Thursday, March 5, 2015

Two lesser known temples in the vicinity of Chikmagalur - February 2015

Eversince I passed through Chikmagalur as early as May 1966 from Kadur on our way to Mangalore, it had been my cherished desire to visit this hill town and spend a couple of days in tranquility. But I could not get any opportunity or occasion to visit the place until last month when we had to attend a marriage of one of our close relatives in Haveri. In fact, this occasion became a sort of family get together. So I and my wife along with my two brothers-in-law’s family planned a trip to Chikmagalur after the marriage.

We boarded the 7.OO a.m. Dharwad-Bangaluru Intercity Express at Haveri which reached Kadur around 11.OO a.m. We hired a Maruti Omni van from the Bus Stand which was about one k.m. from the railway station, for Chikmagalur drop (@Rs.800/-, 40 kms). The road to Chikmagalur was in good condition. It took about one hour to reach Chikmagalur. We checked in The Grand Krishna Hotel(@2000/- with breakfast) located about one km from the Bus Stand. We had lunch at the Hotel’s roof top restaurant called ‘The Spice’.The food was excellent.

After a short afternoon siesta, we strolled on M G Road which was a shopping area and also walked around the Bus Stand to scout for the hiring of a vehicle for the next day’s visit to Belagavi, Belur and Halebeedu. Later on, we decided to hire the vehicle from Hotel’s desk and negotiated directly with the travel agency which agreed @ Rs.2500/- for Innova for the whole day trip.
A part of the town as we entered Chikmagalur from Kadur.

The Grand Krishna Hotel where we stayed.

Kodandarama Temple, Hiremagalur
Next morning, after an excellent complimentary breakfast (coffee was excellent+) in the Hotel’s restaurant, we started our day’s trip at around 9.00 a.m. Our first stop was to be Belavadi for visiting Veer Narayana Temple. However, on a suggestion from our driver, we visited Kodandarama Temple located at Hiremagalur, about 5 kms from our Hotel. From the outside, the temple did not look architecturally impressive. However, once we entered through gopuram, we could get a feel that this temple must be as old as that of Hoysala period, probably belonging to 12th century AD.
The entrance to the temple is through a gopuram. The main structure of the temple and the mandap appears to be architecturally close to the Hoysala style. However, the gopuram and the spire of the temple appear to be the later additions as the sculptures on them are not in tandem with sculptures on the temple walls. The idols in the sanctum sanctorum are of Ram, Laxman and Sita in shining black stone. Both Ram and Laxman hold bows on their left hands while holding arrows on the right hands. Since Lord Ram is holding Kodanda (the name of the bow), he is called Kodandarama.
In most of Ram temples, the idol of Sita is on the left of Lord Ram while idol Laxman is on his right. However, in this temple, Sita is standing on the right of Lord Ram and Laxman on his left. The legend says that this was the place where Lord Ram pacified an angry Parashuram whose pride got a beating when Lord Ram broke Lord Shiva’s bow during Sita Swayamvar which he had given to King Janak. After cooling down, Parashuram requested Lord Ram to enact the scene of his marriage to Sita whereupon Lord Ram stood with Sita to his right and Laxman to his left.
Since photography inside sanctum sanctorum was prohibited, I could not take the picture of the idols which in my view is one of the most beautiful idols I had seen in the temples. I had seen a very old photograph of the idols which showed intricate carvings on them.
Another feature of Kodandarama temple is that the priest, Shri Kannan, a Tamilian settled in Hiremagalur and a laureate in Kannada language, chants hymns in Kannada so that the local people in general understand the meaning of the hymns. Our driver told me that he is a TV personality and had received Karnataka State Government Award for chanting Sanskrit hymns in Kannada. When we visited the temple, Shri Kannan was already in sanctum sanctorum conducting pooja. After seeing us, he conducted Kumkum Archana Pooja for us, chanting hymns in Sanskrit since none of us understood Kannada. I was pleasantly surprised that after the end of the pooja, there was not even a subtle hint of the expectation of a ‘dakshina’ (donation) from us.
A few pictures of the temple are uploaded below.

