Mahadeva Temple at Itagi (Itagi is in Yalburga Taluk, Koppal District, in Indian state of Karnataka. It is about 7 km from Kuknur. It is near to Lakkundi about 20 km) was built circa 1112 CE by Mahadeva, a commander (dandanayaka) in the army of the Western Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI.
Mahadeva Temple is devoted to Lord Shiva. The well-executed sculptures, finely crafted carvings on walls, pillars and the tower make is a prime example of absolute Western Chalukyan art that speaks at great length about the taste of the Chalukyan artisans. An inscription dated 1112 CE in the temple calls it "Emperor among Temples" (Devalaya Chakravarti). Art historian Henry Cousens called this monument the "finest in Kannada country after Halebidu". These Western Chalukya monuments, regional variants of existing dravida (South Indian) temples, defined the Dravida style architecture. The Mahadeva temple is officially protected as a national monument by the Archaeological Survey of India
Temple plan actually consists of a shrine (cella) that is connected to a closed mandapa (hall) by a vestibule (antechamber). The closed mandapa leads to an open pillared mandapa, with the temple as a whole facing the east. Some parts of the temple, such as the cornice and parapet over the outer edge of the roof of the open mandapa are missing. The main temple the sanctum of which has a linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) is surrounded by thirteen minor shrines, each with its own linga. The temple has two other shrines, dedicated to Murthinarayana and Chandraleshwari, parents of Mahadeva, the Chalukya commander who consecrated the temple
The closed mandapa has a doorway on each side, with the eastern doorway leading to the open mandapa and the western doorway to the sanctum. The door panels are well wrought and the ceiling of the porches has a ribbed design in them. The decoration of the outer walls follows the same pattern as that of the shrine. The great open mandapa has 64 pillars, 24 of which are full pillars which start from the floor and support the main ceiling. The remaining are half pillars (or "dwarf pillars") which start from the bench (parapet wall) that surrounds the mandapa and support the sloping eaves. The pillars in this hall bear similarities to the porch pillars at the Dodda Basappa Temple at Dambal and the lathe-turned pillars (whose rounded sections are lathe-turned) at the Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi.
The square ceiling of the open mandapa which are supported by the four central pillars exhibits interesting fretted stonework. The ceiling here has been worked into a decorative arabesque foliage and makaras (mythical beasts) which flow from the mouth of a Kirtimukha (gargoyle or demon face). This type of stonework is considered as high a quality as any. In stark contrast, the interior of the closed mandapa and the sanctum are plain and simple. It is believed that bracket figures that once adorned the outside pillars are now missing. These forward leaning bracket figures (Salabhanjika), which normally represent female forms in various poses (such as dancing or adorning themselves), would have rested on small blocks on the shaft of the pillars (capital), finding support from the underside of the overhanging cornice via a slot in their upper end.
Inscription in Medieval Kannada
Inscriptions in medieval Kannada on a huge stone adjacent to the temple describe the style of rule of Chalukyan kings and details on the construction of the temple. The inscription describes Mahadeva temple as Emperor of Temples of the Chalukya period built in 1112 A.D. by Mahadeva, an army general of King Vikramaditya VI.
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