A shrine steeped in history

A shrine steeped in history

A shrine steeped in history

Set in the scenic rural environment of Doddagadduvalli in Hassan district, is a lesser-known temple, one of the earliest to be built in the Hoysala architectural style.
Built on the side of a sprawling lake is Lakshmi Devi Temple, a rare Chatushkuta Temple, that has four shrines.

Embedded in the walls of the courtyard are four small shrines placed at the four corners. Each is complete with a shikhara, a sukhanasi (vestibule), a kalasa on the shikhara and a Hoysala crest on the sukhanasi. According to legends, the Temple was built by a merchant named Kullahana Rahuta and his wife Sahaja Devi in 1114 AD under the rule of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana.

Poetry in stone

The Temple complex has two entrances. The one on the east makes its way through a porch while the one on the west opens to the lake. Unlike typical Hoysala temples, this one is not built on a platform. The plan of the temple is different as it has four shrines placed around a common centre. Three of them share a common hall and the fourth one is at the end of an oblong extension thereby providing two entrances to the Temple.

A few feet away from the main structure is the fifth shrine dedicated to Bhairava, an incarnation of lord Shiva. The shrine stands free from the main complex and faces south. It also has a shikhara and a sukhanasi, both of them complete with a kalasa and a Hoysala crest.

Two betalas, more than ten feet tall, guard the northern shrine where goddess Saumya Kali is worshipped. She is depicted in her true form after she killed the demon Shumbha Nishumbha, who lies dead at her feet.

The doorway of the vestibule is lined with five demonic heads. The shrine facing the east , which is the main one, has Lakshmi Devi as its reigning deity. The uniqueness of this idol is its rare posture where goddess Lakshmi is depicted in the standing posture with shankha (conch), chakra (discus), gada (mace) and a japamala (rosary), instead of the usual sitting posture. Between the shrines of Lakshmi and Shiva is the shrine of Vishnu. The shrine facing the west houses  Bhoothanatha linga.

The square shaped navaranga (hall) has a beautiful ceiling with a central projecting panel depicting an intricate sculpture of Tandaveshwara (Shiva in a dancing posture) amidst carvings of the kirtimukhas. The other ceilings have usual Hoysala
motifs and the figures of the ashtadikpalakas. These ceilings are testament to the great craftsmanship of the Hoysala period.

Noteworthy features

The harmony between Vaishnava and Shaiva cult is noteworthy in this Temple. The shrines are in such a way that a Vaishnava shrine is opposite to a Shaiva shrine, contrary to the general belief that Vaishnava shrines face each other and Shaiva shrines face each other. 

Altogether, there are nine towers, crowned with a kalasa and a Hoysala crest. Eight of these towers are of the same kind and are very simple in design. This kind of tower is called phamsana, a common feature in most Karnataka temples. The shrine on the east of the main Temple embodies typical Hoysala style.

Doddagadduvalli is about 16 km away from Hassan on the Hassan-Belur road. The complex is maintained by Archaeological Survey of India. Even though many people throng to Belur and Halebidu, they miss out on the lesser-known, but equally magnificent temples at Doddagadduvalli, Belavadi, Javagallu, Koravangala and Haranhalli.

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