Monday, July 19, 2010

Ethereal Expressions in Stone - Hoysaleshwara Temple

The opulent Hoysaleshwara temple is justly described by some as the supreme climax of Indian architecture and is located in Halebeedu.
Halebeedu means ‘old house’ or ‘old ruins’which is located at a distance of 218 kilometres from Bangalore, was once known as Dwarasamudra, named after the lake beside which the city was established. It was the 12th century capital of the Hoysalas, a dynasty that ruled over much of South India for over 200 years.

The temple, built with Chloritic chist (soapstone), enshrines Hoysaleswara and Shantaleswara, named after the temple builder Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and his wife, Queen Shantala.
It was commissioned in 1120 AD by two wealthy Halebeedu's merchants, Ketamalla and Kesarasetti. As against the usual six , its base consists of eight rows of breathtaking friezes, beginning with sturdy elephants, lordly lions, ingeniously executed floral scrolls and horsemen, which together symbolize stability, courage, beauty and speed, the four essential qualities of a good king. Amazingly, no two animals in the 200 metre long frieze are alike.

The whole temple complex is elevated on a Jagati (platform) The exterior of the temple looks mesmerizing because of the introduction of many projections and recesses in the walls.

The outer walls of these temples contain an intricate array of stone sculptures., rows of elegant swans, floral motifs, scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and episodes from Lord Krishna’s life. No other temple in the country captures the epics as effectively and elegantly as this temple.

Above the basement friezes is the temples most outstanding feature – a panorama depicting the entire Hindu pantheon and various legends associated with them. Incarnations of Vishnu, Nataraja doing his cosmic dance in unalloyed bliss, the dancing elephant god Ganesha, Shiva vanquishing a demon elephant, they are all there. All the 240 figures are rich in exquisite and astonishingly intricate detail.

An exceptional feature of Hoysala temples is that many sculptures bear labels recording the names of the artists who executed them. The most notable features are the highly polished lathe-turned pillars of the temple.
This temple is now being proposed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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