Lesser known temples of North Karnataka II

April 3, 2010

During my last visit to North Karnataka region, I covered a few beautiful temples in Hubli-Dharwad and Gadag districts. Here are a few more jewels from the Haveri district of Karnataka.

Most of my visits to my in-laws place in Sonda have been extremely fruitful. Over the last few years, I have mostly seen all the places of interest around Sonda and Sirsi region. So these days, I am exploring some of the old temples in the North Karnataka region. During my last visit, I could not see the temples of Haveri district due to time constraint. This time I was all set with the required information and the necessary permission for photography from ASI.

I had booked a Maruti Omni for travel, however not many in the house were ready to accompany me, thanks to the harsh Sun. In this hot weather of mid march, it needs a bit of motivation to venture intosuch unknown, rarely visited temples! Finally it was me, my wife and other two kids.

Here is a list of temples in the order I visited this time:

As last time, I won’t dwell into the architectural details of the temples as these are covered in the wikipedia links I have provided with each of these temples and also I am not qualified to explain that 🙂

Tarakeshwara temple, Hangal

Hangal is at a distance of around 60km from Sonda towards Haveri.  As you enter Hangal, there are Karnataka Tourism’s sign boards to guide you to the temple. As is norm with any of such temples in Karnataka, to reach Tarakeshwara temple, one has to negotiate quite a stretch of narrow winding roads amidst human settlements to reach the temple. From the entrance of the temple, the complete temple is not visible and it looks like a normal temple. But once inside the temple premises, the grandeur of the temple becomes evident.

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The temple is huge with many decorated pillars. The main attraction is the delicately decorated huge ceiling.

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The are attractive carvings inside the temple.

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The work on the exterior of the temple is grand and noteworthy.

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There is a small Ganesha temple with a Nagara style Gopura near the entrance of Tarakeshwara temple.

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Billeshwara temple, Hangal

Billeshwara temple is located opposite to a lake (Anekere) on the Hangal-Bankapur Highway (SH1).

This mostly looks like an abandoned temple and partly destroyed.

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The Shiva Linga is unsually big.

The decorations on the temple entrance are interesting.

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Jain temple, Hangal

There is a Jain temple inside the fort area and in the Horticulture department premises near the Hangal bus stand. But it took some effort to locate this temple as locals hardly remembered about this, given that it is inside the Horticulture department premises whose entrance mainly remains locked.

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The temple is mostly in dilapidated condition and would do good with some restoration.

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Nageshwara temple, Bankapur

Bankapur is around 25km from Hangal and is more famous for the Peacock sanctuary. Nageshwara temple is located inside the sanctuary.

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The temple was undergoing restoration and was closed when we visited, but thanks to the ASI official, we got permission to enter.

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The temple is big with many pillars. The style of the ceiling reminds us about the ceiling of Hangal’s Tarakeshwara temple.

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The entrance of the Garba Griha is well decorated.

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There are beautiful carvings on the exterior walls of the temples.

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Curiously a miniature coffin-like structure with Urdu inscriptions can be found in the temple premises!

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Siddeshwara temple, Haveri

Siddeshwara temple is located in the Agadi road in the Haveri town itself.

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The temple is attractive with richly decorated Gopura.

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Unlike other temples in the region, this temple is devoid of any adjoining human settlements and ASI has done a good job of maintaining the huge temple complex.

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Muktheshwara temple, Choudayyadanapura

Choudayyadanapura is a village located roughly around 40km from Haveri town. Since I wasn’t carrying any map, it took some effort to find the directions to this temple. From Haveri town, proceed on the road to Agadi and after around 25km, take a right deviation into Ranebennur road to reach Choudayyadanapura.

Muktheshwara temple is located on the banks of River Tungabhadra.

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Temple is fairly big and has attractive exterior. Temple entrance, temple exterior and Gopura are well decorated.

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There is Someshwara temple in Haralahalli village somewhere around this area, but nobody was able to give us right directions to Haralahalli.

Mallikarjuna temple, Kurvatti

Kuruvatti village is around 15km from Choudayyadanapura and one has to cross Mylara village (which is known for its Mylara lingeshwara temple).

Again it took some effort to locate this temple because this temple is located adjacent to a Hanuman temple which is frequented by devotees more. I had reached this temple on the day when there was some festival celebrations in the Hanuman temple and hence there were hundreds of people around. I was probably only person there who had come to visit the Mallikarjuna temple instead of the Hanuman temple! A couple of failed inquiries, one person confirmed that Mallikarjuna temple is indeed present here and I have come to the right place.

The temple is beautiful, but the Gopura has lost its original beauty since it has been painted.

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There are some exquisite carvings in the temple entrance.

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The top portion of the Garbha Griha has some elaborate carvings.

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Galageshwara temple, Galaganatha

To reach Galaganatha village from Haveri town, proceed on the Agadi road and reach till Guttal (25km). From Guttal, Galaganatha is around 15km.

The pain of travelling in the midday sun was all forgotten when we landed at the Galageshwara temple which is located on the banks of Tungabhadra river.

This temple is very different from other temples of the area since the Gopura seems like raising from the ground!

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This temple is worth visiting anytime for its uniqueness.

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After visiting all these architecturally wonderful temples of the North Karnataka region, one wonders why they aren’t in the tourist circuit of Karnataka. When it comes to temples of Karnataka, we hear mainly Hampi, Belur, Somanathapura, Badami and Pattadakal. There are so many jewels like these which are waiting to be explored.

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Lesser known temples of North Karnataka

October 19, 2009

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

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
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Decorated window, Unkal
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Nandi on the temple wall, Unkal
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Natya Ganapa, Unkal
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Banashankari Temple, Amargol, Hubli

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
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Pillar of Amargol temple
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Amruteshwara Temple, Annigeri

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
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Decorated wall of Annigeri temple
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Ganesha on the temple wall, Annigeri
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Trikuteshwara Temple, Gadag

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
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Pillar of Trikuteshwara temple
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Trikuteshwara temple, Gadag
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Temples of Lakkundi, 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
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The Kashi Vishweshwara and Surya Narayana temples face each other. The entrance to these temples have very delicate decorations.

Surya Narayana temple, Lakkundi
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Kashi Vishweshwara temple, Lakkundi
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Pillar of Kashivishweshwara temple
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Decorated entrance of Kashivishweshwara temple
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Adjancent to Kashi Vishweshwara temple is present the Naneeshwara temple.

Naneeshwara temple, Lakkundi
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A couple of hundred meters from Naneeshwara temple,  a museum and a Jain Basadi are present.

Jain Basadi, Lakkundi
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Jain Basadi, Lakkundi
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An idol in Jain Basadi
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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.

Kalyani, Lakkundi
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Kalyani, Lakkundi
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Dodda Basappa Temple, Dambala, Gadag

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
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Gopura of Dodda Basappa temple
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There is a small Someshwara temple just opposite to Dodda Basappa temple.

Someshwara Temple, Lakshmeshwar, Gadag

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
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Someshwara temple, Lakshmeshwara
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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.