Nov 4, 2013

Off the beaten track- Temples of Karnataka, Keladi

During the month of August after few storms I visited Jog Falls one of the highest plunge waterfalls in India. Many who visit these waterfalls are mostly unaware of the historical and architectural treasures around. There are many functioning temples dating back to 16th century which are now protected monuments. These temples of immense architectural beauty in the not-much-happening villages silently tell the stories of grand bygone era. During my recent trip to Jog Falls I visited three of these many temples- Keladi, Ikkeri and Nadkalsi.

Keladi Rameshwara temple Karnataka
Keladi Rameshwara Temple as seen from outside

Keladi, a sleepy temple village in Karnataka, India is just 45KM from well known Jog Falls. Or I would say it is just 8KM from the town Sagar. This historically rich village is popular for the double temple of Rameshwara and Veerabhadra. These beautifully ornate temples are enclosed in a tile-roofed cloister which is very plain and supported by wooden pillars.

Keladi Rameshwara temple Karnataka
Keladi Rameshwara Temple 

Keladi was first capital of Keladi Nayakas, rulers of Keladi Kingdom. Later, the capital was shifted to Ikkeri. Keladi Nayakas were initially sovereigns of Vijayanagara Kingdom. After the disintegration of the later, Keladi Nayakas ruled their own independent Keladi Kingdom. Valiant Queen Chennammaji was one of the rulers of the later years. She is one of the Kannada women of valor along with Kittur Chennamma and Vanake Obavva. She resisted the advances of Mughal army led by Aurangzeb without defeat.

Navagraha chart and mythical bird Gandabherunda, veerabhadra temple Keladi

The double temple of Keladi looks like a normal coastal Karnataka residence from outside enclosure. The visitor finds the transformation once inside the complex. Both Rameshwara and Veerabhadra temples have common main hall built with greenish schist during the golden era of Keladi Nayakas. These sixteenth century temples have Hoysala-Dravida style architecture and carvings.

Nagamandala, Daksha with goat head, veerabhadra temple Keladi

There are two major deities in the complex dedicated to Lord Shiva and Veerabhadra and other small shrines here and there. The ceiling of Veerabhadra temple has exquisitely carved motifs. I found these motifs very interesting. The Navagraha (nine planets) are carved in the form of chart which is very uncommon.

Rani Chennamma paying respects
And the Nagamandala (serpent motif) is so intricate. Also seen is the mythical two-headed bird called Gandabherunda is holding lions in the beaks and elephants using the claws. And, the statue of the Daksha Prajapati with his goat-head is rare indeed! In the backyard of the temple there stands a massive 24-feet tall pillar called Mahasthambha. On one face of the pillar (in the picture on the right), just below the Ganesha deity you can see Rani Chennamma is paying respects with her consorts.

Keladi Museum nearby the temple which is maintained by Government of Karnataka is worth a visit. The artifacts and paintings from Keladi period are on display. The museum was started by a local Jois (priest) who is known to be descendant of Purohit (Royal Astrologer) from Vijayanagar Empire. He displayed artifacts and palm-leaf manuscripts he found in his ancestoral home and the museum grew later with the contribution of local people.

How to reach: One could go to Sagar, a nearest town with good road connectivity, from here reach the temples with a private vehicle. I didn't find any sign of public transport or autorikshaws near these Keladi temples. Sagar is 170KM from Hubli and 350KM from the state capital Bangalore. I drove in the car from Hubli which was convenient. During the rains check for road conditions prior to the trip.

The temple towns of Ikkeri and Nadkalsi are nearby within 15KM distance. Ikkeri Aghoreshwara temple is very well known. The Mallikarjuna and Rameshwara temples in Nadkalsi are lesser known yet beautiful.

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Related articles-
Hampi, The ruins f Vijayanagara Empire
Bhoganandeeshwara Temple, Nandigrama
Trikuteshwara Temple, Gadag
Madhukeshwara Temple in Beautiful Banavasi
Temples of Khajuraho

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Interesting temples. Nice one, Kusum.

  2. Sounds great heritage temple! Indeed, Remarkable tour..

  3. Good to keep discovering these little heard of and rarely visited but charming temples.

    1. Yes Mr Ramakrishnan, there are many of these unheard of temples.

    2. Hi Kusum Do you know who manages these old temples. It is sad to see that in India we have very little
      interest for such treasures. These are beautiful temples to visit.


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