What is the Vesara style of Architecture? What are the characteristics and examples of Vesara Architecture?

Vesara Style of architecture

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What is Vesara architecture, and how it was originated?

Vesara architecture is a combination or hybrid form of Indian temple architecture, mainly of the north Indian Nagara and south Indian Dravidian styles that developed during the medieval period in India. It emerged during the 7th to 13th centuries CE and was popular in the Deccan region, particularly in the Chalukya and Rashtrakuta empires. This style features North Indian details, plans, and shapes [1] [2][4]. Some historians believe that the geographical location where it originated is Karnataka. The Chalukyas of Badami (500–753 AD) promoted this style of architecture by constructing a temple. Manyakhtea’s Rashtrakutas later redefined it. [3]

The term “Vesara” is believed to be taken from the Sanskrit word “Vishra,” which means an area to take a long walk. [3] According to some Hindu and Indic texts, the Vesara style of architecture was popular in central parts of India. [3]. This architectural style emerged during the Chalukya’s period but thrived during the Rashtrakuta period. [6]

Vesara architecture is one of the six major types of Indian architecture found in our historic text, with five others being Nagara, Dravida, Bhumijia, Kalinga, and Varata. [4] The Chennakeshava temple at Somnathpura and the Hoysala temples at Belur are the best examples of this kind of style.

Today, Vesara architecture is recognized as an important contribution to Indian architecture and has had a significant influence on later styles of Indian architecture, such as the Vijayanagara style and the Mughal architecture.

Types of Temple Architecture in India

In the Gupta period, they started a new phase of the development of temple architecture. They patronized the arts and architecture, resulting in the construction of several temples and monuments. The architectural texts that were present at the beginning of the mediaeval period are known as Shilpa shastras.

There are three different types of temple architecture:-

  1. Dravida Style
  2. Nagara Style
  3. Vesara Style  [7]
Kallesvara temple at Kukkanur

Fig. 1 Kallesvara temple at Kukkanur (1000-1025 CE) Vesara architecture. (Ground Floor Plan)

The uplift in the mandapa and the garbhagriya can be seen (Illustrated Plan)

History of Vesara Temple Architecture

The historical roots of Vesara architecture can be found in these architectural styles:

  • Chalukyan architecture
  • Rashtrakuta architecture
  • Hoysala temple architecture
  • Vijayanagara architecture

According to some historical texts, this style is thought to have originated between the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers in northern Karnataka.[4] The roots of this architectural style are found in the Chalukyas of Badami. Their architectural style was known as Badami Chalukya architecture, and they built several temples that reflected the features of the Nagara and Dravida styles. Shikara, Vimana, and mandapa types of the superstructure can be seen in those temples.

After the feudatories of the Chalukyas, this style was redefined by the Rashtrakutas at some sites like Ellora.

Hoysala rulers developed this architectural style between 1050 and 1300 A.D. by building famous art seats in Belur, Halebid, and Sringeri. The central attraction was the multiple shrines designed around the central pillared hall. [2]

Kasivisvesvara temple at Lakkundi

Fig. 2 Kasivisvesvara temple at Lakkundi (1075 CE) Vesara architecture. (Ground Floor Plan)

The Uplift helps in fusing Dravida-Nagara ideas.

Characteristics and Features of Vesara-style Temple Architecture

  1. This architectural style was influenced by the Buddhist apsidal chapels and later evolved by the Chalukyas.
  2. The common feature of the Vesara style of the temple is its spire-shaped structure, which was built on top of the temple. [5]
  3. The features most likely seen from Dravida are on the walls, and from Nagara they can be seen on the superstructure.
  4. Walls and pillars were highly carved and ornamented. [1] [3]
  5. These Vesara temples were sometimes raised on high platforms, which were then used as an open ambulatory passageway.[1]
  6. Use of complex and ornate decoration, intricate carvings, and extensive use of pillars, domes, and arches.
  7. The ground floor plan (Figs. 1 and 2) is in the shape of a star with some squares.

Sculpture work in Vesara architecture

The extensive use of ornamentation and carved work required good craftsmanship and geometrical skills. Vesara-style temples had so many sculptures. In India, no other style has been able to replicate these works, which explains why they were so difficult to decode and implement. The detailed work done by those craftsmen was still amazing and ethically pleasing.

Examples of Vesara-style temple architecture

The most well-known Vesara temples are the Kailash Nath temple in Maharashtra, the Chennakesava temple, the Virupaksha temple, and the Ladkhan temple (the last three temples are in Karnataka).[2]

Other temples that were built in this style are:

  1. Kallesvara temple, Kukkanur
  2. Ramalingesvara temple, Gudur
  3. Mahadeva Temple, Ittagi
  4. Kasivisvesvara temple, Lakkundi
  5. Brahmadeva Temple, Savadi
  6. Mallikarjuna Temple, Sudi [4]
Raju Kumar (Asst. Architect)
Raju Kumar (Asst. Architect)

Raju Kumar is a talented 4th-year undergraduate student currently pursuing a
degree in architecture. With a strong passion for both writing and architecture,
Raju brings a unique perspective to the field. Holding a diploma in architecture,
he actively seeks opportunities to enhance his skills and broaden his expertise
as an aspiring architect.

Raju Kumar (Asst. Architect)
Raju Kumar (Asst. Architect)

Raju Kumar is a talented 5th-year undergraduate student currently pursuing adegree in architecture. With a strong passion for both writing and architecture,Raju brings a unique perspective to the field. Holding a diploma in architecture,he actively seeks opportunities to enhance his skills and broaden his expertise as an aspiring architect.

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