Temple: Basaralu Temple
In the heart of Mandya – the Sugar city of Karnataka, there is a small village called Basaralu which contains one of the finest specimens of Hoysala architecture – The Basaralu temple. Within this temple complex there are two temples, the Malikarjuna temple and the Chandikeshwara temple, dedicated to Sri Mallikarjuna (the incarnation of Siva).
Basaralu Temple – Overview
The village of Basaralu is known primarily because of the Malikarjuna temple. The temple is old but the sculptures and viragals (hero stones) within the temple and around it are still intact and incredible. The Chandikeshwara temple, is lesser known but equally beautiful and is located in the same complex as the main Malikarjuna temple.
Basaralu Temple – History
It was built in the 13th Century by Harihara Dannayaka, who was in charge of the armies under the Hoysala King Narasimha II. The temple is currently maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Basaralu Temple – Architecture
The most significant aspect of this temple is its architecture. Not only does it have the typical sculptures for which the Hoysala temples are famous, but it also has numerous exquisite sculptures that are true works of art. In the innermost sanctum of the Malikarjuna temple is the Dravidian Shikhara which contains a Balahari Linga and a beautiful lotus on the ceiling.
Inside the smaller garbhagrihas that face each other are the ‘Naga Nagini’ (male and female serpent God) sculpture and the ‘Surya Deva’ (Sun god) sculpture.
While the top of the temple has the Shikhara and Hoysala emblem – Sala killing a Lion, the base of the temple has six layers of intricate pattikas starting with war elephants at the bottom, horse riders above it, the hoysala emblem, scenes from Puranik episodes like the Mahabarata, Bhagavata and Ramayana, crocodiles and the last layer has swans
The Chandikeshwara temple, though not as famous as the Malikarjuna temple, is also a must see when it comes to its architecture. In the garbhagriha of this temple you will find a Bhairava sculpture and right opposite the temple is a 20 foot pillar.
Some of the other sculptures on the walls are Ganesha, Keshav, Shanmuga, Shiva clad in elephant skin, 22 armed Shiva killing Andakasura, Shiva and Parvathi riding Nandi, Vishnu riding Garuda, Ravana lifting the Kailasa, Nataraja, Harihara, Samudra Manthana, Kalinga Mardana, Hayagreva (god with a horse head), Yoganarashima, Lakshminaryana, Dancing Lakshminarashima, Vamana, Draupadi with a garland, Lord Brahma, 18 armed Durgi, Bhairava, and many more.
The ceiling of the Ardha Mantap is magnificent with the intricate carvings of the Ashtadikpalas (the eight deities that protect the eight corners of the world).
If you look carefully you will be able to identify them as Indira representing the East, Agni representing the South East, Yama representing the South, Nirurti representing the South West, Varuna representing the West, Vayu representing the North, Kubera representing the North and Ishana representing the North.
How to Get to Basaralu Temple
The distance to the Basaralu from Bangalore city would be around 130 Kms. There are numerous buses that go towards Mysore on SH17 that pass Mandya which is just 75 kms from Bangalore.
You will have to take a right towards Chikka Mandya and travel about seven to eight kilometers before taking a left towards the Basarulu village which is another 23-25 kilometers away. If you have trouble locating the temple you might need to ask a few people to direct you to it. You can visit this temple during October – February.