VESARA STYLE OF ARCHITECTURE
ಶೈಲಿ) is the name given to a particular architectural
style which was prevalent in Karnataka for a number of centuries during the medieval
era. It is essentially a combination of the ‘nAgara’ and ‘drAviDa’ styles which
are typical of
The word has been given two or three etymological explanations. Firstly, it is deemed to be a corrupt form of the Sanskrit word ‘mishra’ meaning ‘mixed’ denoting a mixture of two styles. Secondly, ‘vEsara’ in Sanskrit means a mule which again is a hybrid of two animals. Interestingly, the Kannada word for mule is ‘hEsaragatte’ which can be easily linked to ‘vEsara’. Thirdly, vishra means an area wherin one takes a long walk. The quarters of Buddhist and Jain monks who left urban areas to live in cave temples were called viharas.
According to Cousens the famous scholar, the Vesara style reduces the height of the temple towers even though the numbers of tiers are retained. This is accomplished by reducing the height of individual tiers. The semi circular structures of the Buddhist chaityas are also borrowed as in the Durga temple at Ihole.
Many temples in
This trend of merging two styles was started by the Chalukyas of Badami (500-753AD) who built temples in a style that was essentially a mixture of the nagara and the dravida styles, further refined by the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta (750-983AD) in Ellora, Chalukyas of Kalyani (983-1195 AD) in Lakkundi, Dambal, Gadag etc. and epitomized by the Hoysalas (1000-1330 AD). Most of the temples built in Halebid, Belur and Somanathapura are classified under this style.
“The surfaces in these Hoysala temples are carved in
high-relief with detailed repeating patterns of miniature shrine models,
distinguishing them also from contemporary temples in other parts of
The temples built in the Vesara style are found in other parts of India also. They include temples at Sirpur, Baijnath, Baroli and Amarkantak. The temple complex at Khajuraho is a typical example of the Vesara style
Architects: Creativity in the Religious Monuments of
2. Hoysala Architecture: Text, figures, and map, By Gerard Foekema, 1994, published by ‘Books and Books’.
5. http://ssubbanna.sulekha.com/mstore/ssubbanna/albums/default/GOPURAM.jpg (A temple tower in the Vesara sstyle, Tirupati)
6. http://blog.quasi.in/2009/04/pattadakal-karnataka.html (many temples in Pattadkallu)