Going back in time

Going back in time

Haveri is home to many intricately designed architectural and sculptural monuments of the Later Chalukyan period. Of these, the most ornate is the shrine of Siddeshwara. Located in the eastern side of the town, it is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The ASI’s familiar signature is seen here in the beautiful lawns, green shrubs on the border, trees and well-laid-out walk-ways.

Siddeshwara Temple stands on a sunken courtyard or prakara, slightly below the road level. There are several stone steps at different levels leading to it. What makes this Temple unique is the fact that it faces west, instead of the traditional east.

Varied styles
This small but ornate shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Stone inscriptions found in the Temple indicate that it was completed in the late 11th century. It is believed that the construction was done under the supervision of Armadi Vikramaditya.

The architecture and innumerable sculptures at the Temple reveal a mixed form of Chalukyan and Dravidian styles. Made mostly out of soapstone, this Temple is seated on a raised base in the middle of a sunken prakara, with a stone-layered parikrama (pradakshina or circambulation path) going around it. A few broad stone steps takes you to the mukha mantapa (front hall), which is supported by several beautiful lathe-turned stone pillars decorated with miniature sculptures and ornate motifs.

It is interesting to note that the decorative motifs on each pillar vary from one another. One can see mini statuettes and carvings of lions, elephants, horses, warriors on horseback and nymphs on the pillars as well as their octagonal bases. Makara toranas (garlands in the shape of makara) could be noticed on the lintels of the doorway and perforated stone screens on the sides provide lighting inside the mantapa.

The mukha mantapa adorns a number of interesting sculptures of Uma and Maheshwara, Vishnu with Mahalakshmi, Surya, Ganesha, Kartikeya and Naga-Nagins. Lord Shiva with his consort is represented in the form of Umamaheshwara in the main sculpture. He is shown in a seated position with four hands and decorated with heavy jata mukuta and makarakundalas. Jata Mukuta is a hairstyle that is decorated like a coronet — hair is intertwined to form a tall crown on top of the head with several jewels adorning it. Lord Shiva wears it with a crescent moon, a skull and a cobra coiled on the left side.

Makarakundalas are ear-rings shaped like the sea monster. In his upper left hand, Shiva holds a damaru (small drum) while the lower one is thrown over the shoulders of Uma.

In the lower right hand, he has an akshamala (garland of beads) while the shaft of the trisula (trident) can be seen in the upper right hand. Uma is seated on his lap. Her face is tilted upwards, as she gazes at the face of the Lord. She is also heavily ornamented with jewels and garlands. Her right hand embraces and rests on the right side of Lord Shiva. To the right of Umamaheshwara is Ganesha with four hands, holding an ankusa (goad), pasa (rope noose), danta (tusk) and modaka. In front of him is Nandi, Lord Shiva’s vehicle, in couchant pose.

Innumerable motifs
Correspondingly, on the other side is Kartikeya with six heads, seated on his vehicle, the peacock. He holds in his four hands pasa, ankusa, aksamala and vel (spear). Surya, the Sun God is depicted on the wall canopied by a seven-hooded snake. Another wall adorns the statuette of Durga as Mahishasuramardini. There are also mini sculptures of Naga and Nagini (snake god and goddess) with their tails intertwined, on both sides of the doorway to the hall.

The simple black-stone Shiva Linga is placed in the sanctum sanctorum, above which rises the beautifully sculptured vimana (gopuram) made in Dravidian style. This is an assemblage of several large granite stones, using minimum amount of mortar, joined together like Lego toy pieces. The exterior wall of the Temple is decorated with innumerable ornate motifs and miniature statuettes of animals, nymphs, flowers and mini replicas of the vimana, on all sides.

The decorative sculptures are more intricate and fascinating on the outer side of the vimana. In the corners of the prakara, you will find some huge granite slabs with old Kannada inscriptions on them. On other slabs, there are intricate carvings of warriors on horse-back, animals and nymphs. With its beautiful structures and the history behind it, the Temple is worth a visit.

Located on the Bengaluru-Pune Highway, Haveri is roughly 340 kms away from Bengaluru. Haveri is well connected via road and rail from major cities.

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