Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Shilābālike as Goddess Durga

Kapāla Durga - A bracket figure mounted on the exterior wall of the Chennakeshava Temple, Belur, Karnataka

Kapāla Durga – A bracket figure mounted on the exterior wall of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Kapāla Durga
Popularly known as Kapāla Durga, this shilābālike is depicted as Goddess Durga, who is seen holding a kapāla danda (skull cup attached to a staff) with her left hand and an unidentified object with her right hand. Accompanying her are the two dolu playing male musicians carved at the bottom. Note: Dolu is a two-sided drum-like percussion instrument

In Hindu mythology, Durga is a goddess who fights evil forces. As you can see from the image, Kapāla Durga is wearing a garland of kapālas on her crown, symbolizing the liberation of mankind from evil.

As you can see, Kapāla Durga is standing on a disc-like base, mounted on a pedestal carved with three layers of lotus flower petals. Engraved into this base is an inscription, written in the Halegannada (Old Kannada), likely inscribed by the sculptor to describe himself and his work.

Kapāla Durga is one of the 38 sculptures, known as bracket figures, mounted on the pillars attached to the exterior wall surrounding the navaranga (front portion) of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple in Karnataka, India. Each sculpture is attached to a bracket placed at an angle just below the eaves, with its base mounted a pillar just below the pillar’s capital.

Check the Navaraga Layout page for the locations of the bracket figures. In this layout, Kapāla Durga is bracket figure number 9, i.e., mounted on the pillar at the junction of section 4 (S4) and 5 (S5) of the south exterior wall.

Shilābālikes – Female Bracket Figures
Darpana Sundari, Sukha Bhashini, Nātya Sundari, Gāna Sundari, Kesha Sundari, Tribhangi, Nagna Sundari, Kapāla Durga, Koravanji, Nātya Mohini, Betegārthi

Male Bracket Figures
Flute playing male musician
Narthaka – Davane playing male dancer
Davane playing male musician

Hoysala Temples:
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole

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