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Old 2nd January 2017, 11:25   #1
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Default Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture

Quote:
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
– Anonymous
Recently a friend of mine introduced me to his friends and family as the guy who drives halfway to Hassan for breakfast every weekend (Swati delicacy - very good dose + piping hot filter coffee).Over the last couple of years, this has become my standard response to people who ask me why I drive around so much.

Quote:
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.
– Caskie Stinnett
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-t0.jpg
Tank @ Amruteshwara temple, Amruthapura

Some people like to shop, others like to spend time at malls, some chase food, some like to run - each once is trying to figure out a way to get away from the mundane. To carve out space & time that brings a different meaning to life.

For me and my better half, its travel. The when, where & how are things that can be worked out one way or the other but the intent to travel is what keeps us ticking.

And so we set off on the journey to explore some hoysala architecture and end 2016 with a few more memories and a little more distance on the odo. You may ask why the fascination with Hoysala architecture - I will try and answer this with a few pictures

Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-t1_1.jpg
Gopuram - Amriteshwara temple, Amritapura

Beautiful work of art. The intricacy of the carvings makes you want to stand there in the hot sun and wonder at the perseverance & skill required to execute something like this. Only when you walk around a little do you realize that the lion's face is actually angled at 90 degrees - its all about perspective.

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Sometimes you get lost in the details and forget that the bigger picture is more important. Over time I have realized that sweating out the small things doesn't really matter much as long as you have a sense of direction that you are headed in (and gmaps or a GPS device). Often the best experiences and memories are created by those small things you stumble upon.

Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-t4.jpg
Beautiful 2 laned highway betweenHirekerur & Siralkoppa (shiralikoppa to the locals)

Big shout out to smartcat for putting together & sharing this guide (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples). I have referenced his thread in the below posts so that folks who want more details & pics can check out the same.

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Old 2nd January 2017, 11:52   #2
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Day 1: Bangalore - Sagara

5:30 am: Start
8:00 am: Breakfast stop
10:00 am: Harihareshwara temple - Harihar
12.00 Noon: Kedareshwara temple - Balligavi
2.45 pm: Hotel Green Embassy, Sagar

Decided to drive via Tumkur - Ranebennur - Hirekerur - Siralkoppa - Sagara as I wanted to stop at Harihar and Balligavi to visit the temples there. Manged to leave home at 5.30 am and reach Mysore Cafe, Chitradurga at 8 am for breakfast. Topped up fuel at IOCL bunk before Davangere bypass and after a long pitstop at CCD, we headed to Harihar and reached the temple at 10 am.

Harihareshwara temple is quiet popular among local population and hence there was some crowd but not something to worry about. A little patience and we were rewarded with some relative peace and quiet at the temple.

Harihareshwara temple - Temple premises
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Sanctum Sanctorum doorway
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Harihareshwara idol
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Ashta digpalakas - carved on the ceiling
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More pics and details here (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)

Second stop was (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)Kedareshwar temple at Balligavi.

After driving through some good and some non existent roads, we reached the temple. Very well maintained temple with a small museum of sorts which contains more hoysala artifacts.

Kedareshwar temple,Balligavi - Temple premises
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Temple Gopuram
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Stonework from the Museum
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The hoysala emblem in this case seems to be a mirror image of the actual emblem, wherein Sala is usually on the right.

Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-kd8.jpg
A very common engraving that you will come across in most Hoysala temples

After spending a good part of the hour here, we decide to head to sagara as the heat was beginning to take a toll on our energy levels. The drive from Siralkoppa to Sagar was an unexpected surprise - the stretch of road from Siralkoppa to Ulavi, which passes through a narrow stretch of forest like vegetation (not sure what forest/reserve this is though) was fun to drive.



Road condition is generally good and with a few curves thrown in, it was like a breath of fresh air in the stifling afternoon heat. Reached Green Embassy hotel at 3 PM and after quick lunch & siesta, we headed to Ikkeri in the evening.

The plan was to get to Aghoreswara temple at Ikkeri by sunset but we missed the setting sun by a whisker. Still enjoyed twilight at the temple and spent close to 1.5 hours enjoying the ambiance of this granite marvel. By hoysala standards, this temple is massive and made out of granite (while most hoysala temples are made out of soapstone).

Aghoreswara temple,Ikkeri - Temple premises
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The big bull
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Granite Pillars
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Aghoreshvara idol
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This is supposedly a Shakthi peetha - do note the goddess like images carved in the base of the shiva linga. The nandi in front is made of translucent marble and the priest did shine light through the same to prove the point.

