There are several Hoysala temples scattered all over the state of Karnataka. Many have gone into ruins but there are many, still standing strong, radiating its glory. It requires a dedicated trip of many days to cover these Hoysala Temples dotting the map of Karnataka. I have not been able to make that dedicated trip yet, but I have been visiting these temples during my short visits to different parts of Karnataka. Couple of weekends back I visited 3 Hoysala Temples on my trip to Chikamagalur. These 3 were at Lakshmi Devi Temple of Doddagaddavalli, Belavadi and Javagal; all can be done on a day trip from Chikamagalur.
These are lesser known Hoysala Temples compared Belur and Halebid Temples, smaller in size and remotely located. The access isn’t difficult, but the final part, the last couple of kilometers is often through narrow lanes, not even roads. But I am glad I took the effort to trace them out and visit them, a great sense of satisfaction lingers on after the visit.
Lakshmi Devi Temple of Doddagaddavalli
In this post I have the Lakshmi Devi Temple of Doddagaddavalli, Hassan district of Karnataka. I had the good fortune to visit this temple twice within a span of two days. The pujari here made me visit the temple twice. I have given the story in the end of the post.
Doddagaddavalli is a typical village untouched by the modern infrastructure of cities. The houses look bright and lively. This Temple is their pride. You halt at any place in the village, they know you have come to see the temple and give directions even without being asked. If you pause for some more time, they will ask: yaavu uruu… meaning… you are from which place?
The main landmark is a huge lake besides the temple which was completely dried up when we were there last May. A sturdy boundary wall runs around the temple and inside is very well maintained. (You need to leave your footwear outside).
According to the legends the temple was built in 1114 A.D. by a merchant called Kallahana Rahuta, a merchant or high officer in the Hoysala court. To be precise this temple was constructed under the patronage of Rahuta’s wife Sahaja Devi. This Lakshmi Devi Temple of Doddagaddavalli is believed to be the one of the oldest of all Hoysala Temples. It is definitely in a very good condition considering its age at 10centuries!
After you are inside the complex maintained by Archeological Society of India, you will have to get through a door to get into the temple complex. Pilgrims and devotees go around this complex before entering the temple in clockwise direction. There are 4 small temples at 4 corners of the complex. They were shut. Camera wielding tourists go around capturing the architectural details. I am a combination of both, so with prayers in heart I went clicking and here a few pictures of stone art from that era.
Inside the Temple Complex
The main temple deity is inside the complex. The complex has four shrines with idols of Lakshmi Devi, Kali, Kalabhairaveshwara (a form of Lord Shiva) and Bhoothanatheshwara, in the form of Shiva Linga. The shrine of Kali is at one end of the oblong hall. The other names of this goddess are Aadhi Shakthi, Maha Shakthi, and also called Soumya Kali in somber mood after killing the demon Shumbha Nishumbha. All this was explained by the guide Yogesh.
He kept highlighting the architectural details and sculptures inside the temple with his torch. At the entrance to Kali’s shrine we were taken aback when Yogesh the guide flashed his torch on two human sized skeletons on either side. We were told they are Bhoota and Preta guarding the deity! Naked, life sized, protruding tongue, stooping posture, distinct rib cage, a slain human head in left hand and a sword in right; the image can haunt you! It took me while to compose the shot framing those in poor light there.
The Pujari Refused to Offer Prayers…
Finally I expressed my desire to offer puja at the shrine of Laksmi Devi. To my surprise, the pujari refused. He gave me prasad and kumkum but he said: this temple is very dark as you must have noticed the temple needs a bulb inside. It will be good if you can get one in your next visit. I was taken aback not knowing whether it was an order or a request. My mind raced, when will the next visit be possible? The need is genuine and urgent and I felt I had to do something.
I immediately planned, the day after the next I would be returning to Bangalore from Chikamagalur via the same route. I can definitely make the purchase and hand over the bulb. So, on my return trip I handed over 4 bulbs for the four shrines. Now it was pujari’s turn to be stunned. He politely said:
I had casually mentioned about the need…
I didn’t expect you to take it seriously…
you shouldn’t have spent so much money… and on he went.
Needless to say he was very happy.
After fixing the bulbs I could see him scanning the room and muttering… so much clutter inside I have to clean this place up properly. Earlier he had only one bulb of low wattage which he would keep fixing and re-fixing shrine to shrine for the puja.
Wonder for how many months or years the place hasn’t been lit up properly!