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Tripurantesvara Temple, Belligavi

DISTRICT: Shimoga; TALUK: Shikaripur
LOCALITY: Bellgavi (Lat. 140 54' N; Long. 740 29' E)
APPROACH: AIRPORT: Bengaluru; RAILWAYSTATION: Shimoga; BUS STATION: Belligavi

Belligavi, also referred to as Belgami, Belligave, Balligamve, Ballipura in inscriptions was the royal city of Banavasi-12000. It is connected with the demon king Bali according to some lithic records. It was a place of such antiquity that even in the 12th  century AD it was called as Anadi rajadhani (capital of ancient cities) and the mother of cities. It was an important centre for learning and contained five mathas and three puras, besides seven Brahmapuris connected with temples. It is also called as Dakshina Kedara due to its religious importance.

The Tripurantesvara temple is situated to the north-west of the present village.  This temple of Hoysala period is datable to circa 12th century AD and has two parallel shrines facing east. Both the shrines have been built over an indented jagati. The shrine to the north has the sanctums at west and north with respective antarala and ardhamandapa opening into a mahamandapa at east. The mahamandapa of this shrine has a central square podium with massive square based circular pillars. Towards the extreme end of the (east) mandapa is a huge couchant bull exquisitely carved. The eastern and western walls of the mahamandapa have devakoshtas. The southern shrine also has a garbhagriha, an ardhamandapa, an open pillared mahamandapa with provision of kakshasana and jagati. This mahamandapa has two entrances at east and south with a projected mukhamandapa at south. The austere jagati with conventional pada, adho-kumuda, high kantha and pattika with kudu arches has yali balustraded steps at east. The temple exhibits exemplary workmanship in its southern shrine and the central part of the open mahamandapa. The mahamandapa has artistic circular lathe-turned pillars which once carried bracket sculptures.The elaborately sculptured doorvways have jambs adorned with scrolls, flower dancers and intertwined nagas, carrying a lintel adorned with an ornate Gajalakshmi. The door-jamb of the main shrine have Rati and Manmatha on one side and Daksha Brahma and his consort on the other. The lintel of the doorway has an excellent sculpture of Siva as Gajasurarnardana flanked by Brahma, Ganesa, Vishnu, Mahishamardini and other deities.