Jan 30, 2013

Palegara Bise Gowdara Kote, Harapanayakanahalli

Kaki Bise Gowda of Harappanayakanahalli was a Palegara who lived 200+ years ago. It is said that Hyder Ali had many palegars under him and Bise Gowda was one of them. Bise Gowa was made responsible for keeping a check on other palegars. For that purpose Hyder Ali had provided arms and ammunition to Bise Gowda for self-defence. Kaki Bise Gowda is known for his role in capturing Chandragiri (near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh). As a mark of the victory, Bise Gowda built a shrine for goddess Chowdeshwari, the temple is between Harappanayakanahalli and Mandikal. Song praising Bise Gowda's valor are sung during Chowdeshwari Jatre which takes place every February. He is a legend in Kolar district and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Being powerful chieftain, Bise Gowda had constructed a fort for himself at  Harappanayakanahalli. The fort, a 200' x 200' x 18' high stone walled structure, stands to this day. His descendants live in the fort, of course the structure has been altered in recent years. Bise Gowda did not have sons, hence his descendants are his daughter’s.

August 14, 2012
While on a tour of forts between Bangalore and Chikballapur, I happened to mention Bise Gowda to my cab driver Sudhakar. He had heard a story which goes like this: One day when Bise Gowda was watching over his lands in his territory, few people of butcher community were carrying meat filled cane baskets. One of the baskets had a matchet on the top. Now, that matchet was not an ordinary one. Kites flying by swooped down to grab pieces flesh from the baskets.. but when the kites flew by the matchet would take off and chased away the birds. Bise Gowda who was watching the happenings was astonished, he also noticed that folks carrying the baskets were not aware of the magical powers of the matchet. After a while Bise Gowda approaches them and gets the matchet for himself. Then he gets the matchet forged into a sword with which he fights and wins several battles. However during one raid he attacks a pregnant woman who curses him to before dying. Well, that's the story I heard but can't remember the last part which is about the effect of the woman's curse and Bise Gowda's death.

August 17, 2012
After the tour of Chola temples at Avani we arrive at Harappanayakanahalli. A local folk confused us we took a round about route to the fort. The fort is a square in plan with four circular bastions.


It's not a easy task to maintain ancient building, that's mainly because of lack of manpower and costs involved.
As we approached the fort, we saw a lady at the entrance, she wasn't happy seeing us. She asked us who we were in a authoritative tone.. I guessed the lady was from Bise Gowda's family. I told the lady about the little adventure in reaching her fort.. we are here to see the legendary Kaki Bise Gowda's fort, if permitted. The lady thawed and let us in.
Our host told us about the ongoing repair work. We could see a mason and his help busy moving and arranging dressed granite slabs.

The fort's original entrance is south-facing. Part of the eastern wall was broken down to make a new entrance. Thanks to Vaastu.
Within the fort is a tiled roof house, an open well and a cattle house. The well was not circular but a square lined with granite slabs. Water level in the well was quite high, perhaps 4 feet below ground level. On the right is a modern cement and steel structure under construction.
The lady was kind of friendly now, she showed us the massive stone grinder used to make flour. The grinder was used even during Bise Gowda's time. Our host also mentioned about artifacts from Bise Gowda's time. I was temped to ask if we could see, but decided against it.
Repairing old structures isn't an easy job. The lady offers us tea but we decline the offer politely. It was time to leave, we still has Kurudumale on our list.
The North-East bastion.

That's the new entrance, next to the NE bastion.

On the village outskirts this cone-on-cylinder hut caught our attention. The conical wall is made of dresses stones and the roof is palm leaves. This was a human dwelling earlier, now its used as a cattle house.
Notice the shallow pit around the base of the wall. Seems like a snake-pit.
Two more houses on a granite hillock. Similar houses in Kutch region are known by the name Bhonga.
While driving through the countryside I noticed life is still simple and seems peaceful. We drive towards the Hoysala capital Kurudumale.


Kaki Bise Gowda Fort Coordinates: 13°15'6"N   78°23'4"E

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Jan 26, 2013

Avani temple complex

August 17, 2012

After Mulbagilu fort and Virupaksha fort, Avani fort was third on the list. Avani is about 10 kms from Mulbagilu. That's eastern face of Avani hill, the fort is located at the lower and middle levels of the hill, at the top is a shrine dedicated to Sitadevi, Lord Rama's wife.

