The 2nd Century Kaleshwara temple becomes the cynosure of all the eyes during the important Veerashaiva festivals, particularly Mahashivaratri, with thousands of devotees thronging it for darshan of the ancient linga installed there. But its surroundings paint a picture of neglect, with other temples and ancient structures in ruins.
The present Kalagi village, known as ‘Kaluge’ in ancient inscriptions, is 40 km from Kalaburagi. It has a temple complex of the Chalukyan period. Kalagi was popularly known back then as the garden of temples. According to historians, in the 7th Century Kalagi was a well-developed rich city with a population of more than three lakh.
Today, there are more than 30 monuments in and around Kalagi village. So far, 11 inscriptions have been found there. Most of the temples are of the Shaiva style and are dedicated to Bibbeshwara, Gonkeshwara, Jayalingeshwara, Kaleshwara and Someshwara, according to inscriptions found there.
The ancient Suryanarayana temple adjacent to Kaleshwara temple is on the verge of collapse owing to lack of conservation efforts. A portion of its walls has already collapsed and weeds and tree roots have grown wildly all around the shrine. The ceilings and the walls, on which inscriptions were carved between 1043 AD and the 13th Century, too are falling apart.
A pushkarani (traditional stepwell with a natural spring) is also seen near the Narasimha and Ishwar temple.
Kalagi is in Chittapur taluk, which is the Assembly constituency of the Minister of State for Tourism, Priyank Kharge. Kalagi is famous for its rare set of Shivalingas housed in the Kaleshwara temple. According to legend, these lingas were arranged on four floors, one beneath the other. Devotees can see only the Kaleshwara linga installed on the ground floor. The other lingas are ‘invisible’ (beneath the ground).