Aralaguppe Chennakeshava Temple

A hidden Hoysala gem

By Vanishree Mahesh

Located in the Tumkur district of Karnakata, Aralaguppe houses one of the smaller temples built by the Hoysala rulers. The temple dates back to the mid-13th century and is attributed to king Someshwara. With the Hoysala rulers being devotees of Vishnu, their temples are mostly dedicated to God Vishnu. Aralaguppe is no exception, and here the deity Vishnu is called Keshava or Chenna Keshava, similar to Beluru. Though the temple has a simple plan of a single shrine, Shukhanasi (vestibule), and an open hall called Navaranga, the sculptures on the temple's outer wall are highly intricate and ornate. Except for a sculpture of Ganesha, the religious imagery in the Aralaguppe temple showcase Vishnu and his different Avataras.

The Aralaguppe temple stands out because of its unusual iconographic details of God Vishnu. Commonly, Vishnu is shown holding the objects Shankha (conch), Chakra (discus), Gada (mace), and Padma (lotus). However, in many sculptures, Vishnu holds sugarcane, mortar, a plough, etc. In many sculptures, Vishnu has six hands instead of the usual four. There is scope for further research on the temple iconography at Aralaguppe.

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