And now for something completely different. During my trip to Hampi/Vijaynagar I also made a quick visit to the Parvati Temple near Sandur, which is a unique Badami Chalukya temple possibly from the 7th or 8th c AD. This temple is not well known – I had read about it first in one of Bill Aitken’s books, and have not been able to find much information on it since. My growing interest in the spread and development of early freestanding stone Hindu/Jain temple architecture compelled me to visit the site. It would be interesting to situate this temple in the chronology of development of early temple architecture in Karnataka along with sites such as Aihole, Pattadakal, Badami and other Badami Chalukya sites.
Sandur is about 30 km by road from Hospet, and the Parvati Temple (in what is known as the Kumaraswamy Temple complex) is a further 10 km ahead. Sandur is surrounded by the Sandur Hills, famous for their extensive iron and manganese ore mining. The temple site is near the top of one of these hills, known as Krauncha Giri.
As can be seen from the first two photos below, the landscape of the Sandur Hills is very different from the granite boulder hillocks of the Tungabhadra valley at the Vijaynagar site, even though Sandur lies just south of Vijaynagar. If we stand on any of the hillocks at Vijaynagar and look southwards into the distance, we can easily see the long line of volcanic Sandur Hills. These are high, lushly vegetated hills, which create a local ecology similar to that of the Western Ghats, even though they are situated in the middle of the Deccan Plateau. A case in point is the periodic carpet-flowering (once every 12 years) of the Neelakurinji flower, which happens here and in locations along the southern Western Ghats.
Sandur Hills around the Kumaraswamy Temple complex
The Parvati Temple has a unique longish barrel-vaulted antaralay leading to a square shrine with horizontally layered viman/tower. Once again I’ve posted too many photos, but no apologies! :P
Kumaraswamy Temple (without its original viman/tower) adjacent to the Parvati Temple, is of later vintage (possibly around the 10th c)
Side shrines and colonial-era temple buildings
Gopuram (later addition)
Outside the temple complex
Tank in front of the temple complex