Karnataka is a state rich with the heritage of galore of dynasties. It reflects the story of Vijayanagara Empire through the monuments of Hampi, the grandeur of Chalukya Dynasty from the inscriptions in the temples of Haveri and the magnificence of Hoysala architecture through the structures of Belur and Halebid. The list of the state's brilliance can go on for so much more, but in this article, we will only focus on the Ishwara Temple of Arasikere.
History Of Arasikere
Arasikere is adopted from two Kannada words, arasi and kere which mean "queen's pond". It was also known as Ballalapura and Udbhava Sarvajna Vijaya during different periods. The town of Arasikere was initially in the hands of the Wodeyars of Mysore.
After suffering attacks from the Marathas, they had to forfeit Arasikere as a tribute. It then was taken over by the Vijayanagara Empire, then under Shivappa Nayaka who was an Ikkeri ruler, finally from where the Wodeyars took back the control of the town.
The Ishwara Temple situated here is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is considered to be one of the most complex structures of the Hoysala architecture. Located 41 km from Hassan and 140 km from Mysore, this temple is a classic example of the marvel of Hoysala artisans.
The unique feature of this temple is the 16-pointed star shaped mantapa or the prayer hall. It is built with soapstone, similar to all the other structures of Hoysala period.
Architecture Of Ishwara Temple
The temple faces east and is an ekakuta or single-shrined structure. There are two mantapas which are connected through a vestibule, which contains the entrance to the temple. One mantapa is closed, with no entrance or windows, while the other is open. The closed hall is where the Shivalinga is installed. The open hall is the place with the 16-pointed star-shaped layout, as opposed to the regular overlapping square structure of all the other Hoysala temples.
The closed hall has an embellished watering pot-like tower (Shikhara) placed on the top. The outer wall of the two mantapas, as well as the vestibule, is beautifully decorated with wall reliefs and intricate designing. The unique yet unusual fact about the star-shaped layout is the fact that the 16 points are not identical. They are designed in an atypical form.
Places To Visit Around Ishwara Temple
PC: Ssriram mt
Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is located 49 km from Ishwara Temple in Arasikere. It is also known as Chikka Tirupati (chikka means small) since it is much similar to the Venkateshwara Temple of Tirupati.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Brahmotsavam is a festival celebrated during the Shravana Shanivara (Holy Saturday) when the images of the deities are taken on a procession, every year.
Jenukal Siddeshwara Temple, situated 6 km from Arasikere, is in the village of Yadapura. The temple is crowded with devotees visiting during Amavasya and Poornima of every month. It is perched on a hill which has over a 1000 steps. The hill consists of many intriguing caves that can be explored.