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Isvara Temple, Arsikere

TALUK: Arsikere
LOCALITY: Arsikere (Lat. 130 18' N; Long. 760 16' E)

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The Isvara temple on plan has a garbhagriha, antarala, navaranga, mahamandapa and a unique stellate mukhamandapa with two lateral entrances at north and south in between mahamandapa and mukhamandapa. To match the stellate mukhamandapa, even the plan of the sanctum and mahamandapa are highly indented so as to arrive at an almost stellate configuration at sanctum.  The garbhagriha accommodates a Shiva linga and the sukhanasi, a couchant bull.  The mahamandapa has a raised square podium accommodating massive circular lathe turned pillars. It is interesting to note that there are eight devakoshtas built into the northern, southern, western walls of the mandapa. The stellate mukhamandapa has a central circular raised dais surrounded by stellate jagati with thirteen circular lathe turned pillars placed at the periphery of the circulars dais, supporting a massive circular dome like Ceiling which is exquisitely carved with trifoliate leaf decorations in concentric circles ending in a huge pending. The interesting aspect of mukhamandapa is the depiction of the fore part of elephants inserted into the jagati inside as if supported the mukhamandapa on their shoulders. In elevation, the stellate exterior of the mukhamandapa  is treated with the conventional mouldings of pada, adhokumuda, a tripattakumuda and pattika. Each of these is further divided into small horizontal friezes. In the region of mahamandapa, these conventional mouldings of adhisthana are crowned by a pattika of heavy denticular decorations before accommodating a sculptured bhitti. The mahamandapa at north and south has chariot like devokosthas. The bhitti of both the garbhagriha and mahamandapa are treated with the sculptural depictions of the chaturvimshati aspect of Vishnu, which are labeled at the pedestal flanked by saraswati and parvati, Brahma and Siva etc. All these images are represented against massive multifluted pilasters. The moderate eave supports a lenticular decorated prastara in the region of mahamandapa and the sixteen turrets raising one above the other. A stellate stupi has a stone kalasa and in the region of sukanasa, the same scheme of turrets in two tiers is introduced with the gable top accommodating a stucco bull. The mahanasa has the usual composition of Siva as Tandavesvara.

To the left of the temple stands a double temple with an intervening niche., which is of smaller proportions and without much ornamentation known as Halavukallu devasthana. Both the shrines have a garbhagriha with a linga and an open sukhanasi with a common hall in the front.