As you wander across the small clean lanes, with the compact houses on both sides, you will be amazed to know that this quiet village in Karnataka called Lakkundi was once a bustling city. This ancient city is now hidden and unexplored amidst the green fields. All around, you can see exceptionally well-crafted temples and step-wells.
The architecture is bound to leave you amazed. The astonishing fact is that intricate jali works on the windows and the ornate figurines on the doors of the sanctum, to the smooth curved walls were all made manually, dating back to the 10th century CE. This place is worth a visit if you are a history fanatic or if you are interested in architecture.
Lakkundi was an important town in the empire of the Chalukyas of Kalyana. Back then, the town was known as 'Lokkigundi' often shortened as Lokki. The place was famous as an agrahara, a place of higher learning. Apart from this, studies reveal that the place was also famous for minting money as the coins unearthed from various parts of Karnataka have inscriptions mentioning Lokki-gadyana or the Lokki-pon. Now, the place has no traces of its once flourishing past, all that is left is the temples, most of which have now made transition from abode of god to abode of people.
The most famous temple in Lakkundi is the Kasivisvesvara temple built in the 11th century. The Chalukyas were known for combining the decorations and architectural aspects and is said to have evolved their own style of architecture. This is clearly evident in the Kasivisvesvara temple. The temple is highly decorated with detailed carvings. Here you can see a mixture of north Indian architecture such as the wide lotus petals carved on rectangular bases and topped with an array of intricate carvings of elephants.
The details on each wall, is sure to leave you awestruck. Almost every wall has sculptures that depict dancers, musicians, cherubs, animals etc. They look so stunningly intricate that you are left to wonder about the advancement of the people of that era. Another attractive feature is the unusual style displayed in the construction of the temples tower. The successive storeys are linked with trefoil arches, a style that is not seen elsewhere. The main attraction will most definitely be the richly carved, black pillars so polished that you can actually see your inverted reflection on it!
Another major attraction is the Brahma Jinalaya. Built around the 1007 AD, it is one of the oldest temples in Lakkundi. The construction of the temple is said to be done by Danachintamani Attimabbe. It is one among the many Jain temples constructed across the kingdom. The temple is built from chlorite schist aka soapstone. The temple houses a beautifully proportioned idol of Brahma and another of yakshi Padmavati. The temple is still an active one, with pujas conducted by a local priest.
Right outside Lakkundi, on road to Hospet lies the three-shrined Manikesvara temple. The temple, like all other temples of Lakkundi has detailed carving and breathtaking architecture. But the star attraction of the place is the exquisite step-well adjacent to it. It has a beautiful build up. At the depth of it is a clear reflection of its grandeur. Apart from the Musukina Bavi, Chateer Bavi and Kanne Bavi are some of the must visit step-wells in Lakkundi.
Lakkundi, though an offbeat place, is well connected by roads. The ASI is taking tremendous efforts in preserving the place. There is also a museum by the ASI that explains the history of the place. Lakkundi is about 53 km from Koppal. The place is also accessible from Gadag. Many buses ply from Gadag and Koppal to Lakkundi. The Gadag railway station is the nearest station and Hubli airport is the nearest airport. This land of temples and step wells is a must visit if you are planning a trip to Karnataka.