There is no denying the fact that the Hoysala rulers who ruled South India including Karnataka from the 10th century to 14th century AD, were great patrons of art and architecture. The fine temples in the state of Karnataka are testimony to this fact. An example of brilliant craftsmanship, the level of structural and sculptural detail in these monuments is truly commendable. As mentioned in my earlier post, while the temples of Belur and Halebid are literally the face of Hoysala temples in Karnataka, there are several other temples built by these rulers that are off the traditional tourist circuit. With over 100 temples in the state, an offbeat Hoysala trail must be on your list if you are history and culture buff.
The Panchalingeshwara temple in Govindanahalli, a quaint village about 20 km from Channarayapatna is one such temple. Dating back to the 13th century and built by the Hoysala king Vira Someshwara, this temple is a very fine example of the rare “panchakuta” architecture.
Translating into “five lingas”, this temple as the name suggests consists of five shrines and five towers with all the “garbha grihas” aka sanctum sanctroums facing east.
The main deity is Lord Shiva which is in the form of a Linga and the five Lingas have been Ishanyeshwara, Tatpurusheshwara, Aghoreshwara, Vamadeveshwara and Sadyojateshwara. There is a statue of the holy bull or Nandi in front of each shrine and each of it is sculpted uniquely. The entrance to each of these ‘garbha grihas’ is characterized by intricate carvings and sculptures all of which have been done differently.
There a pillars throughout the length of the temple and the play of shadow and light creates quite a remarkable effect.
The outer walls have intricate carvings that depict scenes from the Dashavatara which is in fact an intriguing feature of the temple as the main deity is dedicated to Lord Shiva while the outer walls have various sculptures related to Lord Vishnu.
The famous Hoysala sculptor Ruvari Mallitamma is said to have made significant contributions to this temple including the carving of two elaborate Dwarapala figures.
An edited version of this article was published in Deccan Herald here.