Friday 8 February 2013

Around Mysore-A village with unusual customs and traditions

Do you want to see the youth of the entire village and even some women swing on ropes in the reverse direction. Do you also want to participate or rather witness a unique fire dance which is very native here.
Then head for Arakere, a small village near Srirangapatna. This is a hobli 18 kilometres east of Srirangapatna. There is nothing extraordinary about this village. It is just like any other human habitation. However, it has a certain uniqueness that I want to present to the outside world.
So here goes…………….
The village is called Arakere and several inscriptions have been unearthed  here referring to the place as “Arakere” , “Sarvanamasyada Pattada Maha Agrahara Sarvajna Sri Viranarasimhapura (1254 A.D) and Agrahara Maleyalana Arakere (1512 A.D.).
The inscriptions also make it clear that Arakere was a part of  Idainadu region. The Cheras ruled over Idainadu before the Chalukyas and Hoysalas established their supremacy here.
In all, seventeen inscriptions have been found here dating from the   period between 12th century and 18th century. Of them, four inscriptions are in Tamil and fourteen in Kannada.
Many of the inscriptions record the grants given to the Keshava, Maruleshwara and Narasimha temples and also to the tank at Arakere.
The Keshava Temple referred to in the inscription is now called Channakeshava temple. It belongs to the 12th century and it is located on Durga Street in the village.
The temple is built in Chola style and it has a garbhagriha, antarala, open ardhamantapa navaranga, spacious Sabha mantapa, verandah, prakara and entrance corridor. Many of these structures have been recently renovated.
The Vishnu sculpture in the garbhagriha is a recent addition. One of the doorframes has three bands and there is an idol of  Ramanujacharya in the antarala.
The Navaranga of the Chennakeshava Temple has an idol of a  devi and central ceiling has decorations of the lotus flower. The mukha mantapa has a defaced Keshava carving. The entrance corridor in the prakara is of recent origin.
The Garuda pillar is right in front of the temple.
To the left of the temple, there is a pillar which is all that remains of the structure referred to as Ammana Gudi. To the right of the temple is an Utsava mantapa.
The Maraleshwara Temple , which in earlier days was called Manaleshwara, is also built in Chola style. It is just outside the village.
This structure too has a garbhagriha, antarala and a spacious navaranga with doors in the east and the south, attached with mukhamantapas.
The basement of the garbhagriha is multi angled and it houses a Linga. The navaranga has sculptures of  Mahishamardini, Ganapathi, and a Devi.
Opposite to the southern entrance is a single ankana temple with a Devi sculpture. On the pillars of the Navaranga and on the ceiling of the mukhamantapa are decorations of lotus. This temple was being renovate when I last visited it.
The Lakshminarasimha temple is in ruins. You can , however, make out a garbhagriham antarala, navaranga and a verandah. There are records dated 1561 AD to indicate that this was also called Narasimha Temple.
The garbhagriha here (Narasimha Temple) has a beautiful Lakshminarasimha sculpture which is profusely decorated with ornaments. Another temple is that of Ramalingeshwara. This too has been renovated recently and it has a Linga.
The village tank is adjacent to a hill called Hucharaya hill. There is a temple for the village deity Mutturaya here. The Bisilu Maramma temple has been renovated and once in three years a Jatra is held for the deity.
The tank or lake is serene and is not polluted. A crocodile was found near a paddy field adjacent to this tank a few months ago.
The spear shula festival during the Jatra of Bisulu Maramma is a very unique experience. People belonging to Achari, Okkaliga, Ganiga and Banajiga community bring 50 feet high arecanut tree trunks from arecanut garden reserved exclusively for the deity.
These trunks are planted in order and a platform is built on them. Then, the Ganigas climb on them and swing in a reverse direction. This peculiar act continues for almost three hours.
Then comes another unique ritual- the Dhimsale dance.
This is another spectacle worth watching. The dancer ties a belt around his waits and holding a big piece of Sura honne wood with sharpened edges resembling a penis, he speaks in an obscene language.
The art of swinging swords and lighted sticks is called Benki Bharate. This is a special performance. The fire exercise of holding a light disc by a person with bound legs is another fascinating experience. What makes this more thrilling is that all these above mentioned acts are alive even now.
Arakere is near Bannur. It is in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district.
Head for Arakere and find out about our local culture and heritage. I can assure you that the visit is worth your time and money.  

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