Unlike the famous and frequently visited Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebidu, there is a little known Laxmi Devi temple in the quiet Doddagaddavalli village on Belur-Hassan highway in Hassan District of Karnataka. It is located 16 km from the district capital Hassan. When we visited the temple, there was no visitor in the temple which in fact was a blessing in disguise to experience this simple yet beautifully constructed temple.
The Lakshmi Devi temple, was built during the era of Hoysala Dynasty King Vishnuvardhana in 1114 C.E. The temple was commissioned by a merchant called Kullahana Rahuta and his wife Sahaja Devi.
Some interesting things to know:
- The Lakshmi Devi Temple is one of the earliest known Hoysala temples built using Chloritic schist (soapstone).
- The temple does not stand on a jagati i.e. star shaped platform, a feature which prominent in later Hoysala temples like Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu , Chennakesava temple at Belur .
- The temple is a Chathushkuta temple (four shrines and towers) built in early Hoysala Architecture style.
- The main shrine facing east has a 3-foot-tall idol of the goddess Lakshmi with Hindu God Ganesh idol placed before. The idol holds a conch in the upper right hand, a chakra in the upper left, a rosary in the lower right and a mace in the lower left. Also, noticeable are two sculptures of large demonic living corpses called betala (attendants of Goddess ) on either side of entrance. One can also observe Sapta Matrike(7 forms of Goddess)on the top of the door, and Nagakanye and Vishakanye (maids of Goddess) on either side of the entrance door.
- The other shrines facing north, south and west respectively are the idols of Kali (a form of Durga), god Vishnu, and Boothanatha Linga (the universal symbol of the god Shiva)
- The idol of Vishnu was stolen and a small idol of Kalabhairaveshwara was placed at it’s place.
- The temple vimanas are beautifully crafted with kalasha (pinnacle) which is similar to Kadamba shikhara architecture in Bhuvaraha Narasimha temple at Halasi, Karnataka. Also visible is the famous Hoysala royal emblem of Sala slaying the lion mounted atop one of the Sukanasi.
- Best time to visit: October – February
- Must visit the following Hoysala temples:
- Hoyasaleswara temple, Halebidu (Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu – What distinguishes Hoysala architecture from other historical monuments of the same era ?)
- Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi
- Chennakeshava Temple, Belur (Chennakesava Temple, Belur – Hoysala Architecture excellence)