Perhaps no other pre-modern city has captured the Kannada cultural imagination more than Kalyāṇa. This medieval capital of the Cāḷukyas and the Kālacūris has been re-imagined and re-presented repeatedly by thousands of Kannada authors for the past 800 years. This paper suggests that rather than the heights reached by the city, its decline, captured in the phrase Keṭṭittu Kalyāṇa (Kalyāṇa was wrecked), has been the source of fascination. Kalyāṇa’s decline seems to have been caused by the Śaraṇas (those who seek refuge in Śiva), who seem to have assembled in Kalyāṇa by the middle of the twelfth century and who fought with the Kālacūri kings and the orthodox social groups. This led to the abandoning of the city in the 1160s, as the Śaraṇas themselves fled to different parts of South India. The Vīraśaiva poets use this event as the founding moment of their community. Offering a different perspective, Kannada folk epics, sung by lower caste and untouchable singers, suggest that there was a moral collapse among the Śaiva devotees; thus there is a second sense in which Kalyāṇa was wrecked, this time in the realm of narratives. Both the Vīraśaiva poets and folk singers use Kalyāṇa to produce autonomous cultural imaginations. My intention here is to recognize how Kalyāṇa becomes a radical space, a reference to which allows different social groups to overturn existing social hierarchies and offer alternative social visions.