Ancient temples in neglect

Halshi is an ancient town in Belgaum district with rich antiquity and many monuments

Halshi, 14 km from Khanapur town, which was the second capital of the early Kadambas and a minor capital under the Kadambas of Goa (980 AD - 1250 AD), is one of the ancient towns in Belgaum district with rich antiquity and many monuments. However, it suffers from the typical neglect by the authorities concerned. Halshi derived its name from “palasha” in Sanskrit. During the period of the early Kadambas, it was a centre of confluence of Jainism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism, and served as headquarters of Halasige-12,000 province constituting parts of Belgaum and the undivided Dharwad districts. Ancient temples dedicated to Bhoo Varaha Narasimha, Kapileshwar, Suvarneshwara, Kalmeshwara, Hatakeshwara (Gramadevata), Gokarneshwara and a Jaina basti built by the Kadamba rulers are found here. The temple of Bhoo Varaha Narasimha with two garbhagrihas (inner shrines) facing each other is a large complex built in the later Chalukyan style stands on a star-shaped platform. Originally, the temple had one shrine, housing a two-handed crude image of Narasimha, which was replaced by four-feet long idol of Narayana (sitting). The temple archak, Vishnu Venkatesh Parpattedar, says the idol of Narasimha is “swayambhu” or “udbhava” (natural creation), now seated on the left side of Narayana. There is also an idol of Goddess Lakshmi on His right side. The temple has two entrances from the north and south, while the garbhagriha facing the east, has an ardhamantapa doorway with fine pierced windows on either sides. The navaranga has octagonal granite pillars and a circular dancing dais in the centre and the ceiling has an inverted lotus motif. Only the main shrine of Narayana has shikhara built in the Kadambanagar style, which was later renovated. Facing Narayana is the other garbhagriha with a five-feet standing idol of Varaha installed in 1186-87 by Vijayaditya III. It also has a beautiful idol of Suryanarayana (Sun God) sculpted by the legendary Jakanachari. A stone inscription in Nagari script is also found. As per government records, the temple was built by Shivachitta, and Matayogi installed the idol of Ananta-Viravikrama Narasimha at the instance of the king’s mother in 1169 AD. However, the devotees believe in the legend that it was built by the Pandavas [of the Mahabharata] overnight who worshiped Lord Vishnu here while in exile. However, the archak says it was built some time during the 3rd or the 4th centuries but the exact date is not known. A few more temples are found within the premises of the main temple, but they area in a state of neglect. There are also cracks in the front wall of the main temple which needs immediate repair. Vishnu Venkatesh Parpattedar, who belongs to the ninth generation of the family which has been maintaining temple mainly by its own resources, said 200 acres of land under the temple, and maintained by the family, was acquired by the Government under the Tenancy Act in 1974-75. The Government annuity of Rs. 6,753 has been highly irregular and comes only after officials in Khanapurare “satisfied”. However, somehow they have been maintaining it and have been even organising annual festivities and car festivals with the help of devotees on the occasion of “Shige Hunnime”.

Vijaykumar Patil in Halshi, Belgaum district

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