North Karnataka region has many architecturally significant and ancient temples. But a typical temple circuit tour to North Karnataka would most probably end at Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal. Here are some lesser known and lesser visited but equally beautiful temples of North Karnataka.
I was at Sirsi during 3rd week of September just before the devastating floods that engulfed North Karnataka region. Since I had a day to spare, I decided to checkout some temples in Dharwad and Gadag districts whose details I picked up from Karantaka Tourism’s handouts and later from wikipedia. Since the wikipedia links for these temples give more information than what I could potentially provide, I am mostly skipping the descriptions of the temples themselves and would only indicate how to reach the place with a few photographs of each of the temples. This is the list of temples that I covered in the order I visited.
- Chandramouleshwara Temple, Unkal, Hubli
- Banashankari Temple, Amargol, Hubli
- Amruteshwara Temple, Annigeri
- Trikuteshwara Temple, Gadag
- Temples of Lakkundi, Gadag
- Dodda Basappa Temple, Dambala, Gadag
- Someshwara Temple, Lakshmeshwar, Gadag
Unkal is located at a distance of around 5km from Hubli town on Hubli-Dharwad road (SH73) towards Dharwad and is close to Unkal circle and Unkal lake. The approach to the temple is horrible and you begin to wonder if you are in the right place when you have to navigate through dirty roads of a slum locality (well almost a slum). But suddenly a well maintained temple becomes visible and appears as a total misfit in the area. ASI has a pretty good job of maintaining the monument in whatever space they could get around the temple.
Chandramouleshwara Temple, Unkal
Decorated window, Unkal
Nandi on the temple wall, Unkal
Natya Ganapa, Unkal
Amargol is located at around 5km from Unkal towards Dharwad on SH73. Similar to Unkal, the temple here is also located in not so good surroundings. It took some effort to Locate the temples of Unkal and Amargol as many locals whom we enquired hardly knew about these temples.
Banashankari temple, Amargol
Pillar of Amargol temple
Annigeri is situated at on NH63 at a distance of around 35km from Hubli towards Gadag. The main temple dedicated to Amruteshwara is very beautiful. I didn’t have time to checkout other temples in this town (Banashankari, Basappa, Gajina Basappa and Hire Hanuman) which are probably not architecturally significant.
Amruteshwara temple, Annigeri
Decorated wall of Annigeri temple
Ganesha on the temple wall, Annigeri
Gadag is situated at around 57km from Hubli on NH63.
The Trikuteshwara temple complex has mainly a temple for Trikuteshwara (which has 3 Lingams representing the Trinity) and Saraswati Temple which has heavily decorated pillars. A visit just to see these pillars is worth anytime. The other temples in Gadag town are the Veeranarayana Temple where the Kannada poet Kumara Vyasa composed the epic Bharata or the Gadugina Bharata
Ornate pillar, Trikuteshwara temple, Gadag
Pillar of Trikuteshwara temple
Trikuteshwara temple, Gadag
Lakkundi is situated at around 70km from Hubli on NH63 and is 12km from Gadag. Lakkundi has so many temples that the locals have put a few of these places of worship to other uses (like imaginatively constructing a house with a temple wall forming one of the walls of the house!)
A house adjacent to a temple in Lakkundi
The Kashi Vishweshwara and Surya Narayana temples face each other. The entrance to these temples have very delicate decorations.
Surya Narayana temple, Lakkundi
Kashi Vishweshwara temple, Lakkundi
Pillar of Kashivishweshwara temple
Decorated entrance of Kashivishweshwara temple
Adjancent to Kashi Vishweshwara temple is present the Naneeshwara temple.
Naneeshwara temple, Lakkundi
A couple of hundred meters from Naneeshwara temple, a museum and a Jain Basadi are present.
Jain Basadi, Lakkundi
Jain Basadi, Lakkundi
An idol in Jain Basadi
On the other side of the highway, Manikeshwara temple is present with an elaborate and stepped Kalyani (pond). In my limited exposure to temples of Karnataka, I would consider this as a unique Kalyani for this style.
If you have reached Lakkundi, you will repent if you return without a visit to the Dodda Basappa temple of Dambala. Dambala is situated at around 10km from Lakkundi. The village road from Lakkundi to Dambala was in a decent condition (well almost decent) during my visit.
The Gopuram of Dodda Basappa temple is simply majestic. The exterior decorations of the temple are also very good. The temple houses a Shiva Linga at one corner and a fairly big Nandi (Basappa) idol at the other end. The platform hosting the Basappa was under rennovation during my visit. It is interesting that this temple is not known as some Ishwara temple, but is known by its Nandi (Basappa).
Dodda Basappa temple, Dambala
Gopura of Dodda Basappa temple
There is a small Someshwara temple just opposite to Dodda Basappa temple.
If you are in Dambala, you have two options: either go back to Gadag/Hubli via Lakkundi or proceed further to visit the temples of Lakshmeshwar and Kundgola and rejoin Hubli. One would need a bit of motivation to choose the latter option given the typical hot climate of North Karnataka and the poorly maintained roads connecting these places. I took the village road from Dambala to Shirhatti (can’t remember the exact distance, must be around 35km) and joined SH6 at Magdi (8km) and reached Lakshmeshwar (13km). Apparantely, Lakshmeshwar is directly connected to Gadag by SH6.
The Someshwara Temple at Lakshmeshwar is a fairly big and beautiful temple where daily worship is still performed.
Someshwara temple, Lakshmeshwara
Someshwara temple, Lakshmeshwara
It took me 2hrs to cover a distance of around 50km from Lakshmeshwar to reach Hubli. These (Dambala to Hubli via Lakshmeshwar) are some of the worst roads I have driven on and they can hardly be called roads. Since it was dark by the time I crossed Kundgol, I couldn’t visit the Shambulinga temple.