Madanikas of Belur Chennakeshava temple

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Madanikas of Belur Chennakeshava temple:

Most popular feature of Belur is its Shilabalike’s or the Bracket figures of different dance forms.
Various poses of Madanika's at the Belur Chennakeshava temple.
Various poses of Madanika's at the Belur Chennakeshava temple.
There are 42 Madanikas or Bracket figures on the corner out of which 38 are outside the temple and four are inside the temple. Each figure attracts on its own merits.
They represent beautiful damsels in various moods representing feminine charm and grace, this perhaps are one of the best creations of the Hoysala sculptors of the Belur temple. There are a total of 40 pillars on the outer walls, each with a bracket figure of dancing girls (38 in total on outer walls). These sculptures are finely proportioned and exceedingly ornamented.
Actual placement of the Madanika's op top of the columns
Actual placement of the Madanika's op top of the columns

Out of the 38 Madanikas on the outer walls, I've written a photologue on 25 and all the 4 interior Madanikas.

Each one of these Madaniks are given a number to represent there location which i'll be publishing along with there photo.

1. Darpana Sundari (Beauty and Mirror): 
Starting from the most popular among all the Madanika's, The Darpana Sundari, which is right at the main entrance of the temple.
A lady holding mirror in her left hand and looking at her beauty in it.(Madanika No 1)
Darpana Sundari (Beauty and Mirror), #1
Darpana Sundari (Beauty and Mirror), #1
Darpana Sundari (Beauty and Mirror), #1
Darpana Sundari (Beauty and Mirror), #1
2. Shuka Bhashini (Pet Parrot): 
A parrot sitting on the fore palm of a lady's right hand. It looks like conversation with her pet.(Madanika No2)
Shuka Bhashini (Pet Parrot), #2
Shuka Bhashini (Pet Parrot), #2
3. The Huntress: 
A bird sitting on the canopy behind, she is aiming her arrow at the bird. (Madanika No 6)
(Left)The Huntress, #6  & (Right) Monkey Pulling Saree, #5
(Left)The Huntress, #6  & (Right) Monkey Pulling Saree, #5
4.Monkey Pulling Saree: 
A monkey is pulling the edge of her saree. She is going to beat it with a twig of a tree made out of the same stone.(Madanika No 5)

5. Thribhangi Nritya:
A lady is dancing stylishly by bending her body into three portions, one from the waist downward, other from the waist to the chest and another upwards. This is said to be the most difficult one, so far no other dancer has been able to exhibit. This is apparently one of the most difficult postures to achieve in Bharathnatyam (Madanika No 8).
Figure 21: (left-right) Thribhangi Nritya
(Left)Thribhangi Nritya, #8  & (Right) Hair Dressing, #7
(Left)Thribhangi Nritya, #8  & (Right) Hair Dressing, #7
6. Hair Dressing: 
she is dressing her hair after bath. The attendandants are holding flowers and toiletery. This madanika has washed her hair and is squeezing the water out of it. This depiction is seen on a sculpture inside the temple too. (Madanika No7)

7. A sham, she Saint: 
she is in disguise as a saint. She holds a rod with skull at the top in her left hand.. (Madanika 18?)
(Right-Left) 1.A sham, she Saint, #18; 2.Drum dance, #9;  3.The Flutist, #10
(Right-Left) 1.A sham, she Saint, #18; 2.Drum dance, #9;  3.The Flutist, #10
8. Drum dance: 
she holds in her left hand a drum and she is playing upon it with her right hand. (Madanika 9)

9. The Flutist: 
She is playing on her flute. Her maid on the left side is sitting to the tune of the flute.(Madanika 10)

10. World Bewitching Beauty: 
Her hands and legs are cut out very nicely. Look at the canopy above her left shoulder. You can see a jackfruit and a fly on it. A lizard is planning to catch the fly. You can see the natural pose of the Lizard.(Madanika 12)
(left) World Bewitching Beauty, #12 & (right) Musician, #12
(left) World Bewitching Beauty, #12 & (right) Musician, #12
11. Musician:
She is singing with time. (Madanika 11)

12. Violinist: 
She is a violinist. She is standing holding the instrument (Rudra veena?) in her left hand. Her maids are arranging for a concert.(Madanika No 13)
Violinist, #13
Violinist, #13
13. A curly Haired Beauty: 
she holds a mirror having a handle. She is arranging the curls on the forehead with her right hand finger .(Madanika 14)
(right-left) A curly Haired Beauty, #14 & The Huntress, #15
(right-left) A curly Haired Beauty, #14 & The Huntress, #15
14. The Huntress: 
She is plucking a mango with her right hand.(Madanika No15)

