Ancient Chalukyan Temples of Hubli


Hubli Dharwad always meant the seat of Carnatic music to me, for being the native place of many doyens of Indian Classical music. I went to explore the same legacy, but I also ended up discovering some ancient Shiva temples in Hubli. It was not easy to reach these Chalukyan Temples, but thanks to Google I knew I am in the vicinity and with a bit of persistence found these gems. I visited two temples, both belonging to the era of Chalukyas and belonging to the golden period of Indian temple architecture.

Chalukyan Temples Architecture.

Chalukyan temples architecture can be seen in places like Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal and the region around it. These temples lying at the intersection of North Indian and South Indian style temple architecture imbibe features from both styles. Though some say that they lean a bit more towards the Nagara or the North Indian style specially when it comes to the Shikhara or the superstructure.

Mandap Pillars at Banashankari temple, Chalukyan Temples, Amargol, Hubli
Mandap Pillars at Banashankari temple, typical Chalukyan temples, Hubli

Chalukyan temples typically face east. The main shrine is located in sanctum sanctorum that is connected by a vestibule or ardh-mandapa to a mandapa. Mandapa is an open platform supported by finely carved pillars. More often than not, these pillars are made of a single stone and hence not very tall. Mandapa is sometimes also called Navranga or Rang Mandapa and this area was probably used for ritual dances and celebrations. Mandapa in turn opens into an open platform on which the main temple structure stands. This platform with protruding projections presents the shape of a star. Apart from the main shrine that is dedicated to the presiding deity, the temple has subsidiary shrine dedicated to the family of the presiding deity usually. For example in a Shiva temple there would be shrines dedicated to his consort Parvati and his sons Ganesh and Kartik.

Places to visit in Hubli Dharwad.

At Hubli, Chalukyan temples, I could see similarities with temples of Warangal – like heavily carved doorjambs and latticed windows adjoining the doorjambs. I also noticed the small niches with Shikharas on the outer walls of the temples where I assume would have been idols.

Banashankari Temple, Amargol, Hubli.

Amargol is a small town located between Hubli and Dharwad. You need to take a small detour into the village and navigate through numerous narrow lanes. It is easier to walk through these lanes than drive. I saw a massive traffic jam there as narrow streets can not take more than one vehicle at a time. After asking many people I reached a dead end where everyone said ‘that is the temple’ and I just could not see it. I had to step forward and look behind the wall to see the temple that is completely hidden between the village houses.

Banashankari temple, Chalukyan Temples being restored, Amargol, Hubli
Banashankari temple being restored at Hubli

First look and it looked a beautiful temple and then I saw a huge boulder in front tied with a rope that was holding some parts of the temple together as it is being renovated by ASI. It is a practicing temple and I saw a woman sitting in the mandapa praying. A fresh Rangoli was drawn outside the temple. The presiding deity of this temple is Banashankari – a form of Shiva’s consort Parvati as Shankari living in the forests. The main idol, facing east was adorned with fine silk, flowers and sandal paste. If the Parvati rules the temple Shiva cannot be away – he sits in another chamber as Linga and faces South his favored direction. Unfortunately the workers working on the restoration of the temple use this chamber as storeroom, but thankfully left small space around the Shiva Linga.

Goddess Banashankari Idol at Amargol, Chalukyan Temples, Hubli
Goddess Banashankari Idol at Amargol, Hubli

Temple restoration is in progress and I could see the elements of Shikhara arranged on the floor to be assembled. I could not find a reference dating this temple but my guess is it should be late 10-11th CE temple going by the architectural elements.

Architectural features that stood out at Banashankari temple.

  • The wide doorjamb that is intricately carved.
  • The carved Mandapa Pillars and the Ceiling of the Mandapa.
  • A dilapidated Shikhara or superstructure that barely maintains its shape indicating a Nagara Style Shikhara.
  • The platform has a stepped diamond shape.
  • It is a Dvikuta temple or a temple with two shrines.
  • Hope to see this temple when it is restored.

Chandramouleshwara Temple, Unkal, Hubli.

Located near the well-known Unkal Lake in Hubli, this temple too needs to be searched a bit though not as much as Banashankari temple. I reached this temple passing through streets with many bullock carts parked. The temple is boxed on all sides by construction that has cropped up all around it. At first look the temple looks very flat as the Shikhara is totally missing but as I went closer its beauty started revealing itself.

