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The Kodagu highland region, with Madikeri as its headquarters, became independent from the Nayakas in the late 17th century. Briefly occupied by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in the late 18th century, it regained independence under the local Haleri ruler, Virarajendra. His tomb, and that of his successor Lingarajendra, are located in a compound enclosed by embankments at the north of the city. They are architecturally interesting in being fashioned as Islamic tombs but embellished with Saivite iconography.

Virarajendra's Tomb
Modeled on the mausoleums of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatnam, this tomb has a bulbous dome raised above an octagonal drum with triangular crenellations. The corner minarets have small ribbed domes and do-peechha Nandi images at the base. A screen-parapet runs between the minarets below which is an angled eave. The entrance door and windows are placed within circular arches. Inside, the tombs of Virarajendra and his family and Sivalingams.

Tomb: Staircase
An unusual pyramidal staircase leads to the raised pradakshina-patha around the tomb. Siva dvarpalakas are placed on pillars at the top of the staircase. A simple screen-railing surrounds the pradakshina-patha.

Lingarajendra's Tomb
This tomb is identical to Virarajendra's. A close view of the dome shows the petals at its base and the crenellations of the octagonal enclosure around the dome. A staircase on the terrace leads to a small viewing gallery on the same level as the dome.

Raja's Seat
This small pavilion at the western end of Madikeri has breathtaking views of the valley through which the road descends to Mangalore.

Omkaresvara Temple
This Siva temple was built by Lingarajendra in the early-19th century. Like the royal tombs, this is also built in Islamic style, with a dome framed by turrets.

Omkaresvara: Window Decoration
Windows like this one in the shrine-walls are surrounded by Siva motifs. A composite bull-elephant image at the bottom is flanked by seated Nandis. Above the Nandi images are standing figures of Nandi and Bhringi, Siva's attendants.

St Mark's Church
This plain Neo-Gothic church was built inside the fort in the mid-19th century. It houses an archeological museum containing sculptures recovered from nearby sites.

Church: Jain sculpture
Stone images of tirthankaras and Jaina dieties unearthed from nearby sites are set up in the St Mark's Church museum. This includes an ornate sculpture of Kubera, the Jain-Hindu god of wealth.

Double-tiered sloping roofs typical of Keralan temple architecture are found in the group of Siva temples at this pilgrimage site just below Talakaveri. The temples have plain walls with moulded stone basements. Steps leading into the shrines have sculpted Yali balustrades. An ambulatory with carved wooden brackets surrounds the temple enclosure.

Bhagamandala: Ashtadikapala
The wooden ceiling of the entrance porch-mandapam is intricately carved and painted. The nine squares in the centre show Siva surrounded by the Ashtadikapalas. The outermost squares have various floral motifs. Flowers are also carved on the raised ridges between the squares.

This tank, seen here from Brahmagiri peak, is considered the source of Kaveri. Shrines dedicated to Ishvara and Ganapati are located near the tank. An upsurge in the water level in October is observed by worshippers as the annual rebirth of the river.

Photos and Text © Amit Guha