Dec 11, 2019

Ganapati Devastana, Hangal

This article is continuation of Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-4.

Hangal is known for Tarakeshwara Devastana, a Chalukyan monument, a temple dedicated to the form of Shiva. The temple site has not one temple but two. The other temple is dedicated to Ganesha the remover of obstacles. Both temples' architecture are similar. The noticeable difference is the size and the forms of their Shikharas.

Ganesha Devastana horizontal axis is perpendicular to Tarakeshwara temple axis. While Tarakeshwara is east-facing, Ganesha is south-facing. In plan the temple has a Mukha Mantapa with Sukanasi around it, Antharala and Garbhagudi.

This the Mukha Mantapa. I think this place was used as Natya Mantapa since it has a circular stage in the center.

The door-frame and threshold are as grand as the columns. It seems both temples were built during the same time.
Another view of the Natya Mantapa. Looks like lime was applied to some of the surfaces. Lime has a corrosive effect on stones. Good someone had it removed.

This little temple also has a chandelier. The diameter is approximately 9 feet. The design is fascinating, thought provoking work. How did the sculptors manage to achieve the precision. Did they create the design on their own? How was the piece hauled up there?

In the given space and camera this is the best side view I could get. As you see the Gabhagudi crown is a tapering type called Rekhanagari Shikhara. This is the type which can be seen in North Indian temples. Chalukyan builders had designed and developed several types of Shikharas, the experiments were carried out at Aihole and Pattadakal.

A look at the Shikhara standing close to its base. The graceful curves merge to one point.. beautiful. In a way this Shikhara is difficult to construct compared to the stepped Shikhara. Oh the ancient builders, I bow with respect.

Having seen the wonderful monument, we prepared to leave, with one last look at Tarakeshwara Devatana. Now we had to pass through the crowded market, Pushpa already had a mental a list of things to buy. She stopped to pick up vegetables close to the temple gate. We had to buy a bag to carry our shopping. Pushpa picked up a couple of bags from a bag vendor, forgot to pay, the owner about his payment! Small embarrassment.

First stop was onion and potato shop. Stuff was good, not the cold storage stuff we usually get in cities.

Nest was fresh vegetables. The yellow tint is because of the makeshift shelter. All vendors are prepared for rains, business can't stop. Pushpa picked several vegetables, when done she forgot to pay again. Second embarrassment!!

Pushpa wanted to pick up vegetables for two or three shops, had to be reminded three times to pay.Then she wanted to purchase jowar but I was hesitant. So we called an aunt at Dharwad who advised to buy it at Dharwad instead. Thanks to my aunt I was spared the task of hauling 10kg jowar through the crowd.

We had to walk almost a kilometer, half way through rain started falling, we managed to stay dry, thanks to the market. By the way, Hangal being close to Sirsi which is known for pineapple production, has fresh pineapples. We picked up three, our car was filled with its sweet aroma.

The rainfall continued and got heavier. We were driving towards Tadas, the road was scenic because of the hills, curvy roads, green fields and woods. The rain was so heavy there were streams across the roads. It was many years since I'd seen such rains, thoroughly enjoyed the scenes.
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Dec 7, 2019

Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-4

..continued from Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-3

I'm standing at the center of the front hall, right under the dome and chandelier, looking towards the Garbhagudi in the far end. Extra columns have been placed to support the beams, Probably the weight of the chandelier and Shikhara were underestimated hence the need for extra columns.

There it is.. the chandelier is a complex collection of heavily detailed circular forms. Its is approximately 12 to 15 feet in diameter.

A closer look at the core of the chandelier. It looks like the smaller ones are individually fixed around the stem of the central piece. This is one amazing creation. Wonder how the sculptors created it and assembled it so precisely.

This is the front portion, those are the columns of the very first row. They seem to have a woody look because of the brownish hue. The pillars are handsome and proud to be carrying the load all these years.

As I move inwards, another pair of extra columns are seen. These were added in the early stages of the temple, as and when the need for extra support under the beam was felt. The additional pillars are slim, nicely done but they do seem out of place. Notice the difference in the pillars on the opposite side? I guess the builders added them during the finishing stages, sensing the need for additional support. Two such pairs have been added to the beams on either ends of this hall.

A closer look at one of the columns. Its color makes it look wooden. The design is quite complex with so many types of sections. Wondering if the columns were painted.. hope not.

