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Basaralu Malikarjuna

Hoysala architecture and sculpture, pride of Karnataka.

India, apart from its rich cultural heritage, is also known as the spiritual paradise. With the popular perception being that there are 33 million deities in Hinduism, it is but natural that the country has innumerable temples across its length and breadth! The grandeur of the temples of India is known the world over and the temple tours are high on the list of travel and tourism promotion! Well, the temples here are worth visiting and seeing.

Visitors throng to all those well-known temples at the popular tourist destinations and appreciate the magnificence of our temples. If Belur and Halebeedu temples are the examples of magnificent Hoysala architecture, a countless number of temples of the same era are unknown or go unnoticed. These are the temples of yore which remain hidden due to its remote location and lack of publicity.

Poetry in the sculpture – Hoysala Temples

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.

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