Oct 12, 2019

Kalleshwara Devasthana, Yelebethur

July-25-2019
Our day started with a journey from Bangalore to Santhebennur where we saw Ramthirth Pushkarni, Rama Devasthana and Kote Anjaneya Devasthana. Having done with Santhebenur, we headed towards Davangere. The road connecting Santhebennur-Davangere was good, journey was smooth. At Davangere we met Pushpa's friend Saraswati, it was almost lunch time, we chose to have Benne Dosa. Saraswati's neighbor suggested we go to Kottureshwara Benne Dose shop near Bapuji Dental College. Their menu has just two types of dosa, always served hot, excellent taste. As we ate, we convinced Saraswati to join us to see the ancient temple of Yelebethur which is abut 6 kms north of Davangere. At the village, we stopped at a shop to inquire the location of Kalleshwara Devasthana. An elderly person at the shop offered to take us to the temple :) Nothing like a local guide to show us around.

The temple is situated next to a road passing through paddy fields, sugarcane fields, coconut and arecanut gardens. The gate was locked but our host Sri Shivanandayya found a gap in the fence and led us in. Here we are.. the ancient Kalleshwara temple.

The temple doesn't seem to be a protected site. Any maintenance that has happened is due to the village people. The garden surrounding is temple has few sacred trees like Patri, Neem, Sri Gandha, Yekke and there was one Frangipani as well. Going by the architecture of this structure, it must be Chalukyan, probably built any time between XII and XV Century. Kalleshwara is one of the names of Lord Shiva. The name is made of two words- Kallu (stone) and Eshwara.

The temple is rectangular in plan. It has two main parts- the Sabha Mantapa (meeting hall) and Garbhagudi (sanctum). The Sabha Mantapa is a pillared and open space however, the hero-stones and inscription slabs have made the hall semi-closed. Apart from the hero-stones, there are few other sculptures, the most interesting one being the idol of Mahishasuramardhini.

Mahishasuramardhini idol, including its pedestal is about four and half feet tall. The gey-colored stone must be slate. Compared to other sculptures, the idol seems relatively new.

A closer look at it. The eight-armed Durga is in the act of slaying Mahishasura, the demon in the form of a buffalo. Durga has beheaded the buffalo, pulled out the demon and stabbed him in the stomach. This form of Durga is generally known as Mahishasuramardhini.

This temple has about five hero-stones and inscription slabs. The inscription is in Kannada, probably a brief history of this temple and records of grants. Hero-stones, Veeragallu are tribute to warriors who lost their lives in battles or during an act of fighting wild animals.

Image of the warrior engaged with the enemy. Between the panels is a short inscription in Kannada, probably the name of the martyr.

Now we step into the Sabha Mantapa. On its southern side are three hero-stones. Probably they have been fixed here to prevent  sunlight. The sculptures depict battle scenes where warriors lost lives and ascended to the Kailasa, The second panel from the top shows the warrior seated in a Mantapa being lifted by fairies. The top most panel shows the warrior merging with Shiva.

These are typical Chalukyan pillars holding up beams and roof. Its an assembly which is not held by any binding material. The flooring is recently done cement surface.

An idol of a seated Gowri, I think. As you see, pooja is performed every morning by offering fresh flowers.

The spacious Sabha Mantapa. The floor had been washed earlier in the morning. The columns have been vandalized, especially the rectangular faces which normally have inscriptions or a story sculpture or some times left blank.

The Garbhagudi door frame is a grand sculpture. Every layer is unique, floral, geometrical or combination of both. Every layer here starts and ends with a graceful female form.

A closer look at the ten beauties. Wish I'd taken a closer shot.

The interior was cool, one could easily fall asleep here. As I went around Pushpa had shot a video. She and Saraswati parked themselves on a stone bench. Saraswati remarked that the place feels so peaceful, happy that she came along.

The vandalized columns. In spite of all the abuse the structure is standing. That's how ancient builders could build.. strong and stable.

Our host Shivanandayya also found a spot to relax. He seems to be thinking of some upcoming work  at home or fields. As this picture was shot, I noticed the checkered surface of the ceiling. In other Chalukyan temples, one could see sculptures of gods and goddesses in nine panels.

It was time to leave, we got up and walked back along the temple. This sculpture seems to be made around the same time as Durga idol.

This is the Shikhara and Kalsha over the Garbhagudi. A Kirthimukha is also seen up there.

Thanks to Shivanandayya for bringing us and being with us. We dropped him off back at the village and headed back to Davangere. We dropped off Saraswati at her home and continued our journey towards Haveri where we planned to stay overnight. The plan for the morrow was visit few ancient temples between Haveri and Hangal.
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Oct 9, 2019

Sri Rama Devasthana and Kote Anjaneya Devasthana, Santhebennur

..continued from Ramthirth Pushkarni of Santhebennur and Musafirkhana.

