Basaralu – Mallikarjuna Temple


Introduction – Basaralu is a large village in Mandya district of Karnataka. Its old name was Basurivala as evident from inscriptions found here. The earliest known antiquity of the town can be tracked back to the Hoysala period, when an agrahara was created after construction of the Mallikarjuna Temple.

Inscription Stele

Inscriptions – Four inscriptions are published in the Epigraphia Carnatica volume VII from this village.

  1. Stone near the entrance of the Malleshvara Temple – Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII, no 29 of Mandya – refers to the reign of the Hoysala king Narasimha II – dated Saka 1157, corresponding 1234 CE – Genealogy of Narasimha is provided, from Vishnu, Brahma, Atri, Moon, Budha, Pururava, Ayu, Nahusha, Yayati and Yadu. Yadu was the progenitor of the Yadava race, in which was born Sala. Sala became Hoysala after shot the tiger in the presence of goddess Vasantikaof Sasakapura at the instance of a divine sage. Then comes Vinayaditya who is compared with Varaha. His son was Ereyanga. Bittideva or Vishnuvardhana was the son of Ereyanga. Narasimha (I) was the son of Vishnuvardhana, and the former got a son from his chief queen Echaladevi, named Balladeva (Ballala II). His son was Narasimha (II), establisher of the Chola king, death god to the Magara kingdom, delimited Pandyas to narrow limits. King Narasimha II is referred as the lord of city Dvaravati, have defeated or diminished the Malepas, Kadavaraya, Pandyas, Magararaya and established the Cholas. He is told to be ruling from his capital Dorasamudra. His minister was Addayada Harihara-dandanayaka. His genealogy is described. Then comes the reference of the Mallikarjuna temple which was shining with various decorative arts from the foundation to the pinnacle, with spaces that depicts stories from Bharata and other works. This temple was constructed by Harihara and his two brothers in the name of their father, and a nearby tank in the name of their mother. The date and the time when the god of the temple was consecrated is provided. The place is referred as Basurival. King Narasimhadeva donated some land for the food and service of the god.
  2. Below above stone – Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII, no 30 of Mandya – refers to the reign of the Hoysala king Someshwara – This inscription is an addition to the no 29 above. It is told that to Kalaledevi and Narasimha II was born Sovideva (Someshwara). The limits of his kingdom were, Kanchi in the east, velapura in the west, Peddore (river Krishna) in the north and Babeya-nad in the south. The king is said to be ruling from his capital Dorasamudra. Harihara-dandanayaka granted two villages to god Mallikarjunadeva, named after his father. These villages he in turn received from the king Someshwara. A grant is also made to Chikka-jiya, who is attributed to have gone to Parvata (Sriparvata) and brought god Mallikarjuna. The poet Chidananda composed the inscription.
  3. On the same stone, below no 30 – Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII, no 31 of Mandya – refers to the reign of the Hoysala king Narasimha III, born to Someshwara and Bijjaladevi. It tells that Hariyanna and Narasingadeva, the two sons of Harihara-dandanayaka, were appointed as sthanikas of the temple of god Mallikarjunadeva.
  4. One the same stone, below no 31 – Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII, no 32 of Mandya – refers to a grant made by Kempa-Bayirasa-nayaka, son of Kaliya Bayirarasa-nayaka, on a certain date, to god Mallikarjuna.
Mallikarjuna Temple

Mallikarjuna Temple – This temple was constructed in 1234 CE at the behest of Harihara-dandanayaka, a minister under the Hoysala king Narasimha II. Harihara and his two brothers consecrated god Mallikarjuna in the name of their father. They also constructed a tank nearby, in the name of their mother. In one inscription, we find a reference of a certain Chikka-jiya who had gone to Sriparvata to bring god Mallikarjuna. This Chikka-jiya might be a priest who went to Sriparvata to get the idol of the god which probably was executed at that site. “Jiye” in his name and reference to Sriparvata suggests Kalamukha association of this temple.

Main entrance from south
Northern entrance

The temple is constructed on a raised jagati (platform). The temple faces east and consists of a Nandi-mandapa, navaranga and  antarala or sukanasi. The temple is constructed in trikuta-chala style, consisting of three garbha-grha (sanctums/cells), one each on north, south and west. Only the main sanctum, in the west, is provided with antarala (vestibule), the rests directly opens into the common mandapa (navaranga). The central ceiling of this mandapa has ashta-dikpalas. This main sanctum is adorned with tower and sukanasi, the others are devoid of towers. Due to this the temple, from outside, does not give an appearance of a trikuta structure.

Southern Facade
Shiva as Tripurantaka

Beyond the navaranga, towards the east, is a connected Nandi-mandapa, which is very much infused with the main temple making it a coherent unit. This Nandi-mandapa is covered with perforated screens on its sides. With the eastern side being closed by this Nandi-mandapa, the entrance to the temple is provided on its south and north sides, leading into a passage connecting navaranga and Nandi-mandapa. To enter the temple, a visitor first approaches the platform (jagati) through a flight to steps, on either sides of which a miniature shrine is placed.  On the platform, another flight of steps takes the visitor into the temple. On either side of this flight, an elephant is placed majestically.

Shiva with Winnowing Tray
Durga with twenty-two hands
Sixteen-handed Shiva
Hoysala Crest

A shivalinga representing lord Mallikarjuna is placed in the main cell. The other cells have an image of Surya and Nagas at present however the 1910 Mysore Archaeological Report mentions that the southern cell had an image of Narayana and the northern cell had an image of Krishna. The shikhara (tower) of the temple is a three-tier structure and it is well embellished on all sides with images and various other motifs. In front of it is a projection, sukanasi, on the top of which is standing the Hoysala crest, Sala slaying a tiger.


This temple has various distinctive features of the mature Hoysala period architecture. We find double eaves, external walls embellished with large number of images and the rows of band on the adhishthana. We find here usual six rows of bands. These are from bottom, frieze of elephants interrupted by human figures, frieze of horse-riders, frieze of lions interrupted by human figures, Puranic and Epic scenes, frieze of makaras interrupted with kirti-mukhas and frieze of swans. The frieze of Puranic and Epic scenes depicts various stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvata Purana. Story of Prahalada is depicted in much details. For details on these frieze panels, please refer my album attached at the end of this article.


Among the images on the external walls, some interesting ones are sixteen-handed Shiva, Durga with twenty-hands, Mahishasuramardini, Vitthala, Surya-Narayana, Shiva as Tripurantaka, Sarasvati, Gajasamharamurti, Arjun, Hayagriva, Krishna, Vamana story and Ravana-anugraha-murti.

Brahma-shula Pillar

To the east of the temple stands a sixteen feet high pillar, on top of which was a figure of a male and female. Only the figure of a female has survived. The male figure, when it was intact in 1910, was shown falling off the capital. This pillar is uninscribed, but deriving similarity to a pillar in Hoysaleshvar temple at Halebid, it may be suggested that the theme depicted on this pillar is that of a self-immolation.




  1. Annual Report of the Mysore Archaeological Department for the year 1910. Government Branch Press. Mysore.
  2. Foekema, Gerard (1996). A Complete Guide to Hoysala Temples. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. ISBN 9788170173458.
  3. Foekema, Gerard (1994). Hoysala Architecture: Medieval Temples of Southern Karnataka built during Hoysala Rule. Books & Books. New Delhi. ISBN 9788185016412
  4. Settar, S (1992). The Hoysala Temples. Kala Yatra Publications. Bangalore. ISBN 9788190017213


  1. Thank you for such detailed well researched and thouroughly photographically covered articles on remote monuments.

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