Sublime art at Hosaholalu


The Lakshminarayana temple at Hosaholalu is a treat to the eye. A fine example of Hoysala architecture, Hosaholalu’s temple is a must-visit, writes M S Dwarakinath

The State is known for its rich architectural and cultural heritage, all thanks to royal patronage. The Lakshminarayana temple at Hosaholalu, a non-descript village near K R Pet in Mandya district, is one such temple belonging to the Hoysala period.

This temple dates back to 1250 and was built by king Vira Someshwara of the Hoysala dynasty.

The elements present, the style of architecture and the conventional enshrinement of deities in this temple present a fine example of Hoysala temple architecture. Good maintenance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) authorities has ensured that the temple has retained its beauty and elegance. According to Gerard Foekema, a renowned architectural historian, this temple is considered a ‘fairy temple’ among Hoysala temples. “Only the famous temple of Somanathpur can match its fairy tale atmosphere,” he adds.

After a guided tour of this temple, one can conclude that this can be called an open air museum of sorts. The temple is one of trikuta type with three shrines. The central shrine with heavily carved super structure, three-tiered sukanasi (a short tower or the ‘nose’) and three large two-storied wall shrines on the three sides make it one of the most decorated ones found in Hoysala architecture. The lateral shrines are devoid of super structure. While the presiding deity, Lakshminarayana, is enshrined in the garbha griha (central shrine), the lateral shrines situated on the southern and northern sides, house the images of Venugopala and Lakshminarasimha respectively.

The lateral shrines don’t have an antarala (antichamber), but the central shrine has one such chamber followed by a navaranga hall and beyond this hall is a mukha mantapa. This temple has six decorative pattikas (friezes) on the exterior walls and it slightly differs from the earlier style of five pattikas. But a later addition at the entrance of the temple not only denies an elegant conventional stepped entrance to the temple via the elevated platform but also belies the beauty of the temple.

This temple, with its marvellous art and sculpture executed both in the interiors and exteriors, is a feast to the eyes of a visitor. The ceiling of the navaranga hall with its four ornately sculpted pillars is divided into nine bays. Each bay has a deep domical ceiling and is decorated with different patterns of art work. A kalingamardhana panel in the central bay may miss the attention of the visitor because of its miniature size. Finely sculpted idols of goddess Mahishasuramardhini and lord Ganesha are housed in large niches with ornately carved super structure, on the corners abutting the central shrine.

The exteriors match the interiors of this temple. The lower portion of the walls above the platform on which the temple is built is decorated with six pattikas. The pattikas depict rows of mythological creatures and episodes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavatha. The finely carved images, which are 120 in number, include 24 different aspects of Vishnu embellished on the walls. Images of deities such as Bhairava, Parvati, Indra on his Airavata, Brahma, Durga and Krishna dancing on a serpent also share this space. Conspicuously absent is the Hoysala’s royal insignia generally found in the temples of the Hoysala period.

Fact file

Hosaholalu lies at a distance of about two km from KR Pet town of Mandya district. KR Pet can be reached from Mysore and Mandya by road.

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