Kolaramma Temple, Kolar ©Sangeeta Venkatesh 

You would have previously read my pieces on the Koti Lingeshwara Temple, the series on the Mulbagal Temples, the Ramalingeshwara group of temples and Avani Betta, all of which are in the vicinity of the town of Kolar. However, we missed visiting the Kolaramma temple dedicated to the goddess and presiding deity of Kolar, which we made good this weekend.

1 hour 5 minutes, 57 kilometres

Kolaramma Temple: The Kolaramma temple is believed to have been built during the reign of the Cholas, even though its original foundation may have been laid by the Ganga dynasty. King Uththama Chola (970 AD) is said to have built the temple for Goddess Renuka, in the avatar of Kolaahalamma. The Gangas were succeeded by Cholas, followed by Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers. As it was the battlefield for the warring kingdoms of Chalukyas in the north and Cholas in the south, it came to be called as ‘Kolahalapura’ in Kannada, meaning the ‘city of unrest’ and the deity was Kolaahalamma.

Kolar was previously known as ‘Kuvalapura’, and became the capital of the Ganga Dynasty. For as long as they were in power (nearly 1,000 years) they used the title “Kuvalala-Puravareshwara” (Lord of Kolar), even after they moved their capital to Talakadu. The Chola rulers Veera Chola, Vikrama Chola and Raja Nagendra Chola erected stone structures with inscriptions at Avani, Mulbagal, Sitti Bettta and other places. Chola inscriptions also indicate the rule of Adithya Chola I (871-907 AD), Raja Raja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I over Kolar. These inscriptions refer to Kolar as ‘Nikarili Cholamandalam’ and also as ‘Jayam Konda Chola Manadalam’. Inscriptions of Rajendra Chola I also appear on the Kolaramma Temple.

Entrance to the Kolaramma Temple

The Kolaramma temple is a simple structure but yet beautiful. The doorway is beautifully carved with some pretty friezes of dancing women. The temple is built in the Dravida Vimana style.

The temple has a vast courtyard, which is beautifully landscaped. The temple is under the Archaeological Survey of India and also has facilities for drinking water for devotees and visitors.

The Vast Courtyard
An engraving of the goddess on the outer walls

Lalit Chugh in his book ‘Karnataka’s Rich Heritage’ says that the Mahadwara and Mukhamandapa lay buried under the ground with only a few portions that were visible. A former government official got it removed and the inscribed stones were brought to light. Most of them have Chola inscriptions in Tamil as can be seen in the pictures below. Inscriptions in Kannada are also seen.

Just before you enter the inner sanctum, you see the carved figure of Raja Raja Chola in war (picture below)

The Dwajasthambam

The temple has two shrines which are hosed in a common ‘L’ shaped simple structure. According to the Mysore Star Gazetteer, the deity in the sanctum was Mahishasuramardini and was popularly known as Kolaramma. The original image of Kolaramma had been mutilated by medieval vandalism. Mahishasuramardhini, is there with eight hands and a demon under her feet. There are also carvings of the Saptamatrikas. They are  Brahmani, Maaheshvari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Vaarahi, Indrani, and Chamunda, or Yami. They are different manifestations of the cosmic energy or Shakti. Kolaramma here is considered very powerful, hence one sees the idol in the reflection of a mirror. There is a large scorpion brass engraving on the wall of the sanctum, and this is supposed to be the vehicle of the goddess. Kolaramma here is called – ‘Chelamma’ or the Scorpion Goddess and it is believed that by paying obeisance in this temple, the devotee will be guarded from scorpion bites and viruses too. There is an ancient Hundi which is carved down into the ground and people have been putting coins into it for the last 1,000 years.

An adjacent room to the right has the exact carvings of Saptamatrika in brick and madder. The stucco figures of these Sapthamatrikas in this shrine are unusually large and have piercing eyes as if they are staring at you. There is a stone idol about six feet high on the side of the sanctum called Kalabhairava, but people call it Mukanacharamma owing to its broken nose. 

A shrine outside of the main temple

A pillar relief outside the sanctum depicting a dancing Ganesha

There is undoubtedly a strong energy that is palpable in this temple and I am grateful that I could visit this temple during the period of ‘Chaitra Navaratri’ – the period that marks the Hindu New Year, the start of Spring when fresh new life can be seen all around you.

We were then on our way to the Garuda Temple – a unique temple dedicated to the vehicle of Lord Vishnu after this – so stay tuned!

4 thoughts on “Kolaramma Temple, Kolar ©Sangeeta Venkatesh 

  1. Pingback: Garuda Temple at Koladevi ©Sangeeta Venkatesh  | sojourn-with-san

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