builder.

A semi-finished east-facing temple with Mukhamantapa. Garbhagudi size is same as the smaller temples. The front hall has a circular stage.. Natyamantapa.

This temple is almost same as the previous one. As Sadhguru states, every temple would have had a purpose, they were (are) energy centers, where people came to gain cosmic energy, charge their souls.

Another east-facing temple, almost finished. I think this was restored recently. Overall structure is similar to the previous temple, small Garbhagudi with a wide Sabhamantapa with Sukhanasi around it. People could either sit on the floor or the seating platform. Lets take a look at the interior..

Though the temple looks small from outside, the inside is quite spacious. A vestibule connects the Garbhagudi to Sabhamantapa. The vestibule has a beautiful mesh screen. Two niches flank the vestibule entrance, place where idols of Ganesha or Parvati or Shanmugha are kept. Here we can see 4 or 5 types of pillar designs.

The Garbhagudi door-frame. This is a standard design in Chalukyan temples.. marvelous creations. You can sit and stare at this artwork for hours and still remain amazed. The shapes, dimensions and proportions.. how did the designer ever imagine it and how the sculptor produced it. Feel so helpless that I cannot go back in time when these temples were being made.. or could there be a way.. mind-power can make anything possible.

A closer look at the bottom portion of the door frame. Wondering what the ribbed thing with three circular hole is. The human characters, the miniature pillar, they look so realistic. Simply amazing!

This is a view from one of the smaller incomplete temples. I'm standing on its dance stage. Surely the stage dimensions and form has a connection with the type of dance performed on it. A dancer wouldn't have to look at the floor to know his/her position.. they could feel it through their feet, I think.
This is that temple with the best dance stage in this complex. In this complex are four south-facing temples, including this one. By the way, there's one temple facing every cardinal direction here. Behind this incomplete structure is another smaller one with a small Shikhara.

A lotus on a pedestal. Seen here is the rear side of the temple described previously. The exterior has decorative pillars and niches around it.

Coming to the last temple which is actually the first item as we enter this complex. As you see this too is incomplete.. Shikhara and Sabhamantapa roof are the pending works.

This is a restored temple, the pillars of the Sabhmantapa are made by present day sculptors. I remember seeing them at work during my first visit in October 2009. Work well done!


Dec 15, 2018

Itagi Mahadeva Devasthana - part 1

My first visit to Itagi was October 2009. Plan for the day was to see Lakkundi and return to Dharwad. However a tourist guide at Lakkundi insisted on a visit to Itagi and Kukanur. Yes, I visited both places and the sculptures of Itagi Mahadeva temple blew me off! They were one of the best quality works ever seen. Sadly some of delicate sculptures are damaged, yet there's so much remaining intact which can leave you amazed.

August 15, 2017
Having camped at Anegundi village, we had spent two days sightseeing Anegundi and Hampi, our plan for the day was to drive to Dharwad. Since we were expected at Dharwad by lunch time, we had plans to see Kukanur and Itagi on the way, Pushpa had seen neither. First we visited Kukanur and then came to Itagi. Independence Day flag hoisting had just finished and a procession was in progress at the village square, school kids dressed in white waving flags. It was 9-30 as we entered the temple complex.

This complex has about 15 temples, with Mahadeva temple being the largest. The other temples are smaller and incomplete. The main temple is east facing and behind it is a Kalyani. Opposite the complex is a large pond, probably ancient but man made.

Lets start with the rear view of Mahadeva temple. The temple has one Garbhagudi with a Shikhara and three entrances. Each of the entrances has Mukhamantapa. The temple is an example of one of the best in Chalukyan architecture. As you see the Shikhara's upper portion is not original, its was restored recently. Good job by the restoration team.

This is the rear-side view. In this view about ¾ of the temple's length is visible, the front portion is concealed behind one of the Mantapa's pillars. It is said that Amruteshwara Devasthama of Annigeri was the prototype of Itagi Mahadeva temple. Annigeri is about 67 kms away from here.

This is the front entrance, with the Shikhara hidden its looks pretty simple, right? Every pillar here is complex, detailed work. Builders did not plan anything simple. Look at any part- pillars, walls, Shikhara, domes and door-frames.

Here we are about to step into the pillared temple. These pillars are standing freely on the floor, they are not bonded in anyway. While the pillars in the front have square bases, the inner pillars are much more complex.

Basavanna facing the Garbhagudi tells this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The plain pillar in the aisle seen here was later addition, probably to support a weak beam. Notice the pillars in the foreground.

This is the dance hall, the platform has a circular stage at the center. The Garbhagudi in the background is located on the left side of this temple. I think this isn't the main shrine but presently rituals are being performed here. Again, we have two more plain pillars to support a weak beam.

This is the exterior view of the Garbhagudi. Looks like this temple is a Trikutachala. There should be another Garbhagudi on the opposite side as well.

Looking towards the main entrance. Pillar designs are truly eye catching and awe inspiring. Nandi idol is damaged badly.

This is one of the domes, probably over the dance stage. Four concentric rings and sixteen spokes merge into the hub which looks like a lotus bud.

Side view of Mukhamantapa.. this part of the temple is symmetrical in plan and elevation.

The temple has two mantapas protruding from the main structure. Again the pillars, crown and door frame associated to this structure are complex sculptures. The mantapa has a concave dome similar to the one seen earlier.

The former dome's hub was closed lotus bud, here the bud is slightly open. Then the two inner concentric rings are broken by design.. wondering why.

The line where the dome meets the head portion of the door frame.Notice how the dome transitions from circle to octagon to square. The door frame has seven levels. One of the levels is mesh work studded with characters from Hindu legends.

The mantapa pillars. The corner pillars look like some complex gear system, don't they. How did the sculptors create that, the precision from top to bottom. The turned pillars are graceful.

View from inside of the Mantapa. Before the temple was taken over by ASI, this was used for various activities by village folks, right from storing material, as a cattle shed, club for board games or just to pass time. Notice the little pits on the seat, those were definitely created by hands which did not have anything better to do. Inside there's a series of pits used to play some sort of game.

I move along the temple exterior. This canopy catches my eyes. There's no window as such, the canopy is decorative, made to look like wood work. Notice how the pillar is.. horizontal and vertical ribs.. amazing!

View of the Shikhara, will need a life time to study the design.

Another type of canopy.. a curved one. Notice the handsome rain water drain pipe with a circular hole. Flowing water is fine but no to stagnant water on the roof. This is how buildings last.

There's more to see in this temple.. the article will continue in Itagi Mahadeva Devasthana - part 2.