Monday, November 26, 2012



 Worshipers rushing into the temple.
 Remarkable work on the lintel, court scenes of Dasharatha and Vishnubardahana adorn the facade of entrance to
  ChennaKesava temple, Belur.
 June to November,2012. Planning , ticketing, cancellation of tickets , new itinerary - soon it was time  to re-visit  temples of Belur and Halebid. I recall what another temple-art lover told me  decades ago : 'Those who have  not seen the temple of Belur have not seen one of the finest in India'. Like the previous visits, I awestruck by the extra-ordinary efforts in crafting the wall-reliefs which attract tens of thousands of tourists to this region of Karnataka ! Now I am sitting in front of the computer, with a 'Folder' full of bewildering photographs of Hoysala art !

Gorgeous wall-reliefs and stunning friezes 
Western face of Kedareswara temple, Halebid.
I am a little bewildered too - where to start and where to end. I searched and read  many many articles and photo-features in the internet  on  architecture and art of temples of Hoysala period - on temples of Belur, Halebid and Somnathpura in specific. I am wondering if  most of what  can be published have already been published  - text and photos included.

Bearded and bejeweled male drummer - 
one among 3 male musicians on brackets
ChennaKesava temple, Belur.
(Placed among those famous wall brackets of Mohini !!)*

 When at the temple complex at  Belur  and Hoysaleswara temple of Halebid, I noted  constant streams of visitors - local, tourists from other cities and States as well as from foreign countries.  Guides are taking groups around  and repeating their tales over and over again. Somnathpura temple had lot less visitors - still it is no longer a temple forgotten. But , Kedareswara temple at Halebid can be surely termed a forgotten one.

Obeisance of the 'Pandavas'.
Hoysaleswara temple, Halebid.

In a way , it is sad. This temple cannot compete with the sprawling Hoysaleswara temple in terms of size or  display of wall-reliefs as well as friezes , but surely is comparable in terms of quality of  art-work. Tourists  get their eyeful at Hoysaleswara temple and therefore do not explore this temple. We hired an auto-rickshaw to  visit the cluster of Jaina temples and neighbouring Kedareswara temple. Surprsingly, the yound auto-rickshaw driver did not know about the existence of this fine example of Hoysala art ! This shows the ignorance at the ground level of Halebid about the worth of this temple.I found just a Spanish couple and 2/3 Indian tourists there enjoying the  wonderful work of art of  Kedareswara temple.

  Rama the Archer - one of the difficult-to-capture wall-reliefs of 
Rama temple, Belur.

No less surprised I was at two very large and famous book stores of Mysore where I went to search for books on temple art & architecture of Hoysala period. One of them -  'Sapna ' claims to be  one of the largest chain in India ! Apart  from a very well-known book on Hampi and another on 'Torana', there was nothing on temple art of Karnataka at 'Sapna' ! Ditto at 'Crossward'. I would have left with a very poor impression unless a Shop Assistant   recommended a book on 'Mysore and more' plus a history book of Karnataka by Dr S U Kamath.

Internet search did not yield   many clues either. I found 2 books of my interesest.One is : Early Hoysala Art by  Binoy K hedge and 2 others , The second one is : Epic Narratves in Hoysala Temples by Kirsti Evans. I doubt if 1978 edition of the book by Sachindranath Maity is any longer available. Those who are interested in  feminine beauty may look for Rekha rao's 'Apsaras in Hoysala Art'.

                                     These reference books were expected at important book stores of Mysore !

  When I  visited Pattadakal complex and Aihole in 2011, I noticed the temple architecture of Badami Chalukyas differ from what we find in Orissa and Central and Western India. The mightiest among the lot - Virupaksha temple of  Pattadakal - has a style statement of its own. Perhaps, architectural details from the twin temples of Siva and SuryaNarayan of  Lakundi also can be referred to in this context.

 Stone pillars - one with  delicate designs and the other 'lathe-turned' - inside Mantapa of 
ChennaKesava temple, Belur.


