Bengaluru Temples

Modern Bangalore has its share of ancient temples.  One such is Sri Basavanna Gudi or the Bull temple.  The shrine is located in an area of Bangalore, aptly called Basavanagudi.  Located inside the Bugle Rock park, the temple is dedicated to Shiva's favourite vehicle, nandi, the bull.  Here, in Basavanagudi, the nandi, is the lord and master, the object of worship, a tribute to the pantheistic nature of Hinduism.  The temple is said to be the biggest, exclusive nandi temple in the world.

Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bengaluru, built the temple in 1586.  The huge, 5.10 metres long, nandi was carved out of a single rock of granite.  It was said to be originally 4.57m tall, but has nw grown to five metres.  In a bid to curb its further growth, the temple authorities have placed iron rods, resembling his Lord's trishul (trident). A few shafts of light, it is said, falls on the nandi's head from the nearby cave temple of Gavi Gangadhareshwara, on Makara Sankranti day (mid-January).

The story goes that in days of yore groundnut was grown in this area.  The farmers found their fields pillaged and plundered after every full moon night.  Suspecting it to be the work of thieves, the farmers armed themselves and waited in the fields on a full moon night.  Hearing a rustle, one of them swung his crowbar in the direction of the noise.  To their horror, they realized that it was no thief, but a huge bull, golden in colour, and eyes shining like gems.  They fled from the scene.  Returning at dawn, they found the bull missing.  Later, they discovered a huge stone nandi atop a nearby hillock.  It resembled the bull they had attacked the previous night.  They also came to known that he was the patron-god of the area.  Repentant, they sought the forgiveness of the deity.  When the matter was brought before Kempe Gowda, he lost no time in ordering a shrine to be built over the nandi.  Thanksgivings offerings continue to this day at the shine here.  A groundnut fair, kadalekai parishe, is held every year on the last Monday and Tuesday of the month of Karthika (November-December), to thank the deity for a good crop.  Devotees smear butter on the nandi.

At the entrance to the hillock are two giant bull horns on either side.  A series of steps leads to the temple, which is topped by a five-tiered Rajagopuram.  In front of the tower, is a granite dhwaja sthambham.  Not far from the hillock, at a slightly elevated level, is Sri Dodda Ganapati temple.  It is said the redoubtable Kempe Gowda saw a rock here resembling Ganesha.  He then got his sculptors to convert it into a huge stone image of Ganapati.  Later, it was covered by a thatched roof.  It was only in the last quarter of the 20th century that the present temple was built, with a small, three-tiered Rajagopuram.  The then Sringeri Sankaracharya laid the foundation in 1971, and the temple was completed in 1987.

The idol is 5.45 metres (18 feet) tall and 4.84metres (16 feet) wide.  Here, as in the bull temple, Ganesha seems to be growing, especially to the right. The gap between the wall and the idol, which was about a foot a few decades ago, is now barely a few inches,  it is said.  Like the nandi nearby.  Dodda Ganapati is immensely popular.  He is butter coated three or four times a week.  More than one hundred kgs of butter is used for the purpose, a ritual which starts late in the evening, and is completed early next morning.  He is also occasionally decorated with fruits, vegetables, turmeric and vermilion powders (50kg of each powders).  Another tradition here is that weavers from old Bengaluru tie a coconut to their looms, before beginning work.  On completion of their work, they break one hundred coconuts here, along with the one tied on the loom.

How to get there:

Bangalore international airport is in Devanahalli.  The city railway Station is in the heart of the city, in the Majestic area.  Opposite to it is the inter-city bus terminus.  However, most buses are now stopped at a satellite station eight km away, and the passengers brought to Majestic in mini-buses.  Accommodation:  Guest housed, choultries and star hotels are spread across the city.

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