Mulabagal – Blessings that reach through the eastern door ©Sangeeta Venkatesh

‘Mulabagilu’ is derived from the word ‘Mudalabagilu’, which means the eastern door in Kannada.  I have been wanting to visit this town each time we were on the Madras-Bangalore highway, but due to paucity of time we could never make a stopover. This little town is known for some ancient temples that are certainly worth visiting. The distance of 83 kilometres from Whitefield, Bangalore to Mulbagal took us about an hour and a half.  The drive is a pleasant one. The region is full of history, and the temples in particular, tell the stories of the bygone time. On this visit we visited five of them in the areas around Mulbagal and Kolar in the beautiful state of Karnataka. Hopefully, we get an opportunity to the ones we couldn’t visit in this trip very soon.

  • Veeranjaneya Temple: Perhaps the most famous temple in Mulbagal is the ancient Anjaneya or Hanuman Temple. My maternal grandfather, whom, I never met, was a great devotee of this temple and there are some legacies I want to continue in the honour of my ancestors. Devotees who are on their way to Tirupati, usually stop enroute to pay obeisance to Lord Hanuman in Mulabagal. Indeed, according to one legend, this town derived its name “Mulabagal” (eastern door) because it lies east of Tirupati. The Kannada word for East is “Moodalu.” The word “Baagilu” means door. Hence, Moodala and Bagilu Moodalabagilu. The corruption of this word gives us “Mulabagilu.”

The priests of the Anjaneyaswamy Temple follow the the Vaikhanasa tradition, just like what I had mentioned in the Parthasarthy Temple at Thondanur.

The story behind the temple goes like this. After the Mahabharatha war, it is believed that Arjuna (the Pandava brothers) had a moment of vanity when he felt that he had vanquished so many brave-hearts in the opposite camp. He boasted about it to Lord Krishna, who was sitting as his charioteer. Lord Krishna calmly asked him to alight the chariot and then stepped off the chariot himself. At that instant, to Arjuna’s astonishment, the chariot caught fire and was reduced to char. Only the flag with Lord Hanuman as emblem survived the fire. To that Krishna explained, “Did you think the chariot would indeed resist the weapons of greats like Bhishma, Dronacharya, and Karna?” It was only because you had my divine cover that it withstood the onslaught.

Totally humbled, Arjuna undertook a pilgrimage carrying with him the ‘Kapi Dhwaj’ or flag with Lord Hanuman’s image that had adorned his chariot. When he reached Mulabagal he established this temple dedicated to ‘Veeranjaneya’.

Centuries later, the temple was looked after by those who ruled Mulabagal such as the Cholas and Nolamba kings, who also built many other temples in the region. This current structure was built by the Vijayanagar dynasty and later the finance minister (Mushrif-I-Dewan) in the court of Moghul emperor Akbar, Raja Todar Mal (1582), is said to have rebuilt and renovated the Anjaneya temple of Mulbagal.

There are sannidhis dedicated to the main deity Srinivasa, Padmavati and also Rama-Sita-Lakshman, which are believed to be installed by Sage Vasishta. There is a sannidhi for SriRanganathaswamy on the left of the Dwajasthambham or the flagstaff. On the right of the Dwajasthambham on the wall is an embedded brass inscription of a ‘golden lizard’.

Timings: 7 am- 1 pm; 3 pm-8pm

  • Kurudumale/ Kootamale Ganesha Temple:

About 10 kilometres from Mulbagal, is Kurudumale which is known for its Ganesha temple that has many mythological legends associated with it. The temple is nestled between rocky hills in extremely verdant surroundings. The temple has a vast quadrangle with a sthalavriksha or the tree of the temple.

Inside is a huge 13.5 feet tall idol of Lord Ganesha made from the Saligrama stone. An interesting fact is that the idol has been installed without a foundation. It is said that when the devas sojourned the Earth, they would descend here to enjoy themselves. The trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva would also congregate here. It was then that the villagers asked the God to vanquish a demon called Tripurasura.

One legend goes that the asura trio Tripurasura ( Tarakaksha, Vidyunmāli and Kamalaksha who were sons of the asura Tarakasura) had a boon that they would be killed only by Lord Shiva’s son. Since Shiva was in deep meditation and still mourning the loss of his wife Sati, Tripurasura knew he would never marry again. So Kamadeva was asked to help out and shot the arrow of love so that Shiva would fall in love with Parvati, the incarnation of Sati. After which, as everyone knows that Lord Ganesha came into being.

Lord Ganesha was given the responsibility to subjugate Tripurasura, which he did and hence the trinity decided to install his idol in his honour. As the three gods congregated here, the place came to be known as ‘kootadri’ or ‘Kootamale’ – the hill of congregation. However, the word was later corrupted to Kurudumale.

  • Kurudamale Someshwara Temple:  Kurudumale also has a Someshwara temple from the Chola period, which is a short distance from the Ganesha temple. This temple has been recorded to have been built the well-known talented talented sculptor Jakanachari and his son Dakanachari, who sculpted hundreds of idols and images of the famed Beluru and Halebeedu Hoysala temples. They are known as Amarshilpis and have an interesting history to their relationship. A documentary in Kannada has also been made in their honour in 1964.
    The entrance of the temple has a beautiful stone idol of Ganesha. The sanctum sanctorum enshrines a Shiva Linga.
The granite exteriors of the Someshwara Temple

It is believed that Sage Koundinya meditated here and there is pillar which has the carving of the sage. The priest, who is the 16th generation of a lineage serving the temple, tells us that through the pillar there is a direct tunnel to Kashi or Varanasi. The walls of the temple bear inscriptions in ancient Tamil script.

The pillar with the engraving of Sage Koundinya
Inscriptions in Tamil

An adjacent temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s consort in her form as Kshamaamba or one who forgives.

Devi Kshamamba’s shrine
The temple amongst rocks
The front facade of the Someshwara Temple
  • Bangaru Tirupati: From Kurudamale, a 35 minute drive brought us to Guttahalli where the Bangaru Tirupati temple is located. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is on a hillock and you need to climb to a height of 40 metres to reach the small shrine. The entrance at the bottom has a slim gopura. And as you climb the first flight of steps, you reach a largish courtyard which has a water tank or pushkarni where devotees take a dip or a holy bath. As you climb the next flight of steps, you encounter a statue of Garuda, lord Vishnu’s vehicle. The next flight of steps finally takes you to the small shrine of Lord Venkateshwara. The view from the top is wonderful as you see the gopura and the little hamlet of Guttahalli. Once you come down, another set of steps opposite the temple takes you to a separate shrine for Goddess Padmavati. The entire temple area has hundreds of monkeys too, so do be careful with your belongings.
  • Antargange: Our final destination for the day was the Antargange hill and it took us a little less than an hour to drive from Bangaru Thirupathi. This is about four kilometers away from town of Kolar. The sylvan surroundings in the midst of the Shatashrunge range of hills and a mini-forest is beautiful. As we arrived, we notice several monkeys who have made these forests as their home. The word ‘Antaragange’ means ‘Ganga that emerges from within’ in Kannada. People come here to visit the Kasi Vishweshwara temple which has the Shiva Linga and hence the place is also referred to as Dakshin Kashi or Kashi of the South.  At a level below the temple is a pond that receives water from the perennial spring ‘Antaragange’ which comes from the mouth of the idol of Basava (bull carved in stone). The source of the water is still not known, but it is interesting to note that there is a perennial flow of water from the bull’s mouth through the year.
The Kashi Vishweshwara Temple

The surrounding mountains are made up of volcanic rocks also have several natural carved caves, though entry to the caves are restricted.

Moreover, the Antharagange hill has an interesting story associated with Lord Parasurama and Jamadagni. According to Hindu mythology, Parashurama killed Kartaviryaarjuna on this hill. Kartaviryaarjuna’s sons had committed the heinous crime of killing Sage Jamadagni (Parashurama’s father) and this led to the self-immolation of Renuka (Parashurama’s mother). This so enraged Lord Parashurama, that he took a vow to kill the entire Kshatriya race on this hill. And the rest as they say is history.

This was the last stop in this trip, though there are more notable places to visit in this part of the geography such as the Garuda Temple, Sri Sripadaraja Mutt, Vyasaraj Mutt,Virupaksha Temple – all in Mulbagal and the Kotelingeshwara temple in Kolar. But hopefully, we get the opportunity to visit them and more in the near future.

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4 thoughts on “Mulabagal – Blessings that reach through the eastern door ©Sangeeta Venkatesh

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