Bhadravathi Lakshmi Narasimha Temple




Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, dedicated to an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, was built by the Hoysalas in the early 13th century. It is located in Bhadravati, an industrial town and taluk in the Shimoga District of Karnataka state, India. It is situated at a distance of about 255 km from the state capital Bangalore and at about 20 km from the district headquarters Shimoga. The art historian Adam Hardy categorizes the architectural style as a triple shrine (vimana) construction with two “exceptional” stellate forms, one for the shrine facing west and one for the shrines facing north and south, the basic building material being Soap stone. The temple stands on a jagati and the outer wall exhibits a two tier decorative plan. The monument is protected by the Karnataka state division of Archaeological Survey of India.
According to art historian Gerard Foekema, being a triple vimana (cella or shrine) construction it qualifies as a trikuta, which less commonly exhibits a tower one each of the three shrines. The temple is built on a jagati (a platform that is about a meter high) which serves the purpose of pradakshinapatha (circumambulation) as the shrine has no such arrangement in Hoysala temples. The entrance to the temple is through an open pillared hall or porch (mukhamantapa) followed by a closed hall (mantapa or navaranga). The porch consists of an awning supported by lathe turned half pillars and parapets on either side. The inner wall of the shrine is square and plain where as the outer wall is stellate (star shaped) with numerous recesses and projections that are used for decorative relief. The closed central hall which has no windows connects to the three sanctum via a vestibule (called sukhanasi). The vestibule also as a tower (also called sukhanasi) which looks like a low protrusion of the main tower over the shrine. The outer wall of the vestibule is decorative but inconspicuous because it appears like a short continuation of the shrine outer wall. The ceiling of the closed hall is supported by lathe turned pillars.

With regards to outer wall decoration, what Hardy calls “two tier”, Foekema designates as the “old style” with two sets of eves: one eaves runs around the temple where the superstructure meets the outer wall of the shrines, below which are miniature decorative towers on pilasters (called aedicula). Below this is a second eves followed by a panel of Hindu deities in relief and finally a set of moldings at the base. The design of the tower, according to art historian Percy Brown, is a characteristic feature to the Hoysala art. According to Brown, the stellate form of the base of the shrine with its projections and recesses is carried through the tower giving it a “fluted effect”. The tower is divided into tiers with each tier diminishing in height and culminating in an umbrella like structure. Brown also claims the lathe turned pillars with four brackets above are a signature style of the 11th-13th century Chalukya-Hoysala architectural idiom.

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