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SEEBI NARASIMHASWAMY TEMPLE

Seebi (Sibi), is a small village, located about 20 kilometres to the north of Tumkur district in Karnataka. Seebi or Sibburu (as it was earlier called) is 24 km south of Sira. Seebi Narasimhaswamy temple in Seebi was built in the 18th century by Nallappa an officer under Haider Ali. The temple is painted with themes of Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Dashavatara.

Tumkur is one of the important industrial districts in Karnataka having a rich historical importance. In 1761, the district came under Haidar Ali, and to his son Tipu in 1774. Sibi also known, as Sibikshetra or Seebi was previously a jungle, where it is believed holy men meditated. It is possible that Tipu Sultan frequented this land for his favourite sport and animal hunting.

The Sibi Narasimha Swamy Temple built during the late 18th century A.D. or early 19th century, is perhaps the only remarkable thing in this place. What sets this temple apart from the others is the bountifully covered by paintings on walls and ceilings. While a majority of the paintings are in a sad state of affairs some still carry the tinge of delicacy and softness, discernible only to shrewd eyes. Paintings, which can be called historical, are very similar to Daria Daulat Bagh paintings in Srirangapatna. These are delineated on the walls and ceiling of the Mahadwara. The painting on the left wall of the gateway is intact and there must have been one panel on the right side of the entrance too, but there is no trace of it to day. This panel too has been effaced to some extant. This side of the Mahadwara is supposed to have undergone some repair work a few years ago, when a portion of the paintings got covered. There is long inscription of which only half remains. The paintings at Sibi also have some interesting factors worth mentioning. The temple itself is a simple structure, but the paintings inside are abundant and in character quite extraordinary. As they are situated on the ceiling, they have been well protected from weather conditions and vandalism.

The Sibi Narasimha Swamy Temple and its paintings belong to a period, which was at a crucial stage, politically. Karnataka had shifted from the rule of a Hindu kingdom to a Muslim dominion. Powerful leaders like Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan stormed over a major portion of south India occupying Karnataka almost fully. It is hence fairly notable that during such a period a Hindu temple with rich paintings was constructed. There also appears to be the patronage of the Muslim rulers and the later Hindu king, Krishnaraja Wodeyar to some extent, as the constructor owed strong allegiance to them. Hence, the art of Sibi is a living tribute to the great love for painting shown by the people of this period. Unlike other states Sibi does not follow a set pattern in its thematic representation and this makes it appealing. While a strong sense of visualisation is evident, usage of contemporary scenes, dress and costume is appealing. The tradition of mural art in Karnataka had travelled a long distance by the time it reached Sibi, taking a receding plane and losing its aesthetic importance becoming decorative and folkish. Consequently, the art of Sibi is not of the refined character that we come across at Hampi or Shravanabelagola, but a few strands of the old style do remain here offering ample scope for study.