Chandramouleshwara temple, Chalukyan temples at Unkal, Hubli
Chandramouleshwara temple, Chalukyan temples at Unkal, Hubli

Chandramouleshwara temple is dedicated to Shiva and what is unique about this temple is the presence of two lingas and two Nandis. The smaller Shiva Linga has an oval shaped Yoni and is a chaturlinga or a linga with four faces carved on it. The other linga looks from a later period. The temple is absolutely symmetrical with four doors in four directions. As of now only one door – I think the one facing north is open. You can go around and see all the four doors and the carvings on the exquisite doorjambs. I found an uncanny resemblance to the Kakatiya temples of Warangal – specially the latticed parts around the doorjambs with carvings of musicians and dancers. Chandramouleshwara temple is multi-tiered and there are sanctums inside the sanctums taking to the total count of doors of the temple to twelve. A pradakshina path or a circumambulatory path goes around the chalukyan temple.

Latticed window at Chandramouleshwara temple, Chalukyan Temples
Latticed window at Chandramouleshwara temple, Hubli

Inscriptions place this temple somewhere in 11th CE making it the contemporary of Chandela temples of Khajuraho and Chola Temples of Tanjore. I saw people coming and praying at the Chalukyan temple, but there seems to be no effort to preserve the temple. There are obvious encroachments all around the temple compound. I wish ASI looks at it empathetically.

Chaturlinga at Chandramouleshwara temple, Chalukyan Temples, Hubli
Chaturlinga at Chandramouleshwara temple, Hubli

Unique features of Chandramouleshwara Temple.

  • Multi-tiered temple.
  • Perfect symmetry with doors on all sides.
  • Pierced or latticed windows allowing the light inside the chalukyan temple.
  • Intricately carved doorjambs with bottom panel showing people, who could be rulers of the time or patrons of temples or subsidiary deities, standing.
  • Two Shiva Lingas and Two Nandis.
  • Missing Shikhara but still a practicing temple as deities are intact.
Carved Doorjamb
Carved Doorjamb

Interestingly the houses around both these Chalukyan temples too had very beautifully carved wooden doorjambs. Every house had a different color and style placed perfectly around a strong wooden doorjamb that looked more like the foundation of the house than an entrance.

You only have to visualize India of 10-11th CE when all these Chalukyan temples would have been at their best and not surrounded by so many other structures.

These are the Places to visit in Hubli Dharwad if you have an interest in the heritage, history and architecture.

Recommend you to read following Travel Blog on Places to visit in Hubli Dharwad & near by.


  1. Lovely temples and will add them to my wish list of temples to see in Karnataka. Thanks for sharing and great reading about them in your blog.

  2. Beautiful ! I never knew about these temples being in Karnataka. Chalukyan’s contribution to temple architecture is priceless. Thanks for introducing to these less known places

    • Most people in Hubli Dharwad did not know of these temples so I guess we really need to put lot of light on them.Yes Chalukyan temples can be seen right from Andhra to Western Karnataka.

  3. Correction: its not seat of carnatic(Karnataka) music ..Hubballi-Dharwad is seat of Hindustani music..all singers such as Gangubai Hangal,Mallikarjun MansurGurutaj Rajaguru Sawai Gandharva, Puttaraj Gawai and Bheemsen Joshi all are Hindustani singers.

  4. After going through this post i was determined to visit these temples on my visit to Hubli.I was able visit only the Chandramoulishwara temple ,the beauty of which is breath taking.and it is also sad to see the plight of the temple today. ihope tosee the Banashsankari temple next time.Not much people know its existence. only when we specifically askedthe wheareabouts of the chalukyan temple people directed us to this temple.thank you for making us aware of its existence Anuradhaji.

  5. Nice article. I studied in Hubli in B V B college but not seen this temple.
    Would love to go in the future. Thanks for sharing..

  6. Hi Anuradha,

    Thanks for sharing the information . We had got a chance to visit this place because our owner was a local person and had told us what are the places we can visit .His information was quite useful and as he was a local man we had no problem to stay ,food ,language.its a beautiful place and i recommend everyone to visit this place at least once in their lifetime.