Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Tales of History from 'Malenadu' of Karnataka...

Rains, evergreen paddy fields, an overload of fresh air are the words synonymous with 'Malenadu' in Karnataka- an area that covers the slopes of Western Ghats or the Sahyadri mountain ranges that stretch up to 100 kms. Literally meaning 'the land of mountains and rains', Malnad is enriched with dense forest reserve and is origin to many rivers.

Morning scenes from the streets of Malenadu...

While there are many destinations in Malnad area that are very popular with tourists who love nature and trekking such as Kudremukh, Chikmangalore, Mullayanagiri and Sakleshpur, it is a host to many off- beat destinations too.

One such place is Keladi in Sagar taluk of Shimoga district. Keladi is about 8 kms from the town of Sagar and around 45 kms from the well- known Jog falls.

Turning back to history- Keladi was a part of the Vijayanagara Empire in 15th century but it was looked after by the Nayakas of that region. When the Vijayanagara empire disintegrated, Nayakas became independent rulers. They remained so till mid 18th century; finally defeated by Hyder Ali. After their defeat to Hyder Ali, they were absorbed into the Kingdom of Mysore.

Keladi was the first capital of the Nayakas which was later shifted to Ikkeri. The earliest ruler to rule Keladi was Chaudappa Nayaka (or Chaudappa Gowda). It was during his reign that the double temple of Rameshwara and Virabhadra were built. A story goes that two of Cahudappa Gowda's servants- Yadava and Murari discovered that one of their cows had shed her milk on an ant hill digging onto which they found a 'linga'. Because of this Chaudappa Nayaka built the temple.

The temple complex has three temples- Rameshwara, Veerabhadreshwara and Parvati. The temples are built in green-grey stone in Hoysala- Dravidian style. The roof and pillars are made of carved wood. The entrance of the temple has pavilions on both sides supported by wooden pillars. This gives the temple more a 'homely' appearance than that of a temple. The ceilings inside the temple are depicted with carvings of Navagraha, Gandaberunda and Nagamandala.

The pavilion with wooden pillars at the entrance...

The carvings on the exteriors...

A massive 24- feet 'Mahasthamba' or 'Dhwajasthamba' pillar can be found in the backyard of the temple complex. The pillar has depictions on all four sides.

Depiction of Ganesha on one side of Mahasthamba. (Below, Rani Chennamma paying respects with her consorts...)

Keladi was Nayakas' capital only for 14 years, later it was shifted to Ikkeri- about 6 kms south to the town of Sagar. Ikkeri remained as the capital for almost 120 years. Another beautiful temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva was built is Ikkeri- the Aghoreshwara temple.

The Aghoreshwara temple has an eclectic style of Hoysala, Chola, Vijayanagara and also that of Deccan Sultanate. Mainly built with granite, the tourists are welcomed by a huge idol of Nandi at the entrance. The doorways of the temple has ornamental figurines with equally intricate and detailed carvings on the interiors and exteriors. During my visit, the sun rays of the golden hour gave a golden hue to the stone walls of the temple and made look it all the more beautiful.

The doorway...

A trip to Keladi and Ikkeri can be completed in half a day. So it can also be clubbed with a visit to Jog falls (insanely famous among the locals). The drive between Sagar and Jog falls is definitely worth a try. 

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