Lakshmi Narasimha Temple at Nuggehalli: 13th century hidden architectural beauty near Bangalore - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple at Nuggehalli: 13th century hidden architectural beauty near Bangalore

The magical sculptures at Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

It is a 13th century hidden temple gem that is a treat to the eye. It is a richly decorated Hoysala temple built in the trikuta vimana style (3 shrines with 3 towers). And it is just 3 hours away from Bangalore making it a fabulous destination for an offbeat temple day trip from Bangalore. I am talking about the uber gorgeous Lakshmi Narasimha temple located in the Nuggehalli village of Karnataka.

Durga dancing with a skeleton_a goblin standing to her left - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Built in 1246 by Bommanna Dandanayaka, a commander under the Hoysala king Vira Someshwara, the Lakshmi Narasimha temple is one of the many temples situated in Nuggehalli village. It is said that this village was called Vijaya Somanathapura in ancient times and gained importance as a place of learning during the time of Bommanna Dandanayaka.

This agrahara like village is surrounded by the Lakshmi Narasimha temple, the Sadashiva temple and the Pancha lingeswara temples. In between these temples are the traditional looking houses of its denizens and green farms and water tanks in the yonder. Overall, it is a very peaceful setup and makes for a fantastic rustic temple holiday.

(L to R) - Garuda, Venugopala, Dharani - Varaha, Pradyumna - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Coming back to the Lakshmi Narasimha temple, it looks like a ekakuta temple from the front, but is actually a trikuta with two additional shrines jutting out from the sides. So basically one tall tower and two shorter side towers. Like other Hoysala temples, the Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Nuggehalli is also built on an elevated platform called the jagati. Steps lined with elephant sculptures take you to the front of the temple, which is a newer open mantapa. This plainly decorated open mantapa connects to a closed mantapa that is deeply domed in the center and that is supported by four lathe turned pillars that are iconic Hoysala in terms of temple architecture.

Bhairava with goblin to his left - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

The central mantapa is connected to the 3 shrines (Lakshmi Narasimha, Venugopala and Keshava). While the main shrine (Lakshmi Narasimha) has a vestibule and a sukanasi, the other two shrines (Venugopala and Keshava) have no vestibules and are directly connected to the central mantapa. The sukanasi and the central mantapa are full of beautiful carvings and stunning ceiling work.

While the inner half of the temple is beautiful, it is the exterior walls that captivate everyone’s attention with their stunning sculptures, bas-reliefs and intricate work. Similar to the other Hoysala temples, the Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Nuggehalli follows a similar carving protocol.

(L to R) - Kalingamardana with a nagini on each side, Lakshmi dancing with 8 hands, Purushottama - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Starting from the base where the wall meets the jagati, the first horizontal is made up of elephants, followed by horsemen, foliage, Hindu epics and Puranic scenes, makara (imaginary crocodile like beast) and hamsas (swans). Above these horizontals are the large sculptures depicting stories from the different avatars of Vishnu, a few belonging to goddesses and some belonging to Lord Shiva.

Indra on his airavat and other sculptures - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Above these large sculptures are more designs, temple like structures and more intricate carvings all the way upto the top of the vimana. In simple words, every inch of the exterior of this temple is carved with stories and scenes from Hindu mythologies or with interesting shapes and designs. The carving is so impressive that the temple looks magnificent when viewed from any angle.

(R to L) - Mahisasuramardini, Mohini with cobra in her hands, Adhokshaja - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

The large sculptures capture everyone’s attention as they are at your eye level when you stand on the jagati. And they feel even more interesting as we can decipher many of them from the various Hindu mythological stories we have head and learnt from our childhood. The credit for these large sculptures goes to Baichoja and Mallitamma, two well known Hoysala sculptors.

Rati and Manmatha with a horse headed musician to their right - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

While there are a good many sculptures on the exterior walls of the Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Nuggehalli, my personal favorites are Goddess Durga dancing with a skeleton, Varaha avatar, Kalingamardana with a nagini on each side, Lakshmi dancing with 8 hands, Mahisasuramardini, Tandav or dancing Ganesha, Arjuna shooting the matsya yantra with oil below while Draupadi holds a garland, Lakshmi Narayana, Yoga Narasimha, Vamana receiving gift from king Bali while Shukracharya is protesting, Amaranarayana seated on Anant Nag, Trivikrama with river Ganga, Ugra Narasimha, Sun god with Aruna and his 7 horses, Indra and Sachi on the Airavat elephant during the Parijat battle and Krishna and Sathyabama borne by Garuda whose left hand holds the Parijata branch.

Beautiful carvings on the exterior walls of Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

There are close to 120 such amazing sculptures. While the above list happen to be my favorites, it does not mean that the other sculptures are ordinary. Each sculpture is special and conveys a unique story. May be, other temple and culture lovers will find the other sculptures to be more interesting.

Dancing Ganesha or Tandav Ganesha at Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Thankfully, most of these sculptures and carvings have stood the test of time, be it wars, rain, sun, wind, etc. and hence even after close to 800 years, these sculptures still tell us the stories that the artisan of the 13th century wished to convey.

(L to R) - Arjuna shooting the matsya yantra with oil bowl below and Draupadi holding a garland to the left, Narasimha standing and Kalingamardana

The Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Nuggehalli is that hidden Hoysala gem that will appeal to all kinds of visitors, be it temple, art or culture lovers, good old tourists, students and connoisseurs. It’s close proximity to Bangalore makes it a perfect Sunday day trip destination from Bangalore. Whether you visit by motorcycle or in a car, you will love the temple, the Nuggehalli village and the surrounding farm based countryside. It is indeed a special offbeat destination near Bangalore. I highly recommend it!

