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Mahaakuta Temple – A 6th Century Picnic Spot

Mahaakuta. 2Vishnu Pushkarani.All Hindu Temples are places of reverance, silence and discipline. But the ‘Mahaakuta Temple’ in Bagalkot’s District, 16 Kms from Badami railway station is a picnic spot – the action being evident at the temple pond, called ‘Vishnu Pushkarani’. This Temple is said to be built in the 6th Century by the Chalukya Leader, Mangalesha during the reign of the great Chalukya King Pulukeshin I.
There were 18 Temples built during their time, today there are 24 shrines! The architecture is termed as ‘Badami Chalukya Style’ or ‘Vesara Style of Architecture’ simply put, it’s a hybrid of ‘Nagara’ style of architecture from Northern part of India and the ‘Dravidian’ architecture from South India. The temple Tower or the Gopura in is a curvilinear tower which adds great beauty to the aesthetics of this 6th Century stone temple. This century’s Karnataka artisans have achieved certain electicism with their work in this region.
The Mahaakuta Temple Pillar called the ‘Dharma Vijayasthamb’ has inscription in Sanskrit and Kannda describing the lineage of the ‘Chalukyas’, their achievements and their victories. The Chalukya Queen, Durlabhadevi donated 10 villages including Aihole and Patadakal to Lord Mahaakuteswara or Lord Shiva in honour of the Chalukya’s victories in wars waged. Another inscription acknowledging the concubine Vinapoti of King Vijayaditya (696-733) can be found under the arch of the temple mantapas.
The Shiva Linga here has 5 faces of Lord Shiva on all sides and one on top and is called ”Pancha Lingeshwra’ here. A sculpture of Lord Shiva in ‘half-man… half-woman form’ is found here, this form gets him the name ‘Ardha-Narieshwara’. There’s also a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu here in the walled temple complex. The temples are not in ruins, poojas, rituals and worship goes on with fevour each day. A lot of people throng to this area for worship as pilgrims and enjoy themselves as picnickers. The noise inside the temple complex is deafening. The temple authorities serve lunch as prasad.
The temple pond ‘Vishnu Pushkarani’ is fed by a perineal mountain spring which flows through the temple complex and empties into this pond which has never dried up even during severe drought. The excess water flows out of the walled temple complex and feeds the irrigation needs of the village. It is believed that the source of the spring is from Kashi or Varnasi – the ‘Ganga’. Hence this place is referred at times as ‘Dakshina Kashi’ or ‘Varnasi of the South’. It’s believed that one’s sins are washed away with a dip in this temple pond.
The temple is open to public from 6 am to 6 pm. The best season to visit Mahaakuta is from September to February, the summer months are terrible here. It’s better to include Mahaakuta in your tour plans when visiting Badami – Aihole – Patadakal. This place has no staying facilities or restaurants. Your nearest base to stay should be Badami. All these places can be toured within a day. Mahaakuta is 460 Kms from Bangalore.
Local transportation are buses, vans, autos etc. Please carry cash, snacks and water with you. The nearest railway station is Badami. It’s better to have your own transport to save time and comfort.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography

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