19 May, 2013

Bandhavapura (Bandalike)

Bandalike also called Bandanike although an uninhabited village now, was an important place under the Kadamba kings. The Kadambas of Nagarkhanda were another scion of the Kadamba dynasty. They claimed to be the descendents of Mayuravarma, the progenitor of the Kadamba family and in order to show their genealogical connection with the early Kadambas they styled themselves 'the boon lords of Banavasi-pura'. This was obviously a mere title, as they were never in continual possession of this city. Their capital was perhaps the city of Bandahvapura, since they claimed to be its boon lords. Their personal title seems to be that of Mahamandaleswara, and their family God was Shiva. The place was ruled by Navanandas from 911 to 1510 AD. It was also ruled by Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Kalachuryas, Hoysalas, Yadavas and Vijayanagar kings from time to time. The importance of the place is well attested by the lithic records of the Rashtrakutas (circa seventh-eighth century AD.), later Chalukyas (circa eleventh-twelth century AD.), Kalachuris, Hoysalas (circa twelth century AD.), Seunas (circa thirteenth century AD.) and Vijayanagara (circa fifteenth--sixteenth century A.D.). Bandavapura was a prosperous centre in the 11th and 12th centuries during the period of the Chalukyas of Kalyan and was the chief town of Nagarakhanda-70.

The ruins of the old city that covers an extensive area contains several dilapidated temples of large dimensions. The many ruins and temples narrate interesting stories. The inscription found here informs that it was ruled by the wise Chandragupta Maurya. It was a prosperous agrahara and a popular pilgrim centre for the Jains even from the beginning of the 10th century. There is big Jaina basadi on the right side of the tank named Nagara-kere or Nagaratirtha called Shantinatha basadi.

The Shantinatha Basadi in plan has a garbhagriha, an antarala; a four pillared mahamandapa and a thirty two-pillared mukhamandapa all in north-south orientation. The mahamandapa in its southern wall has the devakoshthas on either side of the sukanasi doorway which is also provided with perforated jalis, datable to the times of Rashtrakuta Krishna (Kannaradeva) the temple received endowments by one Jakkiyabbe who was ruling Bandalike in A.D. 912. This is for the first time we find women being appointed to such responsible positions. She was a pious Jain devotee and built a number of temples and basadis in Bandalike.

The epigraphs dated to 1200 and 1203A.D. record that the basadi was rebuilt by a merchant named Boppa Setti. The sanctum is bereft of Jaina images. However, a few mutilated Jaina sculptures are found inside.

Trimurathi Narayana Temple
Built in 1160 A.D., this is a Trikutachala (triple-celled) temple of the Kalyana Chalukyan period. The superstructure on the northern and southern shrines are intact and the western one has collapsed. Known for its elegance and symmetry, this temple in east west orientation has Shiva-linga in the the western and southern cells and the northern cell has a sculpture of Vishnu. All the three cells have vestibules with ornamental doorways flanked by niches. The western cell has well sculptured simhalata at its antarala doorway.

The Veerabhadra temple

To the north-east of the basadi stands the temple of Veerabhadra which appears to have been built in the 14th century. The image of the deity is well executed. It is in the pose of marching to the left, holding in his four hands a sword, arrow, bow and shield. To the west of the temple is a mound on which there is an image of Mahishasuramardini in a standing pose, with eight hands. there is a mutilated image of a four handed god, perhaps, Vishnu.

The Someshvara temple

In the north-east corner of the old Chalukyan town-site is situated the Someshwara temple, also known as Anekalsomayya and Boppaswara temple. This was constructed by Boppa Setti in 1274 A.D. This is an austere temple with a Garbhagriha, Antarala, and a pillared Mandapa with a proch in east-west orientation. The entrance doorway is ornate with as many as four door jambs which at the base has well sculptured Dwarapalas and apsara figures. The jambs are of ornate variety with creeper decorations. The lintle at the centre has Gajalakshmi. On either side of the door are artisticaly sculptured, peforated screens which are divided by circular small panels bearing relief figures of deities, yakshas, swans, lions, etc. Between the rows of perforations are the narrative freizes depicting episodes from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The sanctum is bereft of any images. Inside the Mahamandapa are six niches, tow flanking the antarala and three each in the northern and south walls of the mandapa, the central one being larger.

