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  • A Hoysala-style temple, with a Welsh touch

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    Recreating heritage: An artistic rendering of the temple with its soaring tower. At right is Adam Hardy, lead architect for the project.

    Recreating heritage: An artistic rendering of the temple with its soaring tower. At right is Adam Hardy, lead architect for the project.

    Cardiff architect revives 800-year-old tradition of building with soapstone in Karnataka

    An architectural style that goes back 800 years, a plan for an ornate 21st century temple built out of soapstone in an obscure village, and an architect from Wales to see it through.

    That is the story of the Hoysala-inspired Lord Venkateshwara temple at Venkatapura, a few km away from Mulbagal in Kolar district of Karnataka. The usually quiet hamlet hums with activity as people make a clearing, where the fields lead to a plateau.

    Funded by donations

    The temple, designed in the striking Hoysala style, will come up on seven acres of land here, funded by donations.

    The structure shuns modern-day cement. Floated by a public trust, it promises to be bigger than the Belur Chennakeshava temple. Leading the team is architect Adam Hardy, Professor of Asian Architecture at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University.

    The Vimana, or tower, will stand 108 feet tall.

    The temple has been commissioned by a public trust. “It was my father’s dream to have a temple in Venkatapura,” says Aravind Reddy, from the same village and treasurer of the Sri Kalyana Venkateshwara Hoysala Art Foundation. “I have always been fascinated by Hoysala architecture and wanted to revive the tradition. When we started, we planned a small temple with a budget of ₹15 to ₹20 lakh,” he says. The project is now estimated to cost at least ₹300 crore.

    Classic iconography

    Prof. Hardy says, “The Hoysala style is known for architectural planning, detailed iconography, beautifully carved pillars and use of soapstone instead of sandstone. To replicate it will be no easy job.”

    Quest for the architect

    The planners had no problem sourcing sculptors, artists and even the material. It was the search for an architect who could recreate the Hoysala magic that was the bigger challenge, one that took years to solve.

    A chance meeting with Yashaswini Sharma, architect and author of Bangalore: The Early City AD 1537-1799, in 2009 gave the project its first chance of success. “When I told her I wanted to build a Hoysala temple, She showed me the book written by Mr. Hardy. I found some 60 plans for a Hoysala temple in his book. I knew I had to meet him,” says Mr. Reddy.

    It so happened that the scholar was visiting India at the time. “It was after I met him that the scale of the project became mind-boggling,” says Mr. Reddy. It took eight years of designing and redesigning the plan before construction began a few days ago.

    The trust wants its creation to reflect the best of the three famous temples in Arsikere, Belur and Halebid.

    The foundation for the ambitious plan was laid on June 14, and the ceremony was attended by the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore Yaduveera Chamaraja Wadiyar.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Sarumathi K  / Bengaluru – June 15th, 2017

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