A village steeped in heritage

A village steeped in heritage

A village steeped in heritage

Halasi, a popular heritage site located 14 kilometres away from Khanapur in Belagavi district, has temples that reflect Chalukyan architecture.

Legend has it that it was built, overnight, by the Pandavas, while in exile. Historically, though, the temples are believed to have been built in the fifth century, but there is no clarity about exact period. However, it is assumed that the temples of Halasi were constructed by Kadamba rulers.

According to the records, Bhuvaraha Narasimha Temple was built by Shiva-chitta, a Kadamba ruler. The temple stands on a star-shaped platform with pyramidal tower in horizontal stages.

This structure of inclined roof slabs, carved one above the other, is best suited to withstand rough monsoon, common in this belt. Shikhara (pointed roof) on one of the sanctum is in Kadamba Nagara style.

The other shrine has a flat roof, striking a similarity with Madhukeshwara Temple in Banavasi in Uttara Kannada district.

Halasi was under the rule of Kadambas for nearly five centuries and served as a commercial centre. Kadambas, in their early period, witnessed a confluence of Jainism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism. This is evident from old temples, Kalmeshwara, Suvarneshwara, Rameshwara, Hatti-keshwara, Jamkeshwara, Basaveshvara, Gokarneshwara and Jain basadis, found in this ancient town.

The main Vaishnava temple complex comprising Bhuvaraha Narasimha Temple has two garbhagrihas (sanctums) facing each other. Initially, the temple had a single sanctum housing a dwibhuja (two-handed) idol of Narasimha which is believed to be an udbhava (self-originated) linga.

There are a few specimens of bronze sculpture in Halasi. Among them, the idol of Prahlada, carved in bronze, placed before Dwibhuja Narasimha, is considered as the most beautiful. A four-feet-long idol of Yogi Narayana is also installed.

A Narasimha idol, which is popular as Muddu (cute) Narasimha is just 50cm high and 30cm wide. Narasimha’s mouth is closed and his curly locks of hair adorn his sweet face. Unlike most Narasimha idols, which are found in a rather ferocious avatar, this idol is graceful.

“There are references to a brick temple of Narasimha here, which was later replaced by a large stone temple,” explains historian Smita Surebankar. “Yogi Narayana, carved in black soft granite, is seated in padmasana (folded legs) with shankha (conch) in one hand and chakra (divine wheel) in another. Lower hands are in meditating position, which is
another rare feature, and his eyes are half-closed, depicting content.”

Another shrine has Lord Bhuvaraha. This was installed in the 11th century by Vijayaditya-III. It has gada (mace) in the right hand. Left leg is lifted upto waist level, and Goddess Bhudevi is seated on his shoulder. Position of right and left legs placed on Kurma and Adishesha, respectively, is quite unique. A small-sized garuda is on Bhuvaraha’s right side. Idols of Mahalakhmi and Suryanarayana, said to be sculpted by the legendary Jakanachari, are placed in the same sanctum.

Inscriptions in the Sabha Mantapa on a stone slab, dated back to 11th century, have references to rulers Shivachitta and Vishnuchitta of Kadamba dynasty. There are mentions of gifting a village for worship and offering in Lord Narasimha Temple.