Oct 26, 2019

Sarveshwara Devasthana, Naregal

This unique temple was discovered as I researched historical monuments of  Haveri district. Its sloping roof was the most interesting feature. The other temple with a notable slope roof is Madhukeshwara Devastana, Banavasi. However, this temple we are seeing today has a dominant sloped roof, like a hut. I was eager to see the temple for real, decided to visit Naregal during the next opportunity.

July 26, 2019
After a tiring day long tour of Santhebennur and Davangere, we had checked into a hotel at Haveri. The following morning we check out and headed towards Naregal which is 15 kms in the westerly direction.. Haveri-Sirsi highway. We drove through Sangur village, crossed Varada river, and turned right towards our destination. The interior roads were solid concrete surfaces flanked by lush green fields.. maize, green-gram, soya, cotton.. seasonal crops.

We had to drive through the narrow streets to reach the other side of the village. People here refer to the temple as Sarateshwara Gudi. The temple is situated on the village border, next to a pond which was dry due to lack of rains. We parked our car to a side and walked about 200 meters to the temple which has a wall and fence around it. Yes, its a protected monument. This is the first glance of Sarveshwara Devasthana.

As we approached the temple, there were two teenage girls walking ahead of us. Pushpa and I spoke to them and found they were daughters of the temple priest. They come here every morning for a walk and sweep the yard. It was nice to know that daily rituals were performed here.. that way the temple will be tidy.

That's Shivanandayya S Hiremath, his daughters Jyoti and Swheta with Pushpa. Shivanandayya swept the interior floor as well. Thanks to their efforts, this monument is well maintained. This east-facing temple is rectangular in plan, has a Sabha Mantapa (meeting hall), Sukanasi (platform seat), Antarala (vestibule connecting the meeting hall and sanctum), Garbhagudi (sanctum), a main door and two side entrances.

Opposite the main door are a line of shaped stones which I guess represent donation in the form of cattle given to this temple. One can see similar stones at Lad Khan Gudi at Aihole.

Lets take a look at the interior now. This is the meeting hall. There are four rows of columns running along the length of this hall, two similar pairs but every pillar is unique. The low ceiling is is supported by beams as well.

Another view of the hall. The greenish layer is fungus on rock which is normally seen during rainy season. One can see two types of pillars- square base with circular top and the other is basically square in section but has curved edges. The round pillars are polished smooth, so smooth that originally they might have had mirror finish. The other pillars too have smooth surfaces but not mirror like. At the end of this hall is the Antarala and Garbhagudi.

Closer view of the elaborate mesh wall and door frame. The sanctum is lit by a single oil lamp bright enough for one to see the deity but not enough for the camera from here. The perforated screen is a classic design seen in many a Chalukyan temples. The same design is also seen in relatively newer Kakatiyan temples at Warangal.

The door frame is graced by the Trimurti.. Shiva flanked by Brahma and Vishnu. In most temples, I've seen Gajalakshmi on door frames however this temple has Trimurti, something special about this temple. Shiva's third eye is clearly visible, so is his Trishul and he seems to be seated on a creature with more than four legs.

The deity.. Shivalinga mounted in a pedestal.

Turning our attention back to the pillars.. The precise curvilinear edges of the ridges along the height of the pillars. What a graceful combination of straight and curved lines. The simple yet beautiful natural shades of stone.

Earlier we saw the opposite view of the Sabha Mantapa. Notice the perforated screen on the front as well. The pillars were ground smooth so that light gets reflected and lights ups the interior? Wish I could spend a day and night here once.

In this picture, one can get a glimpse of the sitting platform. I think the younger folk sat on the Sukhanasi while the elderly sitting on the floor formed the core, discussing and taking decisions. try imagining a group of people dressed in white cotton fabric.. kache and turban, probably chewing betel leaves.

Peacock at the base of one of the pillars.

A closer look at the mid part of a column. This pattern is imitated by gold bangle makers. Such precision shapes could be achieved by some kind of special equipment. Wondering what it was.

One cannot describe the beauty of this temple enough. Best is to visit it. We step out to see the exterior. The rear part of the temple, i.e. the portion which houses the Garbhagudi is definitely Chalukyan. I think, the sloped roof was made to handle the heavy rain of this region. Rainfall increases as you go more to the west.. i.e. towards the coastal line. In foreground is group of natural rocks and a broken hero-stone.

Taking a closer look at the sloped roof. The roof slabs are almost 20' long, 4' wide and 5" thick. The slabs edges have channels which overlap forming a waterproof joint. Rainwater flowing through the gaps drip into the channel, flow down the channel and fall to the ground just outside the Sukhanasi backrest.

Here's a closer look at one of the many such joints. No complicated designs. Simple design that works for sure.

This is the perforated screen flanking the main entrance and Antarala door. The stepped perforation and the floral mural.. oh what a classic combination. Now lets check out the relics outside the temple but within the fence. A disfigured idol.. trying to imagine its original looks.

Lastly we come to the hero-stones and inscription slabs. It is said that the inscriptions are from Banavasi and Chalukyan times. One of the inscriptions mentions the name Nareyamgal which became Naregal with the passage of time.

After an hour of moving around the temple, I sit down to rest my legs. Our friend Shivanandayya stays with us after his daughters invited us home and left.

At the Hiremath's home, we have upit and tea. I was hungry and their invitation was timely, hunger demolished. We chat, take family pictures for them and say bye to them. Our next destination was Balambeed, a short drive from here.

Back home, we printed pictures and posted them to Naregal. The girls were happy to receive the pictures. They loved the last picture in this post. 

Oct 19, 2019

Nityananda Mandir and Mahasati Devalaya, Mastikatta

July 28, 2019
We were on the way from Dharwad to Gokarna, started early morning with a plan to return before dark. Our cab driver Prakash, a regular on these roads, drove consistently. We stopped for tea at Yellapur and continued our journey with the next stop here. It was my uncle's decision to stop at this temple.. he said that earlier almost every vehicle and traveler would stop at this temple while traveling on this route.

The two temples are situated right next to Karwar-Hubli highway. They are ancient shrines with  modern buildings.

Shri Guru Nityananda Mandir

Sri Mahasati Devalaya
This is the interior of Mahasati temple. This architecture is usually seen in Western Ghats and Coastal Karnataka.

Inside the Mahasati Devalaya are a pair of lion idols, heads raised proudly.

In the past, ghat road roads were narrower and vehicles lacked features like power steering so driving was relatively strenuous activity. So it was a good idea to stop every now and then.. stop at temples to strengthen one's mind while some preferred tea breaks.

For us it was a nice short break from sitting in a compact vehicle, a chance to breathe fresh air and stretch our limbs.

Oct 12, 2019

Kalleshwara Devasthana, Yelebethur

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.

Oct 9, 2019

Sri Rama Devasthana and Kote Anjaneya Devasthana, Santhebennur

..continued from Ramthirth Pushkarni of Santhebennur and Musafirkhana.

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.

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.