The hidden treasure of the Hoysala period - The New Indian Express

The hidden treasure of the Hoysala period

Published: 18th July 2013 10:32 AM

Last Updated: 18th July 2013 10:32 AM

Unknown to most people, in the close vicinity of the Bhadra River reservoir is one of the most beautiful treasures of the Hoysala period, the Amrutheshvara temple. I chanced upon it when my driver lost his way to the Bhadra River reservoir and reached Amruthapura about 8.5 kms from Tarikere.

Built in 1196 AD by Amrutheshwara Dandanayaka, Commander of the Hoysala army under the King Veera Ballala II, the temple is a fine example of the early Hoysala architecture.

The shikara of the temple stands majestically amidst palm and coconut farms, impervious to its own beauty and glory. The medium sized square temple retains its old original outer wall with intricate circular carvings.  A beautiful carving of dancing Ganapathi welcomes you at the entrance.

The carvings on the outer walls relate the complete story of Ramayana. Scenes from the epic are sculpted on 70 panels on the south side wall in an anti-clockwise manner which is unusual. The scene of the crowning ceremony of Sugreeva is exceptionally beautiful.

However, on the northern side wall there are 25 panels of stories from the life of Lord Krishna arranged in a clockwise manner.

The remaining 45 panels tell you episodes from the epic Mahabharata.  Unlike many Hoysala temples where the panels are small with miniature carvings, these panels are comparatively larger with detailed work.

Every inch of the temple has such fine carvings that it looks like the sculptor was very eager to prove himself. According to available records it is believed that famous Hoysala sculptor and architect Ruvari Mallitamma started his career here working on the domed ceilings in the main mantapa.

The temple is Ekakuta (single shrine) and has a closed mantapa that connects to an open one. 

The open mantapa has twenty nine bays, while the closed mantapa has nine bays with a side porch leading to a separate shrine on the southern side of the temple.

The Shikara is ornate and is decorated with fine sculptures of Kirthimukhas (demon faces) and miniature towers.

The uniqueness of this temple lies in the rows of shining lathe turned pillars that support the ceiling of the mantapa.

The pillars are decorative and typical of the Hoysala style. The mantapa has many circular dome-like inner ceiling structures adorned with floral designs.

On the front porch, you can see the inscription of a poem written by the famous Kannada poet Janna.

The Garbha Gudi or the Sanctum Sanctorum is star shaped and small.   The carvings of Ashtadikpalas are very appealing. The carvings, it is said, refer to Brahmna, Vishu and Maheshwara and are simply exquisite.

At the entrance of the Garbha Gudi is the carving of Shardula, a mythological animal that has the body of an elephant, head of a crocodile and tail of a peacock. The temple has a unique idol of Goddess Saraswathi, the Goddess of Arts and Learning in a sitting posture.

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