Ikkeri/Keladi Nayakas - Kings offering their salutation to the lord
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-ik6.jpg

Quote:
On the floor in front of the shrine are the effigies of three of the Keladi chiefs, doing obeisance, with the name inscribed above each. One of them, Huchcha (Supreme) Somasekhara, is represented as manacled and fettered.

Source - Wikipedia
More pics and details here (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)

Thus ended a satisfying first day with the second day promising to take us across the Linganamakki reservoir.
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Old 2nd January 2017, 12:13   #3
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Day 2: Sagara - Shivamogga

7:00 am: Head towards Sigandhur ferry jetty
7:45 am: Ferry to Sigandhur
10.00 am: Catch the ferry back to Sagara jetty
12:00 noon: Rameswara temple, Keladi
02:10 pm: Royal Orchid Central, Shivamogga

Second day started with a beautiful ride through some curvy roads just after sunrise. I had removed the dashcam night before and dont have any footage of the drive but its etched in my mind. Gentle sunlight filtering through some light foliage and good 2 lane road with absolutely no traffic. We were headed towards the ferry that will take us to Chowdeshwari temple in Sigandur . Peak holiday season ensured that bus loads of school/college kids awaited the ferry and my hopes of taking the tank on the ferry dropped to zero. Parked the car and managed to board a crowded ferry - enjoyed the slow ride across the reservoir and mentally made a note to come back here when it is less crowded.

Packed like sardines
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-f1.jpg

Morning Glory
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-f2.jpg

Quote:
There's this saying: in an all-blue world, colour doesn't exist... If something seems strange, you question it; but if the outside world is too distant to use as a comparison then nothing seems strange.”
― Alex Garland, The Beach
Color me blue
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After quick darshan at the temple, we head back to Sagara and checked out of Green Embassy by 11.30 am - next stop Keladi.

The Rameswara temple at Keladi is very distinct because of the architecture style is a mix of hoysala & dravidian. Very well maintained, this temple contains some very distinct engravings like the ganda bherunda (emblem of KSRTC) and the mythological vastu creature.

Rameswara Temple, Keladi - Temple premises
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-kr.jpg

Sanctum Sanctorum entrance
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Beautifully carved Dwaja Sthamba
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-kr2.jpg
Supposedly erected during the reign of Rani Chennama and the image carved in the base of the pillar depicts Chennama giving sanctuary to Chatrapathi Shivaji's son . One of the most ornately carved flag pillars that I have seen in a hoysala temple.
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-kr11.jpg

Ganda Berunda
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-kr10.jpg

Mythical Vastu Creature
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-kr13.jpg
Face of a lion, chest of a tortoise, belly of a fish, elephant trunks for hands, legs of an elephant and tail of a crocodile. This creature was supposedly a vastu figure which was created to ensure that the rulers have all the mythological support required to be successful.

More mythical creatures & Carvings
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-kr14.jpg
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More pics and details here (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)

After spending close to an hour at Keladi, we headed towards Shivamogga. I was dreading the drive between Sagar - Shivamogga as I expected narrow 2 lane with loads of buses/trucks and healthy dose of 2 wheelers. I was in for a pleasant surprise when I saw that the road was a very wide 2 lane with hardly any traffic! Ended up pushing the tank and reached Royal Orchid central at 2.10 pm.

Food at Tiger Trail restaurant in Royal Orchid is nothing great and I would not recommend the same. Freshened up a bit and by 4 pm, we were on our way to Kudli.

Kudli or Koodli means confluence and its at this point that the tunga & bhadra tributaries meet to from tungabhadra river. The Rameshvara temple is quiet small and not the best example of hoysala art but the river bank + setting sun more than made up for it.

Rameshvara Temple, Kudli - Temple premises
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Idols on the river bank
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Sunset by the river
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-ku6.jpg

More pics and details here (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)

Quote:
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware
– Martin Buber
On the way back to the hotel, we decided to stop at Meenakshi Bhavan and this turned out to be the best way to end a long day. We ended up having a mini dinner and the icing on the cake was the special coffee. If you are in Shivamogga and craving for some good south indian food, I would suggest that you visit meenakshi bhavan for some finger licking benne masale dose and some piping hot filter coffee.
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-d1.jpg
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Parking lot at royal orchid was overflowing with Bangalore cars and I was quiet surprised that I managed to get reservation here only a few days before the journey. We settled in for the night but my son was super excited about out visit to Sakrebyle tomorrow and I was hopping that it doesn't turn out to be a bummer.