The following paragraphs in italics have been borrowed from "The Foreign Quarterly Review, Volume 19"

On the mountain of Kailasa, when Shiva was sitting in his court, Chandeshwara stood up in his presence, and saluted him with a single hand. Parvati Devi, observing it, said to Shiva "Oh, parameshwara, every one salutes us with both hands. What is the reason that this person salutes with but one?"

Parameshwara then became ardhanarishwara. Chandeshwara beholding it remarked "Although foul or fragrant odours may be wafted by the wind, or the shadow of the sun reflected from a jar of water, yet are they not one exitence?" So saying, he turned to the right half and saluted it alone.

Parvati, then being highly enraged, spoke thus "Chandeshwara, I am the material mask of the spirit; how can you refuse to acknowledge me? You are under my command as long as you are enveloped with a body." Chandeswara then became Bhringishwara with 3 legs, at which the Ganas were surprised, and called him Ganeshwar (the exempted from matter), Parvati, beholding Shiva said that she had conferred half of her body to him, and Brahma and Vishnu and the rest were concentered in her; which then was greater, Bhringishwara or Shiva himself?"

Shiva replied to her that she might send a part of her essence to the mortal world and he would send Bhringi there, and she might then examine its spiritual truth. Parvati accordingly sent a spark of her essence to be borne as Maya or Mohinidevi to the King of Banavasi named Mamakara Raya. This Maya became a harlot and associated with the musician of the temple of Madhukeshwara at Banavasi. The spirit of Bhringishwara or Nermaya Ganeshwar was born to Niranhankara and Sujnanadevi at Karure and his parents gave him the name of Allama Prabhu and nourished him.

When he grew up, he said to his parents that he was born to them for their faith to Shiva; and wished to teach the prayers of Shiva to the disciples in the different regions and he showed them the mode of attaining liberation. He went to Banavasi and subdued the musicians and Maya there and obtained the title of Niranjani.

Mayadevi seeks his hand in marriage, but Prabhudeva chooses instead to lose himself in dhyana or penance. Mayadevi looks for him everywhere, but eventually, a disappointed princess arrives at Bandalike. Allama Prabhu, the celebrated saint changes Mayadevi into a divine form. A temple at Bandalike is dedicated to Mayadevi or Banashankari. Local devotees worship the goddess as Maha Durgi. It is believed that in the olden days, this temple was the centre of tantrik rituals by a group of kalamukhas.

As a number of shrubs and small forest trees have grown around this shrine due to negligence over a long period, this goddess has gained the names of Banashankari, Bana Devi and Bandamma. Most probably, the village also came to be called after this deity as Bandalike.

18 May, 2013

Madhukeshwara Temple Vanavasaka (Banavasi)

Chaagadha bhogadhakkaradha geyadha nottiyalampinimpugalgaagaramaadha maanasare maanisar! amthavaraagi puttalenaagiyumeno theerdhapudhe? theeradhodam maridhumbiyaagi menkogileyaagi puttuvudhu namdhanadhoL banavaasidheshadhol”

It is a virtue to be born in Banavasi as a human being. If not as a human being, then one should be born at least as a bee or a cuckoo in the garden of Banavasi

- Pampa, Kannada poet (born 902 CE)

Banavasi features in Hindu mythology across many eras. It is referred to as ‘Vanavasaka’ in the epic Mahabharata, suggesting that the town existed since 4000 B C considering period of Mahabharata. According to Mahavamsa, a Buddhist text, Samrat Ashoka had sent missionaries to Banavasi. Legends also say that Kalidasa too visited Banavasi as an ambassador of Gupta kings. His famous work Meghaduta has references to Banavasi.

Recognised as the first capital of 'Kunthala’ state (Kunthala refers to present days Shimoga, Uttara Kannada and Dharwad disricts) when the Kadamba dynasty ruled over the region from the 4th to the 6th C it was know by the name ‘Jayanthipura’or ‘Vaijayanthipura’. Huen Tsang the Chinese traveler-monk who was in India between 630-644 C.E, visited Konkanapura called Konkanapulo(referred in Chinese scripts)or Banavasi.

