Lakshmaneshwara Temple, Laxmeshwar, Gadag District, Karnataka

The lesser – known Lakshmaneshwara Temple located in the older part of Laxmeshwar was perhaps built by Maharaja Indra III of the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed in 917 CE as per an inscription. Another inscription found refers to a grant made by Maharaja Sankama of the Kalachuris of Kalyani in 1179 in favour of Trilochana Pandita for the renovation of the temple.


The temple is a trikutachala (three shrines) with a mukhamandapa, a common navaranga, individual antralas and three garbha grihas. The spacious mandapa has three entrances and is supported by beautifully proportioned pillars. The navaranga has massive pillars of the Western Chalukyan style and profusely decorated ceiling panels of musicians, dancers, Sapta MatrikasAshtadikpalakas and the iconic inverted lotus.


The main shrine has a Shiva Linga consecrated on an imposing pedestal while the other two are empty. The entrance doorways of the antaralas and garbha grihas are richly embellished with auspicious Hindu iconography, foliage and floral motifs, miniature niches, gods and goddesses, repetitive linear elements, sages, musicians, apsaras and forms of Lord Shiva and Devi.


Gajalakshmi sits in the middle of the lintel along with intricately carved figures set in a definite pattern. The external facades are a visual delight with friezes of swans, lotus, floral designs, linear elements, niches and gods and goddesses.


Unfortunately, the temple has not survived the desecration of Muslim invaders and the ravages of weather and time. The temple is largely in ruins with even the gopuras missing. The empty niches on the external facades are a sad reminder of the sculptures that once adorned this magnificent structure.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

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