Located at a little distance from the Sri Halagundi Basaveshwara Temple is the 11th century – 12th century (inscription is dated as 1010 CE) Virupaksha Temple built by the mighty Rashtrakutas and later renovated by the Kalyani Chalukyas (Western Chalukyas). Lakkundi is one of those rare historical sites in India that has a unique architectural style that harmoniously incorporates both North Indian and South Indian architectural and artistic elements.
The final result can only be called exemplary as the detailing, proportion, symmetry and attention to detail has not been found in any other historical site till date. The Virupaksha Temple also known as Virupaksheshwara Temple is one such example believed to have been constructed by the Rashtrakutas in the style they favoured. Sometime at the end of the 11th century and mid – 12th century, the Kalyani Chalukyas added their own aesthetic sense to the temple.
The temple sits on a raised platform and perhaps had at one time a large open pillared mandapa. There is a navaranga, an antarala and a garbha griha that is still in decent condition.
Though the temple is largely simplistic and plain in terms of decoration, the entrance doorway to the sanctum sanctorum is a visual delight. Intricately carved figures of Lord Surya, Lord Varuna, gods and goddesses on their respective vahanas, musicians, dancers, sages, floral and foliage design and others adorn the doorway. Gajalakshmi with an elephant on either side and birds above is seen on the Lalata Bimba.
The temple is bereft of a shikara which locals claim was ravaged by Muslim invaders in the 13th – 14th century. The external facades have miniature niches and plain pilasters.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian