It is a 13th century Hoysala era temple gem that is located just a few hours away from Bangalore. It is located in a small village that is associated with one of Indian cricket’s fast bowlers. I am talking about the offbeat Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple that is located in the pretty little laidback village called Javagal, the ancestral village of Indian cricketer Javagal Srinath.
This trikuta temple is one of many such lesser known gorgeous temples built during the reign of the Hoysala kingdom. Like most Hoysala era temples, the Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Javagal stands on a jagati (raised platform), beautiful moulding friezes and sculptures on the outer walls and lathe turned pillars, sukanasi and garbha griha on the inside. Where it differs from the other temples is that even though it is home to three shrines, it has only one shikhara. And its outer wall panel sculptures, reliefs and friezes are folkish in character and much different from the other Hoysala temples where the work is more intricate, well planned and laid out.
The main deity of this temple is Sridhara. The other two shrines are dedicated to Venugopala and Lakshmi Narasimha. As the main deity of this temple is Sridhara, some people also refer this temple to as Sridhara temple. This temple does not come under the archaeological survey of India and hence does not see much in terms of grants and regular maintenance, which is very sad, as it is an integral part of our country’s rich heritage. The main temple enclosure is full of thorns and weeds and a lot of restoration work is unscientific, but thankfully most of the original temple is still standing, even though it is a bit weather beaten.
It is a working temple and daily puja, mangalarti and archana is offered. Most people visiting this temple are pilgrims and you will hardly see any art, culture or temple lovers. That is how offbeat this temple is on the cultural circuit.
A typical visit to this temple would start with entering a mantapa with two elephant balustrades that were built in the Vijayanagara period. Then, you are greeted by a Garuda sthamba, two dwarapalas Jaya and Vijaya and then the ranga mantapa with the lathe turned pillars. From here, you can enter the main temple complex and its three shrines. If you stand in the vestibule, straight ahead would be the sukanasi and the garbha griha of Sridhara, to your left would be the shrine of Venugopala and to your right would be the shrine of Lakshmi Narasimha. The sukanasi and the vestibule connecting the 3 shrines have beautiful carvings, ceiling work and sculptures.
Now, coming to the outside of the temple, as you take a clockwise pradakshinam (circumambulation), you will notice the six equal width rectangular moldings or friezes close to your feet. Staring from the top, these friezes depict hansa (birds), makara (crocodiles), Hindu epics and other stories, leafy scrolls, horses and elephants. Right above these friezes, you will see close to 140 beautifully carved sculptures that include Chaturvimsati murtis (24 different aspects of Lord Maha Vishnu), Hari hara, Brahma, Goddess Parvati, Tandav Ganesha and more. Most of these sculptures were sculpted by the famous Hoysala temple artisan Mallitamma.
The Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Javagal is perfect for a Sunday day trip from Bangalore. It offers a beautiful mix of offbeat Hoysala temple, village atmosphere and a lush green landscape. It doesn’t matter whether you are an art, temple or culture lover, a student of archaeology or just a regular joe looking for a weekend getaway close to Bangalore, Javagal’s Lakshmi Narasimha temple and its surroundings are bound to appeal to all. I love such hidden gems and would recommend it with many thumbs up.
The temple is usually open from 6 AM to 7 PM. However, in case the temple is closed, you could either ask anyone for the house of the temple priest Narayana Swamy or you can try calling him on his mobile +91 94488 94575. If the temple priest is available and free, he will open the temple premises for you.
As this is a working temple, mangalarti takes place in the morning and evening. And may be a few more times on specific festival days or when the crowd is higher.
How to reach there:
There are two routes to reach Javagal. One is via Hassan highway and the other is via Shimoga highway. Below is the full route map.
1) Route 1: Hassan highway: Bangalore –> Nelamangala –> Kunigal –> Channarayapatna –> Hassan –> Halebeedu –> Belavadi –> Javagal
2) Route 2: Tiptur – Shimoga highway: Bangalore –> Nelamangala –> Kunigal > Yediyur –> Turuvekere –> Tiptur –> Arsikere –> Banavara –> Javagal
The nearest railway stations are Kadur and Birur. The nearest large bus station would be either Banvara or Hassan.
The nearest airport would be Mangalore international airport, but the one with the best connectivity would be Bangalore international airport.
Best season to visit:
It is good to visit Javagal all year round. You might have to visit early in the summer months as the days can get pretty warm.
Monsoons and post monsoons are best to see the surroundings covered in lush vegetation.
Where to stay
Basic budget accommodation can be found at Belur and Halebid.
For something more luxurious, look up Hoysala Village resort that is located between Belur and Hassan.
For something set amidst nature, look up the plantation stays and resorts located in and around Chickmagalur.
Where to eat:
You can get tea/coffee or biscuits at Javagal. Nothing more. If you are looking for restaurants that serve decent food, you will either have to head to Banvara, Halebid or Belur.
The best bet would be Belur as it has more choices available. Hoysala village resort that is located between Belur and Hassan would be the most luxurious option.
Other offbeat Hoysala temples nearby:
1) Veeranarayana temple at Belavadi
2) Lakshmi Devi temple at Doddagaddavalli
3) Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Nuggehalli
4) Sadashiva temple at Nuggehalli
5) Brahmesvara temple at Kikkeri
6) Panchalingeshwara temple at Govindanahalli
10) Chenna Keshava temple at Turuvekere
11) Ishvara temple at Arsikere
12) Chenna Keshava temple at Anekere
13) Mallikarjuna temple at Basaralu
14) Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Haranhalli
Other nearby tourist attractions:
1) Shettihalli roasary ruins in the Hemavati reservoir
2) The hill station and coffee estates of Chickamagaluru
3) The wide Hemagiri falls on the Hemavati river
4) The temple town of Melukote famous for its Iyengars and puliyogare
5) The Jain pilgrimage site of Shravanabelagola that is home to the mighty Baahubali statue
6) The hill station of Kemmangundi
7) The beautiful Hebbe falls surrounded by coffee estates
8) The absolutely photogenic Mysore palace
9) The butterfly forest of India called Bisle Ghat
10) The world famous Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid
11) The world famous Chenna Keshava temple at Belur
12) Bhadra tiger reserve that is known for river terns, tigers and leopards