Travel – my notings and photographs: Lepakshi (4)

front of unfinished ‘Kalyana Mandapam’ – lepakshi

Later half of Satavahanas’ rule was the period when the influence of Buddhism, though on a declining trend, was still wielding considerable influence and followed. During their period Buddhist religious structures viz., stupas, chaityas, vihaaraas and cave temples were extensively built in which the sculptors from Andhra region made a major contribution.  Amaravati, Nagarjuna Konda, Ghantasala, Umdavalli in Andhra Pradesh are some of the places where Buddhist sculpture can be seen in its fine form even today.  The end of Satavahana rule was almost the end of Buddhism in India.  Ikshvakus, Pahlavas, Chalukyas, Chola and Hoysala are some of the dynasties, who ruled parts of South India, later to Satavahanas.  During their rule, each dynasty had made a specific and distinct contribution towards popularizing Hinduism by way of constructing temples for Hindu Gods and Goddesses.  Each period, though had many common features of temple architecture amongst them, has also its own distinct style of architecture and at times it appears that each of these dynasties had made a clear and conscious effort to better the previous style of temple architecture.

Hoysalas’ is one example, which can be cited to drive the point very clear.  They have taken all the structural forms of Gods and Goddesses and finer aspects of temple planning from Chalukyas and Cholas architecture and added their own imagination and  created a distinct style of their own, a new form of temple architecture which they mastered during  12th and 13th Century AD. Chennakesava temple at Beluru and Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu are two excellent examples of Hoysala architecture and their contribution to South Indian Temple architecture.

Vijayanagara style of architecture is a mixture of all the finer aspects of Chalukya, Chola and Hoysala architecture.  Hoysala sculptors deviated from the usual practice of using granite stone for sculpture until then in vogue. They used the type of stone known as chloritic schist (soap stone, a  stone which is soft  at the time of quarrying but later turned hard after exposure to air and surface climate) to carve the shapes so as to bring out  the minutest detail.   However, Vijayanagar sculptors have discarded this and followed the old method of using granite stone for sculpting, at the same time trying their best to bring out the finer details as the Hoysalas did in their sculptures. In this endeavor, they have greatly succeeded and to say this Lepakshi temple is one of the best examples.

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