Ikkeri is about 4-5 Kms from Sagara depending on which end of Sagara are you at and which route you take to go out of the city. The traffic arrangements for the fair meant that we had to take the Sagara Outer Ring Road to get out of Sagara. Detailed map on the right. Ikkeri used to be the capital of Keladi Nayakas for some time. Keladi Nayakas were subordinate kings to the Vijayanagara emperors. As the empire fell into the hands of the Sultans, some of the subordinates declared independence. They provided good governance until being railed in by Hyder Ali and subsequently by the Brits. What remains now is just a glorious temple.
Once we enter the temple compound, we were welcomed by one of the best maintained lawns that I have seen in quite some time. It was pleasing, both to eyes to the feet. The good lawns in Bengaluru often come with the "Don't walk on grass" tag.
The main deity of the temple is Aghoreshwara. It is one of the several names of Lord Shiva. It means 'the lord of 14th night of the darker half of Bhadrapada month' to signify some noble act (probably slaying of some demon) performed by Shiva on that night. But outside the door of every temple for Lord Shiva, there has to be Nandi, the divine bull and Lord Shiva's ride. The bull always squats with its front leg bent to form a loop. It is a belief that if one can crawl below the leg, his wishes will all come true. In spite of it being so tempting, I passed the opportunity of seeing all my dreams made true by divine intervention.
Inside the temple, the roof is supported by majestic stone pillars with beautiful carvings. The center four pillars form four corners of a stage where perhaps the temple dancers danced during any religious congregations. The temple has chequered windows on the northern side that lets in the gentle nothernly sunlight at this time of the year. I can only imagine how wonderful the temple would have looked when the setting sun creates mesmerizing patterns through the windows. A little later, the light from oil wicks would take over and the loud chants of the mantras glorifying Lord Shiva would fill the air. How could anybody escape such mysticism? On either side of the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum, stand damsels guarding the entrance. Similar damsels also feature on wither side of the main entrance too. There is a Ganapathi statue to the left of the sanctum sanctorum as in every Shaivite temple. Although the temple is neat and tidy, the lack of professional 'archeological' maintenance is glaringly apparent.
Outside the compound of the temple is government mint (tankashaale) of Keladi kingdom. Even though the mint is long gone, it still attracts greedy believers who hope to unearth some gold coins during rainy season.
How to reach Ikkeri:
If you have access to Internet (duh!!) please click HERE to see the route from Sagara to Ikkeri on Google maps. Refer to my previous post to reach Sagara from Bengaluru.
Thanks Vinaya for being a wonderful guide.