Amrutheshwara Temple


By Brig A.P. Singh and Vanishree Mahesh

The exquisite Amrutheshwara Temple (also known as Amrutesvara) is located in the village of Amruthapura in the Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. Externally, the temple gives a deceptively small look, but visitors will be surprised with the number of wonders it holds within. The temple was built in 1196 CE by a Dandanayaka (commander) named Amruteshwara under the Hoysala King Veera Ballala II.

  1. Temple interiors and sanctum

  2. Temple exterior - Outer parapet wall of the Mantapa

Details of one circular carving
View of the temple from the corner of the wall
The open mantapa with its unique black pillars
Chikmagalur Dist Gazetteer 1981_Chp 19.pdf

The Hoysala era was an important period in the development of art, architecture, and religion in South India. The empire is remembered today primarily for Hoysala architecture. Over a hundred surviving temples are scattered across Karnataka. The Hoysala rulers also patronised the fine arts, encouraging literature to flourish in Kannada and Sanskrit.

The modern interest in the Hoysalas is due to their patronage of art and architecture rather than their military conquests. A brisk building of temples throughout the kingdom was accomplished by the Hoysalas despite the constant threats they faced from the Pandyas from the south and the Seunas Yadavas (Yadavas of Devagiri) from the north. Their architectural style, an offshoot of the Western Chalukya style, shows distinct Dravidian influences. The Hoysala architecture style is described as Karnata Dravida as distinguished from the traditional Dravida, and is considered an independent architectural tradition with many unique features.

A distinguishing feature of the Hoysala temple architecture is its attention to detail and skilled craftsmanship. Sculptures at the Hoysala temples emphasise delicate craftsmanship while depicting feminine beauty and grace. The Hoysala artists achieved exceptional craftsmanship by using Soapstone (Chloritic schist), a soft stone, as the primary building and sculptural material. This stone has the quality of hardening after being exposed to the atmosphere.

Amruteshwara is a Shaivite temple with a Shiva linga brought from River Gandaki in Nepal. A beautiful murti (idol) of Sharadha Devi is installed on its right. There is a sculpture of Nandi, Shiva's mount, at the end of the mantapa (hall) facing Shiva in the garbh griha (sanctum).

An exciting feature of the temple is the lamp inside the temple has been burning for the past 200 years. It consumes almost a litre of oil daily.