This picture was shot with my mobile to get a wider shot. The circular disc like part seen at the top of the column is an independent object between the column and beam, held in place by the weight of the roof. Its a self-aligning part which allows flexibility in the structure to absorb seismic shocks.

This picture too is from my mobile phone, view of the same hall from another spot. I wonder of the pillar design has anything to do with the flow of cosmic energy.

The chandelier of central hall, the largest of three chandeliers of Tarakeshwara Devastana.

From the central hall, we move on towards the western part of the temple. If you look at the plan of the temple, this was the original entrance of the temple, the portion behind me must be the extension. As you see, the four columns form the Mukha Mantapa, there is Sukhnasi (seating platform) and the grand door frame is the entrance. The door opens into the Natya Mantapa which itself is formed by four grand columns.

Before stepping into the Mukhamantapa, lets check out the six images on the Sukhanasi backrest. The first one from left is a man and serpent, they seem to be friends. The second image is a man with multi-headed serpent. Then a man hugging a deer, a young girl, another serpent and lastly a seated man and a child.

On the other side is  five characters, three women and two men. The extreme right one is the most striking of all, a tall sexy looking girl.

Before we step into the Natya Mantapa, lets take a look at the Mukha Mantapa ceiling. Its a standard pattern, a 3 x 3 grid forming 9 cells. The cells are usually filled with images of gods or lotus. At the center and corners are full lotuses and the sides have half lotuses. The pleasant form of the lots is a warm welcome to visitors entering the temple. Shifting our view from the ceiling, lets take a look at the door frame. The door frame is crowned by seven miniature temples. Each of the temple is formed by a set of pillars and a crown. The central temple being the largest, right below which is the image of Gajalaxmi. The door frame has seven layers, each if the layer emerges from the crown, flowing downwards.

The symmetrical door frame of seven layers. For some reason there is some misalignment on the right hand side. Anyway, each of the layers has its own characteristics.


Each of the seven layers merge into their respective bases which rest on the threshold. Each of the bases have a niche with a bejeweled girl standing gracefully as though welcoming visitors. If you notice carefully, on the right hand side are seven such girls and on the left hand side are six. The seventh one is incomplete. I suspect it has been left incomplete intentionally. The threshold is grand too, wider in the middle and narrower at the sides. So when one enters or exits, it has to be from a side.

Here's a zoomed in view of the seven distinct layers. If you observe carefully, the images with human forms in unique stances.

Finally, we enter the Natya Mantapa. These are the two of four pillars. The pillar bases are richly decorated, the mid portions are polished to mirror finish. Between the four pillars is Nandi, sitting patiently in front of his lord. In the background is the Garbhagudi door frame and the flanking mesh screen. In the middle is the mesh screen wooden door.

Another view of the Garbagudi wall.

Notice the Natya Mantapa's circular stage. A temple visitor peeps through a gap for a Darshan of lord Tarakeshwara, a form of Shiva in his role as a psychopomp, a deliverer of the soul into freedom from rebirth - as per Wikipedia. Rituals are performed daily, then the door is closed for most of the day and opens again for evening rituals.

On the southern side of the Natya Mantapa is another Mantapa with a Shiva Linga in the center.

Having seen most of the temple, there's one set of images to to be seen at the eastern tip. These sculptures are on the back of the Sukhanasi. The images depict erotic scenes, couple engaged in sexual activity. Such images can be seen in many Hindu temples. I'd asked a person the purpose of such images. The answer was to ward off evil eyes on the temple. There could be other reasons.

With this we are done with the tour of this great temple. There's another temple within this site. Its a temple dedicated to Ganapati. We'll see that temple in the following post- Ganapati Devastana, Hangal.
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Nov 30, 2019

Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-3

...continued from Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-2

The previous two posts covered the southern side exterior of this east-facing temple. Now we are on the northern side. The temple is symmetrical along its east-west axis, the faces look same but the sculptures on the walls are different. This is the backrest of the Sukhanasi, the seating platform at the entrance of Natya Mantapa. The wall carries a series of completed and incomplete images which are sensual in nature. At the far end of the wall, on the corner pillar is the image of standing Brahma, the creator of this universe.

Here's a rough plan of the roof to get an idea of the size of the temple. The structure is approximately 147 feet long and 62 feet at the widest point. It has 3 sections connected by bridge like platforms. Each of the sections has a dome under which is a chandelier of that diameter. We started our tour from the eastern side, went around the temple in clockwise direction.


