Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘Vijayanagara’

Sringeri – the confluence of religion and beauty

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/sringeri-the-confluence-of-religion-and-beauty.html

Sringeri is a temple town nestled in Chickmagalur district of Karnataka.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – 17 hours ago

My earliest memory of Sringeri goes back to my childhood, when I was probably five years old. It starts with an old black-and-white photograph, with me in ponytails standing next to my grandparents, against the backdrop of the temples at Sringeri Mutt. It was probably around the same time, I had heard about the story of Sringeri, narrated by my mother and she never tires of telling me the story again and again even today.

More than twelve centuries ago, Hindu seer and exponent of Advaita philosophy, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya had come to Sringeri. He saw an unusual sight on the banks of the Tunga that made him realize that this place was sacred. A cobra was seen spreading out its hood over a pregnant frog protecting it from the scorching sun. He was struck by the sanctity of the area which could bring two enemies together and infuse love between them. The acharya went on to establish his very first Mutt here and dedicated it to Goddess Saraswati. He had invoked the deity and had consecrated an idol of her, which was initially made of sandalwood. He later established the guru-shishya tradition that follows till date, as pilgrims visit the town to seek the blessings of the current Shankaracharya, Jagadguru Bharati Tirtha Swamigal.

Sringeri

As a child, I had made several trips to Sringeri and slowly the word ‘spiritual’ seemed to become synonymous with the place. The journey was long and arduous then. We used to drive down to Bangalore from Chennai and then take the long route via Tumkur and Arsikere to reach Hassan and then Chikmagalur. The winding roads of Malenadu painted a carpet of green coffee estates as we continued our journey to Sringeri from the hills. Sometimes, we used to take the picturesque Agumbe route, just to take in the views of the forests and sunsets. And every time, I used to lose myself in the journey.

Even today, I am lost as I drive through Malenadu, drenched in monsoons. Sringeri brings to the mind images of the long roads snaking across the green mountains, the heavy rains and squalls, the richly carved temples, the fish swimming in the serene Tunga, the rhythmic chanting from the various rituals and the bisi bisi saaru (rasam) on a rainy day.

My first stop in Sringeri is always at the banks of the River Tunga. Sitting on the steps and watching the fish nibble at the feet of people who are performing their evening rituals, I take in the scene. The sun lights the scales as they whisk their fins in and out of water. The forests border the banks of the river, while two temple elephants cross over to the other bank on the bridge.

The temples are not crowded. I stop by at the Sharadamba temple adorned with massive sculptures. It was reconstructed in the South Indian Dravidian style, after the earlier wooden temple had given way. After visiting several smaller temple complexes dedicated to various deities like Malayala Brahma,Torana Ganapathi, Kodandarama, Janardhana, Subramanya and other guardian gods and goddesses,  I enter my favourite shrine – the Vidyashankara Temple, standing tall at the entrance to the river, Tunga.

Standing in awe and gazing at every sculpture on the outer walls, I watch the sun shine on them. The twelve zodiac signs are carved on the pillars and it is indeed an architectural marvel in stone, a fusion between Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Chalukya styles in the 14th century. Dedicated to deities, Vidya Ganapati, Vidyashankara, Durga and the Trimurtis , it was built by pontiff Bharati Krishna Tirtha Acharya, as a tribute to his Guru, the 10th Acharya, Vidyatirtha. Another temple is said to be buried beneath this temple and there is a story around it.

Vidyatirtha was the reigning acharya in the 13th century when two brothers from Ekasilanagaram or today’s Warangal came to meet him. Vidyatirtha wanted to meditate and he explained to one of the brothers Bharati Krishna Tirtha not to disturb him for twelve years.

An underground chamber was excavated near the bank of the river  where the seer meditated and instructed that the door remained closed  for twelve years .After three years, when the pontiff  was away, the attendants out of curiosity opened the chamber only to see that the body was replaced by a linga.

Bharati Krishna Tirtha then received a divine message from his Guru to build the Vidyashankara Temple near the river. He later became the next Jagadguru and was followed by his brother, Vidyaranya, the founder of the Vijayanagara Empire and the Guru to the brothers, Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka.

