Monday, July 12, 2010

Chennakeshava Temple, Kaidala

Situated about 80kms from Bangalore, Kaidala is quite literally off the tourist map. So what was my object of interest in Kaidala? The 12th century Chennakeshava Temple built by Jakanachari was something I did not want to miss, especially considering its proximity to Bangalore city. Continuing with my Hoysala Trail which began with Halebidu and Belur I was surprised and excited to hear Tumkur having its own little piece of Hoysala history.

Kaidala is the hometown of Jakanachari – the sculptor-in-chief of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple. What really attracted me to Kaidala was the legend surrounding the temple.

Jakanachari a famous sculpture leaves behind his wife and unborn child and travels far and wide to gain name & fame. Sculpting beautiful statues, constructing temples over a long period of time he forgets his family. He reaches Hoysala kingdom where he agrees to sculpt deity Lord Chennakeshava. Meanwhile his son, Dankanachari leaves home in search of his father. On the day before the Chennakeshava idol has to be installed in Belur, Dankanachari reaches the place & claims that there is a flaw in the idol, Jakanachari refuses to accept that there could be a blemish and proclaims that he will cut off his own hand if a flaw is found.
A test was conducted and the statue was covered with sandal paste, and to his surprise the paste dried up everywhere except in the navel area. They find a live frog living in the sand and water nestled inside the cavity. Jakanachari cuts his hand after his son finds the flaw. Hence the statue became famous as ‘Kappe Channigaraya’ (Kappe means Frog in Kannada).
Later Jakanachari gets a vision to construct a temple at his home town. The father-son duo then moves to Kaidala where it is said that Jakanachari got back his hand after he completed the Chennakeshava statue.

Reaching Kaidala proved a little challenging. While at times we were greeted with empty expressions, at other times we encountered a shake of the head. Then there were those who confused Kaidala with Maidala a neighbouring village and almost sent us on a wild goose chase. But we did eventually made it to the Chennakeshava temple, thanks to some really friendly locals who went out of their way to help us.

Once there, we realized why Kaidala never made it to the tourist map. The Kaidala Chennakeshava temple structure is nothing compared to its more illustrious cousins in Belur and Halebidu. What makes it worse is the fact that ASI has undertaken some restoration work with the temple. And apparently they did not deem it necessary to try and blend new additions into the ancient structure. The result is an ugly mismatch of two different worlds.

As it turns out, the only noteworthy object about the temple is the sculpture of its presiding deity - Lord Chennakeshava. The soap stone composition and exquisitely adorned idol brings back glimpses of sculptural mastery from the Hoysala era. The temple here is still worshipped and hence I deemed it right to not take pictures of the deity.

But for the sculpture of Lord Chennakeshava, sadly there’s nothing of interest in this part of the world. As for me, I’m just glad to have experienced another sculptural marvel from the Hoysalas.

Getting-there: Take the NH4 out of Bangalore to Tumkur. Take the bye-pass road a little before Tumkur town (right after where the Toll gate ends). A little tricky as there might not be any signboards - we missed it too. Then turn left at SH33. From here you can ask the locals.

Must-Do: A mini orchestra machine which has an assortment of music creating devices, the size of a house-hold grinder. I wonder if it can play any music though!
Must-Don’t: Vandalism.

Caution: The pictures provided by are those belonging to the Belur, Hassan and not the one at Kaidala - just so that you dont feel cheated if and when you do happen to go there.
My Rating: 3/10