Old trade route uncovered by inscription at Hoysala’s temple

Old trade route uncovered by inscription at Hoysala’s temple

This article covers ‘Daily Current Affairs’ and the topic details of ”Old trade route uncovered by inscription at Hoysala’s temple”. This topic is relevant in the “History” section of the UPSC CSE exam.


Why in the News? 

Inscriptions uncovered at the Sri Madhava Perumal Temple reveal evidence of a significant trade pathway existing over a millennium ago, linking the Kongu area in the western part of Tamil Nadu with southern Karnataka and Kerala.


About the Madhava Perumal Temple

  • The Sri Madhava Perumal Temple, located in Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishnu, who is worshipped as Madhava Perumal. The temple, constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, dates back to the Hoysala period and was built during the reign of King Veera Ballala III (1292-1343 CE).
  • The Mylapore region came under the rule of the Hoysala dynasty, and the general of the Hoysala army, Dhandanayaka, constructed the Dandanayaka Fort 680 years ago, with the temple built inside the Dandanayaka fort. The area was later ruled by the Vijayanagara Empire and Tipu Sultan, and the Battle of Sathyamangalam (1790), during the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1790-1792), took place near the fort.
  • The temple is believed to be the birthplace of Peyalwar, one of the first three of the twelve Alvar saints of the 6th-9th century CE. The inscriptions found at the temple reveal the existence of a village named Thuravalur and indicate that the area served as a crucial trade route, allowing traders to cross the Bhavani and Moyar rivers to reach Wayanad in Kerala and various places in Karnataka.
  • The temple, largely submerged in the water-spread area of the Bhavanisagar dam in Erode district, became visible as the water level in the dam dipped. The construction of the Bhavanisagar dam in 1948 resulted in the relocation of nearby residents and the shifting of temple idols to new locations in 1953.
  • The discovery of this submerged temple and the associated trade route highlights the importance of preserving and studying such historical sites, as they offer a window into the past and contribute to our understanding of the region’s history and cultural heritage. The inscriptions found at the temple provide valuable insights into the trade activities and historical significance of the region during the Hoysala period and beyond.


About Hoysala Dynasty

  • The Hoysala Empire emerged as a dominant force in southern India, originating from Kannadiga roots and governing a vast expanse of territory encompassing present-day Karnataka during the 10th to 14th centuries. Initially headquartered in Belur, the capital later shifted to Halebidu.
  • Rooted in the Malenadu region of the Western Ghats, the Hoysala rulers strategically expanded their domain during the 12th century, capitalising on conflicts between the Western Chalukya Empire and the Kalachuris of Kalyani. They annexed territories in present-day Karnataka and fertile lands north of the Kaveri delta in Tamil Nadu.
  • By the 13th century, their dominion extended across most of Karnataka, parts of northwestern Tamil Nadu, and sections of western Andhra Pradesh on the Deccan Plateau. Claiming descent from the Yadava lineage, the Hoysalas traced their legendary origins to Sala, also known as Poysala, who purportedly exhibited exceptional bravery by slaying a tiger, earning the moniker “Hoysala,” meaning “the one who strikes.”
  • Although the legend of Sala’s valour is more symbolic than historical, it became integral to the Hoysala identity. While scant documentation exists about their early history, the Hoysalas initially served as vassals to various larger South Indian empires like the Chalukyas and Cholas before gradually asserting their independence and establishing their kingdom.
  • The apex of Hoysala’s influence unfolded during the 12th and 13th centuries under the leadership of notable monarchs such as Vishnuvardhana, Ballala II, and Veera Ballala III. This era witnessed prolific temple construction, illustrating their patronage of art and culture. The distinctive Hoysala architectural style, characterised by intricate sculptures and finely detailed carvings, reached its pinnacle during this period, leaving an enduring legacy of artistic splendour in the region.


About Hoysala temple architecture

  • Hoysala temple architecture is renowned for its remarkable beauty, meticulous craftsmanship, and the skilful work of the artisans who constructed these temples. These architectural marvels, erected during the Hoysala era, hold profound cultural and historical importance in the southern regions of India.
  • During their reign, the Hoysalas displayed a remarkable dedication to temple construction, erecting numerous temples devoted to Hindu deities such as Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and various forms of the Goddess. Notably, many Hoysala temples feature a distinctive star-shaped ground plan, incorporating multiple symmetrically positioned shrines. Constructed primarily from soapstone, these temples allowed for intricate carvings and detailed embellishments.
  • A defining characteristic of Hoysala architecture is the elaborate carvings that adorn virtually every surface of the temples. These carvings depict scenes from Hindu mythology, celestial entities, animals, intricate geometric patterns, and depictions of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Additionally, Hoysala temples boast unique architectural elements like the Makara Torana, ornate Mantapas, circular pillars adorned with sculpted figures, and sanctums categorised based on the number of shrines.
  • Hoysala temples exhibit a fusion of architectural styles, drawing influences from Chola and Chalukya art traditions. Their distinguishing features include star-shaped layouts, abundant decorative carvings, and the prevalent use of soapstone as the primary construction material. These temples serve not only as architectural wonders but also as repositories of the Hoysala dynasty’s cultural and historical legacy, showcasing minimal Indo-Aryan influence and a more pronounced impact of the Southern Indian architectural style.

Some notable examples of Hoysala temples

  • Chennakesava Temple, Belur: Constructed in the 12th century during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana, the Chennakesava Temple in Belur is one of the most famous examples of Hoysala architecture. Known for its breathtakingly intricate carvings and sculptures, particularly the famous “Madanikas” or celestial nymphs, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
  • Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu: Built in the 12th century under the patronage of King Vishnuvardhana and his successors, the Hoysaleswara Temple is another iconic Hoysala temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is renowned for its exquisite sculptures, especially the friezes depicting scenes from the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
  • Kesava Temple, Somanathapura: Constructed in the 13th century during the reign of King Narasimha III, the Kesava Temple in Somnathpur is a remarkable example of Hoysala temple architecture. Known for its intricate craftsmanship and well-preserved sculptures, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
  • Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli: Dating back to the late 11th century, the Lakshmi Devi Temple in Doddagaddavalli is one of the earliest surviving examples of Hoysala architecture. This temple is notable for its compact yet elaborately decorated structure, featuring intricate carvings of deities and celestial beings.


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Prelims practise questions


Q1. What purpose does the Mandapa in a Dravida-style temple serve?

(a) Ritual bathing

(b) Offering prayers

(c) Community gatherings

(d) Housing priests


Answer: C


Q2. The Gopuram of a Dravida-style temple is usually adorned with:

(a) Stupas

(b) Minarets

(c) Depictions of deities and mythological scenes

(d) Buddhist symbols


Answer: C


Mains practise question


Q1. Evaluate the role of the Hoysala dynasty in the development of temple architecture, focusing on their patronage of art and culture. How did the distinctive features of Hoysala temples contribute to the region’s architectural legacy?

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