Nara Singha; or, the Man Lion
Photographer: Oakeley, Richard Banner
Medium: Photographic print
An albumen print by Richard Banner Oakeley of Vishnu in his incarnation as Narasingha (the man-lion) at Halebid in Karnataka. Vishnu assumed the avatar of Narasingha in order to destroy the demon Hiranyakashippu, and he is seen ripping him apart with his claws. Halebid (ancient Dwarasamudra), a small town in the Hassan district, was once the capital of the Hoysala dynasty of the southern Deccan which flourished from about 1100-1350 AD. Invasions by the Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century led to its decline. The Hoysalas were avid temple builders and the site is renowned for the remnants of architecture and sculpture fashioned out of the chloritic schist in the region. The most famous monument here is the twelfth-century Hoysaleswara temple dedicated to Shiva, which was built for an official of Vishnuvardhana (reigned 1108-42). It is an exemplar of the lavish Hoysala style and is encrusted with continuous bands of sculpture, unsurpassed in its detail and vitality.