Wednesday, October 19, 2011



Bow humbly thyself O! visitor,

Then only may you enter:

This edifice is not a marble mere,

But the quintessence of Hindu sculpture! (Ku.Vem.Pu. in Kannada)

No one can visit Halebeed and Belur without seeing the outstanding examples of Hoysala art of sculpture. The twin temples of Hoysaleswara and Shantaleswara at Halebeedand Channakeshava temple at Belur are famous for their finest filigree work of sculpture and new style of architecture. A visitor to these places will never miss the chance to see the great monolithic image of ‘Gommata’ the rarest of its kind at Sravanabelagola which is about sixty miles from Halebeed.

It was a very good thing that we had an opportunity to arrange a short trip from our college, to these three places on 20th September 1969. Though I had visited these places before, I found that I experienced a new pleasure when I visited these places again in the company of my friends and learned members of the college staff.

First we visited Halebeed, the shrine of the grand capital - Dorasamudra where Hoysalas ruled during 12th and 13th century. The twin temples at Halebeed were built at the time of Vishnuvardhana, the ablest king of Hoysala Dynasty, who was a great patron of art and literature. These temples are built in the name of the king and his wife, Shantala Devi. It was at his time the construction of Channakeshava Temple was commenced. It is said that these temples were built under the guidance of the famous sculptor Jakkanna.

These three temples are star shaped, built on a platform of about five feet high. The outer walls of the temples are decorated with finest carvings in nine to eleven successive horizontal friezes of elephants, tigers, horsemen, birds, and ‘celestial beasts’. High above we find the famous female bracket-figures in different dancing and other poses. The door of the ‘Gharbhagriha’ the walls of the Sukanasi and the ‘Navaranga’ with many Pillars are also full of beautiful carvings. The finery of execution , the grandeur of style, the exquisiteness in expression and emotion, brought out in the images are the rare qualities of these carvings.

Our next visit was to Sravnabelagola. The colossal statue of ‘ Gommata ‘ a Jain image was constructed by Chamundaraya, a minister of Gangas during the last decades of 10th century. This image is cut out in a single block of stone of the hardest species on Indragiri, a hillock. The statue is 57 feet high, that is, about the ten times the size of a man. In size, difficulty of execution, boldness of conception, style and perfection, in its proportion, it has no rival among the sculpture in the world. The look of piety and renunciation that is writ on the calm face of ‘Gommata’ or Bahubali is a marvelous achievement of the sculptor.

The melody remains , even after a sweet song is over. The happiness that we got after witnessing the great works of architecture will remain with us for a long time.

( Contributed by B.S. Chandrashekhara to Journal of Government College of Education Davanagere as a student of that college in 1969, and Published in 1968 -1970 Journal of that college. Feeded to computer on 15-7-2009 ; Edited)

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