July-25-2019
This little temple dedicated to Shri Rama is situated less than 100 meters from the Pushkarni. Hence the water tank is known by its name.
Besides the temple are these two Mantapas, one large and the other small.

View of the Musafirkhana from the temple. The building sits in between the Pushkarni and the temple. While the Pushkarni was built by Paleygara Kenga Hanumanthappa, the Musafirkhana was raised by the Muslim rulers.

About kilometer away from the Pushkarni is this temple dedicated to Anjaneya. The temple is situated in Santhebennur fort area hence the name Kote Anjaneya. Not much remains of the fortification, could see just this wall.

The temple is situated on the northern outskirts of the town. Its quite peaceful here.

When we approached the temple, its doors were shut. An elderly lady living close by opened the door for us. Inside there was a surprise.. a cat sitting on the Garbhagudi threshold, its front-right paw had kumkum on it. It would not budge from its place until the elderly lady shooed it away. Probably the cat was Anjaneya's Bhakta, sitting there and meditating :)

Having done with Santhebennur, we headed towards Davangere. Our next destination was Kalleshwara Devasthana of Yelebethur village.
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Oct 5, 2019

Musafirkhana, Santhebennur

..continued from Ramthirth Pushkarni of Santhebennur.

July-25, 2019
We went around the Pushkarni checking out the stepped sides and its nine Mantapa. This stepped tank was built for the Rama temple situated across the road. However, when one sees this monument, it seems that the Musafirkhana is part of the Pushkarni. While the water tank was constructed by Kenga Hanumantappa Nayaka, a Palegar under Vijayanagar empire, the arched building was constructed by the Muslim rulers. It seems the intention of placing the building was to cut off the Pushkarni from the temple. Well, that's my opinion.

A board at the entrance of this monument describes it as follows:
Musafirkhana and Honda
The large pond (Honda) has its sides veneered with granite steps. Out of eight towers at the cardinal points, only six are intact in various stages of preservation. The most striking feature of the pond is its ornate pavilion built on a square plinth with an arched entrance which has a flight of steps leading to the first tier. The first tier is an open pavilion with slender pillars at the periphery and austere railings in between. Towards the cardinal directions are elegant arched pavilions supported by heavy stone, Pushpa Potika, corbels. The second tier is repetition of the first one over which moderate eaves support a heavy parapet with slender minarets. The inter-spaces pierced with arches topped by foliate merlons. Two rows of elephants, swans and Gandaberundas (mythical twin headed bird) adore the pavilion. The ribbed dome jutting out at the center is topped by a final and its neck is decorated with lotus petals bordered by Guldastas. The Musafirkhana built on the western side as a spacious structure of granite having a large pillared hall with pointed arches probably as a prayer hall as well.

 Beautiful columns and arches grace the building's interior. It was cool in here, the walls were thick enough to insulate the air inside from the warm air outside.

Another view of the columns and arches.

Vasanta Mantapa as seen from one of the arches.

This east-facing building has only one open face. On the western wall is this flight of steps.. to no where. At some point of time this building was converted into a mosque. A caretaker here told me that a Rama temple existed here before this building came up. Hmm.. Right besides these steps is an interesting inscription in English.

The plague reads as follows:
This building is a Musafirkhana and cannot be used as a Musjid. Any violation of the purpose is punishable.

The plague has been damaged somehow. Won't be surprised if it was an act of some vandals.

The two pillars flanking the facade of this building are handsome. The architecture is from Bijapur, Gulbarga or Golconda. Such massive columns can be seen at tombs and mosques out there.

The building's terrace can be accessed from the flight of steps from its interior. Unfortunately the staircase entrance was gated and locked. A view of the Pushkarni would have been nice.

A long time wish of Santhebennur finally came true. From here we head to Rama Devasthana, just across the road.
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Sep 28, 2019

Ramthirth Pushkarni of Santhebennur

A visit to this historical tank was due several years. Enough I'd driven countless times on Bangalore-Davangere road, a visit never materialized. Finally, it was on the itinerary of our Dharwad visit. Besides Santhebennur, we had plans to visit Kalleshwara Devasthana near Davangere and few temples between Haveri and Hangal.

July-25-2019
We left Bangalore early around 5-30 AM. This was our first drive on a highway in the New Wagon-R, I was still getting to understand the car's behavior at speeds over 90 kmph. We stopped at Chitradurga for breakfast and reached Santhebennur by 10-00 AM. Its a small town, the historical monument was easy to locate. Situated on the outskirts, its a peaceful place. There was the caretaker and his assistant besides few other visitors.

