Saturday 20 April 2013

The temple of Sala and the tiger

Who has not heard the tale of a small local chieftain Sala, slaying a tiger and then going on to establish the Hoysala dynasty.
The Hoysalas ruled large parts of Karnataka and were engaged in a battle of supremacy with the Chalukyas and the Cholas. As with the other dynasties, the origin of the Hoysalas is full of obscurity and the tale of Sala and the slain tiger is one such legend.
However, do you know tat there is a small but obscure place in Karnataka where this legend is supposed to have taken place several centuries ago.
Though no trace survives to tell us of the heroic Sala who defeated the tiger, there are enough historical and archaeological records to support the fact that Sala did live in this hamlet which today is away from the tourist circuit and barely receives visitors.
There is also a temple which is associated with the legend of the tiger. Nestled deep within coffee plantations and estates of Chikamagalur, this place today is slowly emerging out of its slumber and is all set to take its rightful place as one of the many plcaes in Karnataka that showcases Hoysala art and architecture.  This is Angadi or Sosevur, the place where Sala slew the tiger and went on to found the Hoysala dynasty.
Angadi today is a small hamlet with ruins of five temples and Jain Basadis which are among the oldest structures of their kind. It is in the temple of a Goddess Vasanthika here that Sala killed the tiger while he was with his preceptor.
The ruins of Chennakesava, Patalarudreshwara and Mallikarjuna temples welcome you as do two basadis of Angadi, which in Kannada means a shop. The hamlet is in Mudigere taluk and it was originally known as Sasakapura or Sosevur by the Hoysalas.
Sala, the legends say, was walking here with his Guru, a Jain ascetic called Yogendra Sudatta. They had come to Angadi to worship Goddess Vasantika Devi when suddenly a tiger came menacingly towards them.
Taking an iron rod, Sudatta handed it over to Sala saying, Poy, Sala Poy, meaning “Strike, Sala”.
Sala then took on the tiger and killed it. The story then found its way into several Hoysals symbols, including the crest in many temples.   
The crest depict Sala killing a tiger and even several copper plates and coins belonging to the Hoysalas show a dead tiger and a rod. Sala was thus the first ruler of the dynasty though not much is known about him.
Coming back to the ruins, the Jain basadis  date back to the 10th century. One of the basadi is called Makara Jinalaya and it was  built by Manika Poysalachari. It has a huge idol of Shantinatha in a seated posture.
The second basadi is called Neminatha Basadi and it contains images of Neminatha, Chandranatha and Gomateswara.
The three other ruins we see are that of temples. The carvings date the structures to the early Hoysalas.
It is the temple of Vasantika Devi or Vasanthamma, which is closely associated with Sala and the tiger. The temple has been renovated and it has huge figures of Saptamatrikas (seven mothers) in stucco, wearing crowns.
Records say the Hoysalas built 1,521 temples across 958 centres. Today only 434 temples survive across 238 centres.
Angadi is 18 kms from Mudigere, 25 kms away from Belur and 260 kms from Bangalore. Angadi is well connected by road and it can be reached from the Belur - Mudigere route. You need to take left at Janapura junction and the village is just 6 Km from here. Angadi can also be reached from Chikamagalur and Sakaleshpura.

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