A heap of broken images

A heap of broken images

 But if one delves deeper, one realises that this town was not only at the heights of its glory during the rule of the Chalukyas of Kalyani, but the wonderful sculpture at its temple was the forerunner of the more refined Hoysala architecture that reached its zenith in the state in later years.
Right next to the road on the banks of a dried-up tank stands the temple of Shiva, named the Kalleshwara temple. Like in any Shiva shrine, the main image is a simple Shivalinga.

But the exuberant images that decorate the exteriors of the structure are simply mindblowing. The style of architecture here is called vesara, a mixture of the Nagara of the north and Dravida, a South Indian style. This was in vogue during Chalukyas of Badami followed by the Rashtrakuta period. But it were the Chalukyas of Kalyani who were instrumental in building various temples in this style. The great King Vikramaditya VI , who was the most benevolent and valiant of them, and one with the title of Tribhuvanamalla, was a connoisseur of arts and crafts. The temple of Jalasangvi is said to have been built around 1100 AD at his behest.   

The temple is a small rectangular structure without courtyards or vestibules. The frontal platform is supported by four pillars with designs carved on them.
The other half is the sanctum with a black oblong Shivalinga. The entrance of the sanctum is flanked by images and long slender columns of stone with lines and floral designs. For a temple as plain as this, the exterior walls are a world apart with some of the most stunning images all around. The bracket figures, as they are referred to, depict gods and goddesses, but the dominating sculptures are those of the feminine figures. Called salabhanjikas, images of women in various poses standing by trees, are most impressive and life-like. The dancing damsels with rather exaggerated features are heavily decorated with ornaments and attires. A unique image for which the temple sculpture has earned special importance is that of a woman writing an epigraph in Kannada. The letters are sharp and readable with the name of King Vikramaditya mentioned clearly. The sculptor has shown extreme finesse in these images. These were the harbinger of a series of such salabhanjikas or balikes which were to adorn the later Hoysala temples.   

In a state of ruin
Today, the temple with such invaluable sculptures is in a state of ruin. The structure does not even have a compound, and most of the images have been exposed to the vagaries of nature. While many of the figures have been damaged or deformed, some broken images and pillars are strewn about on the ground. The area around has become a public place where goats and cattle are tied and women who collect water from the tap have made it a thoroughfare.

Though the local panchayat seems to have drawn up a plan to spruce up the temple, it would be some time before the plan gets implemented. What is urgently required is an immediate effort to preserve the temple which is probably the only one of its kind in the northern part of the state.
Getting there: Jalasangvi is 10 kms from Humnabad, well connected by buses. Gulbarga, 60 kms away, is ideal for a journey by train.