It is believed that Sitadevi gave birth to her twin sons Lava and Kusha here. Also Avani is the place where the battle between Lord Rama and his sons Lava-Kusha happened. Avani is also known as Gaya of South India.

It was past noon when we arrived at Avani, weather was warm and we here hungry. We chose to see Avani temple complex first, the easier option. According to sources these temples were built by kings of Nolamba dynasty. Nolambas were subordinates to Ganga and Rastrakutas.

Avani temple complex is well maintained and boards fixed provide basic information about individual shrines:
1. Ramalingeshwara
2. Lakshmanalingeshwara
3. Bharateshwara
4. Shatrughnalingeshwara
5. Vali and Sugreeva
6. Ramanjaneya
7. Kamakshi

That's the gateway to Avani temple. Notice how bright it is, flagstones are reflecting white light into our faces. However, once inside the structure weather changed drastically, it was cool and relaxing.

Structure to the right is the extension of the gateway and the structure on the left is Ramalingeshwara shrine. We did not enter the temple, instead we chose to go around the complex in clock-wise direction.

On the wall surrounding the temple complex are two sculptures. The character below must be Ravaneshwara, Lord of Lanka. Close by is a smaller side entrance to the temple complex.


Transcript of the signage: Lakshmanalingeshwara shrine is assigned to Nolamba period of 10th Century AD. This shrine is most ornate in the complex. The temple on plan has a garbhagriha, an antarala and a navaranga. The navaranga has four pillars with relief sculptures and the ceiling has Ume-Maheshwara surrounded by dikpalakas. The linga in the garbhgriha is largest in the complex. the south mahadwara is of Chola period. On the extreme the adhistana has five mouldings, ornated with rows of kudus, frieze of elephants, lions, yalis and makara heads. the walls are relieved by pilasters and sculptures of Yakshas, Dwarapalas, Shiva, Bhairava, Bhairavi, Vishnu, Ganesha, etc. The brick tower is of late Vijayanagara period.

Transcript of the signage: Bharateshwara shrine is smaller and less ornate than that of Shatrughnalingeshwara. Its pillars resemble the manastambha with octagonal shape facing the Bharateshwara linga on the outside in the mantapa of four similar pillars sheltering a black stone bull.

Art on column face
Interior of Bharateswara shrine


Matrix on ceiling
Examples of pillars
Elephants, real world creatures and imaginary creatures decorate various levels of temple structures.


Compared to Hoysala architecture, these temples are simple.

Collage of images on Laxmanalingeshwara shrine
Tamil inscription
Transcript of the signage: Ramalingeshwara shrine on plan has a garbhagriha, an antarala and a navaranga. The pillars in the navaranga are of the ornate type resembles manastambha design. The adhistana has moldings decorated with kirthimukhas and lions. The walls have pilasters surrounded by Dravida towers. The Ramalingeshwara linga is of dark stone is smaller than the Lakshmanalingeshwara Linga.

More elephants and Tamil inscription. Further to the left are imaginary characters- elephant head and bull's body & limbs.

South-eastern view of Avani hill, as seen from the temple complex.

Pedestal with a circular sculpture, Ramalingeshwara shrine in the background.


Collage of images depicting Varaha
Tour of this temple complex was a rush, with tummies growling we had a quick tour. However, transcripts of signage provide some basic info.

Shatrughnalingeshwara shrine is nearly the same size and shape as that of Lakshmanalingeshwara shrine, but its basement has three cornices only one of which is rounded and another has rows of poorly carved lions. Its doorway is of dark strap stone and ornamented bonds with Gajalakshmi on the lintel. The upper wall of bricks and town are latest. The navaranga is similar to that of Lakshmanalingeshwara Shrine, the pillars are sixteen side shafts with floral hangings.

Ramanjaneya shrine looks closely like the Shatrughnalingeshwara except that in its basement and cornice, elephants are more prominent than horned lions, yalis and horses also appears.
Its navaranga has only the shape of an ardhamantapa with ceiling of nine padmas only. Its northern pierced screen has too finely shaped dancers.

Kamakshi shrine: The shrine with a garbhagriha, Sukanasi, an open ankana, navaranga and a porch. The only things noticeable here are the pillars which are of the sixteen sided and cylindrical type. The
two pillars in the porch have floral hangings and are round. the pillars in the shrine are brough from elsewhere and used for this building.