Today, river Varada surrounds the town on three sides. Perhaps in ancient times it was mighty and surrounded the fort on the fourth side as well. Hence, the Aihole inscription of Pulakeshi II refers to Banavasi as “Jaladurga” or water fort. The famous European historian Kittel says that the name ‘Banavasi’ has come from two words ‘Bana’ and ‘Vasi’. ‘Bana’ means forest and ‘Vasi’ means spring.

Madhukeshwara temple, the nucleus of Banavasi, was built by the Kadamba dynasty. It is believed that Mayura Sharma, the first King of the Kadamba dynasty built this temple. Madhukeshwara temple is named after the honey (madhu) coloured Shiva Linga. Though the shivalinga belongs to the ancient times, it is believed that original shrine was that of Vishnu.

The main shrine in the Madhukeshwara Temple was built during the nascent stages of temple architecture. So, it is a very simple structure with minimal decorative sculptures on the walls and pillars. This architectural marvel has seen many modifications in later years as every dynasty which ruled Banavasi like the Chalukyas, Hoysalas and rulers of Sonda contributed its share over thousand years to its present shape. This is evident visually as we move from the ornate sculptures into the sombre simplicity of the innermost sanctum sanctorum. Some splendid monolithic stone contributions of Sonda rulers like the stone couch and the porch dedicated to the depiction of the three worlds of existence – heaven, earth and the nether world. There is a belief that visiting this temple is equivalent to visiting all of Hinduism’s main temples.

The Sankalpa Mantapa, in front, reveals the influence of the Chalukya style. There is a seven-foot huge Nandi idol made of a single stone.

The dancing hall was added during the Hoysala period and has exquisite carving on the pillars and the ceiling. It is here that the legendary Natyarani Shantala is said to have challenged the famed musician Allama Prabhu.

There are many smaller idols of different deities around the main temple, added from time to time in the renovated temple. There are idols depicting Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu from all their main abodes including Varanasi, Tirupati and Rameshwaram. There is a striking 'Ardha Ganapathi' - half idol of Ganesha which literally symbolises the bachelorhood of Ekadanta standing without the Ardhangi. It is said that the other half is in Varanasi.

There is also an unusual idol of Lord Narasimha portrayed with two hands and a peaceful face. The unique feature of this idol is that the eyes appear to be wide open in dim light and appear to be closed in the bright light. A five-hooded Naga sculpture dating back to the second century has an inscription in Prakrit saying that princess Sivaskanda Nagashri had this installed when she had a rest house for travellers and a tank constructed at the site.

There are Jaina and Buddhist relics, attesting that Banavasi was homeland of all sects and creeds. Huen Tsang has recorded that there were a hundred monasteries of both Hinayana and Mahayana sects with 10,000 Buddhist monks and priests. He further records that a monastery was dedicated to Sarvana Siddha (Buddha) and a huge sandalwood image of Buddha- Mitreya at Banavasi had miraculous powers.

As the most ancient city of India, perhaps next only to Varanasi, Banavasi has been a cultural and religious center for ages. It has a rich past being the grand capital of the first and one of the mighty royal dynasties of Karnataka. Buddhist, Hindu and Jaina scholars lived and worked here. It was perhaps an ideal Indian ancient metropolis representing endless tolerance and embodiment of unity in diversity to inspire Pampa to write -

It is a virtue to be born in Banavasi as a human being. If not as a human being, then one should be born at least as a bee or a cuckoo in the garden of Banavasi

12 May, 2013

Tarakeshwara Temple - Viratanagara (Hangal)

Called Viratkot, Viratnagari, and Panungal in inscriptions, Hangal is locally believed to be a place where the Pandavas lived during part of their exile from Delhi. Until conquered by the Hoysala king Ballal II about 1200, Hangal, also known as Hanungal was governed by the dynasty of the Kadambas who were the vassals of the Western Chalukyas.

Kadambas were the earliest patronizers of Hangal. This small town was ruled by Kadambas of Banavasi, Gangas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara, Adil Shahis and finally Tipu Sultan. Tarakeshwara temple is a marvel of architectural splendor. It was constructed by Kadambas and later Kalyani Chalukyas made changes to it.

