Friday 18 August 2017 News Updated at 03:08 AM IST
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The warrior god of Gadag - Deccan Herald
The warrior god of Gadag
Rijutha Jaganathan,
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Rare blend Veeranarayana Temple, Gadag. Photo by author
King Vishnuvardhana built some of the best specimens of Hoysala temple architecture during his reign. It is believed that at the behest of Sri Ramanujacharya, he built five temples dedicated to Narayana (Pancha Narayana Kshetras) - Chennakeshava Temple at Belur, Cheluvanarayana Temple at Melkote, Nambinarayana Temple at Tondanur, Veeranarayana Temple at Gadag and Kirtinarayana Temple at Talakad. Under King Vishnuvardhana, the northern extent of the empire was up to Lakkundi. So, it isn’t surprising that the northernmost of the five Narayana temples is the Veeranarayana Temple at Gadag. Built in 1117 AD, the temple is known more for the legends that are linked to it than the architectural significance. The temple has Chalukya, Hoysala and Vijayanagar influences.

The entrance gateway is in Vijayanagar style. This leads to a garudastambha and the rangamantapa, which are in Hoysala style. The inner mantapa, sanctum and the main tower are in Chalukya style. The garbhagriha houses an imposing idol of Narayana in a standing posture. The dhoti is styled like a warrior’s garb. The stance, the clothing and the expression of the idol give it the prefix Veera, meaning brave.

During the Vijayanagar rule, the great Kannada poet Kumara Vyasa who lived in Gadag wrote Karnata Bharata Kathamanjari leaning against a particular pillar in this temple. It is an adaptation of the first 10 parvas (chapters) of the Mahabharata. He is believed to have accomplished this mammoth task only by the grace of Veeranarayana and hence makes adulatory references to the deity at the end of each canto.