November 18, 2016

Temples of Gadag and Lakkundi

Gadag and its surroundings in northern Karnataka are well known for numerous Chalukyan styled temples embellished with ornate pillars and intricate carvings. Built between the 10th and 12th centuries during the rule of Chalukyas, the architectural style is also sometimes referred to as Kalyani Chalukya style. More than fifty temples and over a hundred stepped wells were built during that time, however only a few have withstood the time. Most of these temples are well decorated with rich sculptures and have been maintained to a great extent by the archaeological department. Though they might not be as popular and extravagant as its more popular neighbours (Badami, Pattadakkal and Aihole), these temples are an excellent example of the beautiful Chalukya architecture.

Trikuteshwara temple complex in Gadag town has temples with shrines of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. The Shiva shrine has three lingams on the same stone. Apart from these there is also a Saraswathi temple which stands out due to its extensive carvings and sculptures in Chalukyan architecture. The sculptures on the walls and the pillars are absolutely magnificent and elaborate. While Saraswathi temple is a non functional one, the other shrines are functional.

Saraswathi temple

Extensive carvings on the pillars

Outer wall

Other shrines
Veeranarayana temple with its impressive entrance gate (gopuram) is one of the other popular temples in the town.

A short distance away from Gadag town, Lakkundi has some of the best preserved Chalukyan temples. Brahma Jinalaya is the oldest Jain temple in Lakkundi and has a nice Dravidian style architecture. The three storied structure has decorative motifs all across its exterior and there are numerous ornate pillars supporting the roof. Apart from the main shrine of Mahavira, the inner sanctum also has shrines of Padmavati and Brahma. The temple gets its name from the Brahma shrine. Adjoining this is another temple with a headless sculpture of Mahavira. There are two more temples nearby, namely Neelakantha and Naganatha. While Neelakantha temple has a dilapidated half structure, Naganatha which was a Jain temple has been converted into a Hindu temple. Just behind Brahma Jinalaya is an archaeological museum which displays numerous excavations of stone works from the Chalukya period.

Brahma Jinalaya

Ornate pillars



Another shrine

Naganatha temple

Neelakantha temple
Built on a raised platform with ornate pillars, extensive carvings on its exterior, inner sanctum and a hall, Nanneshwara temple displays all the features of typical Chalukyan architecture. The guide here was an enthusiastic lady who took me inside the inner sanctum to show the glazing ornate pillar on which appears a double reflection of any object. While one is a proper reflection, the other is an inverted one. This is quite an amazing work of art.

Nanneshwara temple

Double reflection
Opposite Nanneshwara temle is Kashivishwanatha temple (dedicated to Shiva), the most popular temple in Lakkundi. Though on similar architectural style like Nanneshwara, Kashivishwanatha is much more elaborate, has more carvings and sculptures all across. The temple is known for its exquisite and intricate carvings on its exterior, pillars and on the door frames. The exterior of the temple has many sculptures depicting stories from Mahabaratha and Ramayana. While the eastern entrance door has seven layers of carvings, the southern entrance is more elaborate with nine layers of intricate carvings. The inner sanctum houses lathe polished pillars with beautiful art works on them.  This is a twin shrine temple and facing the Kashivishwanatha is the surya shrine, both connected by a platform.

Kashivishwanatha temple

Carvings on the entrance door

Southern entrance with nine layers of carvings

Sculpture on the exterior

Surya temple
Manikeshwara temple behind the bus stand at Lakkundi is popular for its stepped well which is also referred to as Muskina Bhavi. Though there are other stepped wells in Lakkundi, this is probably the most popular of all due to its wonderful architecture.

Manikeshwara temple

Muskina Bhavi
There are many more Chalukyan temples around Gadag, the other popular ones are at Itagi, Lakshmeshwara and Dambal. It is recommended to club Gadag and Lakkundi while visiting Badami, Pattadakkal and Aihole.


Gadag is well connected by trains and buses to places across Karnataka. The closest airport is at Hubli, 65 Kms away.

Gadag to Badami- 65 Kms
Gadag to Hampi- 104 Kms
Gadag to Bangalore- 470 Kms

Food and Accommodation: 

There aren't much options to eat near these temples as they are a bit isolated. Ideal place to stay would be Gadag town which has mid range hotels.


  1. Great pics,would like to visit sometime,as I have already visited the ones at Badami,Karnataka seems to. E a treasure of stone sculpture

  2. Cudnt club it in my bijapur circuit ��..gtg to see that well. Great reminder!

  3. Great pictures with well written write up . The structure of south Indians temples is very different and attractive .

  4. Informative !!!!
    And lovely pictures.

  5. Spectacular. This is a must visit place.

  6. Well written and well photographed post...

  7. Enrapturing sculptures.Salute to the sculptors of that time.Thank you for this visual feast.

    1. Thank you, glad you liked it. Wonderful skills of craftsmen.


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