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Harihareshwara Temple at Harihar, Davanagere

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Harihareshwara Temple at Harihar, Davanagere
Harihar is a town located in Davanagere District in the Indian state of Karnataka. Harihar also spelled Hari-hara, in Hinduism, a syncretic deity, combining the two major gods, Vishnu (Hari) and Siva (Hara). Images of Harihara (also known as Sambhu-Visnu and Sankara-Narayana, variants of the names of the two gods) began to appear in the classical period after sectarian movements, which elevated one god as supreme over the others, had waned sufficiently for efforts at compromise to be attempted..The region of Harihar had been under the control of the Hoysalas from 11th to 13th Century AD. Harihar is famous for a Harihareshwara temple, which is also known as "Dakshina Kashi".

Harihara is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, 275 kilometres north of Bangalore. The neighboring city Ranebennur is 22 km north west of Harihar across the river Tungabhadra. Harihar is connected by road and railway, and is located on national Highway 4 (Puna – Bangalore). It has a very pleasant climate through the year.

There is famous temple built in 12th century during Hoysala's time called Harihareshwara temple (Guharanya Kshetra), from which the city derives its name, which is also known as "Dakshina Kashi".

Harihareshwara Temple at Harihar, Davanagere
The god Harihareshwara is a combination of god Shiva and Vishnu. There is a story behind avatara of this god. In ancient days this place was known as 'Guharanya'. A dense jungle and habitat of a demon Guhasura. He had a boon that no human or Rakshasa or god can kill him. And he started harassing people around this place. Then Vishnu and Shiva came together in a new avatara called Hari – Hara (Harihara) and killed demon Guhasura. That is how this place has got the name Harihar. Every year the Car festival is celebrated. Harihar also has a famous Ragavendra Mutt located on the banks of Tungabandra.

This ancient temple built in 1223–1224 by Polalva, a commander and minister of the Hoysala Empire King Vira Narasimha II is situated in Harihar / Harihara, Karnataka dedicated to Hari-hara / Lord Vishnu-Shiva. The beautiful 4 feet height idol is a powerful combination of the protector (Hara / Lord Vishnu) and the destroyer (Lord Shiva). The deity is also known as Shankarnarayana and Sambhu-Vishnu.This place is also known as Dakshina Kashi / Southern Kashi. On the right side of Harihara idol is carved Shiva’s trishul and the hair styled as an ascetic and on the left side Vishnu is carved with the discus and head is covered with a crown. This marvelous stone carved temple is visited by both Vaishnavaites and Shaivites.

Harihareshwara Temple at Harihar, Davanagere
God had to take this avatara / form because the places from Uchchangi Durga in the east, Govinahalu in the south, Mudanur in the west and Airani in the north were under the control of the demon Guhasura and the place was known as Guharanya. The demon had a boon from Brahma that no human or Shiva or Vishnu could kill him. This gave him the power and evil mind to harass people living around the place. When the people complained to the devas / gods about Guhasura, the gods in turn approached Vishnu and Shiva for a solution. Vishnu and Shiva came together in a new avatara called Hari – Hara (Harihara) and killed demon Guhasura. From then onwards, this place came to be known as Harihar. The place on earth where God took this avatar is near Kudalur, at the confluence of the rivers Haridra and Tungabhadra.

The striking feature of the temple is the symmetrical big hall with beautiful Lathe turned shining stone pillars supporting the roof. The roof has projections and recesses adding charm to the temple. The ceiling is also carved with different flowers like lotuses and lilies. Soap stone is used to build this temple.

Harihareshwara Temple at Harihar, Davanagere
A microscopic image of Goddess Lakshmi represented on the lintel of the doorway testifies the architectural proficiency and inimitable craftsmanship of the Hoysala artists. South side of the temple is Vamana avatar with his foot raised high to measure the world. Shiva and Ganesha idols are carved on the south wall. Many inscriptions written in Kannada are on display in the temple premises.

During Nagapanchami festival, the “Karnika” (words of God) is chanted by the priest of Yelavatti Hanumappa Temple on the banks of the Tungabhadra. The priest of this temple visits Harihareshwara temple on this day and gets the impressions of the lord. This ritual of getting the impression and chanting the “Karnika” has been going on for the last 200 years, for prosperity of our country.

Every year the Car festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm with many people thronging the place.


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