Baleshwara Temple, Laxmeshwar, Gadag District, Karnataka

The Baleshwara Temple reputed to have the largest Shiva Linga in the three districts of Gadag, Dharwad and Haveri is a beautiful 9th century temple built by perhaps the Western Chalukyas. This edifice built on a raised platform has a mukhamandapa, a navaranga, an antarala and a garbha griha.


Interestingly, the external facades are richly embellished with architectural details more commonly seen in temples built by the Badami Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas of Malkhed. This makes one wonder if the temple had been commissioned by the two former rulers and either completed or renovated by the Western Chalukyas.


The external facades are far more decorative than the interior walls and are adorned with intricately carved sculptures, gods and goddesses, apsaras, dancers, musicians, sages, miniature niches, animals, floral and foliage patterns, repetitive linear elements and auspicious Hindu iconography.


One can truly appreciate the elegance and delicacy of the carvings of dancing Ganesha, Lord Nataraja, Lord Ugranarasimha, Mahishasuramardini, Kali Mata, Ardhanaareshwara and Rishabharuda to mention a few.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

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