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.

Nov 23, 2019

Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-2

..continued from Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-1.

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.

Its quite possible the temple was extended over several years. Having covered the external parts of the front and mid, we have reached the part which houses the Nrutya Mantapa, Antharala and Garbhagudi. This is gap in the wall is the entrance. Had the mid and portions been absent, the rear part could have been a temple on its own.

The bridge has two identical staircases on either sides. The Katanjana (balustrade) is an amazing piece of work.. the ribbed spiral is so smooth and precise.

This wall forming the backrest of the Sukhanasi has a series of images which are events or scenes picked out from Krishna's life. The stone seems to have a high content of iron which seems to have rusted hence the rusty hue over the grey shades.

Close ups of the images separated by miniature twin pillars. Bottom left image shows young Krishna with his herd of cows and buffaloes. The animals are easily distinguishable - wonderful job by the sculptors. The bottom right image seems to be the time when Krishna's mother chastises Krishna for stealing butter.. the boy's hand is shown holding something round.. could be a ball of butter.

The left hand side image seems to depict a river full of water animals.. tortoises, fishes, etc. Below the legendary images, is the row of miniature Shikharas, only a few crowns are seen in this view.

The Shikharas seem to be mounted on miniature pillars. Row of identical Stambhas and Shikharas at the first glance, in real they are unique. The uniqueness us because of the floral motif of the Shikhara's 'forehead'.

On the other side of the Katanjana is this wall with another series of images. On the right hand side of the facing wall is a Vimana Nagri type of Shikhara. Also if you notice the wall closely, its a wall made of pillars. The mid and left pillars are the larger versions of the miniature pillars seen on the Sukhanasi backrest.

The first image from the left is Hanuman and the next one seems like Rama and Laxmana. The third and fourth images, both females, are quite different.. notice the ribbed arms and legs. Are they athletics or some special kind of beings? They seem to be wearing some kind of armor. I find them similar to Lady Robocop.

Actually its a set of five characters which are special, as though some kind of alien features. All seem to be wearing some kind of helmet and some heavy circular object over their ears. Four of them holding an objects which looks like daggers. The two "armored women" have circular marking on their legs (above their thighs) and knees as well, which look like laptop power ports. The extreme right character seems to be having an extra arm, which seems to be holding a head stuck to a stick. There's something intriguing about these characters, I must visit Hangal again just to see them again.

The lower row is a continuation of the series. Take a close look at the top portions of the pillars (third, fourth and fifth pairs) these pillars are different compared to the other pillars across the temple in one small detail - they have a series of tiny triangles running around the top instead of a circular band.

This is one of the entrances, probably the only one which is badly damaged. For some reason this part of the temple has been vandalized.. which seems like an historic act as well.

Looking towards the temple front portion. The Shikhara which covers the stone chandelier beneath is a complex construction. Its quite detailed even in the gaps between the layers.

This is a closer look of the Shikhara. In plan its a set of concentric polygons with reducing number of sides and at the core is a circle. Again the precision is uniform through out. Surely this design has a purpose in it.. attract cosmic energy into it and send it into the temple. The chandelier hanging from the roof below must be a device to disperse the energy inside the temple.

Back to the exterior. Close look at the row of columns. So much detailing, a graceful combination of straight lines and curves, geometric objects and floral patterns, in three dimensions. Visually three but who know how many dimensions these creations have in real.

Here are a series of scenes and events from Ramayana. Laskshmana mutilating Shoorpanaki, the golden deer, Rama shooting the deer, Mirichasura revealing his true form moments before his death, and the picture with Hanuman.. I cannot recognize the story. The lower series is also seem to be connected to Ramayana but I can recognize just one scene. Kumbhakarna about to throw a boulder.

In the next set of pictures, the characters are dressed in similar looking garments. In the top row, all have their hair tied in buns. One of them seems like an archer. There's a couple in a sensuous embrace. Then the voluptuous woman, naked except for few pieces of jewelry. The sculptor is detailed enough for the woman to look alive. In the lower row, there's another voluptuous woman attired in some strip-garment. Lastly, the Linga is a sudden change in flow of the series.

This set of characters are all ale, dressed in rope like garments. Their features are strange to me hence I have no idea what they depict. In this picture, we get an idea of how pillars were sculpted. The incomplete pillar shows chisel marks. Also, if you look below, the Kirthimukha are incomplete but the Shikharas are done.

