The Veeranarayana Temple is another of the ancient monuments that make Gadag such an important tourist and pilgrim spot. This temple is dedicated to Maha Vishnu or Narayana. The main deity is called Veeranarayana, Sri Maha Vishnu in his warrior form. This temple reflects the styles of many different schools of architecture.
Veeranarayana Temple – History
The Hoysala King Bittideva was influenced by the great Vaishnava Saint Sri Ramanujacharya and converted to Vaishnavism from Jainism. He changed his name to Vishnuvardhana. He built several temples and this Veeranarayana temple is believed to be one among them. It is one of the Pancha Narayana Kshetras. The Kannada Poet Kumara Vyasa is believed to have composed his version of the Mahabharata in this temple.
Veeranarayana Temple – Architecture
The Veeranarayana Temple is an amalgam of various schools of architecture – Chalukya, Hoysala and Vijayanagara. The Vijayanagara style entrance courtyard leads to the Ranga Mandapa, with a Garuda Sthamba that is typical of Hoysala style. The inner mandapa and sanctum and the main tower are in Chalukya style.
The main deity, Veeranarayana is depicted in a magnificent standing form, with four hands, holding the Shanka, Chakra, Gadha and Padma. He is wearing the dhoti in the form of a Veera Kaccha that is in a style ready for battle. On either side of him stand Lakshmi and Garuda, much smaller figures.
How to Get to Veeranarayana Temple
Gadag is 60 km from Hubli, which has the nearest airport. Gadag is also well connected through the Rail and bus routes. The best time to visit the temple would be during the months after September when the weather will be pleasant.
Famous for its grapes and Guavas, Dambala lies 20 kms from GADAG. It boasts of many fine temples – the best being the Dodda Basappa temple.Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Dodda Basappa temple belongs to the Kalyani Chalukya period. It is renowned for its multigonal stellar shape. It contains one of the most beautifully designed door steps that can be seen in any temple in western India. This doorstep is exquisitely engraved with festoons, rosetter and small figures. Apart from this the temple also has marvelously carved pillars and walls. Also at Damabla is situated a Buddhist shrine dedicated to the godess Taradevi.
Once an important centre for religious training, Lakkundi to-day has several temples of Kalyani Chalukya style. Though many were damaged during the invasion, quite a few have since been rebuilt. The Kashivishwashwara temple is one of them. This beautiful temple is exquisitely decorated with carvings, scroll work, stone screens etc. A double temple also houses a Surya (Sun) temple. The Sun temple is dedicated to Surya Narayana and contains a throne for the image of the God. The seven horses of the Sun god are engraved on the stone. Apart from these temples there is also a Jain temple at Lakkundi that has an image of Mahavira seated on a Lion throne. It is called Bhahma Jinalaya and is said to have been built by the noble lady, Atttimabbe. There is also a museum run by the Archaeological Survey of India with a fine collection of art works. Lakkundi was also a centre for the minting of gold coins under the reign of various kings. These coins were called ‘Lokki Gundyanas ’ giving rise to the name Lakkundi.