October 24, 2014

Begur Panchalingeshwara Temple

Site Name: Panchalingeshwara Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva
Location:  Begur, Bangalore, Karnataka state, India
Highlights: One of the oldest temples of Bangalore; Five Shiva Lingas in a single temple
Nearest Railway Station: Bangalore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options including luxurious and budget hotels all over the city
Restaurants: A lot of options across the entire city

Bangalore, officially known as Bengaluru, is the capital city of Karnataka state of India. It is called as the 'Silicon Valley of India' as all IT majors have presence in the city. Bangalore is known for its pleasant climate has a lot of tourist attractions which include parks, gardens, temples, etc. Pancha Lingeshwara temple is one of the important and the oldest temples of Bangalore city. Let us explore this temple in this article.

Pancha Lingeshwara temple is located in Begur area in Bangalore. There are 3-4 Begur areas in Bangalore. It is the Begur near Bannerghatta Road. The temple is located near the Begur Lake.


Highlights:
  • God - Nageshwara, Kamateshwara, Nagareshwara, Karneshwara and Choleshwara (Five Lingas - Pancha Linga)
  • Goddess - Parvati
  • Stala Vruksha (holy tree) - Bilva
  • Built in the 9th century CE
  • The oldest mention of the word "Bengaluru" is found in an inscription in this temple (dated 890 CE)
  • Five Shiva Lingas in one temple
  • One of the oldest Ganesha idols in South India is found here
  • Surya (the Sun God) is found facing the main deity which is very rare
  • The temple is considered as a Bhaskara (Sun) Kshetra
  • Built by the Western Ganga Kings and Chola Kings

History:

The temple complex has five main shrines. The Nagareshwara and Nageshwara Swamy templew were built during the reign of the Western Ganga Kings Nitimarga I and Ereyappa Nitimarga II in the 8th century CE. The remaining shrines were constructed by the Chola kings. The tower was constructed recently (21st century CE). One more tower is being constructed at the time of writing this article (2014 CE).

Legend:

As per the legend a saint blessed a poor Brahmin with divine water which could turn anything it came in contact into gold. He also warned the person not to reveal this secret to anyone. One night, the poor stayed in a sugar cane storehouse. By mistake, a little bit of holy water he was carrying with him fell down and turned all the sugar cane into gold. The news reached to the Chola King Kulotunga II. He suspected that the person had some magical powers to turn the things into gold. The poor did not reveal anything. The king arrested him and ultimately he died in the prison. Thus, the King got the Brahma Hatya dosha. He built a lot of temples including few shrines in this complex to get rid of
his sin. He got salvation after he built Tiruvidai Marudur temple.

As per another legend, the original temple was built by Bodayana Rishi and his disciples several years before it was rebuilt by the Ganga Kings.

Ravana, the villain in Ramayana epic, lost his atma Linga in Gokarna. Before leaving to Sri Lanka, he spent his night in this temple.


Temple Layout:

The temple complex has two entrances. The tower is being constructed currently in the east facing entrance. The south facing entrance has a tower which was built in the recent times.




Nageshwara Shrine:


Nageshwara temple is the main temple in this complex. The main deity is Nageshwara Swami in the form of Shiva Linga along with his consort Parvati. 

The temple enshrines the idols of Ganesha, Bhairava, Vishnu, Surya, Chandra, Sapta Matas, Kasi Vishwanatha, Subramanya in the serpent form  and Chamundeshwari. The ceiling has the carvings of Uma Maheshwara and Ashta Dik Palas along with the colorfully drawn Yantra.

There is a shrine dedicated to the utsava metal idols.

Nandi is found facing towards the main deity.

The Goddess of the temple is Parvati aka Dakshina Kali. She is found in a separate shrine. At the entrance of the shrine, the Ganesha idol which is found with just two arms is believed to be one of the oldest idols of Ganesha in South India.

The Nagagraha shrine is found near the shrine of Parvati.


Choleshwara Shrine:


Choleshwara Linga is found below the carving of Uma Maheshwara. Apart from Nandi facing towards the Linga, there is no other idol in this shrine.

