Galageshwara Temple, Galaganath Village, Haveri District, Karnataka

Galageshwara Temple built at the edge of the Tungabhadra River can be best described as poetry in stone. This awe-inspiring masterpiece of the 11th century has several inscriptions within the temple mentioning Maharaja Vikramaditya VI of the Kalyani Chalukyas, the musical genius Mokari Bharmayya and even the legendary sculptor Jakanachari.


The temple has an extremely rare pyramidal base that acts as a supporting structure to the sanctum sanctorum up to a specific height after which it is shaped as a typical gopura with the exact symmetry, tiers, proportion, auspicious Hindu iconography, sculptures of gods and goddesses, miniature niches and linear and repetitive elements placed in an interlocking pattern as per the tenets of the Shilpa Shastra.


There is a possibility that this unusual wall design for the garbha griha was chosen more out of necessity rather than aesthetics as there is some historical and geographical evidence that the land where the temple has been built on was perhaps a small island centuries ago and required to be protected from floods.


It might explain why this east-facing temple has been designed on a high plinth with a navaranga, an antarala and a garbha griha. The view of the Tungabhadra is quite magnificent from the navaranga which is supported by large decorative pillars. Lord Nandi sits majestically in the middle of this hall which also provides access to the shrines of Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, Lord Suryanarayana and Mahishasuramardini.


The antarala has Pancha lingas, Sapta Matrikas, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Sarawati seated on a lotus. The Shiva Linga consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum is said to be Sparsa Lingam meaning that the Linga seen above hides the true source of spiritual energy that lies below.


According to the locals, in the ancient days, people used to keep iron near the Linga and offer prayers. The iron would turn to gold. As more and more people came to know of this, the king fearing the wrath of the Lord decided to protect the Linga and covered it. It is said that it came to be called Galaganatha or Galageshwara after that.


This entire region has been revered for its spiritual and religious potency for years and has drawn countless saints, yogistapaswis and literary giants. The temple has been immaculately maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

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