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Ishvara temple at Arasikere with an unusual 16-pointed stellate (star-shaped) mantapa (hall) plan

The Ishvara Temple (also spelt Ishwara or Isvara) in Arasikere town of the Hassan district in Karnataka state, India, dates to c. 1220 CE rule of Hoysala Empire.[1] Arasikere (lit "Queens tank"; Arasi means "queen" or "princess" and kere means "tank" in the Kannada language) is located 140 km north of the historic city of Mysore and 41 km east of Hassan city.[2] The temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, though modest in size and figure sculpture, is considered the most complex one in architecture among surviving Hoysala monuments because of its ground plan: a 16-point star-shaped mantapa (hall), in addition to an asymmetrical star-shaped shrine, whose star points are of three different types.[1]

Temple planEdit

Rear view of the Ishvara temple at Arasikere

The temple faces east as in all Hoysala constructions, uses soapstone (also known as steatite or soaprock) as its basic building material,[3] and is a ekakuta shrine (single shrine or cella) with two mantapas (hall), one open and one closed.[4] All three units are connected to form a unity.[5] The sanctum (garbhagriha) enshrines a linga, the universal symbol of the Hindu god Shiva. The mantapa is where the devotees gather. The closed mantapa does not have any windows. The ceiling in the closed mantapa is divided into nine compartments or "bays" by the four lathe turned pillars that support the ceiling.[6] The unusual stellate design of the open mantapa is a deviation from the "staggered square"–a standard in Hoysala constructions,[7] and offers no opening for devotees to enter the temple. The entrance is through a "bay"[8] between the two mantapas.[4]

Star-shaped shrine with wall panel images and shikhara (superstructure) at the Ishvara temple

The shrine has a tower (superstructure or Shikhara) which is intact, though the finial (a decorative water pot like structure called Kalasha) is a recent replacement.[4] The vestibule connects the shrine to the closed mantapa and has its own tower called Sukanasi. The term "nose" is sometimes used to describe this tower because it is a low protrusion of the main tower (tower over the shrine). On this "nose" is an image of a bull (Nandi), which may be a more recent addition because this is the place where Hoysala temples normally exhibit the Hoysala royal emblem, the legendary warrior "Sala" fighting a lion.[6]

The outer wall of the vestibule shares the same decoration as the outer wall of the shrine, but is inconspicuous because it forms a short continuation between the wall of the shrine and that of closed mantapa.[6] The outer wall of the shrine is stellate, but the star points are not identical, rather they form three different kinds of star points, making the design complicated and unusual.[4] The lower half of the outer wall of the shrine and the outer wall of the closed mantapa share the same architectural articulation. The open hall, with its 16-pointed star plan is most unusual design built by Hoysala architects. The central ceiling in the closed mantapa and the vestibule are decorated elaborately.[4]

Both the interior and exterior of the temple shows interesting workmanship. The elegantly decorated ceilings, the domical ceiling of the open mantapa, the sculptures of Dwarapalakas (door keepers) in the closed mantapa (also called navaranga), the wall panel images numbering a hundred and twenty (on pilasters between the aedicules–miniature decorative towers) carved on the outer walls are noteworthy.[2]


  1. ^ a b Foekema (1996), p. 41–42
  2. ^ a b Gowda (2006), p. 19
  3. ^ Kamath (2001), p. 136
  4. ^ a b c d e Foekema (1966), p. 42
  5. ^ Foekema (1996), p. 21
  6. ^ a b c Foekema (1996), p. 22
  7. ^ Quote:"In staggered square halls, the wall forms many projections and recesses, each projection bearing a complete architectural articulation with many decorations", (Foekema 1996, p. 21)
  8. ^ Quote:"A square compartment of a hall", (Foekema 1996, p. 93)


  • Foekema, Gerard (1996). Complete Guide to Hoysala Temples. New Delhi: Abhinav. ISBN 81-7017-345-0.
  • Gowda, Aswathanarayana (2006). Blazing trail of Golden Era-Tourism guide of Hassan district. Hassan: District Tourism Council, Government of Karnataka.
  • Settar S. "Hoysala heritage". history and craftsmanship of Belur and Halebid temples. Frontline. Archived from the original on 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  • Hardy, Adam (1995) [1995]. Indian Temple Architecture: Form and Transformation-The Karnata Dravida Tradition 7th to 13th Centuries. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-312-4.
  • Kamath, Suryanath U. (2001) [1980]. A concise history of Karnataka : from pre-historic times to the present. Bangalore: Jupiter books. LCCN 80905179. OCLC 7796041.

Coordinates: 13°18′50″N 76°15′22″E / 13.31389°N 76.25611°E / 13.31389; 76.25611