Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rameswara Temple, Keladi


Keladi Nayaks were originally feudatory of the Vijaynagar empire. Choudappa Nayak was the original founder of the dynasty 1499 – 1540 who was basically a commander under the emperor Krishnadevaraya, who suggested he should take over as Governor of the territory to protect the interest Vijaynagar Empire.

History of Keladi Nayaks origin :

There is an interesting story on the founders of the Keladi dynasty. The two brothers Chavuda Cauda and Bhadra Cauda were originally residents of Hale-bayal in the Chadragutti pargana. They utilized two slaves Murari and Yadav to cultivate their field along with cows. One day their cow was shedding her milk over an ant hill. The slaves reported the miraculous events to their master immediately. Cauda brothers ordered the slaves to excavate the site. They discovered a small Linga, and the brothers decided that it was auspicious sign and they decided to build a temple on the very spot. After some days while ploughing their fields they came across an old sword which was buried in the field. The brothers kept it safely on the roof top so that they will smelt it, to make a scythe. Later they observed that crows were falling dead on the roof top. Than they realized that the sword had some miraculous power to vanquish enemies. Chavuda took possession of the sword and got it cleaned and polished. This sword was named Nagamuri. When the slaves were ploughing the field after a few days they stuck a cauldron which was filled with gold ornaments and coins. The brothers immediately buried the treasure inorder to secure them away from jealous neighbours. One night Chavuda had a dream that inorder to take possession of the treasures they should undertake human sacrifice. On hearing the dream the slaves volunteered to become volunteers for human sacrifice under the condition that their families will be protected and their names will be immortalized. In the dawn the slaves were beheaded and offered to the goddess as appeasement. The brothers now took possession of the treasure and raised a small army in surrounding villages. Thus the Keladi dynasty was formed. Even today at the enterance the human sacrifical mound is present, which is known as Katte.


The greatest ruler of the Keladi dynasty was Shivappa Naik ( 1645 – 1665 ) who is credited to have built the famous Bekal fort and many other forts in the surrounding districts. After his demise there was a vaccum of leadership, later Somshekar Nayak ( 1665- 1677 ) ruled the entire territory. In the initial years he was busy fighting wars to consolidate the territory. He married Chennamma in 1667 and enjoyed a good family life. But he fell prey to vice of a courtesan Kalvathi. He ignored his wife Chenammajji. He started ignoring the administration of an empire. The king moved over to courtesans residence to further his vice of drinking and sexual escapades. Her foster father Bramha Mauta was an expert in Black magic, he took over the mind of the king who now became a puppet in his hands. Somshekar turned mad and started committing atrocities against women. One account states that he had murdered a pregnant women with his own hands. He started lusting at every opportunity and tried to rape women. This behaviour compelled a brahmin Sommayya to murder the king and forever get rid of the monstor. He was however given death sentence by Shiv Bhaktas, who claimed that he had bought disrepute to their creed.

The Bahamani kings were waiting and watching to take advantage of the situation arising out of the king being weak and totally surrendered to vices. They decided to check out the preparedness of the Keladis. Rani Chenammaji became alert because of the spy network. She wore the mantle of a commander and successfully warded off the enemy attack. 

In 1679 she took over the mantle from her husband.and started amidst conspiracy in the kingdom for overthrowing a weak women ruler. But she outsmarted all her enemies and hung some of the traitors for treason to teach others a lesson. In fact her commander wanted his son to named as a heir to the kingdom. But she refused and jailed the commander for treason against the Queen.

Meanwhile the war clouds were looming on the border with Aurangazebs son in hot pursuit of Shivaji’s son Rajaram. Against all advice she protected the son of the great Shivaji Maharaj, listened to the tales of horror. She than safely packed off Rajaram to Gingee where he survived till he was recalled by Maharaj. Thus Keladi Chenamma became a firm ruler calling the shots against adversary. She was happy that she was able to set an example to traitors.

She adopted Basappa Nayak who was trained to become the future king. He was trained in warfare, administration and leading the army against enemies. At the age of 16 Basappa Nayak was crowed as the king of Keladi kingdom. Thus Chenamma 1679 - 1697 after a reign of nearly 18 years handed over the strong empire.

Rameswara temple : At the outset as one enters the temple it looks like a residence with an ordinary tiled roof building looming out of the middle of the road. It looks like any other traditional house in most coastal Karnataka with mangalore tiles adorning the roof.

One inside the complex one finds transformation into a ancient structure. The three temple complex houses the Rameswara diety ( Linga and Nandi ), Veerabhadra and Ganesh. The pillars are beautifully decorated with mythical gods and animals. On the ceiling one finds the mythical bird two headed Garudabande.

Inside the temple complex one can find various statues the famous one is of Lord Ganesh and Veerabhadra. If one observes closely statue of Rani Chenamma is also installed riding a horse. Below Lord Ganesh Rani Chenamma is paying respect along with her consorts. On the reverse of the temple complex which is almost facing the enterance a vastu diagram is sketched on full wall panel. There is a huge manasthamba on the back yard of the temple. It seems temple has been altered subsequently according to vastu traditions.

Many a blogs point out that Chenamma ruled for 25 years which may be wrong according to evidence collected from Shimoga Library. Nevertheless it does not belittle one of greatest women rulers of ancient India.

Museum : There is a Museum located outside the Keladi Rameswara temple which is run by the state government. Many a times it is closed on holidays too. 10 to 5 pm is the official timings on the weekdays.

Location : Keladi is just 8 kms from Sagar town on the Sorab road.  Other nearby spots are Jog falls, Ikkeri, Hosgunda, Chandraguti within driving distance.

India Backpacker


Team G Square said...

Nice post .

Deguide said...

Dhiraj the article in Spectrum can be referred which is directly inspired by my article, but differently formatted with some additions.

Rajesh said...

Wonderfully written. I had been here on a rainy day and could not spend much time.


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