Gadag is home to some of the most beautiful temples replete with amazing architecture, built during the Kalyani Chalukyas. Plan was made specifically for Lakkundi stepwell, which lies in the Gadag District.
This District itself is very huge with five talukas. I planned for places closer to main Gadag Taluka. It was made by keeping in mind any weekend with one additional leave. So, Plan was put into action during the Ganesh Festival Weekend, which fell on Friday, adding the coming Saturday & Sunday, we booked the ticket and were ready to go. My friend Kaveri, who accompanies me in most of my trip, joined me on this Architectural wonder trip.
We left for Gadag on Thursday night, boarding the CST-Gadag Express from Thane. I had reached earlier than the actual time, since, I left directly from Office at 5:30 PM. Kaveri joined me by 08:30 PM. There were few more girls in our compartment who were going to their hometown, Gadag, for vacation. They were bit surprised to see us, going to Gadag for sightseeing, especially, when they were unaware of places around.
We reached Gadag in the afternoon at 11:00 am. There was checking at the Railway Station exit, we showed our RT PCR reports, got out and took the auto. Offcourse, touristy appearance means they will charge more. I had zeroed in on Hotel Vishwa, after going through the reviews, found it to be good. The distance was hardly around 1.7 kms, yet the auto driver quoted Rs. 100. We decided to walk, he came running and agreed to drop us at Rs. 80. We knew it was higher than usual but decided to go along, to save ourselves from the harsh afternoon sun.
We checked in, ordered the lunch from in-house restaurant, booked an auto for Rs. 350/- for Gadag sightseeing which included the Trikuteshwar Temple Complex, Rameshwar Temple, Someshwar Temple & Veernarayan Temple.
Our first visit was Trikuteshwar Temple Complex:
Trikuteshwar Temple was built by the Kalyani Chalukyas Rulers during 11th-century. Trikuteshwara means three lingams. The temple was closed by the local priest, to be opened in the evening by 05:00 PM. It was 02:00 PM, we went around the Complex. The outer wall of the Vimana is carved with sculptures of God, Goddess & demi-gods displaying exquisite craftsmanship.
Before embarking on this trip I had read about this temple. The eastern doorway has Gaja-Lakshmi with four elephants on its lintel. The sanctum has three Shiva-lingas set upon a single peetha. This is probably the reason why the God is referred as Trikuteshvara (the Lord of three Mountains). Three lingas surrounding this region were on the three different mountains, Kaleshvara, Srisailam and Bheemshvara. These three mountains also constitute the Trikuteshvara concept of Lord Shiva. The interior of the temple is very simple and devoid of any decoration. Unfortunately, I had to miss all this. I decided to visit this beautiful temple again in future, while visiting the other talukas through Gadag.
There is one more ornately carved Saraswati Temple in the Trikuteshwara, known for ancient Chalukyan art. This temple has elaborately decorated pillars and beautifully carved porches and columns.
As per historians, some of the best works of the Chalukyan style are seen in this temple. I think the picture speaks thousand words about it’s design.
Due to the exquisite carvings present here, Saraswathi Temple is counted amongst the must-visit sites of Gadag. During the wars with the Bahmani Sultans in ancient period, the statue of Saraswati was damaged, hence no offering is made here. This sculpture is considered as biggest sculptures of the Chalukyan period and among rare temples dedicated to Goddess of Learning.
Apart from Saraswathi Temple, there are several other temples located within the complex.
The Saraswati temple faces north and comprises of an Antarala and an open Mandapa. Mandapa is supported by Pillars and half Pillars. The Pillars at the either side of the entrance is extensively decorated with minute details.
The Garbhagriha doorway has five bands running over it with Gajalakshmi over the lintel. Inside the Garbagriha there is a beautiful large Saraswati statue in a sitting pose over a pedestal.
We left Trikuteshwara Temple to visit the Veernarayana Temple. We were bit disappointed with the painted gopuram and completely renovated temple structure. There was a huge banyan tree in the complex with heavy breeze flowing across. The temple was closed, the spaces between the pillars was filled by walled structure.
I suppose, it was an open mandapam in earlier days. This is a main temple in Gadag, with locals taking care of it. There was no ASI mark around. Daily Pujas take place in the morning and evening. It was built during the Kalyani Chalukya reign receiving continuous patronage till Vijayanagara Rulers. As per the history, 15th Century, Kannada Poet Kumara Vyasa wrote the scriptures by sitting in front of Vishnu Idol, located in the Garbagriha of this temple. There is a pillar inside the Mandapa called the VyasaStambha dedicated to him. Legend has it that an elderly Brahmin narrated the story of Mahabharata to Kumara Vyasa in this temple. The Brahmin later revealed himself to be Ashwathama, and thus could recount only the first 10 Parvas of the Mahabharata. Thus, Kumara Vyasa writes only these Parvas.
We didn’t bother to stay back, since the breeze was refreshing, we sat for some time. We moved further to Rameshwara Temple. Another disappointment, Locals have encroached it from all sides, it was bit difficult to locate it, but being right opposite to the Someshwar temple, which is under ASI protection, anyone can locate Rameshwar Temple. Totally in ruins, with grass and other foliage growing all over it, who knows, maybe in few years, it will stop to exist. It has a vimana and closed mandapa.
In comparision to the Rameshwar Temple, Someshwar temple was much preserved and protected. The temple is simple, consisting of a garbha-griha, antarala, a mandapa with two entrance, on south and east. Both the door are intricately carved with repeating bands and Gajalaxmi over the Lintel. The Garbagriha has Shiva Linga and there is a decorated Nandi opposite to it.
Just like trikuteshwara temple, here too, there are many inscriptions inscribed on the stone, which the historians have deciphered, some mention transfer of land, money for the temple.
We came back to the hotel, rested for a while. We decided to explore the surroundings for the dinner. We saw one hotel, had dinner and came back to hotel, calling it a day.
I booked a car for next day’s trip to other parts of Gadag. I had planned to cover the Lakkundi, Dambal, Itagi, Kuknoor, winding up the trip at Naregal, hectic trip, thought to be doable.