The gateway. Shivu the cab driver, Deepak and Gulli had parked themselves on a bench.

Actually, Gulli saw more of these temples in Deepak's Nikon :)

Drive to Mulbagal and finding a restaurant would be a 20 min affair, our patience had worn thin, so we decided to check for a mess in Avani. At the village square, we did find one.. can't recall the name. It was a small place, may be 8 tables, it was packed. We managed to get a table and ordered ragi mudde oota. The owner, a very active middle-age lady managed the crowd's demands very nicely. She was very particular about pronouncing the word Rasa. Even though we asked "Rasam beku" she would bring the bucket and say "Rasa, yaarig beku?" A staunch Kannadiga! We enjoyed the meal thoroughly.

We still Avani fort on the itinerary but the idea of scaling the hill under the blazing Sun after a nice meal was not appealing. I said we'll come here again and visit couple of other forts too. We headed towards Mulbagilu in search of other ground level forts- Kaki Bise Gowda citadel, Kurudumale fort and Mandikal fort.

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Jan 23, 2013

Virupaksha temple and fort, Mulbagal

August 17, 2012

Virupaksha-Guttahalli is situated 2 Km south-west of Mulabagilu town. The village is known for Virupaksha temple complex dating back to Vijayanagara period, and ruins of a fort surrounding the complex.
We arrive from Mulbagilu fort. Virupaksha is a sleepy little village. On the village outskirts is this ancient temple protected by strong walls.
Across the street is ruins of a gateway of the same period. It looks incomplete.
Other side of the gateway. Gulli takes a cautious steps on slippery granite slabs while Deepak check a picture in his Nikon. One of the steps has a strange mark on it (see inset).
The temple-fort complex entrance. On the fort walls were sculpturing of fishes, bird and a human. A government primary school is across the street. These kids were curious about our interest in their temple :)
The temples inner wall, Gopura and pilgrims' dormitory. The Gopura has three levels. Hampi Virupaksha temple Gopura has nine levels.
Kalyana Mantapa.
Floor slabs are missing exposing the dirt. This monument needs some serious attention. Pillars depict different forms of animals, flora, human and mythological creatures.
Here are few images.
Gopura as seen from Kalyana Mantapa.
Pair of mythological creatures decorate the entrance.
A mythological creature with lion's head.
According to sources this temple was built by a chieftain Lakkana Dandesha of Muluvai province under the rule Devaraya II of Vijayanagar dynasty. The temple architecture is typical Dravida style. Besides Gokarna Mahabhaleshwar temple, Virupaksha temple is the only other temple to have two Shivalinga. Of the two Lingas, one is believed to be worshiped by Atri Maharshi and the other one is Atma-Linga.

According to the temple poojari, Atma Linga changes color through out the day; blood red in the mornings, white during afternoon and honey color in the evening. When we saw the Linga it seemed little whitish. One must spend a full day here to actually see the colors.. we were here for little more than an hour. The poojari asked us not shoot pictures of the deity. Here's a digitally rendered image.
Another specialty of this temple is the spot in front of the Garbhagudi where one can feel divine energy. The spot is a 2' x 2' x 6" pit. When you stand in the pit, closes eyes, joins hand at the palm & stretches them straight above the head and stand still for few minutes, you would feel vibrations caused by cosmic  energy. Its best to do that early mornings, after a bath and attired in fresh white clothes.

Nandi facing the Garbhagudi.
Within the temple are sculpted images of several other Gods.

Also within the walls of this temple is a Kannada inscription dated 1481 CE. The inscription gives details of contribution made by Heggadedeva an official of Vijayanagara empire during Devaraya’s rule. The contribution was made towards construction of temples, compound walls, a gold Kalasha, a Pushkarani and a Kalyana Mantapa.
Few more temples where sources mention color-changing phenomena in Shiva Lingu are-

1. Pataleswar Temple, Talakad,
2. Kantheshwara temple, Mangalore
3. Sri Kalyana Sundarareswarar Temple, Thirunallur


With the sun blazing down it was really warm. We were glad to be sitting in the car and gulping down water. Our next place on the list was Avani, the birth place of Rama's sons. Avani also has a hill with a fort and a temple dedicated to Rama's wife Sita.

Virupaksha fort coordinates: 13°8'37"N   78°21'58"E

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