Monday, July 25, 2016

In Search of Kanakagiri's Ashokan Edicts

Our quest to find the surviving Ashokan Edicts in Karnataka took us to the elusive Ashokan edicts at Kanakagiri. Probably there is no Ashokan edicts here or the information on the internet is incomplete regarding the same. 'Kanakagiri', translated as 'Hill of Gold' is located about 30 km from Gangavathi in Koppal district. After visiting a friend's place at Gangavathi, we got a chance to go in search of the edicts. Early next morning we headed towards Kanakagiri. From various sources of information, we had learned that the Ashokan Edicts are placed inside the temple though unaware of its exact location.
Kanakagiri
The Main Entrance 
Kanakagiri is  referred at many places as "Ashoka's Swarnagiri". Our task of finding the edicts began as we entered the the first temple which was the Kanakachalapathi temple. This temple was built during the Vijayanagar period by the Nayakas of Kanakagiri. While our eyes were eagerly in search of the edicts, a room in front the main Gopuram caught our attention. On carefully  inspecting the room interiors for the presence of any edicts, we found none. A beautiful stone slab depicting  a scene involving the king and queen was placed in front of the room.
Kanakagiri Ashokan Edicts
The Stone Panel Depicting a Scene between King and Queen 
Kanakachalapathi Temple
The Kanakachalapathi Temple 
As we entered the temple we sighted three big inscription panels, a close examination of them revealed that they had nothing related to emperor Ashoka. This temple is dedicated to Lord Kanakachalapathi, a form of Vishnu. The Sabhamantapa has beautiful pillars and stories from Ramayana etched at the top of the wall. The temple has been maintained very well, but no one here had any idea about the Ashokan edicts. The priest was not all in the mood to discuss about Ashokan edicts and the temple manager along with others present around too confirmed that there is no such edicts present here.
The Stone Inscriptions 
The Sabhamantapa
The Dwikuta Temple 
A Episode From Ramayana
 On showing them the book we referred to on Kanakagiri that spoke about the edicts, they remained unconvinced, until one among them finally gave in.....

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli, Mandya

The Panchalingeshwara temple of Govindanahalli is one of the few surviving Panchakuta (Pancha-five; Kuta-shrine) temples built during the Hoysala period. Govindanahalli, an obscure village in the Krishnarajpet taluk of Mandya district was once a flourishing town under Hoysala rule and is believed to have been a part of the ancient Kabbahunadu. The temple was built in the 13th century during the reign of the Hoysala king  Veera Someshwara.
The Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli
The Panchalingeshwara Temple
  Originally, this temple was a Chatushkuta (four shrined) built in dravidian style. However, there was an addition of another garbhagriha on the eastern side categorizing the temple under panchakuta type. Each garbhagriha has a separate antarala, opening into a common navaranga. There are two north facing entrances with Mukhamantapas and Nandimantapas. Unlike other Hoysala temples which possess platform as a common feature, this temple is devoid of the same. The five Shiva Lingas here are named Ishanyeshwara, Tatpurusheshwara, Aghoreshwara, Vamadeveshwara and Sadyojateshwara, attributing them to the Pandavas of Mahabharata.
The Five Shrines
 Ravana 
Narashima, Vamana, Parshurama and Rama (4th,5th, 6th and 7th of the Vishnu's Dasavatara)
Vishnu Dasavatara
Matsya, Kurma and Varaha (1st,2nd and 3rd of Vishnu Dasavatara)
Lord Vishnu and  his incarnations 
  The shikharas of all the five shrines are richly decorated in dravidian style. An intriguing feature of this temple is that though the temple is dedicated mainly to Lord Shiva, the outer walls of the temple carry images of various forms of Lord Vishnu as a majority, similar to the Malleshwara temple of Aghalaya. This may be due to the fact that the temple was built during two different phases of Hoysala rule. There are some beautiful sculptures inside the temple, that of Shanmukha, Ganesha, Mahishashuramardini and so on. The lady care-taker in charge of the temple had maintained the temple clean and tidy though she was unaware of any history or information related to the temple. This temple is probably the only Panchakuta temple surviving today which is in good shape compared to the others, namely the Panchalingeshwara temple of Somanathapura and the Panchalingeshwara temple of Halebidu, which are in complete ruins.
Nandi Mantapa
Saiva Dwarapalaka
The Little Guide
The Ground plan of Panchalingeshwara Temple (From S Shettar The Hoysala Temples)

References:
1. The Hoysala Temples - S Shettar
2. The temples of Karnataka - Dr. K M Suresh 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta, Ramanagar

Our hunt for a place to trek around Bangalore along with our one year old led us finally to Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta, a hillock located off the Ramanagar - Magadi state highway. As we were aware of the presence of steps in order to reach the hill-top, we chose to climb this hill keeping in mind our little team partner. We drove to the hill base comfortably and after parking our vehicle in a mango orchard under a big tree, proceeded towards the hill. The hill looked bald, devoid of any kind of vegetation.
Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta 
  The presence of rock cut steps have always inspired us to climb with more enthusiasm. The climb was fairly easy and we reached a point which is supposedly believed to have been the place where Ramanujacharya gave the  Vishwaroopa (Omniform / Universal form) darshana. A short descent hereon leads us to a small temple dedicated to Lord Yathiraja. The legends goes, "This hill was inhabited by saints who were doing penance for a long time in the caves. One day, it so happened that Ramanujacharya came to this place in the form of Yathi (Saint) and on asking the residing saints for a place to live in, they obliged by allowing him to stay with them. As days passed by, Ramanujacharya advised all the other saints to leave this place and go away. But the saints refused to do so and it was at this moment that Ramanujacharya exhibited the Vishwaroopa darshana. On witnessing this, the saints feared Ramanujacharya and were forced to leave this place".
The Rock Cut Steps
Hills around Ramanagar
Hills and More Hills
Remains of Fort 
Place Where Ramanujacharya gave Vishwaroopa Darshana 
  It is believed that the idol of Yathiraja here in the cave temple was installed by Ramanujacharya. Unfortunately, the cave temple was locked and there were no signs of the priest of this temple anywhere. There is a perennial spring besides the temple whose flow has reduced off late owing to this year's enormously hot climate. The spring water was clear and cold. We spent a good time resting under the shade of  the very beautiful tree of Plumeria.
The Spring 
Spring Water and Reflections
Shri Yathiraja Swamy Temple
Plumeria Trees
Directions - Bangalore - NH275 - Ramanagar - Right Turn at Ramanagar Traffic Signal - 8Kms - Take Left towards Koonumuddanahalli - 1Km Right side is the hill.

Reference - Ramanagar District (Book in Kannada) written by Prof. M. Shivananjaiah

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