News Karnataka
Saturday, February 04 2023

The ‘Stone’ Collector

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Bengaluru: Our land was ruled by Chalukya, Ganga, Kadamaba, Tailapa and Hoysala dynasties in the past. Each of the rulers constructed temples during their time and those human works mesmerise the modern generation. The divine place is adorned by ornate monumental towers where one walks into the inner sanctum to experience divinity.
The image of God (sometimes, Shivalinga) is placed inside the inner sanctum. The most stone built temples with extraordinary and intricate carvings are historians’ delight.

But how can one see all those master pieces at one place?

Meet Kengeri Chakrapani, an ace photographer who has innumerable photographs in his armory to revisit the past glory. Chakrapani, an employee at Bharath Sanchar Nigam limited (BSNL) started photography as a hobby in 1997 and displayed 130 photographs during Rajyotsava celebrations in his own telephone exchange at Shankarapuram in Bengaluru. Ever since, he has not looked back and has amassed a massive 2000 photographs of temples from 190 different historical locations. The photographs bring alive the sculpture and craftsmanship of the stone artisans of the bygone era.

The photographs are now on display at “Amruthavarshini” auditorium in Dharmasthala where one can see see these architectural marvels at one place. The photographs showcase wide variety of Shivalingas too and this exhibition is the 40th in the series at Dharmasthala. Panchalinga, Mukhalinga, Decagonal Linga, Octagonal Linga, the idol of Gangadhareshwara, 18 feet tall idol of Chennakeshava and the Shilabalikays are part of the exhibition. Every visitor can glimpse the broad eyes of the statue of Bahubali, the stone work of Itagi and the dancing statues of Shiva.

Most visitors are awestruck and ponder over the glorious past of the state. The information on each photograph is explained at the bottom, to educate the viewer.

On the occasion of Shivarathri, Chakrapani hosts an exhibition titled “Shivadarshana” at some places within the state.

In the last two decades Chakrapani has travelled the length and breadth of the state to exhibit his collection thereby giving opportunity for all to revisit the past glory. Many have asked, did our land have such beautiful temples in the past? He has made efforts in educating visitors about his work and has formed the “Ancient Temple Viewing Hobbyists Union” with the help from BSNL employees. Chakrapani being the general secretary of the union has taken the initiative to take his company’s employees to the places of interest in the state which is well appreciated by all his colleagues.

Recognising his efforts and zeal, Trustee of Dharmasthala Dr. Veerendra Heggade has appointed him as an advisor for his Dharmasthala Dharmothana trust.

The temple wealth has to be prsevered for future generations, says Chakrapani and seeks support from his fan club and all those with similar interests.

The exhibition is open to all till November 14 and the entry is free.

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