Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 70


Trikuteshwara Brahma, Shiva and Visnu

Aug 10, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.

The Badami Chalukyas

As mentioned in our opening segment on this Middle Kingdom dynasty, the Badami Chalukyas are so named because they were native residents of the Aihole and Badami region of Karnataka. But over the course of the dynasty's history, their campaigns of expansion took them to many parts of India, from northwest to east.

In our final segments, we will cover a number of places where the Badami Chalukyas made a distinct impact, including Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Orissa. First, however, a final mention of their presence in Karnataka state.

In the middle of the 6th Century, the Chalukya King Pulakesi I made the hill fortress in Badami his center of power. A few hundred years later, having taken power from the Rashtrakutas during the late 9th Century, they Kalyani became their capital city. To this day, Kalyani remains a great center of Chalukya art, with numerous important architectural sites found in the area. Among them are the Kasivisvesvara Temple and the Jain Brahma-Jinalaya, one of the oldest shrines at Lakkundi. A beautiful catur-mukhya murti of Lord Brahmadev resides there.

Eventually, most of the Chalukya temples at Kalyani were either demolished by the Muslim invaders or converted into mosques. By the 12th Century, the Hoysala empire took advantage of the internecine warfare ongoing between the Western Chalukyas and the Kalachuri kingdoms. The Hoysalas took the opportunity to annex areas of present day Karnataka, including the fertile region north of the Kaveri River delta, in what is today the state of Tamil Nadu.

As will be evident in this and the segment to follow, the Badami Chalukyas are often found, associated with places dedicated to the worship of Lord Brahma.

Lord Brahma at Trikuteshwara

Gadag, in the Dharwad region of northern Karnataka, is situated 150 km. due east of Goa. It is home to the Trikuteshwara Temple, an 11th Century trikut, or triple shrine built by the Chalukyas. Gadag is bordered on the north by the Mala Prabha River, on the south by the Tungabhadra River, and is situated directly between Hubli (to the west) and Hampi (to the east).

Gadag is a great centre of Kalyana Chalukya art, but is not a primary destination spot for pilgrims today. Those who visit the temples are usually traveling to see the more famous ruins at Hampi or Hubli, or they have come to Gadag because it is an agricultural center for cotton. Gadag is located 17 kms. from the village of Lakkundi, which has Chalukyan temples of the same era, along with a Jain basti housing an exceptional Brahmadeva murti, mentioned above.

Sri Trikuteshwara Temple

Gadag's most prominent temple is the large Trikuteshwara (Trikut Eshwara), which was designed by the famous Jakanachari and built by the Kalyani Chalukyas. During their rule, some 50 temples were built in the region. Sometime after the temple was originally built, Trikuteshwara was expanded by the Chalukyas into a vast complex. At that time the temple had triple shrines, which some unconfirmed references indicate housed Brahma, Shiva, and Surya.

Trikuteshwara Temple Entrance

Located in the southern part of Gadag village, Trikuteshwara Temple is presently known to be dedicated to Lord Shiva. However, given that Saraswati Devi's shrine adjoins the main temple, and given the antiquity of the original Sataswati deity, it seems likely that the original temple was dedicated to Lord Brahma. The current presiding Deities here are tri-linga of Visnu, Brahma and Shiva. The three lingams, which reside in the east-facing sanctum sanctorum, are mounted on a single stone, similar to the Deities at Trimbakeswar Temple, which we recently visited.

Saraswathi Temple

Adjoining the Trikuteshwara temple is a Saraswati shrine, to the south, and the two share a common hall. The Saraswati temple is beautifully carved, with shining pillars and a porch with impressive carvings. The original deity of Saraswathi Devi became damaged by age and rascals, and a newly carved murti has now been installed in an adjacent shrine. There is also a murti of Adi Shankaracarya here.

Original Saraswathi Deity

Inside the main Trikuteshwara temple, inclined slabs serve as balcony seats, and these are decorated with ornately carved figures, overhung by steeply angled eaves. Inside the hall, the columns have figures arranged in shallow niches.

Saraswathi Temple Columns

Overall, the temple is in quite good repair, the slanting roof and imposing construction make it a very pleasing monument to view. In the back of the temple complex is a tank, called Rudra Theertha, along with a well.

Rudra Theertha

Temple Well

A number of late Chalukya monuments (11th-12th Centuries) in the city help to establish its historic past. These include a temple dedicated to the three Devis – Saraswathi, Gayatri and Sharada – a Veera Narayana temple, and a Rameshwara Temple. In the middle of the city stands the Someshvara Temple which, although now abandoned to ruins, has intricate carvings that are quite well preserved. The great Kannada poet, Kumaravyasa, composed his famous 'Kannada Bharatha' in the Veeranarayana temple.

Trikuteshwara Temple


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