The detail in which the sculptures of those days are carved is no longer found today. Sculptures that we see in temples like Swamynarayan may be beautiful in their designs; However, they are created with machines and cannot even be compared with the great detail of thought and effort that was put in those days. One small example is the Mahishasura Mardhini sculpture which shows Lord Parvathi in the form of Durga slaying the demon Mahishasura (in the form of a wild Buffalo). If you keenly observe, you can see that the tongue of the buffalo is sticking out and the expression on its face clearly shows that its dead. You can identify it with the bent head and the position of Goddess Durga’s leg. One more minute detail which is an example work of the great artisans are the skin folds on the buffalo’s neck. These details actually make these sculptures immortal. You can find many examples like this in the Hoysaleswara Temple. There is a statue called Nada Bramha which is a statue of a musician playing a drum. He wears a crown. Needless to say, the sculpture is monolithic. It is so delicately carved that you can see the small gaps in the crown as a design. Even a small ounce of carelessness would have totally ruined the sculpture and this their commitment to this level of detail has to be saluted.
Now lets see the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Vamana. Two different statues tell this story. The first is the dwarf man vamana asking for alms and the demon king Bali offering. Even though in original mythology, this whole thing was a dialogue, it is shown here that the King Bali offers water as a symbolic gesture for alms. The second statue shows the vamana taking the form of Trivikrama. The image on the right shows Trivikrama, with one step covering entire earth and covers the entire sky with his second leg. When he looks for a third step, the demon King Bali offers his head and Vishnu presses him down to the Patala. One the top left of the image, Bramha is shown washing the feet of Trivikrama and the water flowing over to the earth as the river Ganga. See the imagination of the artist. Fishes and tortoises are carved on the flowing pattern to depict it as a river. Vishnu’s carrier Garuda is shown with folded hands in front.
There is the statue of the Sun God with his two wives Sandhya (Sunset) and Chaya (Shadow). The statue of Chennakesava the main deity of the temple at Belur is carved at multiple places here even though this temple is primarily a Saiva one. It is said that these small statues looks exactly like the 9 feet one in Belur. In fact many of the statues like incarnations of Lord Vishnu and the various forms of Durga are repeated here with the immense size of the temple. There is also this large panel depicting the story Parijatapaharanam.. The background of the story is Krishna saving the Indraloka from a disaster and asking for the Parijatha (Lotus) Tree in favour, Indra not conceding to the request and this angering Krishna and taking away the tree by force which ends in a fight between them. The artist’s imagination puts Krishna in the form of Lord Vishnu on his carrier Garuda along with Satyabhama, his wife. Indra comes on his carrier, the Iravatha (Elephant) with his wife Sachi Devi. Indra is shown holding his weapon the Vajrayudha and the elephant in a battle position ready to pounce. Many stories like this are depicted in the numerous panels and in the friezes of this temple.
Apart from the mythological forms, images of people and their various professions where also carved. In a particular one, you can find the sculpture of a person with a trouser like clothing and a wig. That was the clothing that was worn by the Dharmadhikari (the designation of the person who took care of the law and order during the Hoysala rule). These kind of sculptures found in many other temples across South India and they give a nice idea of the rule and the government structure. The amazing thing of those sculptures are that they depict the usage of some items which the modern man is said to have invented hundreds of years later., For example, two people are shown drinking coconut water through a straw pipe. People are shown using instruments like binoculars and telescope (Durbhin) and war artillery throwing missile like armoury. It is just the greatness of Indian culture that, we have known and used things long before the Western World even thought on similar lines.
Another detailed sculpture is the demon king Ravana lifting the moutain Kailasa which is abode of Lord Siva. Ravana is a great devotee of Lord Siva and is shown with 10 heads and 20 hands. The different kind of people and animals found on a typical mountain are shown in this sculpture and on the top are Lord Siva and Parvathi. This depiction is found in many other temples across India and the most famous of them is in the Cave 16 of the Ellora Caves. There is a small museum in the temple complex and that was closed at the time i had been there. There is a statue of Gomateswara in the complex. As we come to the end of our tour of this amazing structure, i would like people to note that i had just discussed only some of the most important aspects of the temple. This temple is extensive and will require considerable time to explore the length and breadth of it.
As for the blog, we will continue exploring the Hassan District and the next destination is Basadihalli, a small hamlet near Halebidu.