Kali Kamateshwara Shrine:


The idol of the Goddess Kali in a separate shrine resembles Kollur Mookambika. At her feet, there is an idol of Shiva Linga with the head depicted as Ishwara). He is called as Kamateshwara Linga. Nandi is found facing the Goddess. 

The Vrushabha Stambha (granite pillar) is found in front of the shrine. It has the carving of Vrushabha (the complete bull). 

This temple appears to have been built by the Gangas but was later renovated by the Vijayanagara Kings.

Nagareshwara Shrine:


Nagareshwara shrine is like a separate temple. This is the biggest Shiva Linga in this temple complex. An attractive and bigger idols of Nandi is placed in front of the main shrine. Below Nandi, Surya is found facing towards the main shrine (west direction), which is very unique. 

The other idols that are found in this shrine include Rama Linga, Chamundeshwari, Bhairava and Ganesha. 

Karneshwara Shrine:


Karneshwara is the smallest Shiva Linga in this temple. There is a Nandi idol facing towards the shrine. 


Courtyard:

The courtyard has another stone Vrishabha Stambha which is about 30 feet tall. At the base, the carvings of Ganesha, Linga, Vrishabha and Brahma Rakshasa are found. A wooden flag post and bali peetha are also found near the stambha.

The carvings of Kulotunga Chola and his wife are found behind the Vrishabha Stambha.

Few hero stones are found in the courtyard.

Architecture:

The mandapas in the temple have cylindrical pillars which belong to Ganga style of architecture. The vimanas of all the temples have good sculptures and look very attractive. The backside walls of the temples look ancient and have the sculptures still intact. Only some portions of the front side and the tower are either innovated or rebuilt in the recent times.

The various portions of temple was built by different kings from Ganga, Chola and Vijayanagara dynasty. 

Belief:

Each of the five Shiva Lingas is worshipped for some specific reason. 

Kali Kamateshwara is prayed for begetting children and settlement of litigation issues.

Nagareshwara is worshipped by the business people and also it is believed that he cures skin related problems.

Choleshwara is worshipped by the young girls to get married.

Karneshwara is believed to give good health to the devotees.

Happy travelling.


October 22, 2014

Champakadhama Temple

Site Name: Champakadhama Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu
Location:  Bannerghatta, Bangalore, Karnataka state, India
Highlights: One of the oldest temples of Bangalore
Nearest Railway Station: Bangalore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options including luxurious and budget hotels all over the city
Restaurants: A lot of options across the entire city

Bangalore, officially known as Bengaluru, is the capital city of Karnataka state of India. It is called as the 'Silicon Valley of India' as all IT majors have presence in the city. Bangalore is known for its pleasant climate has a lot of tourist attractions which include parks, gardens, temples, etc. Champakadhama temple is one of the important and the oldest temples of Bangalore city. Let us explore this temple in this article.

Thousands of people visit the famous Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore every day. However, it is unfortunate to find that not even one percentage of those visitors visit the temple of Champakadhama located on the way to the national park. Located at a distance of around 30 kms from the central Bangalore city, this temple is located at the junction from where the road to the national park starts. 


Highlights:
  • God - Champakadhama
  • Goddess Lakshmi
  • Teerth (holy water) - Swarnamukhi
  • Built in the 13th century CE
  • A Hoysala period temple 
  • One temple at top of the hill and another at the foothill

Legend:

As it is the practice to offer the champaka flower to this deity, he is named as Champakadhama.

As per the legend, the Emperor Janmejaya took bath in Kalyani aka Swarnamukhi pond which is located on top of the hill where this temple is located. After taking bath in this holy pond, he got rid of his sarpa dosha (sin due to killing the serpents) and also got golden body. Hence, the pond is called as Swarnamukhi. He installed the idol of Champakadhama.


It is believed that the forest area of Bannerghatta is the Dandakaranya where Lord Ram wandered along with his brother Lakshman and his wife Sita.

As per few people, the original temple was built by the Pandava brothers and not by Janmejaya.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has a gigantic sever tier tower which contains a lot of beautiful stucco images. 