Now we are looking at the exterior wall of the Garbhagudi. This projection is the drain pipe.. where the fluids used to bathe the deity flows out. Originally there would a proper tank or pit where the liquid would collect. People would take out sips as Theerta. Probably even the temple's cattle would consume the liquid. However, in the present day, many temples' pits are so filthy they stink. Pure lack of common sense. The priests and temple authorities must take appropriate steps to have the pits or tanks cleaned daily. The days collection of fluids must be fed to cattle or at least plants.

This corroded figure caught my attention. A plump man sitting cross legged and playing some type of musical instrument. The rhombus outlined floral mural can be seen through out the temple, usually on the exterior.

This is the Shikhara over the Garbhagudi. A series of Kirtimukha for every layer. At the bottom of the picture is a miniature temple complete with pillars, walls and Shikhara. Take some time and study this picture you'll notice details which are awe inspiring.. like the circular embossing on the flat surfaces of rectangular sections. What purpose could they have?

This article will continue in Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-3.

Nov 16, 2019

Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-1

Of the ancient temples of North Karnataka, Haveri district has a fair share in terms of number and uniqueness. Galaganatha Devastana has an unusual form, part of the temple is shaped like a pyramid. Close to Galaganatha is the magnificent Mukteshwara Devastana of Chaudayyadanapura. Then the simple but unique Sarateshwara Devastana of Naregal, unique because of its sloping roof. The list goes on, but the grandest of all temples is Tarakeshwara Devastana of Hangal. I'd seen it back in May 2011 but I wanted Pushpa to see it.

July 26, 2019
Our day started early with visits to three temples at two villages- Naregal and Balambeed, We arrived at Hangal around 11 AM. As we tried to find the way to the temple, we discovered that Friday was the market day. All the lanes and streets on this part of the town are jam packed with makeshift shops, their owners and customers. So we had to park our car on the main road and walk through the market. Pushpa was noticing the commodities, silently making a list in her mind :) The market extended right upto the temple gates!

So here I'm about to enter the gateway of Tarakeshwara Devastana, the temple originally built by the Kadamba kings in IV Century, and later modified by the Chalukyas. Normally, temples of North Karnataka do not have grand gateways but this temple is one of the exceptions. Three pairs of columns adorn the gateway. A small diversion from the topic. In this picture there are three people, each using cell phones, one is talking, the second is watching and the third i.e. Pushpa is shooting. Mobile phones, the all-in-one wonder gadget.

The temple premises is almost as it was eight years ago. The same mud wall & tiled roof house on the left, the bigger house on the right too hasn't changed, and the temple itself is there as it was. I like that!

This smaller temple on the right is Ganpati Gudi, built during the same period as the main temple. The large house seen here seems to be the priest's home. Probably generations of this family have been performing rituals here.

The temple's front view is dominated by the pillar which could be called the Vijaya Stambha. Had this been a temple dedicated to Vishnu, then the pillar would be called Garuda Stambha. At the base of the pillar is a beautiful sculpture of entwined serpents.

Close to the entrance is a board which describes the temple as follows:
The Tarakeshwara temple on plan consists of a Garbhagudi, Antarala, Navaranga, Sabhamandapa and a Mukhamandapa is a good example of the Kalyana Chalukya architectural syle. Originally the Navaranga and Pravesamandapas on north, south and eastern sides at present, the north and southern Pravesamandapas have been converted into Garbhagrihas. The Garbhagriha enshrines a tall Siva Linga on a Panipitha having Kadamba stylistics features. The decorative Pachashaka doorway fronted by an Antarala which has trellis (Jalandhras). The lathe turned pillars inside the Antarala has a decorative ceiling (Bhuvanesvari). The Sabhamandapa with four entrance ways is stellar shaped with Hoysala styled huge pillars therein support the upper beams. The Kakshasana has polished pillars those are in various shapes run all along the Mandapa. The subsiday ceilings (Bhuvanesvaris) found in the Sabhamandapa is plain while the centre one has the depiction of a flower-bud motif. The Mukhamandapa has also a Kakshasana. The exterior wall of the temple is decorated with pilasters and Devakosthas. Garbhagriha has four tiered Sikhara with Sukhanasi projecton. A tall stone pillar stands in front of the temple.
In front of the Garbhagriha is the Sukhanasi with four intricately carved pillars and a nandi placed in the centre. The Sukhanasi situated on the right and left sides has a Linga and Parvati sculpture respectively.
The main Garbhagriha enshrines a Linga which is called Tarakesvara, along with sculptures of Vishnu, Brahma, Kartikeya and Nandi. The exterior wall of the temple has bas-relief sculptures of Ramayana. The incompletely carved images of the Dvarapalaka are attractive. The Kadamba-Nagara Sikhara above the Garbhagriha has intricately carved decorations. It has a sculpture of hero fighting with a lion resembling the Hoysala emblem.

