Later Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1979 | 143,852 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Kulottunga I to Rajendra III in the timeframe A.D. 1070-1280. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

In the southwest corner of the fourth prakara (Akalankan) of the Sri Ranganathasvamin temple at Srirangam, there is a small Hoysala shrine called the Venugopala Krishna shrine. It has certain purely Hoysala stylistic features and so is not in harmony with the otherwise typical Chola idiom of the main temple.

Venugopalasvamin shrine

The Venugopala shrine consists of the garbhagriha, the ardha-mandapa, and the mukhamandapa and it seems to rise from a pit, as the area round about has risen in level during the past eight centuries. The stone used is granite, unlike in the Hoysala temples of the homeland, built of soft soapstone. The outer walls of the garbhagriha are not covered with panels of sculptures of gods, men and beasts, of delicate workmanship, as in typical Hoysala temples of Dvarasamudra (Halebidu = old town) and its neighbourhood, but are ornately decorated with and kumbhapancharas. These niches are adorned with female figures of exquisite beauty, bedecked with beautifully sculpted clothes and ornaments. One is playing with a parrot, another is having her toilet, applying the tilak with the help of a mirror. Are they Gopis dancing around Krishna? The ceiling of the mandapa contains contemporary paintings, for whose preservation credit is due to the State Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu. (See figs. 10, 11, 12, 13 of Sri Ranganathaswamy temple by J. Auboyes, and N.S. Ramaswami, Sunday St, Dec. 12, 1976). This is a gem of a Hoysala temple set in an outstandingly Chola realm.

Thus the Hoysala period marks a phase of considerable activity in the field of temple-building, and their preoccupation with the Pandyas did not prevent them from promoting this activity; unfortunately, these buildings do not share with the temples in the heartland of the Hoysalas either their charm or the ornate quality of stone-carving. These temples, however, belong to a class of their own, which we would term Chola-Hoysala. (Pis. 391-400).

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