A Trip into the Chalukyan Era

May 17, 2010

Traveling eastwards from Hubli on NH-63, we are transformed into a bygone era. An illustrious period of the Chalukyas wherein many magnificent temples were constructed that remind us of our glorious past.

An early morning start from Hubli enables one to visit all these treasures enroute to Hampi. Our first stop is Annigeri which is also the birth-place of the great Kannada poet Pampa. The Amruteshwara temple at Annigeri is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a perfect example of the artistic excellence which the Chalukyas had way back in the 11th century. The temple is situated right in the middle of the town and has been declared a heritage site by the Government. The road leading to the temple is adorned by stalls which sell offerings and also refreshments. It is ideal to spend a while in this tiny hamlet and watch the peasants get along with their work before we hit the highway and proceed towards Gadag.

Reaching Gadag, which is about 60 kms from Hubli, one finds the hustle and bustle as in any other town. Gadag is the district headquarters and is a town comprising of many temples. The two prominent ones are the Trikuteshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Veernarayana Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara. 

As one enters the town, there are signboards put up by the Karnataka Tourism department which help the traveler locate these beautiful shrines. The Trikuteshwar Temple has three ‘Lingas’ mounted on the same stone. This temple also enshrines the Goddess of learning – Saraswati. 

It is also yet another perfect example of the Chalukyan architecture, the enchanting stone pillars in the temple which are neatly carved, herald the glorious past of which we are all proud of. At the Trikuteshwar Temple, ‘poojas’ are conducted to the presiding deity who is Lord Shiva. There is no pooja done at the Saraswati Temple as it was vandalized. A visit to this temple is bound to leave one spell-bound.

We next visit the Veernarayana Swamy Temple. The imposing ‘Gopuram’ of the temple is ivory coloured and is a sight to behold. Legend goes to say that Naranappa, a peasant, narrated the epic of Lord Venkateshwara and he drew inspiration to do so only if he sat before the Lord in a holy posture.

There is also a garden of saint Raghavendra Swamy in the temple premises.

After visiting the Veernarayana Swamy Temple, it is advisable to relax for a while and break for lunch as Gadag is a major town and there are plenty of eateries where food as per one’s choice is available.

Our next stop is Dambal. To reach there one must deviate from NH-63 and take the road which leads towards Mundargi. Dambal is about 20 kms from Gadag. The Dodda-Basappa temple at Dambal is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple, as its name suggests, has a beautiful monolithic statue of a bull right in front of the presiding deity. 
The temple, also a perfect example of Chalukyan architecture, is unique as it has a star-shaped plan for its ‘Vimana’. Each of these is divided into four 22.5 degree angles and is again covered with intricate carvings.

As one enters Dambal one is greeted by this marvelous piece of architecture. The temple is also a heritage monument. A lush lawn and garden is maintained by the department. After visiting the Dodda-Basappa Temple, one needs to return back to the highway NH-63 and then proceed eastwards towards Lakkundi.

Lakkundi is about 11 kms from Gadag and is a small village which comprises of ruined temples. There are close to 50 temples which are in a ruined state. There is also a well with 101 steps called the Kalyani or ‘Pushkarni. Among the ruins, the Kashivishvesvara Temple stands out. 

Yet another masterpiece of the Chalukyan architecture, this temple has shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva as well as Lord Surya. The shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva has a ‘Linga’ standing three-feet tall in the sanctum. The shrine dedicated to Lord Surya faces the main shrine which is that of Lord Shiva. 

The intricate carvings in the temple depict the various gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology. Lakkundi is also famous for its Jain ‘Bastis’ and there is also a museum which comprises of findings from excavations. Lakkundi can be very truly described as a place towards which archaeologists gravitate. 
A drive around the ruins leads to the well with 101 steps, which was used to fetch water during the Chalukyan era.

After spending a couple of hours at Lakkundi we proceed on NH-63 towards Itagi, our final stop before we reach Hampi.

To reach Itagi, we need to turn left at a village called Kuknur. A 7 km drive along the countryside, and one is welcomed by the imposing sight of the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva has one of the best carved stone pillars and is declared a heritage monument by the tourism department. 

The carvings are done on granite and the sight of these pillars leaves one speechless. There is a huge pond in front of the temple. It is learnt that the Amruteshwara Temple at Annigeri was used as a prototype in the construction of the Mahadeva Temple. The main sanctum in the temple comprises a ‘Linga’ of Lord Shiva and is surrounded by thirteen minor shrines each with its own Linga. 

The temple got its name from the Chalukyan general Mahadev who was a commander in the army of western Chalukyan king Vikramaditya VI. The temple also has shrines dedicated to the parents of Mahadeva.

When we set out on this journey, little did we expect that we would visit places which are of so much prominence and with so much cultural vibrancy. As the sun went down, we proceeded towards Hampi which is about 60 kms. Driving along, we realized the true treasures we posses and the importance to preserve them for the generations to come.

By Akshata Dubey - Bangalore
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Comment on this article

  • Kiran Naik, Pune

    Thu, Nov 15 2012

    Quite informative. Had been to Badami, Banshankari, Mahakuta, Pattadakal, Aihole and Kudal Sangam which was a marvelous experience, which changed the thought process of stating to friends 'We are 200 years behind the developed world', instead now I am forced to convey that 'Our civilisation and we are 1600 years ahead of the World.' Pattadakal was an "Heavenly Experience". The above information shall help me explore the mouments when I travel to Hampi. Keep writing about this unknown world.

