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Introduction to Vesara Temple Architecture


While the north and central India was practicing Nagara and its varieties and south India was practicing Dravida style, the Deccan region was experimenting with something new with an amalgamation of both, Nagara and Dravida styles.


Since it was an amalgamation, it was named Vesara or Vyamishra which literally means hybrid.

The Hoysalas of Dvarasamudra promoted this style with zeal in the present-day Karnataka heartland mainly. The Vesara style temples in the Deccan region were built mostly between 1100 to 1300 CE.


Since the Vesara is a hybrid style, there are no fixed rules followed in the designs of plan and superstructure. There is a huge variation across the region in terms of design and architecture. Some Vesara temples have square plans while some have stellate plans.


As it is said in the Dravida Shilpa text Ishanashivgurudevpaddhati that, ‘by looking at the superstructures one can understand the style of the temple’, the superstructure of Vesara is very prominent in its appearance, shape, and crafting.


The Vesara is mostly Dravida up to the walls and takes on Nagara features in the superstructure which is one of the most special features of Indian Temple Architecture. Sometimes, it takes on hints of Nagara and Dravida altogether mixed up in the wall structure and superstructure.


For instance, the Chenna-Keshava temple at Somnathpura, a triplet shrine dedicated to Vishnu, built-in 1258 CE has its plan executed in the star-shape (stellate) in all the three shrines.


The walls are like that of the Nagara temple which is formed by pillars ornated with various sculptures. Since the walls are in stellate arrangement, the superstructure too runs in the star-shape pinnacle or shikhara.


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