This is second part of the Shimoga Trip. In this part I am writing about the fine temples of Keladi and Ikkeri. Keladi and Ikkeri were under the regime of Nayaka Dynasty. Nayakas of Keladi were an important ruling dynasty of post-medieval Karnataka, India. They initially started to rule as a feudatory of the Vijayanagar Empire. After the fall of the empire in 1565, they gained independence and ruled significant parts of Karnataka including Shimoga.
Art and Architecture
The temples were built in Dravida style of Architecture (a perfect blend of Kadamba, Hoysala and Vijayanagara). They used granite for the constructions. The Aghoreshwara temple at Ikkeri and the Rameshwara temple at Keladi are the best examples of the Nayakas’ art.
This magnificent temple is in Ikkeri, capital of the Keladi Nayakas situated 3 Kms from Sagara, Shimoga district. Ikkeri in Kannada means two streets. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Aghoreswara means ”the lord of 14th night of the darker half of Hindu month of Bhadrapada” . This unique temple is built in using laterite material, which is abundantly found in this part of the world. The architecture of the temple is in blend of Hoysala and Vijayanagara style.
The statue of Nandi which is located in front of the temple is an example excellent work of sculpture. The Nandi resides in the Mantap which is decorated with artistic stone engravings. The temple is a huge structure with the three gates, one is the main gate at front, and other two are in the left and right side of the temple. The original deity of the temple which had 32 hands is revered as an innovative creation. The idol was destroyed during the attack of Sultans of Bijapur. Lamps and other damaged structures indicate that the idol was over 10 feet in height.Only the ornate pedestal on which the deity was placed remains now and a Shiva lingam has been erected on it. On the either side of the shrine, there are broken idols of various gods and goddesses. Beside the main temple, there is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Akilandeshwari. Both temple’s ceilings are adorned with intricate carvings.
The temple is popularly known as Keladi Rameshwara Temple. The shrine has three deities, Devi Parvathi, Lord Rameshwara and Lord Veerabhadra. The temple was built by Chowdappa Nayaka. The temple is in dravidian style of architecture influenced by Kadamba and Hoysala style. The roofs and pillars of the temple is made out of carved wood.
The stone sculpture of Ganda Berunda on the ceiling of the Veerabhadra temple is exquisite.(It is used as logo for Karnataka Road Transport Corp. KSRTC) It is a depiction of a two-headed garuda (a mythical bird) holding lions with its beak and elephants with its claws. This dwajasthambam is said to be erected during the regime of Keladi Chennamma. Temple has a museum in which many ancient artefacts are carefully preserved. It has the collection of rare artifacts like swords, combs, manuscripts, coins and brass idols.
I also visited small village called Varadahalli. Its where Shree Shridar Swamiji attained the Moksha or Nirvana (Divine bliss). The place is 6 km from Sagar. Its been said that this divine place in Western ghats was the chosen place of Maharshi Agastya and Veda Vyas to do Sadhana thousands of years ago.
The journey was incomplete as there was time constraint. I had only two days of time to visit Shimoga. Anyways there is always ‘next time’ to explore more places.