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Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka

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Foreword: The scholars of the Archaeological Survey of India have been studying the art and architecture of the country with special reference to Indian temples. Several monographs and volumes have been published by the Survey on the subject. I am happy to release the latest studies on the temples of South India "Architectural Survey of Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka" by my esteemed colleague Dr. I. K. Sarma. Despite the fact that the work has a dynastic label, it really...


The scholars of the Archaeological Survey of India have been studying the art and architecture of the country with special reference to Indian temples. Several monographs and volumes have been published by the Survey on the subject. I am happy to release the latest studies on the temples of South India "Architectural Survey of Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka" by my esteemed colleague Dr. I. K. Sarma.

Despite the fact that the work has a dynastic label, it really contains author's intensive investigation into the regional art idiom of lower Karnataka and nearby areas of Tamilnadu, which were ruled between fifth and tenth centuries A.D. by the Ganga rulers. The Ganga art and architecture is essentially a blend of the Pallava-Chalukya and Nolamba styles. Amongst these southern idioms, the former had survivals of Satavahana-Ikshvaku art tradition whereas Chalukya-Nolamba art preserved many Gupta-Vakataka sculptural elements. As not much is known about this specific art tradition of the southern India, Dr. Sarma has attempted to investigate the subject in detail covering various facets of the temple art. The temples discussed here are located in the region now covering the districts of Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Tumkur and Bangalore of Karnataka and the contiguous area i.e. North Arcot, Salem and Coimbatore districts of Tamilnadu.

The Ganga monuments are largely built of stone, brick with stucco containing excellent sculptured decoration in both the mediums. Structurally, however, these temples are essentially Dravida in character irrespective of their affiliations, whether Brahmanical of Jaina. I am thankful to Dr. I. K. Sarma and his co-workers for producing this scholarly work which I am sure would be welcomed by scholars.

This work is rightly dedicated to the memory of (Late) Shri A. Ghosh, former Director General, Archaeological Survey of India whose perception and planning has resulted in the establishment of Temple Survey Projects.



The present monograph embodies an account of the "Architectural Survey of Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka", carried out by the author on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India under its Temple Survey Project (Southern Region) between the years 1978-82. This dynasty ruled Gangavadi (southern districts of old Mysore State), its contiguous parts of Tamilnadu (Kongu), and the bordering districts of Chittoor and Anantapur (Paruvi) of Andhra Pradesh from circa fourth century to the close of tenth century A.D.

In this study the author has faithfully followed the dictum of A. Ghosh, former Director General, Archaeological Survey of India who initiated the Architectural Survey Scheme (cf. Preface to the Series No. 1, 1964, pp. i-ii). A 'Regional - Dynastic' Survey of Temple Art and Architecture was attempted here by extensive field-work and intensive examination of the data obtained there from. However, no effort has been made to correlate with the textual terms but wherever direct evidence is forthcoming, help is taken from the Silpa Sastras to arrive at a better understanding. The main thrust was on the Architectural creations of the Karnataka-Gangas, both Brahmanical and Jaina faiths. The later Ganga kings professed Jainism and hence such remains are more prolific. Yet the Vedic mode of life and ritual continued to dominate the Arts and Learning of the period. No other dynasty could possibly put up such an Architectural uniformity amidst diverse faiths and patrons. The art of the Gangas culminated in such grandiose and unequalled creations like the gigantic Mahapurusha, Gommata of Sravanabelgola, by the closing decades of tenth century A.D.

Several respected scholars studied the history of Karnataka-Gangas and their inscriptions in greater detail but hardly anyone made a detailed survey of their Art and Architecture. The present study might, therefore, be welcomed as a sincere attempt at the documentation of this 'Regional-Dynastic' art norm. It is necessary to state here that only representative temples are illustrated and dealt within this work. The fullest data is, however, available in the Office of the Temple Survey Project (Southern Region), Madras for future reference and study.

This was indeed a team work involving several individuals and specialists in their own technical branches. The author is deeply conscious of the competent assistance rendered, at every stage, by his colleagues in the Temple Survey Project (Southern Region), Madras, Among those special mention should be made of Shri N. Selvapathy, Selection Grade Architectural Draftsman, Shri U. Sriramulu, Senior Draftsman, Shri A. Basheer Khan and A. Palanivel, Draftsmen Grade I, Shri M. Theagarajan and Ashok Kumar, Photographers; and Shri K.K. Ramamurthy, Technical Assistant (now Deputy Superintending Archaeologist). Shri S. K. Sudararajan, Selection Grade Stenographer displayed great patience and put up sincere labour, both in field-work and while typing the draft report.

