Hoysala emblem left side of the main entrance
Mounted on the platform on the right side of the main entrance to the temple is a narrative sculpture depicting a young man killing an animal (tiger/lion) with a lance. A similar sculpture on the left side of the main entrance maintains the symmetry about the east-west axis. Both these sculptures are at the end of the flight of steps leading to the main door and placed between the facade and the corresponding mini shrine at an angle to enable visitors to get a good view of them as they enter.
This beautifully carved sculpture represents the lanchana (emblem) of the Hoysala dynasty that ruled most of Karnataka from the 11th to 14th century and is based on a story about the founding of this dynasty, which appears on an inscription attributed to King Vishnuvardhana. Per this inscription, Hoysala is a combination of Hoy and Sala. Hoy in Halegannada (Old Kannada) means hurl, and Sala is the name of the founder of the Hoysala dynasty.
Here is the legend of Sala in brief:
While Sala was walking with his guru, a Jain sage named Sudatta Muni, a tiger suddenly appeared from nowhere and was about to pounce on his guru. To save his life, his guru yelled “Hoy Sala” at Sala, who was holding a lance at that time. Sala complied immediately by hurling the lance at the tiger and then killing it after a fierce fight, thus saving his guru’s life.
Sala was a boy at the time of this incident, and the news of his bravery soon spread, and he became a legend. He used his fame to found a dynasty, which got its name from the words uttered by his guru.
The narrative sculpture shown in the image captures the essence of the Hoysala legend. However, the animal appears to be a lion rather than a tiger.
Shilābālikes – Bracket figures mounted below the eaves
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