Shimoga's many-pillared palace

Last Updated 20 May 2013, 15:28 IST

Unassuming and desolate are two words which come to one’s mind, while describing Shimoga’s Shivappanayaka Palace. Tucked away in a part of Shimoga town, the main structure looks just like a big house with majestic wooden pillars holding a sloping tiled roof. The ‘palace’ has two levels.

The upper level has two rooms on the either ends, and a balcony in the middle from where the king addressed his ministers. The lower level is just a pillared hall with a door leading to a courtyard which now houses many sculptures.

The Archaeological Survey of India has now ensured there are manicured lawns around the structure; sculptures from Nagara, Bekal and Keladi bedeck the lawns. The most interesting among the sculptures is a panel depicting the story of the woman who had left her sleeping baby in the care of her pet mongoose. She came back home to find the mongoose stained with blood. She immediately thrashed the mongoose to death thinking that it had killed her baby only to find that the mongoose had protected the sleeping baby from a deadly snake.

What is interesting is that this panel dates back to the 12th century but the story it depicts is still around and passes on from every mother to her child.  

Shivappanayaka was one of the greatest rulers among the Nayakas of Keladi. The history of the Nayakas of Keladi is an integral part of the history of Karnataka. They belonged to one of the most prominent feudatory families which rose to power under the Vijayanagara Empire and finally established their own state. They ruled over large parts of modern Karnataka for over 250 years.

Chaudappa was the founder of this dynasty while Shivappanayaka was the most distinguished ruler. He secured complete control over the Canara coast till Kerala, and built forts at Chandragiri, Bekal and Mangalore. His most famous conquest is that of Velapura (Vellore) which is mentioned in ‘Sivatattvaratnakara’, a multi-disciplinary work by Keladi Basavanna.

What struck me the most about Shivappanayaka Palace was its stark resemblance to Tipu’s Palace in Bangalore and Dariya Daulat Bagh in Srirangapatna which is not surprising because it was Hyder Ali who ended the rule of the Nayakas of Keladi in 1763.
Do visit the Shivappanayaka Palace in Shimoga and follow it up with a visit to Keladi and Ikkeri to soak in the heritage of the Nayakas of Keladi.

Ikkeri is just 6 km from Sagara while Keladi is 8 km from Sagara. Sagara is well connected by road and rail from Shimoga.

(Published 20 May 2013, 15:28 IST)

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