During the final stages of the report the staff of the Excavations Branch (I), Nagpur, Sriyuts M.U. Qureshi, Photographer Grade I, S.V. Sutone and P.M. Bhope, both Draftsman Grade I, P.V. Janardhanan and N.K.S. Sharma, Stenographers extended their expertise spontaneously. Sarvashri J.N. David, P.V. Rajan, Assistant Librarians of the Excavations Branch and Madras Circle respectively, Sarvasri V.C. Sharma, Asst. Superintending Archaeologist, C.B. Patil and S.K. Sharma, Assistant Archaeologists (Headquarters) shared the trouble of procuring the reference works and preparing the index in a meticulous way.

The author records his grateful regards to this elders and distinguished predecessors of the Temple Survey Project (Southern Region), Sarvashri K.R. Srinivasan, K.V. Soundara Rajan and (Late) Dr. H. Sarkar, for their guidance and encouragement. The help extended by the Epigraphy Branch, Mysore, specifically Dr. K.V. Ramesh, Director and Shri M.N. Katti, Chief Epigraphist, was highly useful in solving many knotty problems pertaining to the Ganga inscriptions, and their chronology. Shri Jagatpati Joshi, Director General (Rtd.) and Shri M..C. Joshi, Director General have been instrumental in getting this work included for publication. I am grateful to them for this encouragement.

The author specially thanks Shri K.N. Dikshit, Director (Publication) for his keen interest. I an grateful to Sarvashri C. Dorje, Superintending Archaeologist, J.C. Gupta, Production Officer and K.P. Padhy, Assistant Archaeologist all belonging to the publication wing at the Headquarters office, New Delhi for all the help in expediting the press work. Shri. Padhy has, in addition, prepared the index to the volume.





Two indigenous kingdoms rose in Karnataka during the middle of fourth century A.D., the Kadambas of Banavasi in the north and the Gangas of Talakadu. The dynasty with which we are mainly concerned here belonged to Jahnaveyakula and of Kanvayanasagotra, and held control of the southern and eastern Karnataka territories, numerically labelled as Gangavadi or Gangapadi-96,000, for a long period extending upto the end of circa tenth century A.D. The family deity of the Gangas appears to be Lord Padmanabha along with Goddess Padmavati. Padmanabha is synonymous to Kamalodara and from the feet of this God emerges the river Ganga. This god is invariably invoked in the Ganga inscriptions issued by the royal family. The nativity of the Karnata Gangas, their rise to power and long span of rule were fraught with several disputations. Equally uncertain is their connection with the Ganga valley of the classical Gangaridae. Their descent, as also the relationship with Kanvas, Eastern Kalingas and of Ikshvakus were based upon legendary narratives appearing in some later epigraphs.



In this assessment of the art-history of the Gangas of Karnataka, the spotting, classifi- cation, chronological and cultural elucidations of the vestiges were based upon the vast epigraphical data which is the sheet-anchor here. But, may it be stated, that the early Ganga records did not get a respectful place in the historic'al studies after John Faithful Fleet pronounced that all the copper plate inscriptions of the dynasty as spurious. He went so far to say that the rulers of this dynasty prior to those figuring in the stone inscriptions (i.e., Sivamara-I), never existed- and wrote to Lewis Rice "If you will only give up the Gangas, I will do anything you like for you". But after the discovery and masterly review by R. Narasimhachar of many genuine copper plates, Fleet' ultimately conceded that even "the rulers mentioned in the Copper Plate records were real and not fictitious". Our study has shown that even the "spurious records" have a valuable part to playas they contained details of the donor and genealogy (enuvemsika-prasasti ) etc. not much altered."

The field surveys conducted by the author- during the years 1978-82, covered the southern districts of Karnataka (Figs. 1 and 41) encompassing the ancient Gangavadi (Banga- lore-Kolar, Mandya-Mysore and Tumkur-Hassan) territories. This very area seems to be their original habitat. They rose to prominence on the banks of the river Cauvery, near Talakadu, the ancient Gajaranya (Forest of elephants), hence the royal crest (Pl.!) was Elephant. A prominent group among these native Karnataka-Gangas who were adept in both farming as well as stone working, moved south of Gangapadi and made prosperous the area of 'Coimbatore-Salem-Dharmapuri'. This movement perhaps took place during the proto-historic period (Neolithic-Megalithic) itself". Hence the name 'Kongudesa, to this outlying tract of Tamilnadu. It might be noted that the Gangadikaras form even now the largest agricultural population in the areas of old Mysore State and preserved their tradition. In respect of the contiguous Andhra encompassing the Gangaperuru (Cuddapah) and Paruvi vishaya (Anantapur-Chittoor), recent explorations have not yielded any artefactual data to substan- tiate the early habitat of Karnata-Gangas here. Even in respect of the 'Kongu' country, it must be confessed that no architectural remains directly assignable to the Gangas were noticed in spite of the forceful claims of M.A. Arokiaswamy that "Ganga emergence in Kongu is beyond doubt" right from the time of early rulers. The earliest lithic record" (Serugunda) dated to sixth century A.D. refers to Kongenipettem, i.e., Kongeni-crown which perhaps implies that Avinita had brought the 'Kongu' area politically under the Ganga empire. Some parts of the Kongu region, no doubt, came under the Gangas and a large number of Memorial-stone inscriptions? datable from circa seventh-eighth century A.D., reveal that Ganga kings engaged in various military exploits mostly as allies of the neighbourly powers and rarely on their own.