Last edited by procrj : 2nd January 2017 at 14:11.
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Old 2nd January 2017, 12:28   #4
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Day3: Shivamogga - Bangalore

8:00 am: Sakrebyle Elephant camp
10:30 am: Check out from Royal Orchid Central, Shivamogga
12:30 pm: Amruteshwara temple, Amruthapura
02:00 pm: Pitstop @ Suruchi, Kadur
05:30 pm: Home sweet home

The Sakrebyle elephant camp is similar to Dubbare where you get a chance to interact with captive elephants. As it was peak tourist season, I wanted to get there much ahead of time and after a quick drive, we reached the camp gates at 8 am only to be greeted by bus loads of kids. With a silent groan I wondered how we will manage to spend time with the elephants when we see this giant walking down the road

Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-e1.jpg

Approached the elephant and spent a few minutes before it headed off. Decided to go to the ticket counter and check out the scene, which is when i realized that big batch of kids will only check out the elephants from the road and not head into the camp. Quickly picked up tickets and went in. There was not much of a crowd and we had a great time with these giants.

100 years old
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Prepping the spray nozzle
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Shower & mist
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Its heart breaking to see some of these small giants being trained and you wonder if its all worth it. A typical catch 22 situation - you will never get to experience the gentleness of these giants in the wild but taming them and getting them to do your bidding makes it feel so inhumane. After 1.5 hrs we quickly head back to Royal Orchid and checked out. Next stop - Amrutheswara temple, Amruthapura

Shivamogga - Tarikere was once again a decent drive and we reached the Amrutheswara temple without any hiccups. Its was quiet hot and we decided to quickly wrap up the temple visit. One look at the temple and I was sure that we would not be able to get out of here so quickly as it was a brilliant example of hoysala craftsmanship.

Amrutheswara temple, Amrutapura - Temple premises
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Main hall
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If you observe, the main hall roof is supported by granite slabs, which makes me wonder if the main hall was moved at some point in time. Another missing detail that supports this theory is the base of the main hall. Most hoysala temples have a 5 or 6 layer base, which can be seen in the main temple but the hall seems to be missing this.

Even in the below pic, the hall in front is missing the bottom layers of the base where as the exit in the rear clearly follows the 5 layered base
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-a4_1.jpg

Intricate detailing on top
Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-a5.jpg
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Wall panels depicting mythological stories
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One the whole this was one of the best examples of hoysala craftsmanship and I was happy that we took all the time we needed to scan every inch and corner and enjoy the details.

More pics and details here (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)

The drive from Amruthapura to Banavara was a pain in the wrong end and I decided to drive back home via Arsikere - CR Patna Bypass - Yeswantpur.

Quote:
Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller
– Ibn Battuta
That is how we closed the 2016 story and hope that 2017 brings many more opportunities to wander down relatively unknown paths and stumble upon a few more hidden treasures.

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Old 2nd January 2017, 13:59   #5
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Route taken & Road conditions
  • Bangalore - Ranebennur: Superb 4 Lane roads
  • Ranebennur - Hirekerur: 4 laning in progess for most of the route but even now the roads are very good with only an occasional patch or broken section. Not much traffic hence quiet a stress free drive.

    Boulevard of cut down trees
    Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-r2.jpg
  • Hirekerur - Siralkoppa: Beautiful 2 lane roads with very minimal traffic

    Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-r1.jpg
  • Siralkoppa - Balligavi: Short stretch with lots of speed breakers and patches
  • Siralkoppa - Ulavi - Sagara: Narrow roads upto Ulavi with almost no traffic. Its a beautiful drive but do take care if driving after dark as its quiet lonely in this stretch.
  • Sagara - Sigandhur Ferry: Beautiful curvy 2 lane roads with sparse traffic.
  • Sagara - Keladi: The first few kms through sagara is quiet bad and there is no road but after the railway crossing, things get much better on the 2 lane road.
  • Sagara - Shivamogga: Butter smooth roads and a pleasure to drive. Did not have a lot of traffic when I drove - not sure if its a function of time as I left Sagara at 1 pm
  • Shivamogga - Kudli: Roads are broken, patchy and quiet narrow. I got stuck behind a line of school buses and had to patiently overtake them as the traffic on the road was also high