Amaranarayana seated on Anant Nag - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Things to keep in mind while visiting Nuggehalli:

1) You will have to remove your footwear while entering the temple and most of the temple floor gets hot during the afternoon. Hence, it is best to visit the temple either in the early hours of the morning or around 4 pm.

2) Do remember to carry a bottle of drinking water and some snacks with you at all times as you might not find a shop in the vicinity.

Hidden Hoysala Gem - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

3) Toilets are not available. So, you might have to use the fields or request some villager to let you use the facilities in his house.

4) Tripods are not allowed without prior permission, but you can use your DSLR and phone cameras. I think a drone might also require special permission or may be you can request the ASI guard posted at the temple.

5) There are no tourist guides available at the temple, but there are a few banners that give you good details of all the temple sculptures and they mention them in serial order. The ASI guard and temple priest can also give you some additional information.

Trivikrama with the river Ganga - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

How to reach there:

The nearest airport would be Bangalore international airport, about 144 kms away.

The nearest large railway stations would be Bangalore (144 kms away), Hassan (50 kms) and/or Tumkur (109 kms). The nearest small railway stations would be Channarayapatna and Tiptur.

Yoganarasimha with two consorts and Garuda and Prahalada below - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Channarayapatna or Tiptur would be your nearest bus station. From here, you either have to take a not so regular bus, many shared cabs or a full cab to Nuggehalli village.

If you are riding or driving from Bangalore, the route would be Bangalore –> Nelamangala –> Kunigal –> Yadiyur –> Hirisave –> Nuggehalli. The route from Bangalore to Hirisave would be a 4-lane highway, while the route post that would be a quieter 2 lane state highway flanked by lush farms and water bodies on either side.

Ugra Narasimha with Prahalada below - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Temple timings:

The temple opens at 8 AM and stays open till 11 AM. And it again opens at 4 PM and stays open till 7 PM.

Certain festivals and village events can alter these timings a bit. It is best to check with locals, who in all probability will direct you to the temple priest, who will guide you with the exact timings.

The above timings are only applicable for the garbha griha or inner sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The outer area of the temple with access to most of the statues, carvings and architecture depicted here stays open between 8 AM and 6 PM.

Each layer of the temple is carved - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Best season to visit:

The Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Nuggehalli is open all year round. The rains and the winter months are ideal if you care for lush background and pleasant weather.

As the temple is located in the middle of a small village, rituals can be more elaborate during festivals and hence they are worth watching and attending.

Venugopala (left) and Padmanabha standing (right) - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Where to stay:

Channarayapatna and Tiptur would be the nearest cities in case you are looking for decent budget accommodation.

For luxurious accommodation, you might have to head to Bangalore.

Janardana, Lakshmi Narayana and Parasurama - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

If nature is your thing, head to the coffee estates in and around Chickmagalur or Sakleshpur.

Hassan also has some quality resorts in case that type of accommodation interests you.

Surya with adoring rishis, accompaniments and guards. A chaya on each side and Aruna driving the 7 horses on the pedestal, Lakshmi Narasimha Temple,Nuggehali

Where to eat:

The nearest town to find some good food would be Channarayapatna.

If better quality restaurants are your preference, try the many restaurants located between Hirisave, Yediyur and Kunigal on the Hassan – Bangalore highway. Most of these places will be open longer hours, have ample parking facility and have good quality restrooms.

Lakshmi Narayana and other sculptures at Nuggehalli Lakshmi Narasimha Temple

If you don’t mind traveling a little bit more, try Hotel Madihalli Naveen, located just outside of Tiptur for some quality local dishes and snacks.

It might be prudent to keep some drinking water and snacks with you at all times, especially if you plan on exploring the temple at leisure.

Indra and Sachi on the elephant in the Parijata battle - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Other lesser known Hoysala era temples nearby:

1) Sadashiva temple at Nuggehalli

2) Brahmeshvara temple at Kikkeri

3) Panchalingeswara temple at Govindanahalli

Vamana receiving gift from Bali with Shukracharya protesting - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

4) Lakshmi Narayana temple at Hosaholalu

5) Chenna Keshava temple at Somnathpur

6) Chenna Keshava temple at Aralaguppe

7) Chenna Keshava temple at Turuvekere

(L to R) Vishnu seated in Padmasana holding bowl of sweets in right and kalasa in left hand, Hari, Hanuman, Lakshmana, Kothandarama

8) Ishvara temple at Arsikere

9) Chenna Keshava temple at Anekere

10) Mallikarjuna temple at Basaralu

11) Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Haranhalli

12) Lakshmi Devi temple at Doddagaddavalli

Krishna and Sathyabama borne by Garuda whose left hand holds the Parijata branch - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Shettihalli rosary church ruins in the Hemavati reservoir

2) Hemagiri Falls – a wide waterfall on the Hemavati river

Mesmerizing sculpting at Lakshmi Narasimha Temple at Nuggehalli

3) Jayamangali blackbuck reserve at Maidenahalli – a great wildlife getaway super close to Bangalore

4) The temple town of Melukote famous for its Iyengars and their delicious puliyogare

5) The Jain pilgrimage site of Shravanabelagola that is home to the mighty Baahubali statue

6) The toy town of Channapatna

Lord Brahma standing on the lotus - Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nuggehalli

7) The riverine island and temple town of Srirangapatna

8) The absolutely photogenic Mysore palace

9) Ranganathitty bird sanctuary – a haven for birds on the Cauvery

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