Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, also referred to as Lakshminarasimha temple of Bhadravati, is a 13th-century Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, built by the Hoysala ruler Vira Someshwara. It is located in Bhadravati, Shimoga District of Karnataka state, India. The temple opens to the east and has three sanctums, one each dedicated to Venogopala, Lakshminarasimha and Vishnu-Puroshottama. It is notable for its Vesara architecture, with artwork that includes legends and deities of Vaishnavism, as well as those of Shaivism, Shaktism and Vedic deities. Important reliefs include those of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Bhairava, Sarasvati, Brahma, Surya, Harihara (half Shiva, half Vishnu), and others. The temple’s original shikaras were ruined, and have been restored with a conical structure. According to Adam Hardy – a scholar of Indian temple architecture, this temple has two “exceptional” stellate structures highlighting the architectural sophistication of the Hoysalas.

The monument is protected by the Karnataka state division of Archaeological Survey of India. Bhadravati is a historic city and in the contemporary era, it is a steel producing center in west-central Karnataka. It is about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast from Shimoga (Shivamogga, NH 69), and about 255 kilometres (158 mi) northwest from the state capital Bengaluru (Bangalore). The Lakshminarasimha temple is located to the north of the town and the east bank of the Bhadra river.

The temple illustrates a complex trikuta (three sanctum) temple built from soapstone, with a square plan and Vesara vimana. It stands on a jagati and the outer wall exhibits a two tier decorative plan. The jagati extends around the temple and serves the purpose of pradakshinapatha (circumambulation). The entrance to the temple is through an open pillared hall or porch (mukhamantapa) followed by a closed hall (mantapa or navaranga). The porch consists of an awning supported by lathe turned half pillars and parapets on either side. The inner wall of the shrine is square and plain where as the outer wall is stellate (star shaped) with numerous recesses and projections that are used for decorative relief. These include a large number of Vaishnava legends and images, but also include a significant number of legends and images from Shaivism, Shaktism and of Vedic deities. Examples include exquisite artwork of Ganesha, Chandika, Bhairava, Harihara, Dakshinamurti, Nataraja with khatvanga, dancing Durga, Durga Mahisasuramardini, Rati and Kamadeva, Saraswati, Brahma, multiple panels of Surya, and others. The Surya image signed by shilpin Maba is particularly notable.

The closed central hall connects to the three sanctum via a vestibule (called sukhanasi). The vestibule also as a tower (also called sukhanasi) which looks like a low protrusion of the main tower over the shrine. The outer wall of the vestibule is decorative but inconspicuous because it appears like a short continuation of the shrine outer wall. The closed central hall connects to the three sanctum via a vestibule (called sukhanasi). The vestibule also as a tower (also called sukhanasi) which looks like a low protrusion of the main tower over the shrine. The outer wall of the vestibule is decorative but inconspicuous because it appears like a short continuation of the shrine outer wall. The ceiling of the closed hall is supported by lathe turned pillars.  Brown states that these lathe turned pillars with four brackets above are a signature style of the 11th-13th century Chalukya-Hoysala architectural idiom.

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The Veera Narayana temple, also referred to as the Viranarayana temple of Belavadi, is a triple Hindu temple with a complex Hoysala architecture completed around 1200 CE. Close to Halebidu, this is a better preserved large Hoysala monument found in the small village of Belavadi, Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka, India.

The temple has three separate square sanctums connected through an unusually large square ranga-mandapa (103 feet). The main shrine faces east and is dedicated to Viranarayana (Vishnu). The north facing shrine is dedicated to Gopala, while the south facing shrine is for Yoga-Narasimha. The temple was likely expanded in stages before it was damaged in the 14th-century, and some features were added to protect it from further destruction. The notable features of this stellate-style temple include its exquisitely ornamented Vesara superstructures (shikara) with jewelry-like details. Inside are the finely polished galaxy of pillars, some banded as if they are wearing jewels. The ceilings too are unusual panels of figural tableaux depicting Hindu legends about Krishna. The Veeranarayana temple is a nationally protected monument of India that is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India Bengaluru Circle.

Belavadi is 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Halebidu, about 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Hassan city, and about 29 kilometres (18 mi) southeast of Chikmagalur town on the Chikmagalur-Javagal highway. It is connected to India’s national highway network via NH 73. The local legends state that the village has roots in the Mahabharata era when it was called Ekachakranagar. Then, Belavadi was where Pandava prince Bheema killed the demon Bakasura and protected the village and its people.

The shrines of Veeranarayana were likely built and expanded over many years, because the slightly newer sections has somewhat lesser height, the way the halls connect, and because the cross section plane of the additions is visible. The oldest section is the shrine for Veeranarayana, likely complete about 1200 CE. Thereafter, the temple was expanded where the supersized ranga-mandapa was added along with the shrines for Gopala and Yoga-Narasimha. These were complete by about 1206 CE or few years thereafter.This ornate trikuta (three shrined) temple was built in 1200 C.E. by Hoysala Empire King Veera Ballala II. The material used is Soapstone. Each of the three shrines has a complete superstructure (tower on top of shrine) and is one of the largest temples built by the Hoysala kings. While the famous temples at Belur and Halebidu are known for their intricate sculptures, this temple is known for its architecture.

The plan of the temple is unique in that two of the shrines face each other and are located on either side of a wide and spacious open mantapa (hall) containing thirty seven bays. The temple complex has two closed mantapas, one with thirteen bays and another with nine bays, at the end of which is a central shrine. This third shrine is an older construction and exhibits a standard architectural idiom containing all the basic elements of a Hoysala temple. The inner walls of the older shrine are plain, but its roof is well decorated. In all, the temple complex has fifty nine bays (hence it has many pillars), most of which are lathe-turned and bell shaped, while a few have decorative carvings on them. According to Foekema, the outer wall of the temple is of the “old style”, with one eaves running around the temple where the superstructure meets the wall of the shrine. Below this are miniature decorative towers on pilasters (aedicule). This is followed by a second eves. A panel of Hindu deities and their attendants (frieze) are below this eves followed by a set of five moldings that form the base of the wall.

