An ambitious plan to build a Hoysala-style temple bigger than the Belur Chennakeshava temple has brought a fair amount of interest to Venkatapura, a small village in Kolar district. The project will take at least 15 years to complete.
While the foundation is being laid in granite, the temple structure will be built in soapstone, in keeping with tradition. “Soapstone is very durable and easy to carve on. It can withstand weathering well and is metamorphic. The stone is found in abundance in southern Karnataka,” said Yashaswini Sharma, whose firm Esthetique Architects is collaborating on the project.
Adam Hardy, professor of Asian Architecture at Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, is the lead architect of the temple, commissioned by the Sri Kalyana Venkateshwara Hoysala Art Foundation.
“For the foundation of the temple, we need 7,000 granite blocks, which are being sourced from Karkala in Udupi district,” said Ms. Sharma. The soapstone will be procured from quarries in Heggadadevana Kote of Mysuru district.
According to the design, the temple will sit on a grand six-foot platform (jagati). Apart from the sanctum sanctorum, it will also have a huge Rangamandapa — a place for performing arts, in line with the ones built by the Hoysala rulers. The only break from tradition will be the construction of a Rajagopura — an entrance to the temple from the eastern side. But this too will be done in Hoysala style.
Funding with donations
For a temple of this size, funding will be a major challenge. The foundation has been inviting donations from the public. “We don’t want one person to put in lakhs of rupees into the project. Instead, we have been asking interested donors to fund one stone each for the temple,” said Aravind Reddy, treasurer of the foundation.
A single large granite stone costs around ₹15,000. Already, over 1,000 stones have been donated. After the consecration, Mr. Reddy plans to systematically generate money. “We will start with Kolar district and ask people to donate ₹108 towards the construction of the temple. Around 15 lakh people live in the district and even if just half contribute, it will be a significant amount. The collection drive may go on for one year, after which we will head to other districts and collect money,” he said.
The foundation has also started a Facebook page to get more people involved in the project.
Training of sculptors
Hoysala-style architecture is a forgotten art. After the 14th century, the style has not been prevalent. However, the project team has identified some 150 master sculptors familiar with the Hoysala style.
They will train hundreds of apprentices on the ground once the construction of the main temple begins. “Master sculptors such as G.L. Bhatt will be there,” said Yashaswini Sharma, whose firm is collaborating on the project.
There are also plans to conduct workshops for artists at Belur temple so that they gain a better understanding of the style and art form.