Chola temple gets facelift
The Shankreshwara Temple complex, spread across an acre of land on the outskirts of the village, five km away from Nanjanagud town, was an abandoned place for a long time. The main deity, udbhava linga and nandi remained intact in the sanctum sanctorum, while the rest of the temple complex was in a poor state. The crumbling pillars of the prangana or the main hall painted a sorry picture. The temple complex also includes shrines dedicated to Deviramma and Chandi, according to Prabhu, a local and also a member of the committee constituted to take up the task of renovating the temple along with 15 other temples in the village.
Prabhu told Spectrum that the standing idol of Deviramma in black stone belonging to the Chola period is a rare one. Though a similar idol can be found at the Nanjundeshwara Swamy temple at nearby Nanjanagud, the idol here is unique because of its pleasing look. Besotted by the idol, the management at the Nanjanagud temple had also asked for this idol, but the villagers refused to part with it.
Palani Swamy, a resident of Chamarajanagar and an ace sculptor, who was roped in for the job here, said it was a challenging task as the temple has a lot of heritage attached.
Keeping in view its architecture, it was refurbished and new idols were included to enhance its look. Pointing at the sculptures of shilabaalikeyaru (dancers) that now adorn the Deviramma temple, Swamy explains that it wasn’t that easy to replicate such sculptures often found in Belur and Halebid.
The facade of the main temple also has sculptures of Lakshmi, Ganesha and Saraswati. The gopuras (towers) of the temples here have been spruced up with intricate carvings. Another addition to the complex is the navagraha temple. The well within the precincts of the temple is the only source of water. It was only recently that a motor was fixed to pump the water.
Some among the structures found in the main temple have been repaired and installed in different parts of the temple, only to conserve the antique pieces. An inscription in a corner of the temple, though close to ruins, is another piece of evidence to show that the temple is an ancient one.
Swamy points out that the stones used for the temple were hard and the carvings were distinct with a not-so-neat finishing, typical of other such Chola structures. In the case of the Hoysalas, it was exactly the opposite, he explains.
As proof, he points to a stone resembling a veeragallu (hero stone) behind the Chandi temple.
Another interesting feature of the temple complex is the 35-feet-high garuda kambha (flag staff) in the front of the temple. Prabhu points out that it was five to six feet taller, but gradually caved in owing to water seepage from the Kabini channel nearby.