  • Yogesh, Bombay

    Tue, Sep 04 2012

    Well-written with good photos!!! These are lesser known places. If these are so intricate sculpture. how grand would be Badaami, Aiholey, Pattadakallu...the famous places of Chalukya empire...we can imagine !!!Chalukyas and Rashtrakootas were contemporaries of Chalukyas reingning in South india and Rashtrakutas in North india.

  • Vinod John, Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 10 2010

    Nice aricle... Have read of all the places in our social studies text book.. Never appreciated all those back then. I wish the schools arranged trips to these places. I believe the social studies will be better then.

  • Pritam Mishra, pune

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Thanks for sharing and adding knowledge about historical places that we only hear from our freinds, collegue, relatives.Thanks for beliving and showing that Indian Science & Architecture was more developed and advance than present day.Enjoy your next tour and please keep us d about knowledge that you receive.Very very very much thank you once again

  • Sanjeev Huealikoppi, Bangalore

    Sun, May 23 2010

    Narrative article and Superb pictures. I expect more of such artcles in future. Keep it up

  • Pavan, Pune

    Fri, May 21 2010

    Excellent Pictures and its description. I was trying to corelate the Pictures with its description and wish I would have been there to feel the actual Beauty of these Temples in all dimensions viz. physical & spiritual.

    My best wishes to you for the future tours that you wish to accomplish.

    Keep Rocking....

  • Rammohan, Puttur

    Thu, May 20 2010

    Good article and good pictures.

  • Roshan, manga lore, Dubai

    Thu, May 20 2010

    Good article and picture , We went with our family along with children i think Belur and Halebidu its totaly some volgur sclpture it fully against our culture . our children asking what is that unwanted adultery sclptures their we sudenly came out from their without answering our children. when we go with the family very careful about this type of ancinent scenes. i wanted to visit the chalukya sculptor it will be very atractive.

  • Lancelot N Tauro, Mangalore/Doha Qatar

    Thu, May 20 2010

    Beautiful stones curves cuttings with article. Thanks to Writer.

  • VNayak, Mangalore/Germany

    Wed, May 19 2010

    Dear Francis Sirur,

    Yes,Chalukyan Empire is much older than Hoysalas (7th or 8th Century onwards). It is also one of the three greatest South Indian Empires along with Cholas and Vijaynagar.Pandyas,Pallavas,Hoysals etc come in the next tier in terms of greatness.


    Wed, May 19 2010

    Infact, I was planning to visit these places. Nice information and pictures.I like the ancient architecture.Thanks to akshatha.

  • Philip Monteiro, Varkady. Mangalore, Saudi Arabia

    Wed, May 19 2010

    Congratulation. Good Article, Great Photography,I heard about this Place but never go.this article inspite me visit this pla ce. once again congratulation, great.. thank you

  • Philip Monteiro, Varkady. Mangalore, Saudi Arabia

    Wed, May 19 2010

    Congratulation. Good Article, Great Photography,I heard about this Place but never go.this article inspite me visit this place. once again congratulation, great.. thank you

  • Amit.s, Hubli

    Wed, May 19 2010

    Great photography, very good article, inspite me staying so close to this place i didnt knew about this rich monuments & heritage, i really liked your representation & most of all your photography, do keep on visiting new places in future & post wonderful articles like this

  • Anil Dsouza, Halealve/Cardiff

    Tue, May 18 2010

    I was awestruck by photographs.Congrats for the write up too.Keep travelling. I would love to read n look at th ephotos of YAANA through your camera :)

  • Prashant Sanikop, HUBLI/DUBAI

    Tue, May 18 2010

    Beautiful pictures and nice article
    keep going on keep it up.

  • Francis Sirur, Bijai

    Tue, May 18 2010

    Dear Akshata,

    Appreciate your efffort. It would help to udpdate the timeline in an historical perspective - when all of this splendor was achieved. Like Belur is reportedly in 1117. Did the Chalukyas precede or follow the Hoysalas.

  • Vasant Raj, Udupi/Abudhabi

    Tue, May 18 2010

    Very beautiful pictures taken, show more close pictures on the above Golden Age Temples constructed by the Chalukyas....

  • VNayak, Mangalore/Germany

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Great to read. I am surprised however not to read anything about thze greatest of the Chalukyan temples and monuments in that area in Badami,Aihole and Padakkal.

  • Chamaraja Rao, Mangalore, Las Vegas, USA

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Informative article describes the splendor ot Chalukya art in sculptor. Glad to know it is a heritage site.

  • John Pinto, Chickmagalur/ Qatar

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Congratulations , excellent photoes, You might have a very good camera , It is almost impossible to create such beautiful carvings though , in modern times we can built one mile tower.

  • RDM, Udayvara, Sharjah

    Mon, May 17 2010

    We do not know how to market , We have a million tourist attractions

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Greatindeed.Indian treasures one must appreaciate and adore. Can any one dream about this architecture today? I have my doubts. Is our government doing enough to preserve these ancient masterpieces?

  • Loy Dsouza, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Wonderful peice of architecture and great heritage.really tempting to visit these sites.

  • Chris, Dubai

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Nice One. Nice Article, Nice Picures and Nice Writer too.

  • ali, panajim/dubai

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Very nice pictures, Very good article

  • siddarth, mangalore

    Mon, May 17 2010

    Golden Age !!! this can never happen now . We have lost all our skills and knowlege some where at present . BEAUTIFUL ARTICLE Akshata

  • Vijay, Bangalore

    Sun, May 16 2010

    Nice article. Thank you.

  • Jaimini P.B., Manipal,Sharjah

    Sun, May 16 2010


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