Tuesday 17 September 2013

A temple to Sugreeva

India is a land of Gods and temples and there was a period when the number of people equaled the number of Gods. But no longer. The number of Gods stands at 32 million or 33 million, while our people are much beyond a 1000 million or a billion.
Just as there are Gods, so are there temple and every village, town and city has one or two temples at the least. There are temples dedicated to Rama, Krishna, Srinivasa, Narasimha, Ganapathy, Lakshmi, Hanuman, Shiva, Parvathi and a host of other gods and goddesses.
But in the pantheon of  Gods and Goddesses, some do not have a temple, while others have only rarely.
Bangalore is fortunate that it not only has the largest number of temples in Karnataka, but it also has some of the oldest and rarest too. Where else but in Bangalore can you find the Grama devethes still dominating the urban landscape long after the city ceased to be the village that it was.
If Bangalore has one of the rare temples dedicated to Dharmaraya, it also has a temple dedicated to Sugreeva. Yes, this is perhaps one of the few temples dedicated to Sugreeva, the brother of Vali and the Vanara who led his armies to Lanka alongside Rama and Lakshmana to rescue Seeta.
The Sugreeva temple is a rarity in India and there are quite a few of them. But in Bangalore, this is the only temple dedicated to Sugreeva and as can be expected it is located in one of the petes or old areas of Bangalore.
The temple is just off the bustling Balepet Main Road. No wonder the temple is even today better known as Sugreeva Venkateshwara Temple.
A casual glance would make one assume that the idol is of Hanuman but a closer look will show you that there are two teeth protruding from the mouth and it is only this that distinguishes this idol from Hanuman.
Located on the Balepet main road, the inner shrine has a beautiful  idol of Lord Venkateshwara on a pedestal. The idol of Sugreeva, which is six feet in height, looks strikingly like Hanuman. The long teeth on either side of the mouth are the only thing which differentiates it from Hanuman.
Both Venkateshwara and Sugreeva face each other in two separate temples constructed for them. Incidentally, Venkateshwara is consecrated in the temple facing the smaller door. The locals believe that the Sugreeva idol was submerged in the Kempambudhi tank and one of the devotees got a dream asking him to lift it from the waters and place it in the temple.
Local residents say that the temple was built by Kempegowda-I for the Uppara community.
The temple is situated in such a busy area, that thousands of passers by each day continue to walk past it, ignorant of the Sugreeva Venkateshwara Temple.
Incidentally, Bangalore had another temple dedicated to Sugreeva. This was the present Sri Venugopalaswamy Temple in Shivajinagar.
This temple was constructed sometime in 1902 and it was originally dedicated to Sugreeva. Now it houses the idols of Rulmini, Krishna or Venugopala Swamy and Satyabhama, which were shifted here from Viveknagar locality.

Apart from these two temples, the Chokanatha temple in Domlur has pillars depicting Sugreeva and Vali. This is considered among the oldest temple of Bangalore and it was built by the Cholas when they ruled over Bangalore more than a thousand years ago.

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