At the entrance is a board which reads as follows:
Musafirkhana and Honda
The large pond (Honda) has its sides veneered with granite steps. Out of eight towers at the cardinal points, only six are intact in various stages of preservation. The most striking feature of the pond is its ornate pavilion built on a square plinth with an arched entrance which has a flight of steps leading to the first tier. The first tier is an open pavilion with slender pillars at the periphery and austere railings in between. Towards the cardinal directions are elegant arched pavilions supported by heavy stone, Pushpa Potika, corbels. The second tier is repetition of the first one over which moderate eaves support a heavy parapet with slender minarets. The inter-spaces pierced with arches topped by foliate merlons. Two rows of elephants, swans and Gandaberundas (mythical twin headed bird) adore the pavilion. The ribbed dome jutting out at the center is topped by a final and its neck is decorated with lotus petals bordered by Guldastas. The Musafirkhana built on the western side as a spacious structure of granite having a large pillared hall with pointed arches probably as a prayer hall as well.

Wondering why the board doesn't state Honda and Musafirkhana?

It is said that Paleygar Kenga Hanumantappa Nayaka, ruler of Santhebennur under the Vijayanagar kings, built this Pushkarini in the XVI Century CE. The tank was built for the temple dedicated to Lord Rama hence it was called as Ramthirtha Pushkarni. The tower at the center of the tank is called Vasanta Mantapa was built to mark Kenga Hanumantappa’s victory over the Adil Shahis of Bijapur.

The construction is precise. Due to its superb design and workmanship the structure has stayed intact for centuries. Of course, efforts by ASI has preserved with wonderful monument.

The tank has totally 8 Mantapas. Five around the perimeter wall, two on its steps and one in the water. The grandest of all is the central Vasanta Mantapa.

Perhaps, its ten because one Mantapa on the steps is a double Mantapa.. each of the Mantapas can be accessed separately. Probably these two Mantapa were used to perform rituals.

The architecture is Vijayanagara as seen in many more tanks across Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. After the great battle Rakkasgi-Tangadgi, the Muslim rulers modified many Hindu monuments by installing their symbols and designs. I think, the masonry atop this Mantapa is the modified version.

Some say that the Vasanta Mantapa as made to appear as though it was floating in water. It is said that Theppotsaava was held here. The deity is placed in a coracle with all the decoration and paddled around. Usually that's a evening ritual, oil lamps light up the place creating a dramatic effect.

A closer look at the crown of double-decker Mantapa.. brick and mortar. Of the nine Mantapas, six have crowns, the remaining three are flat topped.

Another view of the double-decker Mantapa. The arched building in the background is Musafirkhana, the guest house which was later added by Muslim rulers. They conveniently placed it between the temple and its tank, cutting out the temple's view completely. Now it looks as though the Musafirkhana and Pushkarni were built together. Perhaps, it won't be wrong to call it cultural invasion.

Pushpa poses with the monument.

In the background are two large trees, close to the tree on the left is Sri Rama Devasthana. Now you get how the new rulers inserted their guest house to cut off the temple's view? And, newspaper carrying an article on this place says there was religious harmony back then!!

View of the tank from northeast corner Mantapa. Every Mantapa is unique in design. Back then builders rarely built duplicates.

Pushpa hugs a pillar to get respite from the heat. Though it was cloudy, it was quite warm.

This is the northern Mantapa. The pillars have unique sculptures just the temples and Mantapas seen at Vijayanagara. Check out the mural work on the crown.

A pair of entwined serpents shown artistically. Every such face of every column carry images of Gods, warriors, animals, birds, floral or geometric forms.

Image of Lord Hanuman.. has to be present where Lord Rama is.

Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles has to be present. Vijayanagara temple builders must have standardized this design so that it helps educate people.. they get to see the different forms of life, flowers, creative designs, legendary characters, and puzzles too.

View of the tall Mantapa in the background of straight lines formed by steps. Amazing workmanship from stone dressers and masons laying them perfectly.

Having gone around the tank, we come to its main entrance.. this is where people entered the tank coming from Rama temple. The simple Mantapa is the caretaker's post, he gets a view of the entire place.

Besides the Pushkarni are these remains.. seems like a feeder tank. Rainwater must be flowing into this pit which was then fed to the Pushkarni. May be they were two two independent tanks.

Vijayanagara builders had their own water management technology. You can see some examples at Hampi like the Queen's bath and the Octagonal water pavilion.

Having seen the Pushkarni, we enter the Musafirkhana.
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