Keladi, (ಕೆಳದಿ) now a small village at a distance of about eight kilometers to the north of Sagara town in Shivamogga district has known better days and it was the capital of a well known dynasty in medeival Karnataka. This was under the control of kings belonging to the ‘Santara’ (sAntara) in the twelfth century. A decimated inscription erected by Tribhuvanamalla Bhujabala Pratapa Shantarasa is found in the village and bears evidence to this fact. However, the place assumed greater importance in the early sixteenth century during the Vijayanagara dynasty, when the king Krishnadevaraya bequeathed some land to Chaudagowda the founder of the Keladi dynasty and declared him as a cheiftain. This place continued to be the capital of Keladi dyanasty for sixty years before the capital was shifted to Ikkeri and much later to Bidanur. However Keladi did not lose its importance altogether and continued to be the abode of royal fancies. The relics of the old town in the form of sites, ponds, temples, palaces and maths are found even to this day.

There are three temples built during different intervals of time by different kings but housed in the same compound. They are Rameshvara temple, Veerabhadra temple and Parvathi temple.

The Rameshvara linga was installed by Chaudagowda the founder of the dynasty in a small hutment. But it acquired architectural granduer during the regime of Sadashivanayaka and Venkatappanayaka the elder in the seventeenth century. The style is an admixture of Dravida, Hoysala and Islamic styles. The entire temple stands on a platform which contains carvings as well as drawings. These include scenes depicting Bedara Kannappa, Garuda and Hanumantha as also animals such as elephants and camels. Mythological animals like Yaali and Gandabherunda also have a presence here.

Mukhamantapa, Rangamantapa and Garbhagriha of the temple are surronded by another set of mantapas built in Dravidian style containing the statues of Ganesha and Mahishasuramardini. The linga itself is three feet tall. Different stages of the construction of this temple are delineated in ‘Keladinrupa Vijaya’ written by Linganna.(1750)

The Veerabhadra temple which was built after the Rameshvara temple has a similar structure but contains more sculptures. The statue of vastupurusha carved on the outer wall of the temple is unique. The stautes of Daksha Brahma and Narasimha are interesting. The inner ceilngs of all the twelve sectors of the temple contain very fine carvings. The carving of Gandabherunda stands apart for its sheer power and facility. This temple was built by Bhadrappa Nayaka.

There is not much to write about the small Parvathi temple.

The village also contains temples of Anjaneya, Venkataramana,Gopalakrishna. Veerabhadra and a Jaina basadi. The Keladi lake is quite big. Thus this sleepy village was once a buzzing town. It hosues a small museum containing curios and artefacts related to Keladi.


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