Middle Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1975 | 141,178 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Rajaraja I to Kulottunga I in the timeframe A.D. 985-1070. 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....

Sitibeta (or betta) is a small out-of-the-way village in the Kolar taluk of Kolar district, and lies about 20 kms north of the Bangalore-Kolar highway along a district road taking off from it near the 34-km stone from Bangalore; the terrain for miles around is undulating and dotted with stark hillocks.

Bhairavar temple

On an isolated hillock here, about 80 to 90 ms high, there is a temple dedicated to Bhairavar. It contains a number of inscriptions in Grantha and Tamil characters. The earliest is dateable to the twelfth regnal year of Rajendra I (a.d. 1024). Incomplete, it breaks off after referring to “the hill of Sripati... in Nigarilisola (mandalam) alias Nulambapadi” (E.C., X, Kl.44). Then we have a record of the thirteenth year of Kulottunga I (a. d. 1083), mentioning that one Virasola Brahmamarayan, the overlord of Sattanur in Kuvalala nadu, renovated a mandapa and the pitha of the Kshetrapalar image 43). The village is called Sipati and the deity Sipati Nayanar, in some records of the thirteenth century a. d. (ibid., 40a, 40b, 41). In a. d. 1279, a mandapa was built for the god Tribhuvana Vitanka Kshetrapala Pillaiyar of Sripati, and an endowment made for keeping it in good repair (ibid., 49). In a. d. 1339, the temple was given the proceeds of some taxes accruing from the two villages of Sripati and Kallapalli by a Hoysala chief “for the success of the sword and arm” of Periya Vallappa Dennanayaka, son of Posala Vira Vallala deva (ibid., 54). According to a record (a “found at the bottom of the hillock, of a. d. 1467, the lands granted to the temple by Rajendra I and Vira Ballala had fallen into disuse or been misappropriated; one Narasinga Vodeyar reactivated these endowments, listed the ceremonies to be performed, endowed the temple with a total of 12 lamps, and set up a chatra for feeding 218 brahmanas daily (ibid., 33). The name of the deity is given as Bhairavar of Sihati or Sihatti in two inscriptions dated a. d. 1468 and 1495 (ibid., 35, 34). The modern name of Siti (beta) is an easy transition from the above.

The main shrine, which faces east, has an eka-tala srivimana. The garbhagriha and ardhamandapa, which are original, measure 3.44 ms and 3.70 ms along the axis of the temple, respectively, and 3.00 ms and 4.35 ms across. There is a later, larger mandapa in front, measuring 7.65 ms by 7.35 ms.

Two of the three devakoshtas on the garbhagriha walls are empty; the third devakoshta contains an image of Bhairavar with upturned hair, profusely adorned with jewellery and a munda-mala coming down to well below the knees. The niches are flanked by well-turned circular pilasters, and the walls are relieved by octagonal pilasters.

At the corners of the platform under the griva, there are addorsed nandis, and the griva-koshtas house Bhairavar images. There are no kutas or salas above the entablature. The entire structure is in stone, with stucco coating and ornamentation. The stupi is missing.

The structural additions to the proper right of the shrine, comprising halls and partially built-up caves, are of a later date.

Two beautiful metals found in this temple are attributable to the period of Rajendra I. The Bhairavar image is 60 cms high (including the padma-pitham), and carries a kettle-drum, a snake and a skull-plate in three of the hands; the fourth is in the posture of holding the trident, though bereft of any weapon now. The Somaskanda group (with Skanda missing, and Siva and Uma called Sripatisvara and Parvati locally) is evidently the work of the same craftsmen; the lion-head (simha-mukha) clasp at the waist is reminiscent of the Tripurantakar of the Tanjavur Art Gallery (Pis 330 to 333).

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