Miscellany-The fading charm of the destroy

artistry The temple stands as a testimony to the masterly work of chief architect Bammoja. photo by author

Miscellany-The fading charm of the destroy

The town of K R Pet and its surroundings have a number of architectural marvels gifted by the art-loving Hoysalas. My search this time was the Thenginaghatta village. After enquiring with a few people, we traced the road to an abandoned temple lying amidst greenery.

Plantain trees stood grown almost till the edges of the temple. Coconut trees around reflected the name of the village, ‘Thenginaghatta’, a place with rows of coconut trees. Wild plants had grown around, while discarded sculptures were strewn amidst debris, presenting the sad plight of the small, but beautiful Hoysala temple.

The scattered images indicated that the shikara of the single cell temple must have fallen down in the course of time.The lower portion of adhishtana, or the base of the temple, which has no jagati, is hidden under the ground, with mud covering it. The interiors too were in a deplorable condition. The corners and beautifully worked ceilings were partially covered with mounds. A few carvings and stones were lying here and there. Some paving stones were missing while the rest were disturbed from their uniformity.

However, the interior of the temple offered some solace. Flowers, kumkum and the sacred ash placed on the Ishwara linga and other images indicated that there was indeed a caretaker. Time had unfortunately, ruined the temple. Records show that the Ishwara temple has remained neglected for long, despite its architectural and artistic merit.

An epigraph reveals that it was named ‘Hoysaleswara Temple’ and was built on August 7, 1133 AD. It was the period when king Narasimha was ruling the Hoysala kingdom. Hadacala Kavanna, Hadavala Kancha, Kaleya Nayaka, Chikkate and Heggade Munjayya contributed mainly to the construction of the temple and a tank. The epigraph also brings to light, gifts of land made to sculptor Bammoja, son of Haloja of Kikkeri. It is clear from this record that Bammoja was the chief architect of this 12th century temple built of soapstone.

From the masterly workmanship, it can be surmised that he was a great artist of the Hoysala period. The interiors reveal a mukha mantapa, navaranga, sukhanasi and garbhagriha. The outer walls have only pilasters without any carvings. Like in other Hoysala temples, the navaranga in the interior has four well-carved pillars. The nine ceilings of the navaranga are beautifully designed, each differing from the other, exhibiting the expertise of the Hoysala artists.

The central ceiling is unique among them and stands out as one among the best in the Hoysala temples. It is decorated with a lotus bud and lions. Rest of the ceilings are also attractively decorated with carvings of snakes, lotus flowers and dikpalakas, guardians of the directions. The attractive carvings of four snakes, resting their heads around a lotus flower in one of the ceilings deserves particular attention. These beautifully designed carvings that were once coloured make the navaranga most attractive. The ceilings of the sukhanasi and the sanctum sanctorum too are adorned with good workmanship. The temple stands as a testimony to the masterly work of the chief architect Bammoja.

The image in the sanctum sanctorum must have been placed recently on the original panipitha as the original linga on the base was missing. I left the temple dolefully after witnessing the fate of Ishwara.

Like the soul, which perishes becoming one with the God, there will be nothing left to unite with the God, as it perishes too. Probably the neglected Hoysaleshwara in the ruined temple conveyed this eternal message “to perish by merging with him.”

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