Brahma with four arms.. Abhaya Hasta, Rājadaṇḍa, Japamala and Kamandalu. The two female characters must be his attendants, they can't be his wives Gayatri and Saraswati. Check out this beard and hair sticking out below his crown. Talking of the crown, the design is superb, the concentric arcs are something I've never seen earlier.

The series of sensual images.. the pillars are done but the human images are in various stages. Wondering why the sculptor has left eight incomplete images. Parallel processing? The white/cream colored matter seems to be POP, remnants of an impression gathering exercise.

We move on the next set of images. Again we have incomplete work except for the Hanuman's image among them.

This series shows images includes two archers. Notice the bows, the strings look more like ropes. For some reason this piece is incomplete as well.. notice the flat area between the Shikhara crowns, the floral work at top-right.

Hamnuman's niche has been outlined by his tail. This is the typical stance of Lord Anjaneya. Note sure of the identity of the two seated characters. Their crowns are interesting. The circular object behind each of their head must be part of the crown.

In this view of the Shikhara, the parallel lines at subsequent levels appear as though they are in a single line. I'm referring to the line that appears slanting with branches shooting off to its right.

Hanuman wearing a kacha. So the concept of kacha is ancient. Then we have Kaala Bhairava, his dog prancing up Bhairava's hand and the three-legged sage Bhringi. This is probably the only dog in this temple. Bhringi as usual is represented as a skeleton covered with skin, no flesh at all. Bhringi's stance seems to exude pain and weakness. His hairdo is quite fashionable!

Moving on to the next set of images, most are left incomplete at the final stages. With little delicate knocks of the hammer on a fine chisel would finish these images.

This is one of my favorite photos of this trip. Emerging from the dark background is the bulbous top of a pillar with an elaborate top.. a pair of elephants, a Kirtimukha and the serrated line. The pillar actually has four Kirtimukha and four elephants on an octagonal section. Coming down to the Sukhanasi backrest, the vine along the border ends abruptly and the marker curves begin.

Let me call this Kaala Bhairava's corner. The Katanjana is same as the opposite site but this one is slightly damaged. Besides the exterior, a column inside the temple is damaged as well. We had spent close to 40 minutes.

The zigzag walls and roof edge in sync throughout the perimeter of the temple which is approximately 500 feet. The building which looks like one is actually a temple and two halls joined together. One can easily spend two to three hours to actually seeing the exterior and interior. Makes me wonder how many people were involved in building it.

Pushpa was tired, found a nice spot to rest and catch up with messages on her phone. The Katanjana on this side is simple, just like the one on the other side, incomplete. If done, this Katanjana also would be the ribbed type seen earlier.

The set of five images depicts a group of artists.. musicians and dancers. Two men are seen playing drums while two women are dancing. The image of the woman in the is unfinished. Most images of women here have hour glass figures and large breasts. I guess that's how women were back then.

Now I'm at the front of the temple. Temple caretakers have filled a gap in the wall with cement - not a bad job. This wall carries a set of sensual images - couples engaged in sexual acts. Such images are more or less present in all ancient temples. It was a part of culture where everyone was expected to learn about life in a natural way. The first image is a beautiful woman with her pet, a parrot. While the last image is a handsome man, a warrior, an archer with bow resting on his shoulder.

The three images of couples engaged in different sexual acts. The couples seem to be in a single premises separated by the twin pillars, their little private spaces. There are two types of pillars here if you notice it closely. Of all the perfection see in this temple, I cannot understand the imperfection here. The Shikharas and pillars below are misaligned. I could count at least a dozen such Shikharas.

The elephant pillar with a hemispherical top. I love the perfect little triangles running around the surface. The mural between the elephants is lieu of Kirtimikha. The color is different, it seems to have a light tint of copper. On the right, at the top is the overhang to keep out rain and excessive  sunlight.

Here are half dozen Shikharas which are notably different from others. The designs on their 'forehead' are nothing the ones seen earlier. Also, these have a touch of an amateur, as if sculpted by an inexperienced had. However, the designs are unique.

Having spent almost an hour seeing the exterior, I decided it was time to see the interior. This picture was shot with Moto-Z mobile phone camera.

This article will continue in the next post.. Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-4.
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