Sabhamantapa and mukhamantapa – A view from the garbhagriha
The image shows the interior of Cave – 3, the third of the rock-cut caves of Badami in Karnataka, India.
Compared to the other three cave temples, Cave – 3 has a spacious and well-designed interior. Check the ground plan to see its layout.
The hall at the near end of the image is the sabhamantapa (congregation hall), and the horizontal aisle at the far end is the mukhamantapa (porch), which overlooks the courtyard. At the center of the outer edge of the mukhamantapa is the staircase to enter the temple. On the eves above the entrance is the bas-relief of Vishnu’s vehicle Garuda watching the garbhagriha.
Notice the ceiling. There is a 3 x 3 grid that neatly divides it into nine blocks. This design is called navaranga, which means nine sectors in Kannada. The Hoysala temple architects used the concept of navaranga to design the mantapa in front of the garbhagriha. Read more about navaranga in the Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga page.
Each of the nine blocks has a bas-relief, some of which are weathered. Carved on the center block is Brahma, one of the Trimurti and the creator, and carved on the eight blocks around him are the Ashtadikpalas (guardians of the eight directions).
In Indian mythology, space is made of eight directions, four cardinal and four inter-cardinal, each of which has a dikpala, the god who oversees a direction. Check the AshtaDikpalas painting on the Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals for a list and descriptions of all the dikpalas.
So, the navaraga truly represents cosmic space as experienced by a human being. The builders of this temple tried to capture that concept.
– Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
– Durga Temple at Aihole
– Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art
– Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
– Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
– Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
– Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
– Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
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