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Monday, 19 May 2014

An evening of heavenly music with Anand Bhate

I first found his voice three years ago through the mobile phone ringtone of a colleague and friend of mine, and I have become a huge fan ever since. It was a wait of three years to see him perform live, and the wish was fulfilled yesterday, as Anand Bhate delighted the hearts of music lovers of Bangalore with his soul stirring singing at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, as part of "Sangeet Sambhram", on the occasion of 8th anniversary of founding "Sapthak".



Shree Bhate, a disciple of Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, is continuing the Kirana Gharana tradition, and is dedicating time to his divine music even as he juggles with his profession in Technology (he holds a Masters degree in Computer Science).


Yesterday's concert was a dream come true for me personally, as this was my first time listening to him live, and also my first time attending any live Hindustani concert, being a more staunch follower of Carnatic music for long. Accompanied on Tabla by Shree Udayaraj Karpur and on Harmonium by Dr. Ravindra Katoti, his singing was nothing short of celestial. To top this off, Shri Bhate, also known affectionately and respectfully as Anand Gandharva, chose Raga Puriya Dhanashri for the main rendition of the day, the Hindustani counterpart of one of my favorite Carnatic ragas, Hamsanandi. The elaborate and a perfection laden rendition of this Raga with the composition "Sumiro Tero Naam" followed by "Paayaliya Jhanakaaye" left the audience clapping multiple times with delight, right through the performance.



Up next was another personal favorite. Raga Kalashree, a combination of the Ragas Kalavati and Rageshree, created by his Guru Shree Bhimsen Joshi. For the audience, listening to his rendition of "Dhan Dhan Bhaag Suhaag Tero" was like walking with him on the easiest path to heaven possible. But this level of completeness only shows the amount of riyaaz he puts in, and the delight in listening to him perform is something that cannot be explained in words.

Shree Bhate concluded his concert with his trademark rendition of a Natya Sangeet. This one, "Khara To Prema" from the the famous Play of Balgandharva, "Manapman". A detailed rendition of this song as compared to what was recorded for the biopic on Balgandharva in 2011 (shared below) made up for my disappointment of not getting to hear any of my other three favorite renditions of his - Chinmaya Sakala Hridaya, Indrayani Kati or Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma. The way he transcends ragas and comes back to them at will is truly enjoyable.

Shared all through this blog post are some photos from the event yesterday, and I can only conclude by thanking Shree Anand Bhate, as I look forward to the next opportunity to listen to him again. For now, back to "Panchatund Nara Rundamaladhara..."

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Hoysala Expedition Part 29: Mallikarjuna Temple, Basaralu

This Mallikarjuna Temple in the town of Basaralu in Madya district of Karnataka has made it into the short list of 15 must visit Hoysala temples in the seminal book "A Complete Guide to Hoysala Temples" by Gerard Foekema, and just one glimpse at the temple would tell you why. As Foekema touches on the "completeness" of the temples, and states that there are these other temples from the Hoysala period which are far more "complete" in terms of plan, execution, symmetry and carvings than the more celebrated temples at Belur and Halebidu, the Mallikarjuna Temple at Basaralu holds a mirror to his observations.

Situated on the road from Nagamangala to Mandya, this little known town's only shot at fame is this temple constructed in 1234 AD, under the reign of Veera Narasimha the II, by the king's commander in memory of his father Malleyanayaka. The Mallikarjuna Shiva Linga inside the main sanctum is said to have been brought in from Srisailam and established in this temple around that time.

A notable brilliance in the temple construction is the small opening opposite to the main sanctum, through which sunlight enters the temple, and passes through a hole in the ear of the Nandi and touches the Shiva Linga on a specific day in the Hindu calendar year. Again, indicative of the perfection displayed by the sculptors of the period. Also, the Hoysala emblem of Sala slaying the lion on the top of the shrine is as good as you would see anywhere among all the temples of that period.


Here, again, is a video collage of the temple's beauty:



Thursday, 8 May 2014

Hoysala Expedition Part 28: Sangameshwara - Janneshwara Temple, Sindhaghatta

If you find the ekakuta Lakshmi Narayana Temple on the one end of the town of Sindhaghatta, the other end promises to showcase the dvikuta Sangameshwara - Janneshwara Temple, in line with most other celebrated townships of the Hoysala period - containing worshiping places for the followers of both Shiva and Vishnu.

The temple is on the lines of Aghalaya (trikuta) and Govindanahalli (panchakuta), with two Shiva linga sanctums in a row inside the same temple. One of them is identified as Sangameshwara and the other as Janneshwara (historically) or Jangameshwara (currently). The outer walls are again uncarved, similar to the Vaishnava temple in the town, but the inner carvings - primarily the Bhuvaneshwari designs on the roof tops are extremely intricate and retain the beauty even to this day.


A great example of the perfection shown by the sculptors of the period is in the carvings of the big Nandi (the celestial bull) statues inside the temple, where they have taken care to even indicate the veins that run on the face of a bull so elegantly. I have personally come across many carvings of Nandi in many other Shiva temples of the Hoysala period and others like the one on the Chamundi Hills of Mysore and the one at Gangadhareshwara temple in Turuvekere, but the Nandi statues at this temple in Sindhaghatta ooze life like no other.

The exact timeframe when the temple was built is unclear, although, it is conservatively attributed to the period of Hoysala king Ballala the 3rd, in 1299 AD. There are conflicting gazetteer entries that date the temple back to 1179 AD too, and to the times of Vishnuvardhana and Ballala the 2nd.

Here is a photo stream from the temple:




Saturday, 3 May 2014

Hoysala Expedition Part 27: Lakshminarayana Temple, Sindhaghatta

Sindhaghatta is a small town near Krishnarajapete in Mandya district, Karnataka, close to the state highway of Channarayapatna - Mysore. The town has two little known Hoysala temples, one of them being the still worshiped Lakshmi Narayana Temple. It is a single shrine temple with the inner carvings indicating the same beauty one gets to see in most well known Hoysala temples, but the outer walls are devoid of any carvings. The main deity is Lord Lakshmi Narayana, a form of Vishnu who is carrying Lakshmi on his lap, as can be seen in Adagur. The main deity is amazingly serene and clearly indicates the mastery of the sculptors who could have only belonged to the Hoysala period. Inscriptions found in and around the town date the temple back to the times of king Vishnuvardhana, but according to those records, the temple continued to receive funds even during the reins of Veera Ballala II. Year 1179 AD appears to be the time of completion of construction of the temple, according to those who have studied the information available.



Sindhaghatta is definitely one of the calmer towns you could come across, and being home to two historically important temples hasn't changed its fortunes one bit.

Here is a video of photos collated from my visit to the place:


Next post will contain the details of the other temple in Sidhaghatta that belongs to the Hoysala period, the Sangameshwara - Janneshwara temple.