Halasuru Someshwara Temple, Bangalore
Halasuru Someshwara Temple, located in the suburb of Halasuru (also called Ulsoor) in Bangalore city (also Bengaluru) is a dedicated to the deity Someshwara (the Hindu god Shiva). It is the oldest temple in the city and dates back to the Chola period. Irrespective of when the initial consecration took place, art historian George Michell believes there were major additions or modifications during the late Vijayanagara Empire period, during the rule of Hiriya Kempe Gowda II.
In the "Gazetter of Mysore" (1887), Benjamin Lewis Rice describes a legend behind the consecration of the temple. Kempe Gowda, while on a hunt, rode far away from his capital Yalahanka. Being tired, he rested under a tree and fell asleep. The local deity Someshwara appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to build a temple in his honor using buried treasure. In return the chieftain would receive divine favor. Kempe Gowda found the treasure and dutifully completed the temple. According to a different version of the legend, King Jayappa Gowda (1420-1450 CE) from minor dynasty called "Yelahanka Nada Prabhu" was hunting in a forest near the present Halasuru area, when he felt tired and relaxed under a tree. In a dream, a man appeared before him and told him that a linga (universal symbol of the god Shiva) was buried under the spot he was sleeping. He was instructed to retrieve it and build a temple. Jayappa found the treasure and initially built the temple out of wood. Another account attributes the temple to the Chola Dynasty with later renovations made by the Yelahanka Nada Prabhus.
According to Michell, the temple plan follows many of the basic elements of Vijayanagara architecture though at a lower scale. The temple has a square sanctum (garbhagriha) which is surrounded by a narrow passage way. The sanctum is connected to a closed mantapa (hall) whose walls are decorated with pilasters and sculptures in frieze. The closed mantapa is connected to a spacious open mantapa comsisting of four large projecting "bays" (area between four pillars). The piers leading to the sanctum and those facing outward from the open mantapa are the standard Yali (mythical beast) pillars. The eastern gopuram is a well executed, typical 16th century structure.
There are several notable sculptures and decorative features in the complex. An impressive pillar (kambha or nandi) pillar) stands near the tall tower over the entrance gate (gopura). The tower itself exhibits well sculptured images of gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology. The open mantapa consists of forty eight pillars with carvings of divinities in frieze. To the north is the navagraha temple (shrine for the nine planets) with twelve pillars, each pillar representing a saint (rishi). The entrance to the sanctum exhibits sculptures of two "door keepers" (dvarapalakas). Other notable works of art include sculptures that depict King Ravana lifting Mount Kailash in a bid to appease the god Shiva, Durga slaying Mahishasura (a demon), images of the Nayanmar saints (Tamil Shaivaite saints), depictions of the Girija Kalyana (marriage of Parvati to the god Shiva), the saptarishis (seven sages of Hindu lore). Recent excavations at the temple site has revealed the existence of a temple tank (kalyani) which could be 1200 years old.
Ornate Vijayanagara style open mantapa (hall) at the Someshwara temple in Halasuru
- Michell, George (1995) . The New Cambridge History of India, Volumes 1-6. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521 441102.
- Dynamics of Language Maintenance Among Linguistic Minorities: A Sociolinguistic Study of the Tamil Communities in Bangalore. Central Institute of Indian Languages, 1986. p. 7.
- Achari, S.N (10 April 2012). "Bangalore’s beautiful Someshwara temple". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- Michell (1995), p. 69
- B.L.Rice, p72 "Halasur"
- R, Arthi (30 April 2010). "Ulsoor dig unearthing 1,200-year-old pond". Times of India,Bangalore. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
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