The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed significant remains of what is presumed to be a Jain temple belonging to the Hoysala period at Halebid in Hassan district.
The excavation, which commenced on January 20, is taking place near Shantinatha Basadi and promises to throw up interesting antiquities from the 11th to the 14th century when the Hoysala dynasty ruled parts of Karnataka.
The excavation was initiated by G. Maheshwari, Regional Director, ASI (Southern Region), and it is being conducted under the direction of Shivkant Bajpai, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Bengaluru Circle.
Dr. Bajpai said the mound where excavation is taking place measures 30 m x 20 m. “Based on the preliminary observation of the findings made so far, we can say that it was a Jain temple,” he said. The excavations have unravelled remains of a temple and the ASI will expose the entire structure.
Earlier excavations had revealed some loose structures in the area, and the ASI decided to take up further excavations in order to preserve the structure lest it is lost, as stones tend to get removed from the site for various local use, said Dr. Bajpai.
Apart from exposing the remains of the temple, the ASI team has recovered a sculpture of a Jain upasaka. It is a classic Hoysala sculpture and measures around 2 ft in height, he added.
The Hoysalas encouraged and patronised all sects and cults and the presence of a Jain temple close to the Hoysaleshwara temple underlines the harmony that prevailed during those times. The discovery of a new temple reinforces this view, according to Dr. Bajpai.
ASI technical staff and other personnel, including A.V. Nagnoor, R.N. Kumaran, Sujana Stephen, Saranya, Basavaraj Mayachaari, and Murli Mohan are part of the team conducting the excavation.
Dr. Bajpai said this was also an opportunity for students of history and archaeology to visit the place and learn how archaeological excavations are conducted and reinforce their theoretical knowledge. Students have access to some parts of the site, and some of them are already visiting the place, he added.