By the time we finished the trek at Avani Betta, it was lunch time and we found a nice place enroute to spread our picnic hamper. Rest assured, we used all reusables and packed up everything, leaving no trash behind. After lunch it was a good 40-minute ride to a village called Kammasandra to visit the famed Koti Lingeshwara temple.
The story: Around the 9th century AD Kammasandra was known as Dharmasthali, where lived a man named Manjunatha Sharma, a good man but a confirmed atheist, who didn’t leave any opportunity to deride religious practices and the presence of God. One day, he perchance happened to visit the temple with his family, when every lamp that was lit was extinguished. This was treated as a bad omen and the villagers all blamed Manjunatha for this occurrence and a mob collected. Luckily, Maharaja Ambikeshwaravarma, a local viceroy of the ruling Rastrakuta Dynasty and a staunch Shiva devotee happened to be there and he controlled the mob. He then approached Manjunatha to prove his innocence by making every lamp glow again. Out of nowhere, Manjunatha broke into a devotional song called Mahaprana Deepam composed by Sage Veda Vyasa and the lamps began to glow brighter than before. Manjunatha was a changed man when he witnessed this miracle and to atone for his impiety, he started a project to create 10 million Shiva Lingas. Hence, the temple came to be known as Koti Lingeshwara (translates to one crore lingas). Manjunatha is now popularly known as Bhakta Manjunatha and a movie has also been made on his life in both Kannada and Telugu as well as dubbed version in Tamil.
The temple: As we approached the temple, we could see small shrines of shiva lingas even by the roadside. We parked the car in the designated carpark and got to the entrance where we had to buy a ticked of Rs. 20/- .
Once you step inside, it is an amazing sight too see black lingas of all shapes and sizes. To date about approximately 6 lakh Shiva lingas have been installed and a devotee can install a linga by paying Rs.6000/- or so. The largest linga is 33m in height (108 feet). Another attraction is the 11m tall Nandi idol. There are leven temples or sannidhis for various deities in the Hindu Pantheon including Shaneeshwar Bhagwan as you exit the complex. There is also a marriage hall and a meditation centre. I leave you with the pictures of the amazing complex.
The temple is open from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
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