Lakshminarasimha Temple, Haranhalli
Lakshminarasimha temple (1235 A.D.) at Haranhalli in Hassan district
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The Lakshminarasimha temple at Haranhalli is a complete and good example of 13th century Hoysala architecture. Haranhalli is located about 35 km from Hassan city in Karnataka state, India. The temple, whose main deity is the Hindu god Vishnu, was built in 1235 A.D. by the Hoysala Empire King Vira Someshwara. A few hundred meters from this temple is the architecturally complete though less ornate Sadashiva temple. The main deity in this temple is the Hindu god Shiva represented by his universal symbol, the linga. It also belongs to the same time period. Both temples is a protected monument under the Karnataka state division of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The temple plan is similar to that found in the temples at Hosaholalu, Nuggihalli and Javagallu. While its decorative ornamentation is somewhat lesser in quality, this temple has seen no structural additions or modifications during later periods, giving it a more original look. The temple plan is that of a trikuta (three shrined), with a strong focus on the middle shrine which has a superstructure (tower or shikhara) and a sukhanasi (nose or tower over the vestibule). The three shrines are connected by a common hall (mantapa). The lateral shrines are connected directly to the hall while the middle shrine has a vestibule that connects the sanctum (cella or vimana) to the hall. Since the lateral shrines do not have a tower and are directly connected to the hall (without a vestibule and its corresponding tower like projection), they do not appear like shrines at all from the outside but rather as a part of the hall. The central shrine on the contrary is highly visible because of its tower, and the sukhanasi that projects prominently from the tower. The temple stands on a platform called jagati, a feature common to many Hoysala temples. The platform, in addition to adding visual beauty, provides the devotees a path for circumambulation (pradakshinapatha) around the temple. The platform has three flights of steps, one leading to the entrance to the hall and the other two that lead only up to the platform, further enhancing the visual appearance. The Sadashiva temple has the same overall plan as the Lakshminarasimha temple but is less inspiring in artistic merit. The decoration in the interior of the temple however deserves special mention for its taste.
Decoration and sculptures
The sanctum of the three shrines contain an image of the Hindu god Vishnu; Venugopala, Keshava and Lakshminarasimha. The towers over the central shrine and its vestibule (sukhanasi or nose) are intact and intricate. The kalasa on top of the tower (the decorative water-pot at the apex of the tower) is however missing. Since the lateral shrines have no towers, their superstructure comprises a stylish row of miniature roofs above the upper eaves. The decorative plan of the walls of the shrines and the hall is of the "new kind" (with two eaves that run around the temple). In the "new kind" of decorative articulation, the first heavy eaves runs below the superstructure and all around the temple with a projection of about half a meter. The second eaves runs around the temple about a meter below the first. In between the two eaves are the miniature decorative towers (Aedicula) on pilasters. Below the second eaves are the wall panel of images of Hindu deities and their attendants in relief, not all of which in this temple are sharp in workmanship. Below this, at the base are the six equal width rectangular moldings (frieze). Starting from the top, the friezes depict; hansa (birds) in the first frieze, makara (aquatic monsters) in the second, the usual depiction of scenes from the Hindu epics are absent in the third frieze which has been left blank. This is followed by leafy scrolls in the fourth frieze. The fifth and sixth friezes exhibit high quality workmanship in depicting horses and elephants respectively.
- Foekema (1996), p70
- Foekema (1996), p67
- "Protected Monuments in Karnataka". Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India. Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- Foekema (1996), p25
- Foekema (1996), p22
- Foekema (1996), p68
- Foekema (1996), p21
- Kamath (2001), p134
- Kamath (2001), p135
- Foekema (1996), p69
- Foekema (1996), p27
- Foekema (1996), pp28-29
- Foekema (1996), p29, p69
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- Gerard Foekema, A Complete Guide to Hoysala Temples, Abhinav, 1996 ISBN 81-7017-345-0
- Kamath, Suryanath U. (2001) . A concise history of Karnataka: from pre-historic times to the present. Bangalore: Jupiter books. LCCN 80905179. OCLC 7796041.