The Harihareshwara 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.
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.
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.
Type of Place: Ancient Temple
Situated: Harihar, Karnataka
Distance: 275 Km from Bangalore, 131 Km from Hubli, 14 Km from Davangere
Transport: Well connected by road and rail
Facilities: Small shop selling pooja items and books about the temple