  PREFACE xiii
1. Review of the work 1
2. Beginnings of the Dynasty 4
A. Early Ganga Rulers of Karnataka (Early Phase) 6
B. Later Ganga Rulers of Karnataka (Middle and Late Phases) 12
1. General 26
2. Religious Trends 27
  (a) Brahmanical Cults  
  (b) Jainism  
  (c) Buddhism  
3. Some Characteristic Elements of Karnata-Ganga Architecture 36
4. Building Materials, Artists and Artisans 39
5. The Phases  
  (a) The Early Phase (c. A.D. 350-650) 42
  (From Kongunivarma to Srivikrama)  
  (b) The Middle Phase (c. A.D. 650-853) 45
  (From Bhuvikrama to Rajamalla-I)  
  (c) The Late Phase (A.D. 853 to 1004) 47
  (From Nitimarga-I to Rakkasa Ganga)  
  (A) The Early Phase 51
  Kodihalli: Brick Temple  
  Honudaki, Brick Temple  
  Manne, Brick Temples  
  1. Kapilesvara Temple  
  2. Somesvara Temple  
  3. Akkatangi Devalaya  
  (B) The Middle Phase 58
  Manne, Kapilesvara and Somesvara temples
Gangavara, Somesvara temple
Devanahalli, Early sculptures
Dodshivara, Gangadharesvara temple
Vaidyanathapura, Vaidyanathesvara temple
Homma, Vinltesvara temple
Bannur, Hanumatesvara temple
Algodu, Siddhesvara temple
Kunigal, Somesvara temple
Hemmige, Temple parts, sculptures
Erode, Mahimalesvara temple
Nandi, Yoganandisvara temple
Kittur, Ramesvara temple
Kundur, Lingamahesvara temple
  (C) The Late Phase 78
  Begur, Nagaresvara and Nagesvara temples
Biskur, Rudresvara temple
Bargur, Isvara temple
Aralaguppe, Kallesvara temple
Narasamangala, Ramesvara temple
Varuna, Mahadevesvara temple
Alur, Desesvara and Arkesvara temples
Talkad, Patalesvara and Maralesvara temple
Vijayapura (Talkad): Arkesvara temple
Ganiganuru: Nilakanthesvara temple
  (Middle and Late Phases)  
Adamankottai Somesvara Temple
Dharmapuri temple
3. MEMORIALS: (Middle and the Late Phase) 120
  5. GOKALS  
A. The Early Phase 136
  Nonamangala, Brick Basadis  
B. The Middle Phase 137
  Manne, Sule Devalaya
Sravanabelgola, Jaina vestiges
Sravanabelgola, Chandranatha Basadi
Sravanabelgola, Chandragupta Basadi
C. The Late Phase 145
  Sravanabelgola, Iruva Brahmadeva temple 5
Sravanabelgola, Bharatesvara Image
Sravanabelgola, Bhadrabahu cave
Sravanabelgola, Chamundaraya Basadi
Kambadahalli, The Panchakuta Basadis
Kamagondanahalli, Jaina site
Talkad, Jaina Sculptures
Muguru, Basadi
Kyatanahalli, Jaina Sculptures
Jaina Remains, Dharmapuri and Adamankottai
Vijayamangalam, Chandranatha Basadis
  (Middle and the Late Phases)  
  Nandi, Gopinathagupta
Tippuru, Rock Sculptures and Basadis
Vallimalai, Rock Shelters and Cave-Sculptures
Siyamangalam, Rock Carvings
Armamalai, Rock Caves and Paintings
  (iii) NISHIDS (Middle and Late Phases) 201
Asandi and Kadur
  (iv) MANA-STAMBHAS (Late Phase) 206
Kuge Brahmadeva pillar
Tyagada Brahmadeva Pillar
  (v) GANGA BRONZES (Late Phase) 208
  Sravanabelgola, Kogali, Pudukkottai Museum, Kukkanur
Ganga Royal Seal
(1) Brahmanical Temples  
(2) Jaina Vestiges  
  INDEX 238


Sample Pages

Item Code: IDJ304 Author: I. K. Sarma Cover: Hardcover Edition: 1992 Publisher: Archaeological Survey of India Size: 11.0" X 8.5" Pages: 270 (Black & White Plates: 177) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 1.310 Kg
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