Mallikarjuna temple, a place of aristic grandeur, Karnataka

The Mallikarjuna temple, built by Harihara Dhannayaka around 1234 A.D  during the rule of the Hoysala Empire King Vira Narasimha II, is a well known one  dedicated to God Shiva.  Located in  Basaralu, a small town (65 km from the culturally
Mallikarjuna temple, Basaralu,Karnataka,

mportant city of Mysore ) in the Mandya district of  Karnataka state, India, it is recognized as an important protected monument by the ASI.
Though, small in size, every part of the temple is richly decorative;  it is simply  splendor and beauty frozen in stone - a mere exposition of  the architectural grandeur  of the Hoysala rulers. The entrance doorway of the porch  is flanked by  two fine elephants with animated appearance.
Mallikarjuna temple.

Above image: Close up of wall relief articulation comprising (from bottom to top) molding friezes, above which is the panel of Hindu deities below the lower eaves, and decorative Aedicula between lower and upper eves in Mallikarjuna temple.........

Built in the style of Hoysala architecture which is characteristic of ornate stone work  in  eaves and friezes , this temple has three shrines connected by a common hall (mandapam) that is partly  open and partly  covered  with roof. The middle shrine that has  gopura (tower) has  direct access to the garbhagraha (sanctum) through a sort of vestibule. Shiva Linga is enshrined in the sanctum. Whereas the lateral shrines have direct access to the common hall without a vestibule. These shrines have an image of Surya (the sun) and a pair of  Nagas (serpants).  The  small  Navaranga,  in front of the main  garbagraha,  has four niches in which are adorned the exquisitely carved images of  Ganesha, Saraswathi and Mahishamardini. 

An important feature noted here is the temple stands on a  ''Jagati,'' a raised platform or terrace that can be accessed through steps and this  significant  style  of Hoysala  is  found  in  many temples. This  platform  has  enough  space  for devotees  to  go  round  the  temple - Pradhakshna patha. 

Mallikarjuna temple (1234 A.D.),Basaralu,Mandya district.

The temple tower and the vestibule have excellent decoration. Yet another  Hoysala feature called Amalaka, a large domed structure above the tower is very much here. The kalasas containing holy water are  fixed on the dome as per Temple Agama Sastra. The  crest with Hoysala emblem depicting  the Hoysala warrior stabbing the lion  is observed here.

The walls in the main shrine and the mandapam are highly ornate and the artistic articulation and workmanship on the wall panels  are  amazing and on par with those at Belur and Halebidu. The first heavy eaves ( edge of a roof that meets or overhangs the walls of a building mainly to drain out rain water) run all around the temple with a projection of half a meter. The second eaves  run below the first one. Between the two eaves are the miniature  decorative towers (Aedicula) on pilasters.  The images of Hindu deities and their attendants in relief forms are observed. Below them are well spaced friezes ( a band of decorative sculptures) and  each of them contains the images of birds and animals. Scenes from epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata  are beautifully depicted in the 3rd friezes. Other decorative features noted in the other friezes are  stories  from  Sri Krishna, various dances of Shiva, etc.

A visit to this ancient temple will be a new experience  for a visitor as the intricate stone works done by highly skilled  artisans   several centuries ago  will make a lasting impression on you.