The capital of the Kempegowdas

The sleepy town of Magadi, 50 km from Bangalore, was ruled for about 90 years by the descendants of Kempegowda (1510-1570 AD). Founded by Cholas, historic Magadi remained the capital for four generations of Kempegowdas (from 1638 to 1728) beginning with Immadi Kempegowda (also called Magadi Kempegowda) who was forced to shift his capital from Bangalore to Magadi when he lost the war against Adil Shah of Bijapur in 1638.

A neglected town with a rich history, Magadi is well-known for its ruined fort and palace, believed to have been built by Magadi Kempegowda. There are also ancient temples dedicated to Rameshwara, Someshwara, Ranganatha and Yoga Narasimha. Once a fortified town, Magadi is now surrounded by a namesake fort-like structure, which has been ‘under reconstruction’ for the past five years, Inside this area, one can see the badly maintained Rameshwara temple which was built and patronised by successive rulers of Magadi in the early 17th century.

To the west of Magadi, on Kunigal road is the Someshwara temple located at an elevated spot. It is said to be built by Kempa Veerappa Gowda (1705-1728). Spread over 25,000 sq ft, the spacious Someshwara temple has numerous mantapas and an exclusive shrine for goddess Parvathi. 

Eye-catching towers, a high walled outer prakara, the Kempegowda hazara (portico) and artistically sculpted stone pillars are the structural features of the Someshwara temple matching Hoysala and Vijayanagar architectural and sculptural styles. At the rear on an elevated rocky area, stands a small boulder atop which is the shrine of nandi which can be reached by a stone-step walk way.

On the outskirts of Magadi, is a residential locality called Tirumale, a foothill temple housing the town deity, where Magadi Ranganatha can be seen. The deity, according to puranic legends, was installed and worshipped by sage Mandavya, as Tirupati Venkatesha. The west-facing deity of Magadi Ranganatha is also called Paschima Venkatesha.

Standing Ranganatha

Instead of the usual reclining image of Lord Ranganatha, Magadi Ranga is in a standing posture. Behind the presiding deity there is a reclining deity ‘Beliyo Ranga’ believed to be an evergrowing deity. At the temple entrance, there is a large pond where devotees can take a holy dip before offering poojas at the temple.

At Tirumale, also called Swarnadri Parvatha, there is another temple called Kambada Yoga Narasimha temple located atop a 200-ft high hillock with stone steps up to the temple. 

Tirumale Narasimha Betta is believed to be a place for pilgrims with the panchalingas of Kashi Vishveshwara, Someshwara, Kote Rameshwara, Prasanna Rameshwara and Gavi Gangadhareshwara. From atop the Narasimha Betta, one gets a beautiful view of Magadi town and the surrounding areas.

Magadi Kempegowda is said to have established his second capital in Savanadurga where he built a fort atop the rocky hills apart from developing a township, Nelapattana at the foot hills of Savanadurga, originally called Magadi hills. A huge monolith standing 4,050 ft above sea level, Savandurga consists of twin hills – Karigudda and Biligudda. The centuries-old Veerabhadreshwara temple and Narasimha temple are the main attractions of Savandurga.