Saturday 8 December 2012

The Ranganatha on a hill

There are plenty of temples dedicate to Ranganatha in and around Bangalore. The two most well-known Ranganatha shrines are in Srirangapatna and Shivanasamudra.
However, both Srirangapatna and Shivanasamudra are far away from Bangalore. While Srirangapatna is almost 120 kms away, Shivanasamudra is slightly more distant. It is 140 kms from Bangalore.
Magadi has a beautiful Ranganatha Temple which is worth a visit. However, if you want to combine a trek among the rocks and a climb to a hill, then the Gavi Rangaswamy betta near Channapatna-Ramanagar is the place.
The Ranganatha shrine here is located atop the Gavi Ranngaswamy betta, which is 6o kms away from Bangalore. It is also known as Bilekal Ranngaswamy Temple and it is in Kanakapura taluk.
The hill is about 3,000 foot above sea level and it is a breathtaking climb to the top. It is a good spot for trekkers and a weekend getaway. The rocks ate the summit are white in colour and, hence, the name Bilekal (white stone).
Called Srirangarajapura, his small village at the foothills was so named after a local Palegara called Sriranga. There is a beautiful temple of Gopala Krishna holding the flute. This temple is built in the Vijayanagar style and the temple has some beautiful sculptures and carvings. It would be better to see this temple before climbing the hill to see the Ranganatha.
The climb to the top of the Ranganatha hill is not smooth and the steps are rather steep and uneven. On the way, you come across a small cave which the locals call as Bhairava.
The cave has two idols with masks called Kenchanna and Kariyanna and other small idols.
There is an interesting story behind Kenchanna and Kariyanna. Both of them were guards of the temple and they were transformed into masks to eternally guard the temple.
These masks are so beautifully made that they look human.
The locals say that you should first visit this cave and then proceed to climb the hill to view the Ranganatha Temple.  
The Ranganatha shrine is located in a cave, Apart from this idol, there is a shrine to Srinivasa. If you climb a little higher, you can see a natural pond. The pond is supposed to contain a perennial source of water.
The hill was once the abode of a sage called  Rishyashringa. This sage is credited with the construction of the Ranganatha temple.        
A word of caution. The cave temple is open only on Saturdays. The hill is full of snakes
If you have your own transport, getting to this weekend getaway is easy. Otherwise take a train or bus to Channapatana ands from there metadors, taxis and even autos are available to Srirangarajapur.
If you have the time, explore Chennapatna and surrounding areas. The Ambegallu Krishna temple, which is better known as Malur Apremeya Temple is nearby as is Abbur, the abode of the Madhwa saint, Bramanye Theertha. Check out the Abbur caves, Bramanya pura and Kengal. The Kanva reservoir is a sedate spot.
Ramanagar is just away and for food you have plenty of  excellent hotels and restaurants. If you are in Bangalore, the trek and trip can be a day's outing.

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