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.

The temple is built on a platform, it has around seven entrances, one on the facade and four on the sides. Every entrance has a staircase of four steps flanked by a pair of balustrades adorned with a spiral and lotus in full bloom. The Kannada word for balustrade is Katanjana. This is a standard feature in many a Chalukyan temples. 

As viewed from the other side. The front entrance has been barred for some reason. Visitors are expected to enter the temple from any of the side entrances. Noticed that some of the sculptures are broken, these acts of vandalism seem to be ancient.

The right hand side of the temple seen head on.. the right angle turns in the wall is an intriguing pattern. What's the purpose of this design? The walls have clearly defined layers.. the plain dressed blocks of the platform, a layer of rectangular floral motifs, a protruding layer of alternating notches, a layer of thick pillars holding up the layer of Rekhanagari Shikharas and the topmost layer consist of alternating twin pillars and blank rectangles. The rectangles were meant to for images but the work was never carried out. On the left hand side of the temple, the top layer consist of images from Hindu legends or just generic images from day to day life. Also, the top layer is the backrest for the seating platform inside the temple.

Here's one of the Rekhanagari Shikharas. These are scale replicas of actual temples. The gracefully curving slope of the tower and the well proportioned circular crown. On this temple are at least a hundred such Shikhara of same size and proportion.. as though they were made of the same mold.

This is one of the pillars inside the temple. Its predominantly octagonal with floral and geometric patterns. The patterns re so different yet they get along well. Amazing creativity.

We decided to see the exterior completely first and then see the interiors. This is one view of the temple where we get to almost every aspect of the exterior. The base, walls, an entrance with balustrade, the slanted backrest of Sukhanasi, the overhanging canopy to prevent rainwater entry, a corner wall made of closely placed pillars, a dome and finally the Shikhara.

This is one of the side entrances. The Katanjana here is again a spiral it looks significantly different compared to the one at the main entrance. This seems like a relatively newer design. The spiral is ribbed. Those graceful parallel lines are amazingly precise. Imagining the state of mind of the sculptor while carving it. A shapeless stone comes alive as it undergoes the operation.

This is another side entrance with the older type of Katanjana. This one looks battered. As you see this entrance is also blocked, visitors cannot enter the temple here.

View from one of the corners. The flow of layers from side to side is so smooth and precise. Every Kambha and every Shikhara are aligned perfectly. Amazing workmanship. Thinking of modern manufacturing methods, this looks as though it was laser-cut. The sculptors must have been in a different state of mind, must have worked as one single machine to accomplish this kind of work.

Lets zoom out a little and see how three such corners look like together. This time the roof is included as well. The same precision is seen here as well. A quick glance at the pillars peeping out of the dim interior.. they also stand perfectly aligned.

A closer view of the miniature pillar bases. Every minor detail has been worked out, no shortcuts. In the layer below, the first protrusion is slightly slanted, not sure if that's intentional.

Lets take a look at the topmost layer, the portion where work is incomplete, rather one gets to see the way the sculpting work progressing in stages. The extreme left (partly visible) is a blank face, then a almost complete image and the other two are in-between stages. If I could sit and watch the sculptors at work, I would've witnessed the transformation of a blank face coming alive with human forms. The chisel marks can be seen clearly. So this tells these were hand carved.

A glance at the interior. This is where the two wide portions of the temple get connected by a bridge. Its quite possible the temple was extended from here. Looking at the overall plan of the temple, it might have been extended two times.

This article will continue in Tarakeshwara Devastana, Hangal - part-2.