The connection between Hampi and Sringeri is something I learnt afresh here. It is believed that the seer Sri Vidyaranya was meditating on Matanga Hill in modern day Hampi, when he met two brothers, Harihara and Bukka. Under his guidance, the brothers built a new capital, Vidyanagara and designed it in the form of a chakra with the Virupaksha Temple in the centre and nine gates surrounding it. The town soon became known as Vijaynagara or victory as the brothers established a new dynasty by defeating Delhi Sultans and the various rebelling feudatories.

It was already night fall as the stars came out and the moonlight drenched the waters of the Tunga. Hordes of devotees were crossing the bridge to reach the other side of the bank in time for the night puja of the Chandramouleshwara Temple, performed by the Shankaracharya. It is a surreal like experience as one crosses the Tunga on a star lit night and walks across rich vegetation in silence , listening to the crickets ,enters the portals of the shrine as the invigorating chants fill the air and vibrates across the river. It is at the moment, I truly grasp the meaning of spiritual.

Advertisements

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sringeri – the confluence of religion and beauty

Magnificent Belur – Poetry in soapstone

Posted by Admin on May 20, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/magnificent-belur-poetry-in-soapstone-slideshow/belur-chennakeshava-temple-photo-1334830400.html

Magnificent Belur – Poetry in soapstone

Belur, 40 km from Hassan city and 220 km from Bangalore, is in Hassan district of Karnataka state, India. The Chennakeshava temple was built by the Hoysalas under the rule of King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 CE. The deity of this temple is lord Vishnu and the word ‘Chennakeshava’ literally translates to ‘Handsome Vishnu’. Within the temple complex, the Chennakeshava temple is in the centre, facing east, flanked by Kappe Channigaraya temple on its right, and a small Sowmyanayaki temple set slightly back. On its left, set slightly back is the Ranganayaki temple. Two main Sthambhas (pillar) exist here. The pillar facing the main temple, the Garuda sthambha was erected in the Vijayanagara period while the pillar on the right, the Deepasthambha, dates from the Hoysala period.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: ANANTH V RAO

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: ANANTH V RAO is an engineer by profession and a hobbyist photographer with a passion for picturing architectural grandeur as well as nature and wildlife. He was born and brought up in Hassan, Karnataka, a place known for its culture and heritage. He lives in Bangalore.

Note from the Admin : – Yet another glorious tribute to the timeless splendour and enchanting beauty of my beloved Motherland.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The Hoysala emblem at the Chennakeshava temple in Belur depicts the fight between the mythical Sala and a tiger, the emblem of the Cholas. Historians and scholars believe it represents King Vishnuvardhana’s victory over the Cholas at Talakad.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The main entrance to the complex is crowned by a Rajagopura built during the days of Vijayanagara empire. The Rajagopura is a five-storey structure comprising idols of Lord Vishnu in different incarnations, as well as erotic idols.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

A view of the temple with the flag mast in the foreground.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The Chennakeshava temple is built on a 4.5 feet plinth. The temple, including the plinth, is in the shape of Sri Chakra (star shape), a characteristic feature of Hoysala architecture. Sri Chakra is considered most auspicious in Hindu religion.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Another view of the temple.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

A pillared corridor inside the temple complex.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Tourists at the Chennakeshava temple precincts.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Another view of the temple complex.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Lord Garuda, the sacred steed of Vishnu, greets devotees at the portals of the temple.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Note the intricate carving of the sculpture of Garuda, and its harmony with the temple in the background.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The main temple consists of three bottom friezes. The lower frieze depicts charging elephants, which symbolize strength and stability. The middle frieze depicts lions, which symbolize courage and valor. The upper frieze depicts horses, which symbolize speed. No two elephants, lions and horses are alike.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

A priest in the temple precincts. Belur is among the few Hoysala temples where regular worship services are held.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Darpana Sundari (lady with mirror) is one of the main attractions in the temple. The intricate carvings include the mirror frame, the tendrils around the lady, and her jewelry. A maid on her right is feeding grapes to a pet monkey.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Shukhabhashini depicts a woman in conversation with a parrot.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The scene is called Gajasura Samhara.Lord Shiva, in one of his furious forms- Gajasura Mardana, is dancing on the head of Gajasura, the elephant demon, and ripping off his skin. Observe the ripped skin above Shiva’s head.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

