Karnataka · Travel

Keladi Rameshwara Temple: of timeless art and architecture


The history of South India dates back over 4000 years and this period saw the rise and fall of multiple dynasties like the Cholas, Cheras, Pallavas, Pandyas etc.  Most of these emperors built elaborate temples as a mark of their authority, establishment and power.  Moreover, temples at that time were not only places of worship but also the ‘nuclei‘ of all activity including art and culture.

All this, resulted in the evolution of distinctive styles of architecture that is still today, a reflection of our glorious past.  These temples, thus,  are a picture of the architectural brilliance and superlative craftsmanship that existed in the ancient times.

A temple built by the Cholas

One such famous town is the temple town of Keladi that is located in the in Sagara Taluk of Karnataka state.  At a distance of about 8 km from Sagara town, Keladi was the erstwhile capital of the Nayakas who were once a part of the famous Vijaynagar empire.  They asserted their independence and ruled over this region after the fall of the latter.

The town of Keladi is synonomous with the renowned Rameshwara Temple which is of the finest examples of the Nayaka style of architecture.  Built by Chowdappa Nayaka, the temple also has influences of the Hoysala and Dravidian style of architecture.  The entrance to the temple is simple yet elegant with wooden pillars supporting a brick tiled roof which then opens up into a large courtyard complex.

Keladi Rameshwara temple


A closer look at the sculptures
A closer look at the sculptures


The temple encloses three shrines, namely that of Parvati,  Rameshwara and Veerabhadra.   Lord Rameshwara is depicted in the form of a “Linga” in front of which there is the statue of the Holy bull or Nandi.  The ceiling and pillars of the Parvati temple are made up of intricately carved wood.  The patterns on the ceiling in particular are exquisite and the best part is that it includes a pattern of several unique flowers no two which are the same!

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The Veerabhadra temple has the beautiful Vijayanagar-style pillars with carvings of horses, lions and other legendary animals.  There are several exclusive and truly unique sculptures on the walls and ceiling here.  The first one is of the “Navagrahas” or nine planets and the second being the “Nagamandala” or the serpent motif.

The serpent motif
The serpent motif

The third is that of “Gandaberunda”, which is the mythical two-headed bird of Karnataka.  The bird is depicted as holding a lion with its mouth and an elephant by its claws and is supposed to be the epitome of immense strength.  It is, in fact,  the symbol of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRCTC) in the present times.

Carving of Gandaberunda
Carving of Gandaberunda

The statue of the Daksha Prajapati with his goat-head and the carving of the Vastu Purush or the God of structures are some of the really rare sights that can be seen here.  Per our guide, these structures are not seen anywhere else in Karnataka.

Statue of Dakshaprajpati
Statue of Dakshaprajpati
God of structures
God of structures

The massive 24-feet pillar or Mahasthambha in the backyard which has a Ganesha deity with Rani Chennamma paying respects along with her consorts is yet another highlight of the temple.


Close to the temple is the Keladi Museum and Historical research bureau which houses some rare artifacts and a rich collection of palm-leaf manuscripts reigning back to the Keladi Nayaka reign.

This article was originally published in Happy trips; click here to read the full article.  Click here and here to read about other ancient Indian temples.

37 thoughts on “Keladi Rameshwara Temple: of timeless art and architecture

  1. I admire & bow to the architectural feats they have accomplished:) The carvings , the sculptures, thrilled me to bits. Thank you for sharing Rashmi. Yet another beautiful exploration! I truly enjoy your temple visits and the enormous history you share with us?
    Whenever we’ve visited temples such as these, I can’t help but travel back in time & envision the bustle of activities.

  2. This temple is really a gem of the Nayak’s era. Last year I had been to this place and really enjoyed that trip. Not far from this temple is the Aghoreshwara temple of Ikkeri, which is another architectural marvel of the Nayaks. Thank you very much for sharing this.

  3. I see there are many unique aspects to this temple, which I’ve never read of earlier -up (you’ve mentioned explicitly about it too).

    Wonderful narration and exquisite coverage!

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