Hoysala temples are known for their intricate carvings and magnificent architecture. Some of the most noted temples of Hoysala architecture are Somanathapura, Belur and Halebidu. However, there are many beautiful temples all-over Karnataka and one such beautiful temple is the Lakshmi-Narayana temple at Hosaholalu near Krishnarajapet.
Krishnarajapet has a number of temples that were built under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th Century, and it is referred to as "Mother of Hoysala temples". Considering how well they were known for their architectural masterpieces, this Lakshmi-Narayana temple does complete justice to their glory.
Overview of the Temple
This is a three-celled temple (trikuta-chala) and so it has three garbha-grihas (rooms housing the Deities). The main east-facing garbha-griha contains the Deity of Lakshmi-Narayana and the garbha-grihas facing North and South house the Deities of Sri Venu-Gopala and Sri Lakshmi-Narasimha respectively.
This temple was built in 1250 A.D by King Vira Someshwara. At this point in time, Hoysala architecture was at its peak. The worship of the Deities still goes on and many festivasl are celebrated with a large gathering of devotees from the surrounding villages.
This temple has beautiful and intricate carvings. The trikuta-chala is built on a platform shaped like a star. This platform is raised with a nava-ranga (hall in front of the shrine) in the centre and the three shrines around it. The main shrine with Lakshmi-Narayana has a tower decorated with intricate interiors. The temple is built out of soapstone and has a typical Hoysala jagati (platform) which elevates the temple off the ground by a metre.
The shrines inside the temple are also beautifully carved. The nava-ranga is the the first thing one will notice. It has four beautiful lathe turned pillars dividing the hall into nine cells. The pillars are carved with the sculptures of young dancing girls in different graceful and elegant poses. Each shrine has a very unique design on the ceiling portraying the great talent of the sculptors.
The outside walls of the temple depict the pastimes of Rama and Krishna. Many wonderful carvings depicting stories from the Mahabharata, krishna-lila and Ramayana adorn the outer walls. The base of the temple has the six layers of decorative pattikas (friezes) that comprises of swans, horse riders, elephants, various gods and goddesses and leafy scrolls.
The mid-section of the wall is again decorated with sculptures of various gods. More prominence is given to Shiva, but it also has carvings of Saraswati, Lakshmi, Durga, Bramha, Krishna, Vishnu and may other deities. Fortunately, all the carvings in this temple are still preserved and fairly intact.
Initially, all the Deities in this temple were installed by Sri Ramanujacharya. However, the Deity of Venu-Gopala was moved out of the temple and new ones were made sometime in the 1950's. The Deities are well decorated and worshipped regularly. Many festivals including an elaborate chariot festival is held here and many devotees from the surrounding villages come and offer their services to the temple.
In conclusion, this is a very beautiful temple that is definitely worth a visit. Photographs and text can do only so much justice to the true glory that lies within great temples such as these.