memories of family outings.....


KIKKERI Brahmeshwara shrine

We had no plans to explore beyond HosaHolalu as we had no clue what to search for and where. Besides, the grandeur of the HH edifice had left us satiated.....or so we thought. Just before we left, the ASI man who had guided us around it urged us to visit Kikkeri , which , he said, had an older and equally marvelous temple less than 15 kms. away on the Channarayapatna road ! His words ignited our curiosity and off we went, excited at the prospect of discovering another gem.

Kikkeri turned out to be bigger than a village, smaller than a town and with a bustling crowd of busy looking locals who gave three different directions when asked about " the temple". One trader ,nodding wisely, insisted what we were looking for was Kikkeramma temple ." Temple in kikkeri " would obviously mean the one dedicated to the guardian deity. But kikkeramma sounded very un-hoysala so we just sailed on for a block and enquired again. A gent in an ox cart questioned ,         ' Narasima or Anjaneya ?' That stumped us. The ASI guide had forgotten to mention the deity's name and we had forgotten to ask. But on a hunch, we eliminated Anjaneya and headed eagerly towards The Narasimha. Standing in a small clearing was a modest whitewashed temple that looked old, but certainly not Hoysala-old. Crestfallen, we pushed on in the general direction of Channarayapatna and came upon a concourse where five dusty lanes met. There was a stone tower of sorts, some carts , a tractor and many men on bicycles. Again, our enquiry, this time modified with helpful clues like        " ASI ", "Hoysala" , "Beautiful Sculptures" etc. Three turbanned farmers conferred among themselves ; one pointed back to the Narasimha , the other two turned back to their tractor. Only one youngman, pedalling furiously  past us , flashed a look of comprehension ,waved us energetically onto the riverside and disappeared.

Whether ASI does a goodjob of preserving the monuments in its custody is a question open to debate. But one brownie point should be awarded to it ungrudgingly. It dutifully puts up direction boards, handsome stone pointers with the well recognised blue logo, to all its sites . Always. We felt cheated when we found no such board in Kikkeri. Driving towards the right and wondering which narrow lane , of the many, to take, we suddenly discovered the note " Way to beautiful Hoysala temple, Brahmeshwara " , with an arrow, written in childish, bold black letters ( charcoal maybe ) on the limewahed wall of a house ! Hurray.  Long live the Good Samaritan, may he prosper with an abundance of cattle and grains !

Finally, at the very end of the emaciated lane, right on the banks of the stream : Brahmeshwara ! With an old rusting tin board announcing it to be under the protection of, no not ASI, but the Karnataka State Government's department of Heritage and Archeology . That explains the lack of sign boards and also the abominable state of decay and disorder the monument is in . What a shame !

The gate was locked, but we could easily get inside the compound by climbing on the rubble by the so- called compound wall. What loveliness ! but clothed in dust and cobwebs.The mobile number of the priest found displayed prominently beside the richly carved dwarapalakas helped to summon him. And he wasn't in the least surprised to find us already inside of the gate that he unlocked ! It struck us then how vulnerable the superb art pieces were to vandals and thieves. The priest confirmed that two irreplaceable madanika bracket figures ,from inside the locked cella have been stolen in recent years. And, sad to report, the concerned department did nothing about it ! Dear me !

Brahmeshwara is a small shrine, showing all  architectural styles : dravida, kalinga and vesara. It is popularly believed to have been commissioned by a lady , either a noblewoman or a lady- chieftain in 1171AD. The temple lacks the usual jagati ( platform) and is said to have the unique feature of a " bulging vestibule " , the inner space being made larger than the plinth. This feature is not so apparent to the naked eye , but discernable in photos taken from certain angles.

 Strangely, though worship is carried on, the building itself looks incomplete, with rough cut sculptures in drafting stages scattered along the outer walls and unfinished stairways in the front. The finished ones, though, are classic ! But, inside the cella, its a dazzling gallery of polished black masterpieces in the form of decorated pillars, bracket figures and intricately carved ceiling pieces. Some figures are small as thumbnails !( below)
 Resemblence to the BelurHalebid motifs is striking. The Nandi is a wonder with his decorative stone chains and bell straps hanging away from his body without touching it ! Salutations to such mastery over the chisel ! ( sad to say, these are broken in many places ) . Another superb example is the lady playing the drum ; her slender fingers can be seen under the taut strings of the drum. Wah !

There is a second shrine,much simpler and smaller, dedicated to Bhairava on the side. Since it is below ground level,it is flooded with foul smelling, algae ridden rain water and dry twigs. How sad. There is a muddy kayani with a veeragallu too.
According to the priest, the annual jatre ( feast) of the temple attracts around 2000 people, from all over the district. Scary ! Its condition looks too delicate and weak to withstand such an onslaught.
It is upto Brahmeshwara to help himself.


Priest inside temple.

and lets not forget the "foreigner" : ( though some archeologists say it is Dakshinamurthy !)

Brahma adorns the outer wall , as Eshwara resides inside in "Brahmeshwara":


Arun Visweswaran said...

Fascinating. I only wish such temples could be brought under the right body (ASI ?) so that the heritage can be protected properly.

Arun Visweswaran said...


I only wish these temples are brought under the appropriate body (ASI ?) so that the heritage can be preserved.