Our visit to Badami cave temples, Aihole and Pattadakal in a day's time ended well providing us some comprehensive history lessons. We took a bus in the evening from Badami bus station to Gadag. As the bus rode on the highway via Ron and Betigeri, we stared constantly at the star-studded sky through the translucent windows of the bus. We spotted more stars than ever ; they appeared like a closely knit blanket of precious gemstones. Thanks to the pristine rural skies free from pollution and the near pitch darkness of the countryside, deprived of street/town lights that paved way for this gorgeous sight.
We arrrived at Gadag and planned activities for the last day of our Christmas vacation. Lakkundi, 12 km from Gadag, on the highway to Hosepet was our destination. We reached Gadag's new bus stand in the outskirts of the city next morning and boarded the bus to Koppal (NEKRTC bus service) which would stop at Lakkundi. At Lakkundi, we took some basic instructions from localites at the bus stand on whereabouts of the temples we intended to visit.
Closeby, behind the bus stand is the Manikeshwara temple. Built by the Chalukyas of Kalyani in the 11th century , this temple provides evidence for the remarkable improvement in temple architecture from earlier Chalukyas and the proximity in styles with those used by the Hoysalas. The Manikeshwara temple has smooth, lathe turned pillars with an ornate doorway. A beautiful, stepped tank (Kalyani/Pushkarini) lies in front of the temple, connected to the its plinth by a funny, bridge like structure.
From here, we took an auto and visited the ASI maintained sculptural gallery. Right behind the gallery is the Jain Brahma basadi, another Kalyana Chalukya monument of the 11 th century. The temple is marked by several features such as the lovely shikara, the mukhamantapa with highly decorative pillars and a sloping roof, the sanctum adorned by an elaborately carved doorway, 4-faced Brahma statue right outside the sanctum, a beheaded Jain statue outside the temple next to the smaller, Chandra basadi, all in the same complex. Close to Jain Brahma basadi is the Naganatha temple dedicated to Lord Parswanath.
We marched ahead on the dusty, village road towards Veeranarayana temple, poorly maintained by the villagers/private handlers and then further on to Kashi Viswanatha temple that stands on an elevated platform, the platform also shared by a Suryanarayana temple. The exterior walls of the temple have abundant sculptural wealth with the Kirthimukha piece, at periodic intervals and in perfect symmetry, adding more beauty. Adjacent to this complex, is the Naneshwar temple, bearing striking similarity to the Kashi Viswanatha temple in sculptural value.
The contribution of Chalukyas of Kalyani to Hindu temple architecture was no less when compared to their ancestors, Chalukyas of Badami. The Chalukyas of Badami were crushed by Dantidurga and the powerful empire that lasted over two centuries had no option but to submit to the Rashtrakutas. The Western Chalukyas regained power in Deccan in late 10th century (about 973 AD) with the seat of their kingdom at Kalyana, Bidar (Karnataka) which gave them the sobriquet – later western Chalukyas (10th -12th century) or Chalukyas of Kalyani. Pioneering efforts by Tailapa II and help from Kadambas led to the recovery of many lost territories. This etched a fresh chapter in history– the rebirth of the western Chalukyas. While Kadamabas were granted control over Goa and Banavasi for their favor, Chalukyas of Kalyani controlled the Deccan, protecting it against plundering invasions of Turks and Arabs from the north and in the South, from the Cholas. If Chalukyas of Badami were known for their multiple victories over the Pallava kings, Chalukyas of Kalyani were famous for an unbeaten string of victories over the Chola kings – Raja Raja Chola, (suffered defeat at the hands of Satyasraya), Rajendra Chola (defeated by Jayasimha, this ruler shifted the capital from Malkhed to Kalyana) and Rajadhi Raja Chola (defeated by Someshwara I). While wars with Cholas, Hoysalas and Kalachuris marked the reign of the Chalukyas of Kalyani (973-1190AD) prominently, aegis to art and architecture and refinement of temple building styles also had its share. The temples at Lakkundi, Dambal and Gadag built by Chalukyas of Kalyani provide an imposing evidence of the mammoth task they carried out to advance architecture styles.
We headed back to the bus stand and got back to Gadag. At Gadag, we visited the Veeranarayana temple, entirely refurbished and left with very little historical value; the Someshwara temple, in complete sculptural elegance from head to foot, one cannot spot a square inch area without carvings on it and the Trikuteshwara temple that also houses Goddess Saraswathi.The Trikuteshwara temple complex offers a blend of historical structures with current day extensions. The old Sarawathi temple has an array of very beautifully carved pillars - every design etched stands out crisply. The idol has broken hands and it is not customary to worship/perform puja to broken idols as per Hindu traditions. So a new complex has been built next to the old Sarawathi temple that houses the idols of Saraswathi, Savitri and Gayathri. While the Sarawathi temple (old and new) , adjacent green lawn (some village children were studying here with all concentration) lie on one side, the Trikuteshwara temple lies on the other side. This temple offers a mixture of several styles as it was built by Chalukyas of Kalyani and additions were made by Hoysalas at a later stage. Only a portion of this old temple is open to public and the earlier Suryanarayana sanctum has now been converted into a temple store room.
Dambala, about 20 km away from Gadag has a very beautiful temple - Dodda Basappa temple of 12th Century, built by Western Chalukyas . We could not fit this in our itinerary due to time constraints. Our Christmas vacation was a sheer visual treat. From temples to tombs, from primitive to refined architectural forms, we saw all that Adil shahis at Bijapur, Chalukyas, both early and later kings left for us to see.
And I did realise ... "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page".
Quick Tips :
How to Reach: Frequent buses ply from Badami to Gadag. Gadag is also connect by rail to Badami and Bangalore. Lakkundi and Dambal can be reached by buses from Gadag. Lakkundi can be reached by any bus from Gadag that plies to Koppal/Hosepet. There are Rajhamsa (NWKRTC) executive buses that ply between Gadag and Bangalore.
Where to stay : Hotel Geethanjali residency on Station road. Suites at highly affordable rates.
Very clean, budget hotel.
Food : Geethanjali Residency has an attached vegetarian restaurant, serves yummy South Indian food. My Food is a restaurant that serves good North Indian food.
Don't miss out on Misra Dharwad Peda on Tonga Road - yummy sweets and savories. We devoured Kundah, Karadanth, dharwad Peda, saboo daana chooda, bhakarwadi, besan pakode, yummy malai kulfi.
Places to See:
Trikuteshwara temple, Someshwara temple at Gadag. Take an auto to visit these temples.
Manikeshwara temple, Jain Brahma Basadi, Kashi Viswanatha temple at Lakkundi
Doddabasappa temple at Dambala
Will require an early start and one day to finish visiting all sites. Localites provide all required information of the temples. Guides not required.