During our visit to Belur and Halebidu, I was mesmerized by the beauty and elegance of Hoysala temple architecture. In Halebidu, at the ASI office, I came to know that there are a multitude of Hoysala temples scattered all over Mandya and Hassan districts. I had made a mental note to visit as many of them as possible. So, this weekend Rajith and me took off to visit the Laxmi Narayana temple in Hosaholalu.
On the way to Hosaholalu, we saw the direction board to Basralu. I had read somewhere that there is a Hoysala temple in Basralu. So, we took the path to Basralu. The Mallikarjuna temple in Basralu is in a derelict state. A lady from a nearby house came over as soon as she saw us. She had the keys to the garbhagudi. The whole temple complex has tilted and many of the idols have lost their sheen. In spite of all this, the temple has not lost it’s mystical charm, something very common to all Hoysala temples. In spite of many of them being the subjects of Islamic vandalism, these temples till date have not lost their splendor. The Mallikarujuna temple is comparatively small, which has been built on a stellate jagati(platform) with a single vimana(tower). On the outside wall, there are friezes depicting mythological stories, various Gods, elephants, horses, etc. This temple was constructed in 1235 under the aegis of Harihara Nayaka, a commander in the army of the Hoysala king Immadi Narasimha.
The caretaker lady at Basralu informed us of another ancient temple at Nagamangala which was some 20 kilometers from Basralu. We asked her as to whether it was a Hoysala one and she replied in the negative. Still we thought why not give it a try. So we set off to Nagamangala. The Sowmya Keshava temple in Nagamangala was also built by the Hoysalas. We figured this out by the Hoysala emblem carved out on the temple walls. This was later confirmed by the temple poojari. This is a unique temple which hardly bears any resemblance to other Hoysala temples. The only fact that gives it off as a Hoysala temple is the stellate jagati on which the temple is built. This is in fact a fully functional temple and there were lots of devotees offering their prayers to God. This temple does not have the intricate friezes which is common to all Hoysala temples. The lack of intricacies on the outside walls is very well made up by the sophisticated carvings on the temple ceiling in the interior.
We retraced our path till the deviation to Basralu and were on our way to Hosaholalu, near K R Pete. We were a bit confused about the directions and some of the people on the way did not know about Hosaholalu. Actually the road is simple, drive till K R Pete, from there Hosaholalu is 2 kilometers away. Ask anyone in K R Pete for the way and they will guide you.
The Laxmi Narayana temple in Hosaholalu is big and well maintained. The garbhagudi was not open and one of the kids playing in the temple complex informed us that the poojari will come and open it in another 30 minutes. We went around the temple taking in the details carved on the temple wall. This is a typical Hoysala architecture with a raised stellate jagati, well carved out friezes on top of it, ornate pillars resting over the friezes and then the magnificently carved temple roof.
On the way back, Melukote was just a stone’s throw away. We drove into the town expecting not to see much as it was already 6 in the evening. We visited the expansive pushkarani (lake attached to the temple) and a temple on the hill. The pushkarani was really big and filled with water to the brim but the people had made the surroundings really dirty. There are pillared halls all around the pushkarani but we did not go much into detail here. Next, we climbed up the temple atop a huge rock. This temple has an impressive gopura(tower). From the rock you get a panoramic view of Melukote town and the surrounding areas. Sitting on the cliff I just stared into oblivion. Twilight bathing the whole surrounding, cool breeze, twinkling Melukote town lights on one side, the green country side on the other and the temple gopura adorning the blue sky was a scene made to cherish. A peek at our watches told us that it was time to hit the road back to Bangalore.