    Sunset on the way back
    Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-r4.jpg
  • Shivamogga - Sakrebyle: Smooth 2 lane roads which was a pleasure to drive on early morning
  • Shivamogga - Tarikere: Good 2 lane
  • Tarikere - Amruthapur: Dont take this route, you will see a board which will say Amruthapura 6 km and take you onto this route but please dont take this road - its a mess with a lot of potholes and broken roads. Take this route, which has proper tarmac and easy to drive.
  • Amrutapura - Kadur - Arsikere: Usual 2 lane with lots of traffic. Really did not enjoy driving on this stretch
  • Arsikere - CR Patna: Smooth 2 lane roads with minimal traffic
    Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture-r3.jpg


Stay

Sagara - Green Embassy Hotel
  • Very conveniently located and also has a covered car park
  • Relatively new hotel, everything was working well and I hope they maintain it over time
  • The food in the restaurant is good and it has a separate veg & non veg section
  • Service is quiet slow and you need to wait a little

Shivamogga - Royal Orchid Central
  • Very conveniently located and has car park
  • Decent rooms and the hotel is quiet well maintained
  • Food is a problem, not up to the mark when it comes to taste and also on the expensive side

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Old 2nd January 2017, 17:37   #6
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Default re: Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture

Mod note: Thread moved to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 2nd January 2017, 17:50   #7
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Beautiful Thread. Lovely documentation of the architecture. You and Smartcat together have formed a good database of these Hoysala brilliance.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 2nd January 2017, 19:57   #8
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Default re: Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture

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Originally Posted by procrj View Post
Shivamogga - Royal Orchid Central
  • Very conveniently located and has car park
  • Decent rooms and the hotel is quiet well maintained
  • Food is a problem, not up to the mark when it comes to taste and also on the expensive side
Wonderful narration and pictures there Ravinder. A separate thread for these Hoysola marvels is so very deserving .

I will take detailed guidance from you whenever I plan trips to cover Hampi, Badami, Pattadhakal, Hoysola, Belur-Halebidu etc.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 12:01   #9
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Quote:
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Anonymous
Excellent travelogue with admiring pictures. What a skill they have showcased on these carvings, unbelievable.

I was just staring at the first 2 pics you posted and couldn't remove my eyes out of those, WOW. A big proud salute to our ancient masters.

Great narration procrj. You guys are doing a deadly damage to my bucket list, its keep growing like anything. After some years, I should use the Team-Bhp Travelogue section itself as my bucket list I think.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 12:28   #10
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Originally Posted by EPMV View Post
Excellent travelogue with admiring pictures. What a skill they have showcased on these carvings, unbelievable.

I was just staring at the first 2 pics you posted and couldn't remove my eyes out of those, WOW. A big proud salute to our ancient masters.

Great narration procrj. You guys are doing a deadly damage to my bucket list, its keep growing like anything. After some years, I should use the Team-Bhp Travelogue section itself as my bucket list I think.
Indeed the Hoysalas were unmatched masters in stone carving. Their intrinsic art and keen obsession for detailed reproduction of life events in stone architecture is unique and unparalleled. Each monument built by the Hoysala kings stand as a heritage in itself. This thread inspires me to take up similar journey southwards to explore these wonderful creations of mankind during medieval ages.
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Old 4th January 2017, 10:33   #11
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Default Re: Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture

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Originally Posted by procrj View Post
Recently a friend of mine introduced me to his friends and family as the guy who drives halfway to Hassan for breakfast every weekend (Swati delicacy - very good dose + piping hot filter coffee).Over the last couple of years, this has become my standard response to people who ask me why I drive around so much.
A lovely write up and good detailing of the route plans and stay. Captivating!

Hoysala temples has been in my radar for some time. Get ready to be a reference as you have been quoting a friend of your friend!
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Old 6th January 2017, 08:36   #12
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Lovely narration and pics.
Awesome.
I recently drove from Gokarna to Sringeri and took the Sagar route and I agree with the scenic route part, but was not aware of the temples. Should start planning.
Thanks a lot for sharing.
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Old 7th January 2017, 07:12   #13
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I've negative memories related to Hoysala architecture, the last I remember of it I was mugging some stuff for middle-school history exams and boy did I hate history, mostly due to the way they phrased it.

