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Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Kappe Chennigaraya – Navaranga Pillars


Lathe-turned pillars
The image shows an interior view of the Kappe Chennigaraya Temple situated inside the Belur Chennakeshava Temple complex in Karnataka, India.

As you can see, the pillar in the near end is ornate with beautifully carved patterns. Mounted around the pillar and just below its capital are four finely-carved sculptures, popularly known as bracket figures.

Many pillars in the navaranga appear to be precisely-cut and polished using sophisticated machinery, such as modern-day lathes. Because of their appearance, these are often called lathe-turned pillars, although nobody is sure how they were built. Lathe-turned pillars are a common feature in many Hoysala temples, including the main Chennakeshava Temple, and basadis (Jain temples).

Kappe Chennigaraya is a smaller temple situated in the south side of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple complex in Karnataka, India. It has two garbhagrihas (inner sanctums), one in the south and the other in the west.

In front of the grabharihas is the navaranga, which is a mantapa (covered hall) that covers the front portion of the temple. Navaranga, which means nine sectors in Kannada, is an essential architectural element of the Hoysala temple architecture. In the navaranga design, the rectangular area is a grid of nine sections created by placing the pillars at the corners of the central section. A stone roof above these pillars covers the entire space.

The central section of the navaranga, known as sabhamantapa, is typically the largest. In Kannada, sabha means gathering, and mantapa means hall/pavilion. Thus, sabhamantapa is like a community hall. The pillar shown in the image is one of the four in the sabhamantapa. A beautifully crafted circular stone covers the floor of the sabhmantapa in this temple, and was used as a dance floor during the Hoysala period.

Commissioned by Shantala Devi, the pattada rani (principal queen consort) of King Vishnuvardana, the builder of the main Chennakeshava Temple, the construction of the Kappe Chennigaraya Temple began at the same time as the main temple, i.e., in 1117 CE. She took great interest in this temple and even oversaw its construction.

Kappe Chennigaraya Images
East Facade
North Facade
Navaranga Pillars
Dance Floor
Venugopala Standing in the South Garbhagriha
Ugra Narasimha Carved on the Lintel of the South Garbhagriha Door
Lakshminarayana Carved on the Ceiling
Outer Wall around the West Garbhagriha

Related Pages
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art

Copyright © 2020 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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