Sunday 13 January 2013

A trek to a Puranic Hill

There are many places in and around Bangalore that are off the tourist map and even today are not all that well-known. One such is the Hill of Halatti in Nagamangala taluk of Mandya district.
You will not find the name of the village in any map. Details about the village and the hills surrounding it are almost non-existent. However, the hills have their own story to tell and they offer a trekker a secluded and quiet place.
The hill is of puranic significance a good spot for picnicking. It is located half a km from the village of Alati situated nine km northeast to the taluk centre of  Nagamangala.
An inscription from Nagamangala dated 1173 A.D., refers to this place Halatti, while another inscription recovered from Dodda Jataka dated 1512 A.D., refers to this place as Aletigrama. The  villagers refer to it as Halti and the nearby hill as Haltigiri.
This is the Puranic hill in the mountain ranges along the road from Nagamangala to Tumkur in the south-north direction. The hill has a beautiful cave at the top called the Malleswara cave.
The peak is also called Malleswara Peak. The climb to the hill is from east to west. The Malleswara cave temple has two inscriptions.
One record dated 1605 A.D., refers to the grant given to  Singalideva Odeya by his disciple Muddanna son of Chikki. The grant included 14 gulige honnu (money) for the construction of a mud bund to a tank called Devarakatte and the interest of three Hanas or annas per Gulige Honnu for the purpose of lighting a perpetual lamp to the God.
The reference to the coin ‘Gulige Honnu’ is significant. Another record of the same date refers to the construction of a door to the main entrance by Mallayya.
The Malleshwara or Linga  is located in a spacious cave. There is a beautiful legend associated with this. Parashurama visited the cave here after killing his mother Renuka.
He wanted to cleanse the sin of killing a mother (matru hatya) by getting the darshana of Malleshwara. He used his well-known axe to splinter the boulders on the hill and make a way to the cave.
He then worshipped Mallewswara and only then sat on a high boulder to eat.
When he opened the food packet, some of the food spilled down the boulder. He had brought some milk which also spilled down the boulder. Hence, the place got the name Halti.
The cave starts of as a spacious structure. As you go inside, the cave narrows down and one has to almost crawl to see the deity. This is a natural cave.  
Nearby is another hill village called Palakere.
Palakere was in ancient days an Agrahara-a Brahmin centre. It is situated between two hills called Fort Hill and the Narasimha Hill, Both the hills are about 2 km from the village of Palakere.
The Fort Hill is smaller of the two hills.  It has  a beautiful temple of  Koteraya or Venkataramana (Srinicasa) temple atop the hill.  A legend says that Parashurama first installed Koteraya, by entering  the Hill through the hollow barks of  trees in the area. Only after consecrating Koteraya, he did go to Alatagiri and consecrate the Shivalinga.
Locals say  Singararya, a brother of Thirumalaraya, a minister of a local chieftain, constructed the temple. There are several other temples dedicated to Hanumantha, Shiva, Nachyaramma (Vrindavan) and Sathyanarayana here.
The cattle fair of Koteraya is held along with the annual Jatra of  Venkataramana during February.
The other hill called Narasimha Hill is higher in height than the Fort Hill. There is temple of  Kambadappa on it. This is a small temple and it has a three feet tall square pillar which is popularly referred to as ‘Pillared Narasimha’ or Kambada Narasimha.
The temple has carvings of Shankha, Chakra, Trishula and a bow.

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