Now a non-descript village, Nuggehalli has a rich history. Records state that the Cholas built a Jayagondeswara temple to which even the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana gave grants in 1121 AD according to an inscription. The whereabouts of this temple are unknown today though there is some hope as the villagers told us that the remains of a Siva temple have been discovered recently and efforts are being made to restore it.
But what is present today in its full glory is the Lakshminarasimha Temple. Temple records state that it was built by Bommanna Danda Nayaka during the reign of Someshwara in 1246 and it predates the temple at Somanathapura by two decades. The place was then called Vijaya Somanathapura.
The Lakshminarasimha temple is completely covered with sculpture and the quality of the sculptures found here is considered among the best, excluding Belur and Halebid of course. The temple has a usual trikuta plan. Originally only the central shrine had a shikhara (tower). The shikharas on the lateral shrines have been added later on. The original beauty of the entrance is marred by the later additions made by the Vijayanagara rulers.
The outer walls are adorned with wall images. The southern half of the temple was sculpted by a sculptor named Baichoja while the northern part was sculpted by another sculptor named Mallitamma. One can actually notice the difference in the sculptures in the two halves. Even though it is a Vaishnava Temple, there are two wall images of Bhairava and Bhairavi which are impressive. Below the wall images are six friezes of equal width. From top to bottom they show hamsas (swans)in the first frieze, makaras (mythical aquatic monsters) in the second, epics and other stories in the third, creepers in the fourth, horses in the fifth and elephants in the sixth. The epic frieze shows common as well as many uncommon stories based on the life of Krishna. An interesting detail is the presence of camels in the horse frieze.
The interior of the temple is equally impressive. The ceilings are adorned with intricate work. The three shrines contain Venugopala, Keshava and Lakshminarasimha. There is an Alwar sannidhi housing Sri Ramanujacharya which is a later addition.
Nuggehalli houses another treasure, the Sadashiva Temple situated in the north of the village. It is an ekakuta temple of the Hoysala period with later additions. The exceptional architecture of this temple makes it a treat for the beholder. It was built in Nagara Hoysala style and is one of the few examples of this type of architecture. The tower is said to be of the bhumija type usually found in western India, northern Deccan and the Malwa regions. The temple is built on a platform. The sanctum has a large linga and a well carved Nandi facing it. The Nandi Mantapa is a small pillared hall with perforated stone screens to let light into the temple. The ceiling in the navaranga mantapa is intricately done. Worth noticing is the doorway to the vestibule which has a detailed makara torana. Idols of Subrahmanya, Suryanarayana, and Nagas lay abandoned in the central hall.
Nuggehalli is located on the Tiptur – Chennarayapatna state highway and is about 50 km from Hassan. Do visit this place to gain a better perspective of the different architectural styles used by the Hoysalas.