Single shrine temple – Brahmeshvara Temple, Kikkeri

The Brahmeshvara temple (also spelt Brahmeshwara) is a fine specimen of 12th century Hoysala architecture and is located in the town of Kikkeri of Mandya district in Karnataka state, India. It is only 10 km from the historically important town of Shravanabelagola (in Hassan district). The temple was built in 1171 AD by a wealthy lady called Bommare Nayakiti during the rule of Hoysala King Narasimha I. This temple is a protected monument under the Karnataka state division of the Archaeological Survey of India.

The design of the temple is unique. the interior of the temple has been widened beyond its base by making the outer walls bulge out in a convex shape. This is a ekakuta (single shrine) construction. There is a four feet tall image of the Hindu god Shiva in one of the niches of the navaranga (hall). The madanika figures (also called salabhanjika, refers to the sculpture of a woman, displaying stylized feminine features) carved on the capitals of the pillars of the hall are works of fine art.

The vimana (shrine that contains the cella) has a well executed, highly decorative and intact tower (shikhara).[3] The vestibule (called antechamber or antarala) which connects the cella to the hall has a sukhanasi (called “nose”) which is actually a low protrusion of the tower over the shrine, built over the vestibule.[4] Other standard features in a Hoysala temple are the large domed roof over the tower, which is also the largest sculptural piece in a Hoysala temple (called the “helmet” or amalaka) and whose shape usually follows that of the shrine (square or star shape); the kalasa on top of it (the decorative water-pot at the apex of the dome); and the Hoysala crest (emblem of the Hoysala warrior stabbing a lion) over the sukhanasi.

The temple’s decorative features can be said to belong to the “old kind” prevalent even before the Hoysala times. In this type of decoration, below the superstructure (tower), an eaves that projects about half a meter runs all around the temple. Below the eaves are decorative miniature towers (the aedicula) on pilasters. The large wall images of deities and their attendants are placed below these decorative towers.