Sunday 23 February 2014

The little known temples on the hill

An earlier post had dealt with the Chamundi Hills and the many names that the hills were called by. This post is about a few other temples on the Chamundi Hills which unfortunately are not so well-known as the Chamundi Temple.
One of the earliest temples not only on Chamundi Hills but in the Mysore region is the Mahabaleshwara Temple.
The Mahabaleshwar temple was initially built by the Gangas during the eighth century and renovated by Hoysalas. Interestingly, the bronze idols in this temple belong to the Chola period.
The temple is an artistic blend of  Hoysala and Ganga architecture. The main deity is the linga which has Shiva’s face on it. There is also an idol of Parvathi to the left of the Linga.
The idols of Sapta Mata (seven mothers), two idols of Ganesha,  Nataraja along with Sivakami are also found in the temple.
Generally, we do not find an idol of Nataraja in a Shiva temple but this is an exception here. It is also rare to find a stone idol of Nataraja and this can be seen here.
The priest of the temple says since the Linga self manifested, it is also known as Aarsheya Murthy.
Outside the temple are the five avatars of Shiva - Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Eeshana. These idols were consecrated by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.
Another little known temple on the hills is that of Lakshmi Narayana which is situated behind the Mahabaleshwar temple.
The temple faces West and it is dedicated to Narayana along with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.
This deities have been carved from a single stone. There is a beautiful and unique idol of Hanuman here and it has been growing for the last 100 years. Strangely, the idol cannot be seen clearly in the day but it is visible after dark when lamps are lit. This idol faces north.
There is an interesting tale about the idol. According to locals, Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodayer came to the place and directed a sculptor to break a stone lying on the hill. The sculptor hit the stone a few times but was only able to make a small dent. Later that night, Hanuman appeared in the dreams of the sculptor and asked him not to break the stone. He said he was growing on the stone and, therefore, there was no need to break it.
The stone then was consecrated as it is and this has been growing. Maharani Tripura Sundari, second wife of Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodayer, commissioned a silver Kavacha for the idol.
There is no Dhwaja Stamba for this temple. However, both the  Mahabaleshwara and Chamundi Temples have Dhwaja Stambas.
Another interesting temple on the Hill is the Nandi and the small cave temple of Shiva behind it.   
The 16 feet high and 24 feet long monolith Nandi was installed by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar in 1659. The significance of this Nandi is that, while Nandi everywhere faces Shiva, it faces south while Shiva looks towards  the east.
Locals say the Wodeyars installed ten different Nandi idols around the hill to protect their empire. Even today, some of the Nandi statues can be seen as Neerkal Hatti Basava, Ulluri Basava, Kodi Basava and Kere Bali Basava.
Coming back to the Nandi on Chamundi Hills, there is a small Cave temple adjacent to the monolith which houses a Shiva Linga.
Another temple is that of  Jwala Tripura Sundari, sister of Chamundi at Uttanahalli.
The idol of the goddess, said to be an avtar of Lakshmi, is located little below the ground. The hillock on which this temple is located is called Ramanathagiri. This is so as the temple also houses the self-manifested idol of Ramanateshwara or Shiva.
Nearby is the ashrama of Markandeya ashram which is marked by a small temple. Legend is Markandeya worshipped Shiva at this very spot.
Devikere, which lies en route to the Chamundi Hill, is a small but beautiful pond meant to draw water for the temple. The Devi kere is also known as Deva Gange as Ganga created the water here to worship Shiva.

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