Sri Siddarameshwara Temple, Neeralgi, Haveri


‘Neeralgi’ or ’Niralagi’ is situated about 20 km from the town of Hubballi and is located off the Bengaluru – Pune National Highway. During my recent visit to Hubballi for a wedding, I managed to take a sneak peek of this temple along with a few of my friends. This beautiful temple is located outside the village of Neeralgi and from the outset seems to have been built during the later Kalyana Chalukya period apart from some elements added by the Hoysalas. An inscription found here states that this place was initially known as ‘Nerulage’ and also goes on to record the construction of the Mallinath Jinalaya along with the land grant made by Malla Gavunda (Nadaprabhu of Belahuge, present day’s Belavige). However, no basadi remains here now except for a few ruins spread across the village with the locals also confirming that there are no Jains living there as of today. The inscription was found in the premises of the old fort area and sadly nothing much of the fort survives today.  Thus one can easily assume that it was destroyed during the times of war or by the invaders. But the whereabouts of the Jain temple and its inhabitants still remains a mystery.
Sri Siddarameshwara Temple, Neeralgi
Sri Siddarameshwara Temple, Niralagi
 Also surprisingly, no inscription related to the construction of the Sri Siddarameshwara temple has been found till date. But on the basis of its style of construction, it can be assigned to the 12th century Kalyana Chalukya period. The inscription belonging to a much later period on a pillar of the Navaranga of the temple speaks about the restoration work of this temple carried out by Yakshadeva of Huligere. The temple comprises of a garbhagriha, an antarala and a navaranga with two mukhamantapas, of which the eastern mukhamantapa has collapsed. The garbhagriha houses a Shiva Linga along with the guardian Lord Nandi in the antarala. There are 2 devakosthas/niches on either side of the antarala, one housing a murti of the Saptamatrikas (the seven mother-goddesses) and the other a murti of Lord Vishnu (which doesn’t seem like the original). There is a beautiful makara torana in front of the antarala built in classical Chalukyan style; sadly which has been covered by a modern day photo. Although we were unable to witness the carvings on the Kapota portion, the locals informed us about the presence of images of Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Inscription on the Pillar regarding Restoration of the Temple
Lord Shiva and The Makara Torana
Rati, Manmatha and  Nandi along with Attendants(both sides) as Dwarapalas
 A heavily decked Dravidian Shikara crowns the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) which is attached to a beautiful vestibule. The keertimukha carved on the vestibule/sukanasi is vibrant and elaborately carved. What’s more interesting is the presence of Lord Vishnu’s Dashavatara on it.  This may have been a later addition when the temple was under the Hoysala rule. The Shikara has a unique pattern for karna kutas which are circular shape with grooves on its circumference, similar to a mechanical gear system unlike the commonly seen square/rectangular ones. Why it was carved so and what it really represents would be interesting to decipher or was it merely an architectural element added to enhance the beauty of the temple?
Shikara
Mechanical Gear System Arrangement
Karna Kutas on the Shikara
Keertimukha of Vestibule with Dasavatara Carved on it
The external walls have beautiful carvings of miniature shikaras and decorative pillars. There are three murtis inside the temple complex, of which one is quite interesting and rare to find. Though at the first look, the murti resembles that of Lord Dhanvantari and Vyasa Muni, a closer observation and further examination reveals more. However, the Dharwad Gazetteer mentions about the presence of a beautiful murti of Lord Bhairava in a seated posture in this temple, which helped us in identifying  the real identity of this murti. It can be confirmed that he murti is of Lord ‘Hariharapitamaha’ or Lord ‘Dattatreya’ who is a composite form of the Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Overall, it is a beautiful temple with many hidden mysteries waiting to be unravelled!
Lord Hariharapitamaha
Dravidian Shikara
Sekhari Shikara
Lord Varuna and his consort Carved on Makara Pranala
Hero stone

 References:
1.     Dharwad District Gazetteer – Karnataka State Government
2.    South Indian Inscriptions Vol. 18 – ASI

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