Architectural marvel in soapstone

Architectural marvel in soapstone

Mahadeva Temple located in Itagi, 28 km away from Koppal, holds historical and architectural significance. The temple complex with a high towered Mahadeva Temple and a cluster of small shrines is built by Mahadeva, a commander (Dandanayaka) of Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI, who ruled Belavalanadu.

It followed the broad design of Amruteshwara Temple in Annigeri near Dharwad, which is said to be the first temple to be built using soapstone, which is abundant in the region. While the architecture of this temple is simillar to that of Annigeri Temple, its articulation is considered to be more sophisticated.

The temple is devoted to lord Shiva and consists of a shrine connected to a closed mantapa (antechamber). The closed mantapa has a doorway on its either
side. While one doorway leads to the sanctorum, the other leads to an open mantapa with 64 pillars. Twenty four pillars are fully constructed, start from the floor and support the ceiling while the others are half pillars. The square ceiling of the open mantapa exhibits distinct stonework.

The east-facing main temple, the sanctum of which has a linga, is surrounded by minor shrines. There are two more shrines, dedicated to Murthinarayana and Chandraleshwari, parents of commander Mahadeva. Some parts of the temple, such as the cornice and parapet over the outer edge of the roof of the open mantapa are missing.

Inscriptions in medieval Kannada on a huge stone adjacent to the temple describe the Chalukyan administrative style, and also has details on the construction of the temple.
One of the inscriptions mentions that the temple was built in 1112 AD and refers to it as Devalaya Chakravarti (emperor among temples). However, this inscription does not reveal much about personal information about Mahadeva Danda-nayaka.

The Mahdeva Temple is considered to be the best work of art with well-executed sculptures and exquisitely carved walls and pillars. This temple, that speaks at great length about the taste of the Chalukyan artisans, is also said to be one of the finest examples of Chalukyan art. The temple was a major religious and cultural centre during Chalukya dynasty.

A pushkarani (pond), built behind the temple, is considered holy, as water from this pond is used for all the rituals of the temple. The vast lake in front of the temple adds to the elegance of its premises.

This temple, which is heralded for its magnificent architectural style and
delicate artwork, is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Though Itagi village has witnessed comprehensive development, owing to ASI initiatives, more development work is required to serve visitors better.

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