Temples of Bangalore (Basavangudi temples) – the ©Sangeeta Venkatesh

Devakula Yatra of Gudiya Sambhrama 2023

As part of the Heritage Parampara, a non-profit registered trust’s annual programme ; Gudiya Sambhrama – the Bangalore Temple Festival’, it was a pleasure to participate in the ‘Temple Walk’ on the final day of the 10-day programme that involved music, dance, talks and much more.

Heritage Parampara has been actively involved since 1994 in the promotion, preservation and dissemination of our heritage and culture through seminars, workshops and cultural festivals. The ‘Devakula Yatra’ or temple walk was so ably conducted by the young duo Vinay Varanasi, who gave the commentary; and Sivasri Skandaprasad (who sang the related bhakti songs). The audience was indeed captivated. We were to walk through the entire Basavangudi neighbourhood of South Bangalore, and a smart move by the organisers to suggest a dress code of yellow, which certainly helped in keeping the group together on the busy roads. Basavangudi gets its name from the 16th century Bull Temple which houses the giant monolithic Nandi Bull, which we will speak about later.

In this piece, I will describe the temples that we walked through.

  1. Mallikarjuna Temple, Basavangudi: We assembled here for the temple walk and it was a delight to see the sea of yellow. There was a group of ladies ready to make rangolis/ kolams. The neighbourhood has many ancient temples and Mallikarjuna Temple is one of them. It is estimated to be 300 years old.

The history of the temple dates back to 1689, when Bangalore and adjoining areas was under the rule of Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar. In 1686, the Mughals under Aurangzeb won Bangalore by defeating the Marathas. The Mughal general captured all the surrounding areas in three years, but in 1689, sold Bangalore to Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar for a sum of Rupees 3 lakhs. Chikka Devaraya was also credited to have constructed the Kote Venkataramaswamy Temple.

Chikkadevaraya had appointed three officers to look after Bangalore. Of them Sri Achyutha Raya took over the responsibility of overseeing the development of this temple in 1710. However, when the British invaded Bangalore in 1799, many business men fled Bangalore and many temples lost a lot of patronage and Sri Mallikarjuna temple was also one them.

Much later in the 20th Century, a science lecturer from the Central College, Sri Bellave Venkata Naranappa, found a Shiva Linga and what seemed like remains of a temple while laying the foundation for his house. He diligently went through archives and records and discovered that the Mallikarjuna Temple had previously existed on the spot. In 1903, through his generosity the temple was rebuilt in the Dravidian style. The Shiva Linga is placed in a square garba gruha. The temple also has separate shrines for Dakshineswar, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Parvati, Lord Murugan, the Navagrahas and also a shrine for Adi Shankaracharya.

2. Big Bull Temple: The next stop was the Basavanagudi (Bull) temple, which lends its name to the locality too. This is one of the oldest temples of Bangalore dedicated to the Nandi bull, the mount of Lord Shiva. This monolithic is 4.5 m tall which includes the base, and about 6 m wide and is older than the temple that houses it. Legend has it that several acres of land in this area was used to cultivate groundnuts around the 15th and 16th century. However, the farmers were troubled by a solitary bull, that would rummage through the fields in the night and destroy the crops. The farmers decided to depute a watchman, who lay in wait for the bull to appear the subsequent night. When the bull appeared, the watchman took a crowbar and struck the bull thereby killing it. The carcass lay in the fields in the night, and to the utter astonishment of the farmers and the surrounding villages, the carcass of the bull had transformed to a giant statue of Nandi. To date, you can see the crowbar embedded in the back. Every year, a festival is held after the harvest of groundnuts known as ‘kadlekai parishe‘ and the new harvest is offered first to Nandi.

Kempegowda 1 (a chieftain under the Vijayanagar Empire 1510-1569), built a simple temple around the statue. An inscription in the temple says that source of the Vrishabhavati , which runs west of Bangalore emerges at the feet of the Nandi Bull.

3. Dodda Ganapati Temple: From the Bull Temple we proceeded to the Dodda Ganapati Temple, which literally means the ‘Big Ganapati’ temple. The location of the temple, was hilly with several rocks and boulders. One of the boulders had a Ganesha carved on it. Some skilled sculptors then carved out this massive monolithic Ganesha out of it the boulder. The idol is 18 feet tall and 16 feet wide. The Ganesha is also known as Satya Ganapati and it is believed that idol is expanding on the right side on its own. Everyday there is a different kind of decoration or alankara done to the Lord and the butter alankara is perhaps the most famous and uses up nearly 100 kgs of butter during the ritual.

Our congregation at the Dodda Ganapati Temple

4. Sri Venkateshwara Swamy Devasthana, Basavanagudi

We then proceeded towards the temple dedicated to Lord Balaji. The dwajasthambam has a Lord Hanuman in prayer. Right behind this temple in the same premises is the temple for Sri Raghavendra Swamy called Nava Mantralaya Rayara Matha.

4. Nava Mantralaya Rayara Matha: This temple is dedicated to the 16th century saint Sri Raghavendra Swamy.

Ramanjaneya Temple: This was the final stop of our temple walk. This temple was built in the 20th century by the second Chief Minister of Karnataka (then Mysore), Kengal Hanumanthaiah. The neighbourhood is also called Hanumanthnagar, and the hillock on which the temple is located is called Ramanjaneya Gudda or the hillock of Ram-Anjaneya. The temple is surrounded by lush greenery and the temple features a 9-meter statue of Lord Rama hugging Hanuman on its terrace, as is famously depicted in the story of Ramayana after they vanquish Ravana, the ruler of Lanka. Inside the temple there is an eight foot high statue of Hanuman, who stands holding his mace.

After the mangalam or final puja song, we were treated to the sumptuous prasad of upma and sooji halwa served on areca nut plates. A divine day indeed.

Pictures by Srilakshmi Dorairajulu, Dhruti Bal & S. Venkatesh

N.B: If you liked this piece, do let me know by clicking on the star below!

2 thoughts on “Temples of Bangalore (Basavangudi temples) – the ©Sangeeta Venkatesh

  1. I cudnt make it for this walk but your account is so interesting Sangeeta, and the invaluable historical nuggets that I’m going to explore these temples soon. Thank you..

    Liked by 1 person

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