Lakkundi, being one of the historical sites in Karnataka, is not known to a lot of people. A few kilometres from the town of Gadag, amidst fields and humble dwellings, is the small and unassuming village of Lakkundi. Though modest in appearance, the village was once home to the deccan rulers of the medieval era.
Lakkundi saw various rulers, but rose to prominence under the Kalyani Chalukyas, from the 10-12th century. The Chalukyas were great patrons of art and it was under their rule, that a number of temples and stepped wells dotted Lakkundi. Even today, some of their best architectural work can be seen in this area. Look out for the ornate and intricately carved temples and stepped tanks here, especially the Brahma Jinalaya, the Kasivisververa temple and the Nanneshwara temple.
Lakkundi was also the second metropolis of the Hoysalas, under the reign of King Veera Ballala II. Back then LokkiGundi, as it was then called, gained focus for being a mintage, a land of higher learnings and illustrious agraharas.
It’s the 11th century and Deccan is under the rule of the Western Chalukyas. Among other things, the Chalukyas are admirers of art, something that is evident from the temples and basadis or Jain temples being built across the regions of their reign.
Basadis, because along with Hindus, the Chalukyas of Kalyana are also supporters of Jainism. Inscriptions bearing their patronage towards Jainism and detailing the generous grants being made by them will be left behind on stone slabs, which will bear testimony to this.
In years to come, the temple will come to be known as Brahma Jinalaya and will be the largest basadi in Lakkundi. Attimabbe, the one behind commissioning the temple and the wife of a Chalukyan chieftain will also gain recognition for being influential in the spread of Jainism and for innumerable contributions.
For this, she will also earn the name of ‘Danachintamani’, literally, a ‘jewel among the donors’ by the poet Ranna.
Kasi Visweswara Temple
Built in the 11th century by the Chalukyas, the temple of Kasivisvesvera gets its name after Lord Shiva, whom we see in a Lingam form here. In addition to Shiva, the temple also houses the shrine of Lord Suryanarayana or the Sun God.
Where Shiva is seen in his usual ‘Linga’ form, Surya is seen sitting on a throne drawn by seven steeds. The two shrines are seen facing each other, with Shiva to the east and Suyra to the west – a rare attribute – as most of the shrines depicting the Sun God, show him in the east.
Sitting on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, architecturally, the temple of Kasivisvesvera is one of the most decorated and ornate structures. The mesmerizingly intricate and elaborate carvings on the doors and windows indicate a remarkable shift in their skill and craftsmanship.
It is believed that the temple was destroyed during the reign of the Cholas and reconstructed under the Hoysalas. The more ornate construction is known to be the later addition. The temple is built as a combination of both North Indian and South Indian style of construction.
Holding many similarities with the famous Kasi Visweswara temple, Nanneshwara temple is suggested to have been built by the Kalyani Chalukyas as a prototype. The temple, though built on the lines of Kasi Visweswara, is much simpler and smaller in size.
It is known to have been built in the mid-11th century. The temple, like the other temples of its time, also uses soapstone – a Chalukyan innovation.