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Aghoreshvara Temple, Ikkeri

DISTRICT: Shimoga; TALUK: Sagar
LOCALITY: Ikkeri (Lat. 14° 08' N; Long. 75° 01' E)

Ikkeri,  a hamlet of Aralikoppa was under the direct control of the Kadambas of Banavasi.  Later Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas of Kalyana, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara kings held sway over this region. The Nayakas of keladi were the feudatories under the Vijayanagara kings in the early days of its existence. Later it grew into a powerful, independent kingdom with their capital at Keladi. During the reign of Chaudappa Nayaka (1499-1544 AD), the capital was shifted from Keladi to Ikkeri. The coins struck by the Keladi Nayakas here go by the name of 'Ikkeri pagodas' and 'fanams'.

The Aghoresvara temple built in granite in north-south orientation during the time of Keladi rulers, is a classical example of the Nayaka style of architecture. It comprises of a garbhagriha, an open sukanasi (ardhamandapa) and a large mukhamandapa with a separate pavilion for Nandi. Interiorly the floor in front of the shrine has effigies of three Keladi chiefs doing obeisance. The garbhagriha contains a gigantic pedestal sculptured with 32 seated female figures. The temple has a metal image of thirty-two handed Aghoresvara. In the sukanasi, is a small translucent nandi carved out of white spar. Flanking the sukanasi doorway on either side are two niches, containing sculptures of Ganesa and Kartikeya to right and Mahishamardini and Bhalrava to left. The front mukhamandapa is supported by carved pillars and has a narrow high jagati at the sides of the three entrances. Exteriorly, the sanctum has a huge sikhara with a sukanasa projection and is in the Dravidian order. The walls of the sanctum have double pilaster turrets. The outer walls of the mukhamandapa are pierced with three ornate doorways approached by balustrades. The northern main entrance is flanked by caparisoned elephants placed over high pedestal. The available wall space is provided with nearly twenty perforated windows with ornamental arches interspersed with figure sculptures. The nandimandapa has a huge couchant bull with a yali-balustraded steps at south. The adhisthana of the pavilion with conventional mouldings has floral depictions at a fairly high kantha moulding. Towards the west is Parvati shrine built on similar lines to the main temple with lesser dimensions and fewer sculptures. On plan, it has a garbhagriha, a sukhanasi, a small navaranga without pillars and a mukhamandapa closed on three sides and open towards the north. The temple of Aghoresvara, stylistically datable to 16th century AD, is a fine amalgamation of Hindu and Indo-Sarcenic styles of architecture.