*1. This male drummer's  attributes - both physical as well as dress/ornaments - are  to be noted carefully. He is elaborately dressed like a woman, in contrast to the other 2 of the male musicians placed on the brackets/arches. Question I have  - is this a woman incognito ?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012



Closed door of Gopuram at 7.25 am. Thin crowd started gathering 
on the steps to attend to early morning prayer. 
ChennaKesava temple, Belur.

 During my early days in school, I used to  be teased  as a 'char-chokho' ( person with 4 eyes) , a common term for boys/girls with specs. By an extension of that logic , Ruby and I can be called 'paanch-chokho' (person with 5 eyes) during our travel, the '5th eye' being our camera.

On our 1st day out  at ChennaKesava temple, Belur, both our '5th eyes' went blank , due to  mal-functioning of batteries , though fortunately not at the same time.

 Ruby and her '5th eye', sitting near
 'Swarga Dwara' of ChennaKesava temple, Belur.

 I use a square battery for my DSLR.Ruby uses 4 pencil batteries for Powershot - a Canon s3is. I carried no spare battery. Ruby had  4 spare Duracell  batteries in her suitcase . After 6 clicks, her camera stopped functioning. We were stuck at the Gopuram. We had 2 choices - walk back to the Hotel ( Mayur Velapuri) and collect the Duracell batteries or buy fresh ones from one of few the  shops just opposite to the Gopuram.

 The shop which helped to keep our '5th eye'  functioning !
Opposite ChennaKesava temple, Belur.

I took the easier option - purchased 4 nos of 2100mAH Kodak batteries for Ruby's Powershot. Well, this move saved our day.Not only Ruby  could keep on clicking till the day-end, this shop-keeper came to my rescue when my camera's battery got discharged and gave me successive shocks.

1st shock came after I clicked only 102 shots. It was around 9.30 am. We decided to return to the Hotel for break-fast and charging the battery. On our way back to the Hotel, we found Canon's LP-E5 battery will have no supplier at Belur. I rang our photographer friend Mr Swaminathan Natarajan of Bangalore who confirmed that for  such a battery , I may have to go to Chickmagalur - 90+ km away !

  Coitus ! 
 'Performers'  shed their ornaments away ! 
1st level of Gopuram ,ChennaKesava  temple,Belur.

 Well  - I managed the day with multiple charging. The Kodak batteries did fine with their pre-charge plus 2 hours charging in the morning while we had our break-fast and freshened up. But, I had a difficult day. Twice - during lunch-break ( we had just a fruit-juice each) and once more after that, I sought help from the shop-keeper  from whom we bought the Kodak pencil batteries to bail my camera out. ChennaKesava knows what I would have done without help from from this guy !

 Nataraja Siva , with all his attributes and in his full glory, 
dances on a lotus . Ganas, Bhringee and worshipers around . 
Hoysaleswar temple, Halebid.

At Halebid on 12/11, I stayed cautious - and therefore, selective .I  faced 2 'black-outs'. 1st one was when I was about to complete round-one and ready to embark on a 'cover-the-ones I -missed'. I focused on one of the many 'Dwarpals' and it was a black-out ! I borrowed Ruby's Powershot for the time being, completed round-one and returned to hotel for lunch, though with great disappointment.

  'Ananta-sayane Vishnu'. 
Wall -frieze  at Hoysaleswar temple,Halebid. 
Captured in mobile's camera after 1st black-out .

At the Hotel Mayur Shantala , after my hard prayer, power-cut was restored  while lunch was served. At Kedareswar temple, I chose only the best wall-reliefs and friezes for clicking. In any case , scope for photography was limited as the 'Garbhagriha' was shut and the northern face was almost inaccessible with bamboo scaffolding. Here, the black-out came when I aimed my camera at an interesting frieze !

  Nataraj dances on 'Apasmara' - one of my last shots 
at Kedareswar temple,Halebid.

After I reached Mysore on 12th evening, I breathed a sigh of relief  sensing that in a town like this a squre battery will not be difficult to get. Well, I missed my heart-beat, when on the morning of 13/11, 2 shops turned me away.It was the 3rd shop which gave me an equivalent make with at least Rs 300/- premium or 'opportunity profit' !