Hungul. Sculptured memorial stone. [Hangal.]
Photographer: Pigou, William Henry
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a memorial stone from the Tarakeshvara Temple at Hangal, Karnataka, taken by William Henry Pigou in 1855. Hangal, in the Dharwar district of Karnataka, was once part of the dominion of the Chalukyas of Kalyana, who were the dominant power in the Deccan from 973 to 1189 AD. They were great temple builders and important sites included Ittagi, Lakhundi, Hangal, Gadag and Dambal. The Tarakeshvara Temple at Hangal, dedicated to Shiva, was built in c. 1050. The tradition of memorial stones appears to have started in about the 6th century AD, and sati-stones (satikals) commemorating women who committed the rite of sati or self-immolation, and hero-stones (virakals) commemorating dead warriors, are particularly found in central, western and southern India. Early Kannada literature cited five events for which heroes were honoured: a cattle raid in which they were killed, protecting the virtue of women, helping relatives in crisis, obeying master's orders or defending their land. A hero stone was usually divided into three panels, but sometimes, if the story warranted it, into four or five. The upper panel would depict the subject worshipping a deity, usually a Shiva linga, The middle panel would depict the hero being borne into heaven by apsaras or heavenly nymphs, sometimes seated in a palanquin or a shrine, and the lower panels would show battle scenes or cattle raids (with heads of cattle).