Deccan Herald, Tuesday, January 25, 2005


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Deccan Herald » Spectrum » Full Story


A glimpse of the lost grandeur

The legends may compare Balligavi to Lord Indra’s Amaravathi or Lord Kubera’s Alakavathi but reality is quite disappointing. Both the village and the temple are in ruins and not what it used to be, RAGHAVENDRA CHANDRAGUTTI tells us.

Time and zero-maintenance have taken their toll. The temple is no longer in the condition that it used to be. But the divine grandeur of the sculptures can still be seen and felt. The statues kept in the museum here help us picture the ancient luxury. Also called the Dakshina Kedara is 21 kms north east of Shikaripur town in Shimoga district.

Balligavi of the past had 13 education centres, 54 temples,12 Jain basadis, 3 boudha viharas and many majestic palaces, ports, lakes, wide roads and about 60 thousand dwellers. According to the inscriptions, it had many names like Valliggame, Valligrame, Balipura, Balligame and Balligave. It was also a centre for commerce and education in the ancient days.

According to legends this place used to be the capital of the Asura King Bali and was called as Balipura. The Pandavas are said to have installed the Panchalinga here during the Rajasuya Yaga that they performed. The Panchalingeshwara Temple supports the legend.

Many archeological evidences and inscriptions say that the place can be dated back to the period of Shatavahanas. The Chaturmukha Linga here is of the Shatavahana-Kadamba style. Another inscription belonging to the period of Badami Chalukyas dating to 685-86 has mentioned it.

Golden age
However the Golden Age of Balligavi was in the time of Kalyana Chalukyas, who ruled it nearly for two hundred years. Balligavi was the centre for many religions as denoted by the various statues in the museum. Religions like Shaiva, Brahmi, Shaktha, Jaina, Boudha and Vaishnava were all encouraged and were wide-spread during this time. At the heart of Balligavi is the Kedareshwara temple in the Chalukyan style. The Trikuta temple is constructed in the southern part of the Tavaregere pond.

Kedareshwara Temple has two Hoysala emblems added by Hoysala King Vijayaditya later in 1060. Balligavi was the birthplace of Natyarani Shantala. After marrying her the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana built many temples at Halebidu, with the sculptors like Dasoja, Malloja, Nadoja, Siddoja who were also from Balligavi.

This temple has in the sanctum sanctorum a Kedareshwara Linga made by Krishnashila (Black marble), which is worshiped here. To the south of it is another linga called Brahma, and to the north is the statue of Janardhana. The temple has three summits of which one is bigger than the other two. Here summits are richly illustrated with the statues of Tandaveshwara, Uma Maheshwara, Varaha, Bhairava and many other gods. All these sculptures give the indications of the artistic greatness of Chalukyas.
A museum is constructed in the vicinity of the temple in which the statues and inscriptions found in and near the village are kept on display. Many statues including Anantashayana, Shanmuga, Mahishasuramardhini, Tirthankaras like Shantinatha, Parshvanatha and Mahaveera, Saptamatrikeyaru among others. The statue of Boudha goddess Tara Bhagavathi, is rare and the only one in the whole State says the caretaker of the temple Chandra Shekhara.

There is another temple called Tripiurantaka Temple in the village which was constructed in 1070 AD. Many shivasharanas are associated with this place. Balligavi is the birthplace of Allama Prabhudeva, a seer of the 12th century. Other shivasharanas like Akka Mahadevi, Animishayya and Mukthayakka are also associated with this place.

This place is a treasure house but the bounty hunters are missing.

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