Basaralu, a name that does not ring a bell when mentioned but it does exist in a remote corner of the more well-known place, Mandya – sakkare pattana (Sugar City) and about 75 kms away from the royal city Mysore, in Karnataka State. An olde worlde town and home to one of those extremely beautiful and ornate Hoyasala temples, Basaralu is not a name that features on the tourist’s itinerary. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Mallikarjuna temple here is said to have been constructed by Harihara Dandanayaka, around 1234 AD. Under the Hoysala dynasty and patronage of King Vira Narasimha II, this less known temple was built and consecrated by Harihara dandanayaka and his brothers.
Declared and protected as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India, a highly ornate Mallikarjuna temple stands on a jagati or the raised platform, a feature most commonly observed in most of the Hoysala temples. Built in the trikuta style (3 shrine), the temple has only one shikhara (tower) built upon the sanctum sanctorum. The entry to all the 3 shrines is through a common mandapa (hall). The shikhara or the sukhanasi over the central shrine is elaborately embellished with sculptures. The sanctum sanctorum houses the shivalinga representing god Mallikarjuna and the other two shrines have Surya and Nagas. The other features of a typical hoysala temple like the emblem of the Hoysala warrior stabbing a lion – hoysala crest, the large domed roof and the kalasa (the pot holding holy water) is still intact and can be viewed outside the temple.
Just like a fruit hidden behind the leaves goes unnoticed, this temple tucked away in the remote corner of a village remains sparsely visited. Fewer visitors and the small complex of this temple gives one ample time and opportunity savour the flavour of Hoysala temple architecture at leisure.