In the sleepy village of Doddagadduvalli, on the shore of a lake is the Lakshmi Devi Temple which is one of the earliest Hoysala Temples. It was built by a merchant named Kullahana Rahuta and his wife Sahaja Devi in 1114 AD under the rule of Vishnuvardhana. Placed at the centre of a walled courtyard, the Lakshmi Devi Temple is a rare chatushkuta temple i.e., it has four shrines built together. Embedded in the walls of the courtyard are also four small shrines placed at the corners. Each is complete with a shikhara, a sukhanasi, a kalasa on the shikhara and a Hoysala crest on the sukhanasi.

The temple complex has two entrances, one on the east which is through a porch, and one on the west from the lake. Unlike typical Hoysala temples, this one is not built on a platform. The plan of the temple is different because it has four shrines placed around a common centre. Three of them share a common hall and the fourth one is at the end of an oblong extension thereby providing two entrances to the temple.

A few feet from the main temple, a fifth shrine which stands free and faces the south. It also has a shikhara and a sukhanasi, both of them complete with a kalasa and a Hoysala crest.  This temple is dedicated to Bhairava.

You are in for a surprise when you enter the main temple because guarding the northern shrine housing Saumya Kali are two demonic living corpses called betalas which are at least 10 feet tall. These grotesque images are intimidating and completely unexpected. Even the doorway of the vestibule is lined with five demonic heads. The shrine facing the east is the main shrine and contains the idol of Lakshmi Devi. The uniqueness of this idol is that Lakshmi is depicted in the standing posture with shankha (conch), chakra (discus), gada (mace) and a japamala (rosary) unlike in the usual sitting posture.

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A grotesque sculpture of a betala

The shrine facing the north is a Vaishnava one but the Bhairava idol from the fifth independent shrine has now been placed here. The original idol was that of Vishnu in one of his popular forms. The shrine facing the west houses the Bhoothanatha Linga.

The square shaped navaranga has a beautiful ceiling with a central projecting panel containing an intricate sculpture of Tandaveshwara (Shiva in a dancing posture) amidst carvings of the kirtimukhas. The other ceilings have usual Hoysala motifs and the figures of the ashtadikpalakas in the eight directions. The ceilings are the only testament to the great craftsmanship as the outer walls have no sculptural details.

The harmony between Vaishnava and Shaiva cult is noteworthy in this one of a kind temple. The guide pointed out to us that the shrines are in such a way that a Vaishnava shrine is opposite to a Shaiva shrine contrary to our expectation that the Vaishnava shrines will face each other and the Shaiva shrines will face each other.

Altogether, there are nine towers, all of them with a nose and all of them crowned with a kalasa and a Hoysala crest (all these parts being intact very rare and those who have visited Hoysala Temples will agree with me). Eight of these towers are of the same kind and are very simple in design. This kind of tower is called Phamsana and can be found all over Karnataka in simple temples.  Only one tower is different. The eastern one of the main temple, the one over the Lakshmi Devi shrine is done in typical Hoysala style. The architecture and the decoration are detailed though there are no wall images but only decorative towers on pilasters. This is justified because main shrine of the temple is the one dedicated to Lakshmi Devi.

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The Lakshmi Devi temple complex at Dodda Gadduvalli as seen from the road

A small detour on the Hassan – Belur road will take you to Doddagadduvalli. The temple complex is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The guide has the keys to the temple and will show you around. Doddagadduvalli is just 16 km from Hassan city. Even though many people throng to Belur and Halebeedu, sadly they miss the lesser known but equally magnificent temples at Doddagadduvalli, Belavadi, Javagallu, Koravangala and Haranhalli.


Plan a Day Trip (Hoysala Temple Circuit)

Bengaluru – Hassan – Dodda Gadduvalli – Belur – Halebid – Belavadi – Javagal – Arsikere – Bengaluru


Read my articles on Belavadi – Bewitching Hoysala Temple at Belavadi, Javagal – The Unknown Hoysala Temple at Javagal and Arsikere.

This article was published in Spectrum, Deccan Herald on 3rd March, 2015. Deccan Herald Article

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