Gopuram of Kodandarama temple, Hiremagalur.

Kodandarama temple. The tower of the temple seems to be a later addition.
Sculptures on the outer wall of Kodandarama temple.
Sculpture of Yoga Narsimha on the outer wall of Kodandarama temple.

Chariot of Kodandarama temple.
Veer Narayana Temple, Belavadi
A drive of about 25 kms from Hiremagalur towards Halebeedu took us to a nondescript village called Belavadi which was our next stop for visiting Veer Narayana temple, a protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India.  
Veer Narayana is an uniquely built temple dating back to C.1200 AD. The temple was built during the reign of Hoysala King Veer Bhadra II. As we entered the outer mandap (hall) leading to the main shrine of Veer Narayana, there were intricately carved pillars of black stone,  some of which were shining like glass. At some places, ceilings were also intricately carved out of a single stone. The inner mandap had also intricately carved pillars but not as shining as that of the pillars of outer mandap.  
The main feature of this temple complex is that there are three temples adjoining mandaps. Two temples faced each other – one at the left is Venugopala temple facing north and the other one on the right facing south is that of Yoga Narsimha temple. The main temple facing east is  Veer Narayana temple. Hence this temple is also called as Trikuta temple.
A lot of efforts seem to  have gone to make all the idols of three temples more beautiful than the sculptures and carvings on the inner as well as outer walls of the temple. I felt that viewing these beautiful idols of Gods can make even an atheist to start admiring the God as a starting point for believing in God. Unfortunately, photography in the sanctum sanctorum of all the three temples is prohibited.
All the three towers of the temples have also been intricately carved having various sculptures of gods and people. The outer walls of the temples have both the sculptures as well as carvings mostly depicting the stories from Ramayan and Mahabharat. Some of the sculptures and carvings especially in the lower panels have been damaged. But those on the upper panels have remained more or less intact.
This is a live temple where a priest performs daily rituals both in the morning and evening.  It was the priest who gave us a brief history of the temple and revealed another uniqueness of the temple. From the sanctum sanctorum of Veer Narayana temple, one can see a straight path without any obstruction leading to the main entrance to the east. The distance could be about 100m. On March 21st and September 21st every year, if it is not a cloudy day, the morning sun rays directly falls on the idol of Veer Narayana.
Some of the pictures taken during the visit to the temple are uploaded below:

Entrance to Veer Narayana temple, Belavadi.
Front view of Veer Narayana temple complex.
Outer Mandap (hall) of the temple. Note the well carved shining pillars.
Close up of one of the well carved pillars of the outer mandap
Inner Mandap. At the far end is the sanctum sanctorum of Veer Narayana temple.

Domical ceiling of the outer mandap.
Intricate carving on the ceiling of the outer mandap.
Tower of Venugopala temple.
Tower of Yoga Narsimha temple.

Sculptures of gods on one of the outer wall of the temple.
Outside view of Outer mandap. 
Top of the outer mandap.
Carvings on the top of the outer madap.
Carvings on one of the towers of the temple.
Sculptures of Gods on outer wall of the temple. I can recognise Lord Vishnu (second from left) and Yoga Narsimha (third from right).
From Belavadi, we proeeded to Halebeedu temple which I will cover in a separate post.


KS said...

SK, as usual good details, nice writing, great insights & wonderful pictures! Enjoyed reading!! btw: my name Kothanda is there too .. with correct spelling as "Kodanda"

KS said...

btw: Forgot to mention, I liked your nice observation too: "I was pleasantly surprised that after the end of the pooja, there was not even a subtle hint of the expectation of a ‘dakshina’ (donation) from us"

Ayushi Manroa said...

Hey Sadanand,

It is true that these magnum opus architectural beauties that were constructed before our time ought to be treasured for its worth. Very less do we know about the hidden gems like these in or country. Very thoughtful of you to write about it and the temples are amazing. Today’s hi- tech commodities and sophisticated facilities cannot bring the ethnic vibe and pompous designs in front of our eyes.