The majesty of Kolahalapura

The majesty of Kolahalapura

The city of Kolar, which is synonymous with gold, also has hidden facets in the form of exquisite temples. Aravind V S takes us on a ride through this historical town marked by two fascinating temples

Kolar, the headquarters of Kolar district, was earlier known as Kuvalapura and Kolahalapura. It was ruled by Gangas in the early part of 3rd century AD. Gangas were succeeded by Cholas, followed by Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers. As it was the battlefield for the warring kingdoms of Chalukyas in the north and Cholas in the south, it came to be called as ‘Kolahalapura’ in Kannada, meaning the ‘city of unrest’.

As per mythology, Shatasringa Parvata hill range to the west of Kolar is associated with the story of Parashurama and his fight with King Kartaviryarjuna over Surabhi, the divine cow. King Kartaviryarjuna and his army visited Jamadagni, Parashurama’s father, demanding the magical cow. Since Jamadagni refused to hand over Surabhi, the king sent his soldiers to take the cow forcibly, but Parashurama killed the king and his entire army with his axe. Seeking revenge, the king’s son beheaded Jamadagni.

Thus, Parashurama, standing on the  Shatasringa Parvata, took an oath to behead the entire Kshatriya race. It is said that kolahala means unrest on the death of Kartaviryarjuna, thus giving its name to the town. It was the capital of the Gangas till they shifted to Talakad. The main attractions of the city are the Someshwara and Kolaramma temples.

Someshwara Temple

Someshwara Temple is built in typical Vijayanagara style. The temple consists of a massive pillared mukhamantapa, heavy prakhara walls, ornate kalyana mantapa, and a Parvathi shrine. The rajagopura is known for its fine stucco figures on the tower, while the door frame is carved in typical Vijayanagar style with dwarapalakas. 

The Someshwara Temple is an ornate temple of typical Dravidian style. This temple was constructed during the 14th century AD. It is known for its mahadwara (main entrance) and a tall brick and stucco tower over it. The temple has a garbagriha, a large sukanasi (vestibule), a navaranga (closed hall) and a large pillared mukhamantapa, all enclosed by a cloistered prakara. The main mantapa is a central hall surrounded by a raised floor. Several ornate pillars on the raised floor support the ceiling of the mantapa. A sukanasi connects the sanctum to a navaranga, which leads to the large pillared mukhamantapa. At the frontal extension of the hall are four full length pillars depicting riders on yalis (mythical beasts).

The adhishtana of the main temple is adorned with the conventional moldings of a pada, adhokumuda, a tripattakumuda, and a small kantha. Interestingly, the adhokumuda moldings are treated with friezes of elephants, playing dwarfs, squatting lions. The bhitti of the main temple is elaborately decorated with kumbha pilasters in the recesses, slender pilaster turrets and the corners of the walls with double pilasters. The sanctum wall at cardinal directions has Devakoshtas flanked by two slender pilaster turrets. The pillars of mukhamantapa have lion brackets. The outer wall of the temple has miniature decorative pilasters with turrets.

The kalyana mantapa situated to the south-west is an exquisitely beautiful compact granite structure reflecting the craftsmanship of the sculptor. The small shrine towards north-west is dedicated to Parvathi, the consort of presiding deity Shiva. 

Kolaramma Temple

Kolaramma Temple is of Dravida Vimana style, built in 11th century AD. There are two shrines in Dravidian style of architecture. The main temple faces east, whereas the larger shrine faces north. Both share a common pillared mantapa. The mahadwara has an imposing appearance with a well-carved doorway. The lower course of the wall to the left of the mukhamantapa has Rajendra Chola’s inscriptions. The walls of the main shrine are treated with slender pilasters. The adhistana of the garbagriha has jagati and tripatta kumuda moldings. The adhistana moldings and the pillastered outer wall of the temple are carved with numerous inscriptions in Tamil. A Bhutagana and lion friezes are depicted around the cornice.

Inside the temple are carvings of the Saptamatrikas and the image of Kolaramma, in the form of Mahishasuramardhini, with eight hands and a demon under her feet. Another room to the right has the exact carvings of Saptamatrika in brick and madder. There is a stone idol about six feet high called Kalabhairava, but people call it Mukanacharamma owing to its broken nose. 

Both Kolaramma and other Sapthamatrikas have a common vestibule. The Kolaramma shrine has a wagon roof tower. The stucco figures in the Sapthamatrikas shrine are unusually large. The mahadwara has imposing pavilions in the inner side. The temple has several Chola inscriptions.

The temple witnesses crowds only on Tuesdays and Fridays and during annual festival. It is said that the erstwhile maharajas of Mysore frequented this temple to get the blessings of Kolaramma. The temple itself has beautifully-carved statues and all are designed using the abundantly available granite stones.

Both the temples are about a kilometre away from the Kolar city KSRTC bus stand.

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