Aralaguppe is a small village in the Tiptur taluk. Aralaguppe is considered the 'museum of temples.' The Kalleswara and Chennakeshava temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu respectively are main attractions. They are built by Nolambas and Hoysalas respectively.

Chennakeshava Temple, Aralaguppe
Kalleshwara Temple, Aralaguppe

Kalleshwara temple is a pre-Hoysala structure. Its mukhamantapa ceiling, is considered the most beautiful sculpture found in the State. The extraordinary ceiling of the mukhamantapa, with the Nolambas style portrayal of Umasahita (Shiva and Parvati together) at the central panel, is a stark contrast with the otherwise ordinary interior.

LocationTumkur district, Karnataka
Best time to visitSeptember - March

Consisting of garbagriha, antarala, and a mukhamantapa, the temple's sanctum sanctorum is adorned with a huge black-granite Shivalinga.

While the adhishtana is made of granites, the temple's walls and towers are constructed with bricks. The outer walls are insipid without projections and recesses, but for the lone niche at the antarala that divides the vimana from the mukhamantapa. Pilasters built closer at the temple's interiors however, appears more refreshing.

The extraordinary ceiling of the mukhamantapa, with the Nolambas style portrayal of Umasahita (Lord Shiva and Parvati together) at the central panel, is a stark contrast with the otherwise ordinary interior.

The image of Gajalakshmi on the doorway adds charm to the place. The four lathe-cum-pillars, with cubical bases, supports the navaranga's ceiling. Apart from the Shiva-Parvati panel, the ceiling has eight other carvings of ashtadikpalakas, depicted with their consorts and vehicles. Four vidyadharas, with garlands in their hands, face up to the Natesha (with the expression of approaching him from the corners of the panel's beams).

These garland-bearing vidyadharas are quite common to Nolamba architecture; a clear evidence of the elegance and comprehensiveness of their style. The Natesha, meanwhile, is a remarkable three-dimensional image, wearing jewels such as the katibandana and tassels. The dancing lord is accompanied by three bhutas playing a three-headed percussion instrument. They are also seen with ayut and other symbols.

The northern and eastern lateral shrines contain idols of Keshava and Surya, while the southern one contains the Umasahita mounted over a large stele with a lotus pedestal and a prabhavali with a couple of flying vidyadharas.

The Chennakeshava temple, on the other hand, is a 13th century ekakuta shrine, familiar to Hoysala specialists.

Built on a hexagonal-star plan, the temple stands on a raised platform, with elephant idols (of four to five feet) at each corner is portrayed to be supporting the structure. The raised structure is also the typical feature of the Hoysala architecture.

The temple's vimana is a full star complete with towers. Figurines adorning it are lined up in six rows and contain a menagerie of elephants and cavalries interspersed with words from the scriptures. Yalis and hamsas with an additional row of scrolls that support the walls (common in Hoysala temples) are found here.

None of the 85 reliefs found in the outer walls contain images of Shiva, suggesting that this is a typical vaishnavite shrine. A later addition to the structure on the southern side obstructs its view from the side. The four lowest friezes extends from the closed hall as the base of the wall in the poach.

The wall's top portion has a group of elegant small towers and slanted seat-backs. The temple's interior is fairly elaborate, while the garbagriha has Keshava's cult images. Signatures over the sculptures here contain the name Honoja or Honnoja - the sculptor.

How to reach Aralaguppe

Aralaguppe is Located 20 km from Tiptur. Aralaguppe can be reached by trains running in the Bangalore - Tiptur - Arasikere route. Carry your own food, as the place has no restaurants. 120 km from Bangalore, the village can also be reached by road from Tiptur.