Turuvekere, a temple town situated in Tumakuru district, is home to two Hoysala-age temples. While Chennigaraya Temple is dedicated to Vishnu, Moole Shankareshwara Temple is dedicated to Shiva. According to a stone inscription present in the Vishnu Temple, the two temples were constructed during the rule of Hoysala king Narasimha III in the 13th century by Somanna, a Hoysala commander.
Two more temples, Beterayaswamy Temple and Gangadhareshwara Temple, are also located in this town. The town was earlier referred to as ‘Sarvajna Sri Vijaya Narasimha Pura’. It was established as an agrahara, according to the 13th century stone inscriptions found in Vishnu and Shiva temples. Historically, agraharas were settlements where brahmins engaged in academic pursuits. Later, the town was rechristened Turuvekere. Both the Vishnu and Shiva temples of Turuvekere follow a construction pattern common to other Hoysala temples across Karnataka with a sanctum, square vestibule, a four-pillared hall and entrance porch.
The Vishnu Temple is situated on a star-shaped platform and has a polished black stone idol of Lord Channakeshava, which is five and a half feet tall and standing on a garuda peetha. Somanna is believed to have donated this temple to a scholar called Kote Shankaradeva in memory of his parents. A closer look reveals several 13th and 16th century inscriptions on the walls and on the stone beams of the mukhamantapa of Vishnu Temple. These inscriptions shed light on the etymology behind the name of this town and administration of agraharas such as Turuvekere.
The stone inscriptions dating back to 1263 and 1267 AD present on the stone beams of the mukhamantapa of Vishnu Temple clearly record minutes of some of the monthly meetings held during which decisions on land grants and other such matters were deliberated and settled.
Relatively much bigger than the Vishnu Temple, the Shiva Temple in Turuvekere is known to have attributes of ‘Bhumija’ type of Nagara architectural style. Bhumija means ‘earth-born’, where the temple architecture type is attributed to human kings, while other styles of architecture are believed to be of a divine or super-
The garbhagriha of the Shiva Temple has a tiered four-feet tall Shiva linga sculpted out of polished black stone. Further, the temple structure as a whole consists of a whopping 64 corners. Although the door of garbhagriha faces east, the entrance to the temple is from south. The narrow opening in the eastern wall of the temple allows one to have a glimpse of the Shiva linga, even when the temple’s main door is closed. One of the stone inscriptions in the temple complex records the names of Jakana, Eshwara and Saroja, believed to be the temple’s sculptors.
Many devotees normally visit Beterayaswamy Temple, where prayers and associated events are organised regularly. Even though the Vishnu, Shiva and Gangadhareshwara temples are situated within 500 metre radius of Beterayaswamy temple, they do not attract as much attention.