The Harihareshwara Temple at Harihar (near Davangere) in Karnataka state, Bharat, was built in c. 1223–1224 CE by Polalva, a commander and minister of the Hoysala Empire King Vira Narasimha II. In 1268 CE, Soma, a commander of King Narasimha III of the same dynasty made some additions.
The temple houses the deity Harihara, a fusion of Bhagwan Vishnu and Shiva. The image of the deity is a fusion of the right vertical half of Shiva and left vertical half of Vishnu. The image holds in its right hand, the attributes of Shiva (trishul or trident) and in the left hand, those of Vishnu (Sankh or conch). However, the deity of Harihara does not have feet and anklet and it is most likely that they were damaged.
According to a Hindu legend, a demon named Guha (or Guhasura) once lived in these parts. Guha successfully appeased Hindu God Brahma with his penance and obtained a boon, by virtue of which, it would be impossible for either Hari (Vishnu) or Hara (Shiva) to singly kill him. Guha then became a regular tormentor of gods and humans alike. In order to overcome Brahma’s boon and eliminate Guha, Vishnu and Shiva together took the form of Harihara (a fusion), came down to earth and killed the demon. The descent of the incarnation on earth is said to be at nearby place known as Kudalur, at the confluence of the rivers Tungabhadra and Haridra.
The material used for the temple is soapstone (also called potstone). Old Kannada inscriptions dated 12th and 13th centuries can be found in this temple. The hills of Harihareshwar, Pushpadri, Harishinachal and Bramhadri surround this place. The mandapa of the temple is square in shape. The pillars (58 in number) and the ceiling of the mandapa have exclusive architecture and decoration like lotuses.
The temple consists of garbhagriha, an antaralaya, a navaranga maha mandapa followed by a spacious multi-pillared sabhamandapa with an entrance in the North-South and West. The entrance gateway (mahadvara) was originally constructed with five stories, but currently all its stories are gone.
The navaranga has a porch in the south and north. The temple tower is rebuilt with red stone in bricks as the original one (soapstone) was damaged. Harihareswara temple is also known as Dakshina Kasi and Guharanya Kshetra. There are more than sixty inscriptions found at Harihar. Many of these inscriptions are documented in Epigraphia Carnatica vol XI (the book that contains the epigraphy of the old mysore region).
The architectural beauty of this temple is to be seen and enjoyed which cannot be described in words. The pillars and the carvings are chiseled and constructed with precision. This temple is a protected monument under Archeological Survey of India. Harihareshwar region is also known for clean and pristine sandy beaches located nearby with few hours journey.
How to reach Harihar –
Harihar is 14 kms from Dawangere. Located on the National highway 4 (Pune- Bangalore) it lies 275 kms north of Bangalore. The nearest Airport is at Hubli (131 kms) followed by Mangalore (272 kms) and Bangalore (275 kms). Harihar is well connected with most of the major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Bellary and Chennai through regular trains.
(Featured image source: karnatakatravel.blogspot.com)
Did you find this article useful? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.