Balligave, (baLLigAve)(ಬಳ್ಳಿಗಾವೆ) also known as beLagAmi is a small village at a distance of about two kilometers from Shiralakoppa in Shivamogga district was one of the most celebrated cities in Karnataka for a number of centuries. This village is situated in the proximity of Banavasi. It was a focal point of religion, trade, education, art and architecture.
As usual Balligave is associated with two
mythological situations. Firstly, the emperor
These legends apart, most of our conclusions are based on more than 120 inscriptions found here. The inscriptions are much more reliable and they throw a lot of light on the history of Balligavie which was known by different names such as valligrAme, baLLigAme, vaLLirgAme and bali rAjadhAni.
Even though the town was in existence during the seventh century itself it came in to prominence during the regime of Kalyani Chalukyas and Kalachuryas. The city reached its zenith in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It was ruled by kundamarasa, vikramaditya-vi and able cheiftains appointed by the king Bijjala at various points of time. The city received generous donations from these emperors and many temples were built. However itinerant confrontations with the kings belonging to Hoysala dynasty resulted in gradual decay. Not much remains today to exhibit and preserve. But there are irrefutable inscriptional evidences to re construct the past.
To begin with, Balligave has seen a confluence of
religions such as Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and Tantric Shaivism.
The trade activities of the powerful merchants of the Badami Chalukya dynasty were shifted to Balligave from Aihole. These traders with their pan Indian and oceanic contacts were rich enough to maintain these activities.
Even though some ruins and relics of Balligave point to Shathavahana and Kadamba styles of architecture, hey days of this city coincides with the reign of Kalyani Chalukyas and its aftermath. Consequently that style is predominant. A number of inscriptions mention a galaxy of temples built in Balligave such as Trilokeshvara, Nandikeshvara, Kusumeshvara, Malleshvara, Veera Keshava, NArasimha, Ashtopavasi Bhatarara Basadi, Golapayyana Basadi and Jayantiprabha Bauddhavihara. None of them have stayed to show case their glory.
However three temples that have survived the ravages of time and vandalism are Tripurantaka, Panchalinga and Kedareshvara. All the three of them have rich architectural wealth to display.
Tripurantaka temple built in 1070 A.D. is note worthy because of its sculptural beauty. It has two ‘Sanctum Sanctorums’ (Garbhagudis) one of them houses Shiva and the second is the abode of Keshava. Both these gods have their own retinue carved with intricate details. More interestingly, the out side walls of this temple have beautiful panels depicting the stories of Panchatantra. Familiar stories with tortoises, swans and foxes as their protagonists have come to life in these stone panels. This importance given to secular themes is unique.
Only the Garbhagudi and Sukanasi of the Panchalinga
temple are remaining today. Rest of the temple is reconstructed. Many icons
from this place are now displayed in
Believed to be made out of soap stone,
Balligave is believed to be the place of birth of Allamaprabhu the great Veerashaiva saint, poet and mystic. Shantalaa the dancer queen of the Hoysla king Vishnuvardhana was born with the blessings of Lord Dharmaeshvara in Balligave.
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