With hectic lifestyles in claustrophobic cities becoming the order of the day, a getaway from the concrete urban jungle is always a welcome change. There is something about being close to nature that is so rejuvenating and refreshing. One such sojourn I recently undertook was a visit to the seemingly sleepy town of Mosale, located about 15 km from Hassan in Karnataka. Just under 250 km from Bengaluru, the rustic surroundings, lush greenery and pleasantly slow lifestyle of Mosale made for a perfect break. And the icing on the cake was that the tranquil town offered an interesting mix of sights. It made my trip a rather eventful one.
The town of Mosale is synonymous with the Nageshvara-Chennakeshava temple complex, which is a remarkable example of Hoysala architecture. Dating to 1200 AD, these temples are believed to have been built by the Hoysala ruler King Veera Ballala II. Built in typical Hoysala style, the unique feature of this complex is the presence of twin temples, one dedicated to Nageshvara (Lord Shiva) and the other dedicated to Chennakeshava (Lord Vishnu). Each of these temples has the characteristic features of Hoysala architecture with a flight of steps leading to a square enclosure or ‘mantapa’ that in turn is connected to the sanctum sanctorum or ‘garbha griha’ via a vestibule. The ‘shikhra’ or towers of both temples are a picture of magnificence with the classic Hoysala emblem and intricate carvings.
The outer walls have ornate carvings of gods, goddesses and several mythical figures. The exquisite carvings on the outer walls and the panels, the lathe pillars and elaborate ceilings are nothing short of awe inspiring. It is in fact popularly believed that these twin temples served as a model for the more renowned Hoysala temples in Belur and Halebid which represent the zenith of the Hoysala school of architecture.
GOTHIC BEAUTY IN RUINS
Imagine a church that gets submerged each year during the monsoons and ‘resurfaces’ magically during summers; sounds surreal, right? This is the Shettihalli Rosary church for you that is located about 2 km from the village of Shettihalli. At a distance of 80 km from Mosale and 22 km from Hassan, this church is believed to have been built in 1860 by French missionaries. It is located on the banks of the Hemavathy river, upon which the Gorur dam was built for the purpose of flood prevention and irrigation by the government in 1960. As a result, several villages upstream were dislodged and the church was left abandoned.
Each year, the waters of the Hemavathy reservoir flood the area surrounding the church during the rainy season and submerge the church completely. As the waters recede during summer, the resplendent church reappears in all its glory! The architecture is Gothic and the church has an element of characteristic timeless beauty. The sight of the barren arched walls standing tall amidst the utterly picturesque setting is one to behold. The Gorur dam nearby is also worth a visit.
Just under 60 km from Mosale, is the holy town of Shravanabelagola that lies between the Indragiri and Chandragiri hills. Home to one of the largest free-standing statues in the world, the town is famous for the statue of Gomateshwara aka Bahubali that stands at a whopping 57 feet in height. Built in 981 AD, the statue has been carved from a single piece of rock. A popular pilgrimage centre for believers in Jainism, Bahubali is the son of Rishabhanatha, the first Thirthankara of Jainism. Accessible by a flight of about 650 steps, the mammoth statue that is atop the Indragiri hills is a picture of calm. Carved to perfection, the statue is the creation of Chavundaraya who was a minister in the reign of the Ganga king, Rajamalla IV.
While regular pujas are conducted on the shrine, the anointing ceremony for the statue is held once every 12 years. Scaffolding is installed and the statue is bathed with gallons of water, milk after which tons of flowers, turmeric and vermilion are offered.
The Hoysaleswara temple of Halebidu and the Chennakeshwara temple of Belur that lie 21 km and 40 km from Mosale respectively are architectural masterpieces. Known for their world-famous carvings and relief structures that are literally poetry on stone, these temples are proposed UNESCO world heritage sites. The Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Markuli and the Holenarasipura Lakshmi Narasimha temple are other places of religious significance near Mosale.