In Hindu mythology, Bhasmasura was an asura or demon who was granted the power that anyone whose head he touched with his hand should burn up and immediately turn into ashes (bhasma). The asura was tricked by the god Vishnu’s only female avatar, the enchantress Mohini to turn himself into ashes. The specialty of this sculpture is that a drop of water from the tip of her right hand would fall on the left breast, then on the tip of the left hand and then on the thumb of the left leg. Such was the brilliance of Hoysala architecture.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Here, a monkey is teasing the lady by pulling her sari. The lady is trying to shoo the monkey off by holding a tendril in her hand.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Tribhangi pose is considered to be humanly impossible in Indian dance forms. Tribhangi consists of three bends in the body; at the neck, waist and knee. The body is oppositely curved at waist and neck which gives it a gentle “S” shape.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The Hoysalas carved the sculptures incorporating the finest of details. In this photo, one can see the care taken and effort put to carve the fingernails to perfection. Their talent for detail and ability to match imagination to sculpture were matchless.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

This is a scene from the Mahabharata. Here, Arjuna is piercing the eye of a rotating fish with his bow and arrow by looking at the reflection of the fish in a bowl of oil. He does so to win the hand of Draupadi. Some people say that the bow in this sculpture, which has been destroyed now, would twang when struck.

 

Posted in Ancient Architecture, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Magnificent Belur – Poetry in soapstone

A cloudy day at Bellary Fort

Posted by Admin on May 7, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/bellary-fort.html?page=all

Photo-editor AZHAR MOHAMED ALI spent a day among the ruins of the historic Bellary Fort in Karnataka, taking in their various moods. Enjoy this pictorial tour.

Situated 300 km from Bangalore is the spectacular and historic Bellary Fort, which sits atop Ballari Gudda, otherwise known as the Fort Hill. During the Vijayanagara era this fort was built by Hanumappa Nayaka. In 1769, Hyder Ali of Mysore stormed the fort and occupied it.  The fort was then renovated by a French engineer who, according to legend, was executed because he miscalculated its height, making it visible from a hill called Kumbara Gudda, and thus compromised its military location. The French engineer’s grave can still be found at the east gate of the fort. The Bellary Fort is home to an Upper Fort or Fort Hill (constructed by Nayak) and a Lower Fort or Face Hill (constructed by Ali), symbolizing the two rulers. The only way to get to the Upper Fort is to navigate a rocky, winding path over boulders. This polygonal walled site has no garrison room.  On the other hand, the lower fort is easily accessible from two gates from the western and eastern sides respectively.  A Hanuman temple, the Kote Anjaneya Temple, is located at the eastern side of the fort. The lower fort housed barracks and arsenals.  The British added their own structures in the Lower Fort including stores, a post office, a church, an orphanage and private homes. Today, one can find a number of public buildings and other institutions.

Click through the numbered links to enjoy these dramatic images.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on A cloudy day at Bellary Fort

A cloudy day at Bellary Fort

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/bellary-fort.html

Photo-editor AZHAR MOHAMED ALI spent a day among the ruins of the historic Bellary Fort in Karnataka, taking in their various moods. Enjoy this pictorial tour.

Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Wed 15 Feb, 2012 4:50 PM IST

Situated 300 km from Bangalore is the spectacular and historic Bellary Fort, which sits atop Ballari Gudda, otherwise known asthe Fort Hill. During the Vijayanagara era this fort was built by Hanumappa Nayaka. In 1769, Hyder Ali of Mysore stormed the fort and occupied it.  The fort was then renovated by a French engineer who, according to legend, was executed because he miscalculated its height, making it visible from a hill called Kumbara Gudda, and thus compromised its military location. The French engineer’s grave can still be found at the east gate of the fort. The Bellary Fort is home to an Upper Fort or Fort Hill(constructed by Nayak) and a Lower Fort or Face Hill (constructed by Ali), symbolizing the two rulers. The only way to get to the Upper Fort is to navigate a rocky, winding path over boulders. This polygonal walled site has no garrison room.  On the other hand, the lower fort is easily accessible from two gates from the western and eastern sides respectively.  A Hanuman temple, the Kote Anjaneya Temple, is located at the eastern side of the fort. The lower fort housed barracks and arsenals.  The British added their own structures in the Lower Fort including stores, a post office, a church, an orphanage and private homes. Today, one can find a number of public buildings and other institutions.

Click through the numbered links to enjoy these dramatic images.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A cloudy day at Bellary Fort