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The Durga temple is an early 8th-century Hindu temple located in Aihole, Karnataka, India. Originally dedicated to Surya, it has the most embellished and largest relief panels in Aihole depicting artwork of Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Vedic deities. Apart from its fine carvings, it is notable for its apsidal plan – a rare example among early Chalukyan Hindu temple architecture. Though dedicated to Surya, the temple is now named Durga because a durg or fortified lookout was constructed on top of it after the 13th-century during the wars between Hindu kingdoms and Islamic Sultanates. This rubble lookout survived through the 19th-century when this site was rediscovered (it is now gone, temple has been restored). The Durga temple is the most prominent attraction in Aihole for tourist and scholars. It is a part of a pending UNESCO World Heritage Site application.

The temple has been dated between the late 7th century and early 8th-century of the early Chalukya dynasty. According to Dhaky and Meister – scholars of Indian temple architecture, an inscription discovered in the 1970s confirms that this temple was originally dedicated to Surya, built by someone named Kumara, but does not include a date. On paleographic grounds, the inscription cannot be later than c. 700 CE.

The Durga temple at Aihole has been a subject of much debate and several wrong theories since it discovery. Gary Tartakov, a scholar of Architecture and Archaeology, has published a lengthy and detailed historiographic review of how it has baffled scholars, been misidentified and how some have wrongly accused early Hindus of appropriating a temple that did not belong to them. The ruins of Durga temple were re-discovered by Briggs – a British artillery officer in early 1860s. Briggs sensed the significance of its art and structure, took the earliest photographs and published them as “Shivite temple in Iwullee”. Shortly thereafter, James Fergusson announced it was “a Buddhist monument” because of its apsidal shape. Fergusson further speculated that it is an example of “inglorious, structural version of a Buddhist caitya hall” that was “appropriated by Brahmanical Hindus”. Thus began the long presumed exclusive association of apsidal plan architecture as Buddhist. As other scholars visited and examined other evidence such as the extensive reliefs and panels, the understanding and theories about the Durga temple evolved. James Burgess posited that this must have been a Vishnu temple from the start, as there was no evidence of any Buddhist temple or of appropriation by the Hindus. Henry Cousens was the first to link to it Surya, but through Surya-Narayana (Vishnu). As the Aihole site was further explored, excavated, more thoroughly cleaned up and restored in the 1960s and 1970s, new inscriptions were among the discoveries. In particular, in the cleaned sections of the Durga temple in the 1970s, a new inscription, from c. 700 CE, was found. It was accurately translated by K.V. Ramesh in 1976, later by Srinivas Padigar. This inscription confirmed that the temple was built by Kumara for Hindu deity Aditya (Surya).

According to Tartakov’s detailed review of the Durga temple, the inertia of the historic interpretations and the repetition of “stereotyped information” from colonial era scholarship has perpetuated the misunderstandings. According to Sinha – a scholar of Indian architecture and history, instead of the evidence and science on the Durga temple, the original orientalist framework has continued its influence on the Indian authors. Tartakov states that the writing of history of Durga temple as Buddhist or Buddhist-inspired has become a folklore and received truth, no matter what the evidence in the temple and the site says. According to some scholars such as George Michell, writing before Tartakov’s book was published, this 8th-century temple plan derives from rock-cut chaitya hall tradition that existed about a 1000 years earlier in 2nd to 1st-century BCE Buddhist caves. This view has been contested by other scholars who have published their studies after the publication of the Tartakov’s book. For example, Himanshu Prabha Ray questions the process of continuity over the ten centuries gap, quotes earliest Sanskrit texts on temple architecture and archaeological discoveries of ancient and medieval apsidal Hindu temples in many states of India. According to Philip Harding, Durga temple takes the “form of an apsidal temple with inner and outer ambulatories — a form early researchers considered a derivative of Buddhist chaitya halls, but is now generally recognized as a traditional Brahmanical form”.

The Durga temple has an apsidal plan for its sanctum, one that fuses with a square plan for the mandapa. This design seems to have borrowed influences from early apsidal Buddhist Chaitya Caves such as the Karla Chaitya. It is the largest of a group of over 120 temples at Aihole and illustrates a mature example of the Badami Chalukya architecture. The architecture of the temple is sophisticated as it combines an apsidal plan for the sanctum (garbhagriya) with a non-apsidal Nagara-latina shikhara with roots in North Indian architecture. In other parts such as the mandapa, it uses a mix of rectangular and square plans, all fronted by a mukhacatuski-style entrance. It integrates an ambulatory passage within. This fusion of north and south Indian ideas on architecture is not disjointed, but one well integrated. For example, the adhisthana is formulated by a Nagara khura-kumbha, and the decoration with it is Dravida. The most original feature of the temple is a peristyle delimiting an ambulatory around the temple itself and whose walls are covered with sculptures of different gods or goddesses. The rounded ends at the rear or sanctuary end include a total of three layers: the wall of the sanctuary itself, the main temple wall beyond a passageway running behind this, and a pteroma or ambulatory as an open loggia with pillars, running all round the building. Stone grilles with various geometrical openwork patterns ventilate the interior from the ambulatory. The heart of the shrine (garba griha) is surmounted by a tower which announces the future higher towers shikharas and vimanas. The amalaka that once crowned the shikara is on the ground nearby (visible in top picture).

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