The two jewels of Nadakalasi

The two jewels of Nadakalasi

The two jewels of Nadakalasi

Among the many dynasties and sovereigns that ruled Karnataka through the annals of its history, one of the most prominent are the Hoysalas. Beginning from humble origins around the 10th century AD, they started out as the feudatories of Kalyani Chalukyas before firmly establishing themselves as one of the most powerful empires in entire South India.

However, what sets them apart from  other sovereigns is their contribution to the world of art, music, dance and architecture. Nurtured under their royal patronage, many sculptors contributed to the development and construction of temples that ultimately culminated in an architectural style of its own. The Mallikarjuna and Rameshwara temples located in Nadakalasi, a small hamlet near Sagara, Shivamogga district, are good examples of the Hoysala style of architecture.

Kalasi or Nadakalasi was a flourishing town during the reign of the Hoysalas and was regarded as the epitome of civilisation. The decline of the Hoysalas reduced it to a state of oblivion. Although off the tourist circuit, these two jewels of Hoysala architecture enthrall visitors with their resplendent charm.

The Mallikarjuna and Rameshwara temples were built around 1218 AD by Baleyana Vergade, the king of Kundanad and supposedly the subsidiary of the Hoysalas. Both the temples are sculpted in the non-ornate style of Hoysala architecture and are located side by side in a single compound.

The Mallikarjuna Temple, the larger of the two, is built on a dodecahedron shaped square platform and houses a sanctum sanctorum, sukanasi and mukhamantapa. The mukhamantapa has entrances from north, east and west, and houses pillars that are well-polished, lathe-turned and fluted. Inside the niches of the mukhamantapa are beautifully carved sculptures of the Saptamatrikas, Ganesha, Mahishamardhini and Umamaheshwara in the Hoysala style. The sanctum sanctorum has a beautiful carved flat-topped linga. The shikhara interestingly follows the Nagara style of the Kadambas.

Rameshwara Temple, located on the south side of Mallikarjuna Temple, is also known as Sadashiva Temple. Following an oblong design, the temple includes a sanctum sanctorum that is directly connected to a navaranga and is conspicuously absent of a mukhamantapa and sukanasi. The temple also has a narrow circumambulation path or the pradakshinapatha that makes for an interesting observation as this is very rare and atypical of Hoysala architectural style.

The pillars of navaranga too are well polished and possess finely lathed structures. The sanctum sanctorum houses a Shivalinga. The shikhara has the prominent Hoysala emblem sitting atop a resplendent Nataraja statue. One can also find several stone epigraphs describing the grants awarded for the shrine’s construction. A nagarakatte is also found inside the compound.

How to get there
Nadakalasi is about eight km from Sagara. Travelling on the Soraba road from Sagara, one reaches a hand post situated on the right that indicates the direction towards Nadakalasi. After turning right here and travelling for about two to three km, one can reach the temple premises.