A journey to remember

Slice of Life Left: Vendors selling cut fruits at Mandagere. Right: Adam Hardy (in red shirt) measuring the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi, in Koppal district. (Photo courtesy: Cardiff University)

A journey on passenger and fast passenger trains towards Hassan, Shimoga, Dharwad and other connected places can be entertaining. As soon as the train (passsenger) halts at Sagarakatte in Mysore district and Mandagere stations in Mandya district, hordes of people including women selling fruits and vegetables flock to the compartments. The train halts for barely a minute at Sagarakatte and five minutes at Mandagere, and hence the commuters act swiftly. For a while, the vicinity turns into a temporary market. Tejus, a teacher who has been commuting from Mysore to Holenarasipura, says he buys fruits and vegetables regularly at these makeshift markets. For these vendors work starts and ends with the arrival and departure of trains, helping them eke out a living.

Sreekantaswamy B

British architect to design temple in state

A leading British University architect is playing a central role in a prestigious Indian project that aims to build a temple in a style that has not been used for more than 700 years. Adam Hardy, professor of Asian architecture at Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture, has been commissioned to design a temple in the ornate 12th-century style of the Hoysala dynasty. The organisation behind the project, Sri Kalyana Venkateshwara Hoysala Art Foundation, has assembled a network of sculptors skilled in the intricate carving of soapstone, but lacked an architect able to design the temple – until they discovered Hardy’s work.

Following a visit to the proposed site earlier this year, Hardy said, “An architectural tradition can be learnt, just like a musical or a literary tradition. It can be passed down by masters. But if none are around, it can be learnt and internalised from its products – the surviving temples, in this case. This project is particularly exciting for me because it is not a copy of a medieval temple that the clients are asking for, but a new creation coming out of the tradition.”

To be built of grey soapstone and hand-carved, the temple will be set on a granite outcrop at Venkatapura, near Nangali in the Kolar district of Karnataka. It is hoped that it will rival the famous Hoysala monuments at Belur and Halebid in scale and splendour. Hardy described the new temple as roughly the size of a parish church 40 metres high and within a walled complex of 6,000 square metres.

When earlier this year, Hardy was in India, he met some of the craftsmen who will work on the temple and visited quarries to ensure that structural beams of the required size would be available. Hardy, who also took part in a bhoomi puja ceremony at the temple site, said, “I was warmly received and made to feel part of the whole venture. Having seen the building emerge on paper, it was moving to take part in orienting the future temple towards the rising sun, and marking out its crucial points on the actual site. It suddenly seemed very real.”

The temple project is the latest commission for PRASADA (Practice, Research & Advancement in South Asian Design and Architecture), a unique Indian centre designed to integrate research and creative practice in its field. Based at the Welsh School of Architecture, PRASADA is one of the research groups of the British Association for South Asian Studies and is linked to a wide network of scholars, artists and designers. Many students have taken their doctorates with the centre, a majority from India.

Achal Narayanan

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox