While most Hoysala shrines have eka- , dwi- or tri- kuta vimanas, this one is Pancha kuta, with five towers . And in another radical departure, they are all lined up in a row and not around a central vestible. It definitely looks different, though the pillars, decorative figures and the tiered pagodas bear the unmistakable hoysala stamp.
It has a single cell and this is a long pillared corridor, with five shrines to the five forms of Shiva placed in a row ( Ishana, Tatpurusha, Vamana, Aghora and Sadyojatha ) Each shrine has its own Nandi is a vestibule in front of it and is flanked by images of Durga , shanmukha, Ganesha etc. I noted that there are too many similar looking Mashishamardhinis here , planted all over the place. Could it be that idols from other ruins were transplanted to this place ?
There are only two dwaras to the whole corridor , with elegant porches. ( Mukhamantapas)The corridor has many stone jaali work panels to let in light. They say the master sculptor, by name Mallitamma, has put his name at the foot of one of the dwarapalakas. We did not see it.
There being a power cut when we visited, the place looked ethereal in the late noon light, streaming in through those jaalis and through the open roof in two of the shrines where restoration work was going on to rectify seepage problems.
Panchalingeshwara is a fairly simple structure with not much decoration one associates with Hoysala architecture. The icons on outer walls are meagre and spaced out. Of the lot, a Ganesha dancing joyously is the Star !
Workers milling atop the temple, removing slabs , (under the supervision of ASI staff sent from Hampi,) seemed a tad too casual while handling the precious pieces. The hardware they were using looked inappropriate for the soft stone. We almost freaked out when one of them addressed our concern with a nonchalant : " this is very old and weathered soft stone , saar. How-much-ever care we take, some are bound to break. Yen madakkaaikilla! ( cant be helped) " .
We clicked pictures with a silent prayer, crossed our fingers and bid bye to the magnificent edifice , soaring majestically towards the golden evening sky .
(An intriguing figure, above. Whats the significance of the Hand to Mouth gesture I wonder ?)