The temple has inscriptions dating 1257 CE. It is
believed that the temple was built in the 13th century by the Hoysala Kings. But the temple had a lot of later additions by different dynasties including the Vijayanagaras.

The huge temple complex houses only two main shrines. The sanctum sanctorum enshrines Champakadhama (Vishnu) along with his two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. The main shrine is wide and long; it has moolasthan, ardha mandapa, maha mandapa and the exterior mandapa. The entire shrine is located on top of a raised platform. All these mandaps have the pillars probably made by the Vijayanagara Kings.


In the maha mandapa a small idol of Vishwaksena is found.

Outside the main shrine, the flag staff, bali peetha, Garuda and even a tall stone stambha are all located facing towards the main deity.

Near the entrance, the south facing shrine of Lakshmi is found. The shrine is big and it has its own prakara and the front side mandapa.

The outer prakara is spacious and in open air. 

This temple is located at the foothill of Vahnigiri
hills. A series of steep steps would take us to the Narasimha temple on top of the hill. From here, we can have an aerial view of the outskirts of Bangalore city. The temple, though old, is recently renovated. It has Lakshmi Narasimha as the main deity. The wooden flag staff, bali peetha, stone stambha and Garuda are located facing the main shrine.

Further trekking would take us to Kalyani Teerth aka Swarnamukhi and the thick forest area. It is believed that the water of this pond has healing power. The image of Hanuman is carved on the floor where the pond is located. Once a year, the pond is emptied so that the devotees can get darshan of Lord Hanuman. 

Further trekking would take you to the hills of Suvrna Anjinaya where a Hanuman temple and few statues of serpents are found. It is ideal place for trekking and bird watching. 

Happy travelling.

October 21, 2014

Bannerghatta National Park

Site Name: Bannerghatta National Park
Site Type: Wild life safari, Zoo, Biological Park
Location:  Bannerghatta, Bangalore, Karnataka state, India
Highlights: An important biological park in entire India
Nearest Railway Station: Bangalore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options including luxurious and budget hotels all over the city
Restaurants: A lot of options across the entire city

Bangalore, officially known as Bengaluru, is the capital city of Karnataka state of India. It is called as the 'Silicon Valley of India' as all IT majors have presence in the city. Bangalore is known for its pleasant climate has a lot of tourist attractions which include parks, gardens, temples, etc. Bannerghatta National Park is one of the most important biological parks in entire India. Let us explore about this site in this article.


If you think Bannerghatta National Park as an ordinary Zoological Park that you found in any other town or city of India, you are wrong. It is much more than that. It is a biological park which consists of a zoological park, wild life safari park, butterfly park, animal rescue centre, aquarium and a snake house. It is indeed a gift for tourists to find such a huge forest very close to a metropolitan city like Bangalore.

For the tourists who would have visited wild life sanctuaries and few zoological parks such as the one in Chennai city, the wild life safari might not look attractive. However, if they visit Bannerghatta National Park once, they would realize that this park is unique. Generally, the other sites offer lion safari or tiger safari. But, this is the only site where you can enjoy multiple safaris such as herbivore safari, beer safari, tiger safari and lion safari.


Some of the animals that are found in the herbivore safari include elephants, various types of deer, boar, porcupine, etc. The bear safari has more than 70 bears. The tiger safari has two parts - white tiger safari and tiger safari. There are about 6 white tigers and more than 30 tigers found in the safari park. The lion safari park has about 30 lions. It is always fun to watch the wild animals in their natural habitat.

The zoo has around 1300 animals that belong to around 78 species. They include mammals, birds, reptiles, crocodiles, etc. Unlike other zoological parks, this zoo is small and it takes very less time to cover the entire park.

The butterfly park is unique. It is a role model for the other national parks in India. I would compare this butterfly park to be as good as the one in Singapore. There are about 40 species of butterflies found here.

For adults as well as kids, the Bannerghatta National Park has a lot of interesting offers. A visit to Bangalore city is incomplete without visiting this park.

Happy travelling.