Assignable to 12th century A.D., the temple faces east & has a garbhagriha(sanctum sanctorum), an antarala (antichamber between garbhagriha and the mantapa) a navaranga and a mukhamantapa (main hall) in the typical Kalyani Chalukya style. The navaranga has entrance on the East, South and North. The garbhagriha is raised over a multi angled plinth and houses a linga on a high pedestal. The doorway of the antarala (vestibule in the form of an intermediate chamber which usually connects the two isolated parts of the Temple i.e. garbhagriha and mantapa.) is richly decorated. The two side walls of the antarala are decorated with Jalandhara (lattice windows work) for ventilation. The pillars and columns of this temple are lathe-turned which was very advanced technology for the 12th century.

The ceiling of the eight-pillared hall (mantapa) is carved like a full bloomed lotus medallion. The four corners of the mantapa are adorned by miniature sculptures.

The decorated pillars & the carved ceilings of the elaborate Chalukyan style are a celebration of stone workmanship and architecture. The kaksashana (balcony seatings) is decorated with scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The sikhara raised over the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) depicts scenes from the Sivapurana.

Origin of Kadambas

The following paragraphs have been borrowed from The Kadamba Kula - a history of ancient and mediaeval Karnataka by George M. Moraes

There was a Brahman family devoted to the study of Vedas and to the performance of sacrificial rites. They belonged to the Manavya gotra and their name of Kadambas was derived from the fact that they carefully tended a Kadamba tree which grew near their house. In this Kadamba family was now born an illustrous and learned Brahman named Mayurasarma, who together with his guru Virasarma went to Kanchipuram, the capital of the Pallava kings, to prosecute the study of the Vedas. There he took part in a sharp quarrel with some Pallava horsemen, and being enraged at the treatment meted out on this occasion, and considering it a dishonour to the Brahmanas, he, in the picturesque words of the Talagunda inscription, "with the ands dexterous in grasping the Kusa grass, the fuel, the stones, the ladle, the melted butter, and the oblation vessel, unsheathed a flaming sword eager to conquer the world". Accordingly, having trained himself in war-like exercises, he easily overpowered the frontier guards and established himself in the almost inaccessible forests of Sriparvata (Srisailam, Karnool District). There he grew so powerful that he was able to levy tribute from the great Bana and other Kings and caused much havoc by his predatory excursions. The Pallava kings of kanchi took the field against him; but he could not be subdued. At last they made a compact with him by which he undertook to enter their service. Distinguishing himself by his deeds of valour, he pleased the Pallavas, his master, who finally installed him as King over a territory extending from the Amara ocean (western ocean) to the Premara country (Malva), specifying that other chiefs "should not enter it".

Prof. Kielhorn observes that Kubja the composer of Talagunda inscription states that Mayurasarma entered the service of the Pallavas by becoming a dandanayaka or general. This view is supported by the description in the inscription which states Kadamba family as the great lineage of leaders of armies (senani) and also that Mayurasarma was anointed by Shadanana (the six faced god of war) after meditating on Senapati ie. the general of Gods (Kartikeya).

It is possible that Mayurasharma, also styled Mayuravarma, availed himself of the confusion prevailing in the country after the southern expedition of Samudragupta and established himself as an independent ruler. It is evident from the inscription that Mayuravarma soon grew sufficiently powerful to impose his suzerainty on the neighbouring kings. An epigraphical record found at the same village says that he performed 18 horse sacrifices.

This number seems to be a little exaggerated, after a lapse of 7-8 centuries. Nevertheless, it may safely be maintained that he really performed one or perhaps a few more, which thus formed the historical foundation for the exaggerated version of the later records. This was indeed a great achievement, for it is well known that the great Gupta King, Samudra Gupta, for instance performed only one.

The outer walls of the temple are articulated with both Dravidian and nagara style of miniature shikaras.

The dynastic symbol of theKadambas was the lion. It is possible that they borrowed this from the Pallavas, who also had this sign for their national emblem. The reason for this assumption is that the Pallavas, as has already been noted were at least for some time the overlords of the Kadambas. It may incidentally be observed that the dynasty of the Vishnukundins also had the lion for their symbol, and it is not improbable that the Pallavas borrowed it from them. The image of an advancing lion with its right fore-paw raised, its neck erect, mouth wide open and the tail twirled round is employed as a decorative motif in several Kadamba temples.