I've friends who fawn over temple architecture, personally I never got it, or looked into it in more detail. Its also amazing to me how foreigners too find fascination in the temples and carvings of the nation, guess being from here, a few of us don't even think twice on the effort required to have made them. I'm not sure what kind of tools they had in those times or how they erected the structures with the carvings, but such precision must've required a lot of skill, precision, pre-planning and mathematics for such flawless execution, of course hundreds of hours of labour goes without saying.

I'd still get a bit more philosophical and ask what was the point of it all? Were the various kingdoms trying to outdo each other in terms of carving and architecture? Or were they trying to narrate stories using symbology, of a life that used to be, knowing fully well that their structures will stand the test of time? One thing is for sure, going by the structures in Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and of course, India, the ancient people were only ancient by time.

Good, concise writeup. I'm absolutely not a traveler and even if I do its mostly the metro cities, so such travelogues are my only windows to the mysterious portions of the country.
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Old 7th January 2017, 09:50   #14
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Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
I've negative memories related to Hoysala architecture, the last I remember of it I was mugging some stuff for middle-school history exams and boy did I hate history, mostly due to the way they phrased it.
Echo that. The only reason why I am hooked to history now is I get to read multiple perspectives and can pick and choose what I want to read.

Quote:
precision must've required a lot of skill, precision, pre-planning and mathematics for such flawless execution, of course hundreds of hours of labour goes without saying.
Absolutely. Mathematics & temple building go hand in hand. Not just temples, but a lot of monuments built in the past have been linked to mathematical concepts like phi also know as the golden ratio. Phi again is closely related to the Fibonacci series - as we go higher up the series, the ratio of numbers gets closer to the value of Phi i.e 1.61803. Parthenon, Great pyramid and a lot of other historical structures have been linked to the golden ratio as certain specific angles or structural components match the ratio.

From the Indian context, the Srichakra, which is a symbol - yantra use to represent Shakti & Shiva, the Indian version of yin & yang, is a complex geometrical figure and is hard to replicate. Below is a pic of the same taken by a pilot while flying over Oregon desert in the US Google for more info on this
Name:  Mathomathis  Sri Chakra.png
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I'd still get a bit more philosophical and ask what was the point of it all? Were the various kingdoms trying to outdo each other in terms of carving and architecture?Or were they trying to narrate stories using symbology, of a life that used to be, knowing fully well that their structures will stand the test of time?
I think that carving on stone was seen as the only lasting solution to pass on a message to future generations. Throw in the ego of a king and the dilemma of ensuring that your story is remembered for eternity, which is probably the reason for all these temples.

Intricacy of carving, size, location and lot of other factors are dependent on socio-political events. Some temples were built after a victory, some were built to honor a saint/scholar and some were built to fortify existing legends.

Every time I visit a historical monument or temple, I cant help but remember these lines
Quote:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

- Ozymandias, P.B Shelley
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Good, concise writeup
Thanks.
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Old 8th January 2017, 15:08   #15
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Default Re: Red Dwarf Diaries - Chasing the Hoysala Architecture

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Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
I've negative memories related to Hoysala architecture, the last I remember of it I was mugging some stuff for middle-school history exams and boy did I hate history, mostly due to the way they phrased it.
The narrative of History in our textbooks is very bland. Read History of India on Wikipedia instead. Also, I guess we have matured a bit since School and we now find politics, economics etc quite interesting.

Quote:
I'm not sure what kind of tools they had in those times or how they erected the structures with the carvings,
Hand held metal tools for carvings and horse or elephant drawn "cranes" for lifting/erecting heavy structures. The pillars were made using "lathes", again powered by animals.

Quote:
I'd still get a bit more philosophical and ask what was the point of it all? Were the various kingdoms trying to outdo each other in terms of carving and architecture? Or were they trying to narrate stories using symbology, of a life that used to be, knowing fully well that their structures will stand the test of time? One thing is for sure, going by the structures in Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and of course, India, the ancient people were only ancient by time.
A couple of points:

1) It's very likely that all ancient kingdoms world over built religious structures like this. But they wouldn't have stood the test of time because of materials used. But when relatively hard materials like soapstone, sandstone, marble or granite are used, they remain standing for years.

2) After Hoysalas successfully defended themselves against Cholas, the kingdom was relatively peaceful for hundreds of years. With no need to spend money on wars, it was instead spent on "public infrastructure" like these temples.

3) These places were not just a place to pray. These places doubled up as schools, cultural centers and so on.
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