Fruits of a sculptor's toil

Fruits of a sculptor's toil

A  slight detour of about nine km from the Tumkur-Kunigal Road will lead you to a nondescript hamlet called Kaidala, where the legendary shrine of Chennakeshava Swamy is situated.

The main temple of Lord Vishnu and the adjoining one of Lord Manjunatha are both ancient and historic monuments, now under the protection and care of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka.

Gifted artist

The renowned sculptor of Karnataka, Jakanachari, hailed from Kaidala. He is said to have abandoned his pregnant wife to travel far and wide to build temples.

His wife gave birth to their son, Dankachari, who also grew up to become an accomplished sculptor. In his quest to find his father, he arrived at Belur.

There, he noticed a flaw in an image of Lord Vishnu, which was the creation of Jakanachari. Jakanachari refused to accept that there were any flaws. However, upon inspection, it was found that there indeed was a minute flaw in the statue.

Consequently, Jakanachari conceded defeat. Upon inquiring about the boy’s parentage, it was learned that he was his son. Legend has it that, later, Jakanachari got a divine vision of Lord Vishnu directing him to build a temple and an idol for Chennakeshava in his own native village of Kaidala. Chennakeshava also came to be known as Kaidala Vishnu here.

The shrine

The shrine of Chennakeshava is located in the heart of a typical rural setting. We first enter the gates of a large outer compound, enclosed by barbed wire fencing all around.

The main shrine is in a clearing at a slightly higher level from the ground, and has a fort-like stone wall around it. A few steps take us to the entry point, which is through the doorway in a small gopuram, painted in ivory colour, with a few statuettes adorning it.

The doorway of the gopuram has very plain stone pillars without any sculptural treatment or decorations, in a stark contrast to other Hoysala temples in the state.

As we enter through the doorway, we reach the prakaram, a large courtyard in the centre of which the shrine is located. The main Temple has a small multi-pillared mandapa in front and then the sanctum canopied with a sculptured shikhara over it.

The Chennakeshava idol faces the west. This shrine is believed to be the last sculptural creation of Jakanachari. On both sides of the door to the garbhagriha, there are life-size statues carved out of stone, one a replica of Chennakeshava and the other, believed to be Jakanachari himself.

Right outside the shrine we find a small shrine dedicated to Garuda, the Lord’s vahana, facing east, with folded hands, as though paying his obeisance to the Lord. If we stand on the small steps in front of the Garuda shrine, and look to the east, we will see the face of Chennakeshava clearly through a small hole in the opposite wall of the main shrine.

This architectural creation is supposed to facilitate Garuda to perceive his Lord constantly without a break from where he stands. Just outside the Garuda shrine, in front, next to the dwajasthambha fixed on a slightly raised pedestal, we will find two foot prints embossed on a round peetha, which are believed to be of the Lord’s. A rich mix of legend, history and art makes this shrine worth a visit.

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