The Search for Nandi

One question. Have you been to Gadag?

I was on the last leg of a bike trip which had only yours truly behind the curved handlebar of an Enfield Bullet. Amidst mouthful of air, I called a hotel at Gadag to enquire whether they had space for a soulful soul. Click, I had heard from the other side and then radio silence. Maybe they did not like the idea of whooshing air and my very punctured Kannada and Hindi. Anyways, a couple of calls later and I lurched myself into a motel cum lodge or whatever you may call it. By far, it was the worst piece of accommodation I landed myself into throughout my bike trip.

Gadag is a small but quaint town which would rarely warrant a stop and a look over. Hampi lies 62 km from Gadag. So when you have a place which is ranked 2nd by the New York Times amongst 52 places to visit in 2019, who would want to stop at Gadag. Mistake my friend, a big mistake.

Many a time I have wondered, why would anyone build anything in this place. If you have ever visited Warangal, there is a temple built by Pulakesi II near a large pond. You may click here to read more about it. How would the maps of olden times look like? I wonder. Now Gadag houses one of the most and the most exalted piece of Chalukyan architecture I have seen. I visited Gadag’s Someshwar temple of Lakshmeswar and Lakkundi’s Brahma Jinalaya.

Lakshmeshwar- No Hindi, no English.

From Gadag, all you do is re-orient the headlights of a car or a bike 13 km south. Within a short while, you will reach a beautiful village called  Lakshmeshwar. You can not go wrong with the directions leading to the precincts of Someshwara Temple. From the outside it will appear as a fort with a high wall running around the perimeter of Someshwar. The first look did not generate any big shake-up in my central nervous system. A second look barely made my right eyebrow rise. I took a water break and allowed some moments ( actually a good half hour) to pass.

Soon, a batch of school children ran in and made the temple lively. I fed off from their energy and soon made a third round of the temple. Like the sun rays in winters struggling to permeate the fog of Delhi, it dawned ever so slowly on me. I have not yet seen a Shiva Temple without his favorite mount- Nandi the Bull. Temples in Karnataka are famous for its magnificent Nandi rock sculptures. Patadakkal, Banavasi. Lepakshi  flash through my mind.

I became fully alert  and I began to question myself on the little knowledge, I have,  of India mythology. Someshwara is Shiva and Nandi is the Bull, and the two are inseparable. I went round the temple just in case I missed something right in front of my eyes!!

A mini verandah

The Horse Riders of Someshvara

My Prayers

A very Hoysalan style temple 

The Revelation

Then where art thou, Nandi? I then met the chief priest whose fluency in Hindi exactly matched my eloquence of Latvian. I drew a camera in the air and pressed the imaginary shutter button  and pointed towards the sanctum sanctorum.  He replied with a vigorous thumbs up. I took my camera inside and peered through the viewfinder. And Lo! There they were…Shiva astride the Nandi. I do not think this unique combination can be seen anywhere. I request readers to bring to my attention  to any such places they have been to.

Moments like these maketh up the price of fuel and breathing carbon monoxide from the exhaust pipes of trucks! I began to view this temple in a new light. What is the history of this temple? Who built it?  There are several stone tablets which have been unearthed and arranged in rows. Generally, these stone tablets contain information about the acts of donation to the temple by the local King or his chieftains. Unfortunately, there were no plaques or information boards to throw light on these findings.  The priest shrugged his shoulders and said: “no Hindi no English.” I usually get worked up when I come across situations like this. But strangely, for once, I was cool with it.

One will also come across a step well within the temple but for some reason it was barricaded and closed for viewing. Sad!

I do have the pic of Shiva & Nandi but chose not to post it here. What’s life without feeling of wanting to go somewhere and see something unique? And the next time you spy a signboard which reads  “Gadag” , do take a halt and visit Someshwara of Lakshmeshwar.

How to approach Gadag:

From Mumbai:

You need take Mumbai-Kolhapur-Belgaum-Hubli -Gadag route.

From Bangalore:

You need to take Bangalore-Chitradurga-Kotturu–Mundargi-Gadag route

Stay:

I stayed at Shivani Inn. Not a great place. No lift. Hence if you have senior citizens in your group, then not a hotel you would like to stay. Pre-book hotels before you arrive at Gadag.

The next stop is Lakkundi. Have you ever fell in love with a door frame?  Coming up shortly!

Until then Ciao!!


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