An architectural delight

Nuggehalli Lakshminarasimha Temple

A short detour from the Bengaluru — Mangaluru highway before Channarayapatna will take you to Nuggihalli. Now a nondescript village, Nuggihalli has a rich history. According to an inscription, the Cholas built a Jayagondeswara Temple to which even the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana gave grants in 1121 AD. The whereabouts of this temple are unknown today though there is some hope as the villagers say that the remains of a Shiva temple have been discovered recently and efforts are being made to restore it. 

What is present today in its full glory is the Lakshminarasimha Temple. The temple records state that it was built by Bommanna Danda Nayaka during the reign of the Hoysala ruler Someshwara in 1246 and it predates the temple at Somanathapura by two decades. Nuggihalli was then called as Vijaya Somanathapura.  

The Lakshminarasimha Temple is adorned with sculptures and the quality of the sculptures found here is considered among the best. The temple has a usual trikuta plan, a hall leading to three shrines in three directions. Originally only the central shrine had a shikhara (tower). The shikharas on the lateral shrines were added later on. The outer walls are adorned with wall images. The southern half of the temple was sculpted by a sculptor named Baichoja while the northern part was sculpted by another sculptor named Mallitamma.

One can notice the difference between the sculptures in the two halves. Even though it is a Vaishnava Temple, there are two impressive wall images of Bhairava and Bhairavi. Below on the wall, there are six friezes of equal width. From top to bottom, they show hamsas (swans), makaras (mythical aquatic monsters), epics and other stories, creepers, horses and elephants in each frieze. The epic frieze shows common as well as many uncommon stories based on the life of Krishna. An interesting detail is the presence of camels in the horse frieze.  

The interiors of the temple are equally impressive. The ceilings are adorned with intricate work. The three shrines have Venugopala, Keshava and Lakshminarasimha as deities. There is an Alwar sannidhi housing Sri Ramanujacharya, which is a later addition. 

Nuggihalli houses another treasure, the Sadashiva Temple situated in the north of the village. It is an ekakuta (single shrine) temple of the Hoysala period with later additions. The exceptional architecture of this temple makes it a treat to the eyes. It was built in the Nagara Hoysala style and is one of the few examples of this type of architecture. The tower is said to be of the bhumija type, usually found in western India, northern Deccan and the Malwa regions. Like most other Hoysala temples, the temple is built on a platform. The sanctum has a large linga and a well-carved Nandi facing it. The Nandi mantapa is a small pillared hall with perforated stone screens to let light into the temple. The ceiling of the navaranga is intricately done. Worth noticing is the doorway to the vestibule which has a detailed makara torana.

Nuggihalli is located on the Tiptur – Channarayapatna road and is about 50 km from Hassan. Do visit this place to gain a better perspective of the different architectural styles of the Hoysalas.

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An architectural delight

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