15. Beauty Dance:
She is practicing her dance. Her maids are helping her by playing on their instruments. .(Madanika 24)
Beauty Dance, #24
Beauty Dance, #24
16. Bhasma Mohini Dance:
The figure illustrates the epic story of God Vishnu who took the form of Mohini.(Madanika No25)
Bhasma Mohini Dance, #25
Bhasma Mohini Dance, #25
17. A Gypsy girl:
She hold in her left hand palm leaves and holds the right hand in speaking pose.(Madanika No 28)
A Gypsy girl, #28
A Gypsy girl, #28
18. A beauty after heavy meal:
she is returning from her dinner and is about to retire for rest.(Madanika No29)
A beauty after heavy meal, #29
A beauty after heavy meal, #29
19. Nagaveena dance:
The expert musician is playing on her violin, which is in the form of snake. .(Madanika 30) This madanika is holding a ‘nagaveena’. A veena with one end shaped like a snake.
Nagaveena dance, #30
Nagaveena dance, #30
20. Proud Lady:
She is fully dressed and has put on all sorts of ornaments on her body. She is looking at her beauty in proud through a mirror. This madanika is called Abhimani… the proud one. Symbolizing someone who has a lot of pride in her beauty and is also very conscious of it. The sculpture at the left (at her feet), holds up a mirror but is looking away – kind of telling her ‘woman, reality check’. (Madanika No31)
Proud Lady, #31
Proud Lady, #31
21. A kite Dancer:
she is dancing imitating the play of flying a kite. Look at her standing pose. She is standing as if she is pulling the string of the kite using both her hands. But in other view looks like an IMAGINARY FLUTE - This one has an imaginary flute in her hand.(Madanika No33)
A kite Dancer, #33
A kite Dancer, #33
22. A beauty with her Hair:
She has tied her hair into a fine knot. This is up-to-date pony-tale. (Madanika No34)
A beauty with her Hair, #34
A beauty with her Hair, #34
23. A Beauty in perfect Make-up:
The lady has put on her best dress and ornaments and is ready to go for a dance. In another view it looks like THE MARRIED ONE - This one depicts a woman who has been recently married and who toe is being adorned by a toe-ring.  she is holding onto a vine for balance.(Madanika No.35)
A Beauty in perfect Make-up, #35
A Beauty in perfect Make-up, #35
24. Drum dance:
She has a beard & moustache like a man. She looks neither male nor female. She is dancing holding a drum in her left hand. .(Madanika 36)
Drum dance, #36
Drum dance, #36
25. The Arch Dancer:
She is dancing to the tune of the fun of her accomplice on both her sides (Madanika 38)
The Arch Dancer, #38
The Arch Dancer, #38
On entering inside the temple in the navaranga there are four pillars at the center with four bracket figures on top of each pillar,

1. Beauty with her pet parrot: 
A lady holds a creeper in her right hand. A parrot is sitting on the fore palm of her left hand. She looks as if she is having a conversation with the parrot. She is having a bangle on her right hand and can move up and down.
Shilabalika with her pet parrot., #39
Shilabalika with her pet parrot., #39
Side view of the Shilabalika with her pet parrot., #39
Side view of the Shilabalika with her pet parrot., #39
2. Shantaladevi: 
She is dancing. See the canopy behind. She is wearing a gem just above the middle of the forehead.
Shantaladevi Shilabalike, #40
Shantaladevi Shilabalike, #40
3. Gandharva Dance: 
She wears on her fore arm, a good number of bangles, which give an impression of moving to and fro.
Gandharva  Shilabalike, #41
Gandharva  Shilabalike, #41 
4. Kesha Shrungara: 
She is wringing her hair to squeeze the water after her bath. You can see the drops of water collected at the tip of her hairs.
Kesha Shrungara Shilabalike, #42
Kesha Shrungara Shilabalike, #42

There is no denying the fact that most magnificent specimens of Hoysala sculpture are the Madanikas. For the sheer beauty of form, delicacy of workmanship and perfection of finish, they are without parallel and may be called "poetry in stone." They have elicited un-qualified approbation from the art-critics of the world and to the temple, they have added great grace and charm.

Each one of Madanika figures here may be taken as a representative illustration of the rhythm and grace of which an ideal female form is capable. The workmanlike finish given to every one of them and the remarkable delicacy and skill with which details of decoration and ornamentation have been executed, have placed on them an exceptionally high value as pure works of creative art.

Some of these sculptures, are so delicate that it seems nearly impossible that they are made of stone.

The most exiting part of the temple is behind the walls of the temple, interiors, which i'm sure anyone can be amused by the amazing level of craftsmanship on these interiors.

Interiors of Belur Chennakeshava temple…To be continued…



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