Architectural elements of hoysala period
Ornate lintel over mantapa entrance in Chennakeshava temple, Belur
Ornate bay ceiling in mantapa in Saumyakeshava temple at Nagamangala, a common feature in Hoysala temples The mantapa is the hall where groups of people gather during prayers. The entrance to the mantapa normally has a highly ornate overhead lintel called a makaratorana (makara is an imaginary beast and torana is an overhead decoration). The open mantapa which serves the purpose of an outer hall (outer mantapa) is a regular feature in larger Hoysala temples leading to an inner small closed mantapa and the shrine(s). The open mantapas have seating areas made of stone with the mantapa's parapet wall acting as a back rest. The seats may follow the same staggered square shape of the parapet wall. The open mantapa is the largest part of the temple and is the place supporting larger congregations of people. The ceiling here is supported by numerous pillars that create many bays. The shape of the open mantapa is best described as staggered-square and is the style used in most Hoysala temples. Even the smallest open mantapa has 13 bays. The walls have parapets that have half pillars supporting the outer ends of the roof which allow plenty of light making all the sculptural details visible. The mantapa ceiling is generally ornate with sculptures, both mythological and floral. The ceiling consists of deep and domical surfaces and contains sculptural depictions of banana bud motifs and other such decorations. The Amruteswara temple in Chikmagalur district has forty-eight domes in the mahamantapa ("great open hall").
Open Mantapa with shining, lathe-turned pillars at Amruthapura If the temple is small it will consist of only a closed mantapa (enclosed with walls extending all the way to the ceiling) and the shrine. The closed mantapa, well decorated inside and out, is larger than the vestibule connecting the shrine and the mantapa and has four lathe-turned pillars to support the ceiling, which may be deeply domed. The four pillars divide the hall into nine bays. The nine bays result in nine finely decorated ceilings. Pierced stone latticework screens placed between pillars to filter the light is a characteristic Hoysala stylistic element. A porch adorns the entrance to a closed mantapa, consisting of an awning supported by two half-pillars (engaged columns) and two parapets, all richly decorated. The closed mantapa is connected to the shrine(s) by a vestibule, a square area that also connects the shrines. Its outer walls are finely decorated, but as the size the vestibule is not large, this may not be a conspicuous part of the temple. The vestibule also has a short tower called the sukanasi or "nose" upon which is mounted the Hoysala emblem. In Belur and Halebidu, these sculptures are quite large and are placed at all doorways. The outer and inner mantapa (open and closed) have circular lathe-turned pillars having four brackets at the top. Over each bracket stands sculptured figure(s) called salabhanjika or madanika. The pillars may also exhibit fine ornamental carvings on the surface and no two pillars are alike. This is how Hoysala art differs from the work of their early overlords, the Western Chalukyas, who added sculptural details to the circular pillar base and left the top plain. The lathe-turned pillars are 16, 32, or 64-pointed; some are bell-shaped and have properties that reflect light. The Parsvanatha Basadi at Halebidu is a good example. The shaft of the pillar is a monolith with the base left as a square and with well-sculpted figures adorning the top. Vimana
Star shaped Vimana (shrine) at Hosaholalu
The vimana, also called the cella, contains the most sacred shrine wherein resides the image of the presiding deity. The vimana is often topped by a tower which is quite different on the outside than on the inside. Inside, the vimana is plain and square, whereas...
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