Sunday 16 June 2013

The Quadrilateral Goddesses of Bangalore

Last week, my daughters wore woken up from their afternoon snooze by the sound of drum beats. The beats were intermittent: yet they were sounded in perfect unison. The rhythm of the beats compelled my five-year olds to leave the safety of their house and head towards the place from where a cacophony of sounds was coming.
When we reached the Byresandra Main Road in Jayanagar 3rd Block, we found that the drums were being sounded as part of a procession of garishly decorated floats which was accompanied by a fairly large crowd of villagers or rather rural folk.
The floats, on closer look, were goddesses but none of them were familiar to us. A query to the man leading the procession elicited the answer.
The float was an annual tribute to Bangalore’s oldest Goddesses-the four quadrilateral sisters-Annamma, Patalamma, Gadagamma and Muthyallamma.
All the four plus two others were being taken around in a procession and while Patalamma was from Elephant Rock Road near South End in Jayanagar, the rest were from different localities.
Anamma had come from Majestic, riding in her chariot as behoves an elder sister-you see all the three mentioned above are her younger sisters. Gadagamma had come from Domlur and  Muthyallamma from Shivajinagar.
All four are Grama Devethes and all of them are considered to be pox  healers. The oldest and perhaps the first among the Grama devathe is Anamma.
Anamma stands on Subedar Chatram Road in Majestic and the huge populace that flows by the temple seems oblivious of the historicity of the temple and the Goddess. Generally considered to be patron Goddess of Bangalore, she was right from the time of Kempe Gowda, the presiding deity of Bangalore.
The temple once stood just off the magnificent Dharmambudhi Tank. This tank was one of the outer tanks of Bangalore built by Kempe Gowda. It had an outlet that carried excess rain water to the inner tank of Siddi Katte, which is today’s City Market. (Kempe Gowda conceived the idea of outer and inner tanks to ensure that excess water from outer tanks flowed into the inner tanks.)
Today, neither Siddi Katte nor Dharmambudhi tank survive. The Siddi Katte is now a bustling locality called City Market and Dharmambudhi tank the Subashnagar bus stand.
Similarly, the Patalamma temple too is bereft of the pristine Kanakanapalya lake which today is named as Lalbagh lake. The Laklbagh lake is now enclosed within the walls of the Lalbagh and the Patalamma temple stands just opposite the Elephant rock in erstwhile Kanakanapalya, now Jayanagar 3rd Block and Jayanagar 2nd Block.
Patalamma descended from the sky when she saw the present spot. She got a temple built for herself. The temple survives but even the neighbours are unaware of the history.
The Gadagamma temple is in Dimlur, now known as Domlur. It was once close to Challaghatta tank but the waters of the tank have receded and the temple stands near the better known Chokkanatha Temple.
The temple is surrounded by one of the area’s busiest markets. As far as Muthyallamma goes, she is located near the busy Shivajinagar busstand.
If Muthyalamma is the grama devathe (village deity) of the Cantonment, Patalamma is the presiding deity of Kanakanapalya, Gadagamma of Domlur and Anamma or Anyamma, the grama devathe of the City area.
Interestingly, all the four sisters are well-known in the annals of City’s history for curing all varieties of poxes, including plague. Infact, Muthyalamma's history can be traced to the Great Plague of Bangalore that claimed hundreds of lives.
Thus, these four sisters form the quadrilateral deities of Bangalore and this is the tale I told my daughters. Unfortunately, in the rush to head towards the procession, I forget the camera and, hence, could not take any photographs. The procession was being held to herald the birthday of Patalamma and her sisters had come to Kanakanapalya to wish her.
However, I promised my daughters and myself that I would take photographs of the temples and post it along with the article.     


  1. Excellent write-up ! Thanks for sharing.

    Got here via a facebook link.

  2. Hi,
    Good to know such facts about namma bengaluru.

    Keep posting.