Oct 14, 2009

Rani Attimabbe & Lakkundi Temples

Temple tales

The temples at Lakkundi in Gadag district have been declared protected monuments by the Archaeological Survey of India. A visit to some of these temples will throw light on the need for preserving these heritage sites, says Shyam Sundar Vattam.

Gadag district has been termed one of the most backward districts in the State due to the long spell of drought faced by it. In spite of being backward from many aspects, Gadag district in north Karnataka has been home to many ancient temples. The only difference has been that the number of people who visit the temples here is much less when compared with the archeological sites in south Karnataka. This is mainly because of the lack of facilities and inadequate

Of late, this place is gaining importance because of the Lakkundi Utsav, a cultural festival held every year to honour an outstanding woman writer in Kannada with the Attimabbe award. It is mainly through this festival that the people in other districts have got to know about Lakkundi.

Lakkundi is a village situated about 12 kms from Gadag City. It is on the Gadag-Bellary Road. It is considered unique because of its 101 temples, 101 wells and 101 lingas. It is believed Lakkundi was known as Valurapura during the period of King Shibhi. Although there is no inscription to prove it, residents of this village say it finds a mention in the Puranas. Most of the inscriptions found in and around Lakkundi speak of the social condition of the period, construction of
temples and gifting of land by people for building temples. The coins found here lend credence to the presence of a mint in the 11th and 12th century at Lakkundi . The coins made out of gold from this mint were called Lokkinishka or Lokkigadanya. The inscriptions found in Managundi give details about the gold coins from this mint which was under the control of a person, Amajashetty. These coins were in circulation in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in those days. These collections reflect the glory of this place during the period. Even now, the people of this village search for these coins whenever heavy rains lash the village.

Many poets have described the glory of Lakkundi. The Chalukyas of Kalyani built a number of temples at this place. These temples were damaged during the attack by the Cholas in 1087 and they were subsequently restored by the rulers. Every stone in these temples speaks of the richness of this dynasty.

An inscription found at Annigeri in Navalgund taluk says that Goggarasa damaged a number of Jaina basadis in the region to check the growing popularity of Jainism in 1184. When he was about to damage Jain basadis at Lakkundi, Goggarasa came to know that it was built by Rani Attimabbe and went back. Attimabbe constructed about 1500 Jain basadis and the 1501st basadi was built in 1007 AD. While the fate of the 1500 basadis is not known, the last one is in
Lakkundi. This basadi collapsed in 1040 AD, but it was rebuilt by Bharatarya in 1048-49 and renamed Brahma Jinalaya.

Attimabbe was born in 950 AD to Mallappa and Appakabbe at Punganur in Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh. She got married to Nagideva in 965 AD and lost her husband in 984 AD. In spite of this personal tragedy, she continued to promote the cause of religion. She along
with her uncle collected 'Ajita Purana' the work of Poet Ranna, go it copied onto 1000 palm leaves and distributed it to people. Apart from religious work, the queen was known for philanthropic work which fetched her the title 'Dana Chintamani'.

Some of the important temples of Lakkundi are: Nanneshwara, Trikoota Basaveshwara, Chandramouleshwara, Kumbareshwara, Kote Veerabhadreshwara, Neelakanteshwara, Halagunda, Basavanna Virupaksha, Laxminarayana, Manikeshwara and Virupaksha.

According to officials, the district administration has chalked out a number of programmes to promote Lakkundi as a place of historical importance. Plans are afoot to undertake excavation in and around Lakkundi to gather more information about the place. All the temples at Lakkundi have been declared protected monuments by the Archeological Survey of India. A visit to these temples will throw light on the need for preserving these heritage sites.

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