Sunday, 23 December 2012

The town that once had 365 temples

Once upon a time this was the place in Kannada Nadu that had 365 temples. A temple a day to visit and perfoem pooja, seems to have been the ambition of the rulers of this area.
These rulers had so constructed the temples that each one of them had a programme or ritual on a day and thus throughout the year , the town wore a festive look.
The town, once the stronghold of  the Pandyas and the Cholas, passed into the Vijayanagars. This town was also governed by the Kadambas of Banavasi, Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra, Rashtrkutas of Manyakheta (Malked) and the Chalukyas of Badami. It was also the capital of the local Alupa rulers.
The Alupas were powerful vassals of the Chalukyas of Badami and one of the Alupa ruler even defeated the Cholas.
This was also the town that hosted Shankaracharya and Madhwacharya. A few other saints of both the Adwaitha and Dwaitha order visited the town.
Today, much of the traces of history seems to have vanished and of the 365 temples, only a mere three dozen remain. The two forts which once commanded the Arabian Sea have all but disappeared but traces still remain.
Located just 15 kms from Udupi, this town, which is rich is mythology and history, is known as Barkur or Barakanur. The 365 temples and the everyday celebration of  the temple give it the named Nithyothsavavada Naadu-the land of celebrations.
Barkur first gained prominence under the Pandya rulers. One of the Pandya rulers, Boothala Pandya, is believed to have ruled for 75 or more years and ushered in an era of peace and prosperity.
The Simhasan Gudda in Barkur is believed to be the exact spot where the palace of  Boothala stood. The Anjenaya Temple here is therefore called Aramane Anjaneya Temple as it was either a part of near the royal palace (Aramane).
Another heritage in the gudda is the Shaami tree (known as banni tree) in the Bana Mahakali Temple which is nearby.
Today, there are 30 odd temples left of the 365 and almost all of them are located in a three kilometer radius. Some of the important temples and structures are the Katthalke Basadi, a Jain monument.     
There are temples dedicated to several communities such as  Billavas, Konkani, Ganigas, Pujaris, Mogaveeras, Dalits and Viswakarmas. The Panchalingeshwara temple located on Car Street is worth a visit.
Just across the Panchalingeshwara are the temples of  Chippi Anjaneya, Batte Vinayaka and Kalabhairaveshwara.
There is also a temple dedicated to Somanatha. The twin temples of Chaulikeri dedicated to Ganapati and Shiva respectively belong to the 14th century. The Kotekeri Temple of Venugopala Krishna and the Siddeshwara Temples were constructed in the 11th century AD and the Mahishasura temple in the 12th century
Barkur is famous for the matrilineal inheritance system which originated in Bennekudru.
Bennekudru is one the banks of  Seetha and it houses the beautiful temple of Masti Amma, which is the Kula Deve the of  the Mogaveeras or members of the fishing community.
Boothala Pandya introduced the  matrilineal inheritance system-Aliyasanthana or Aliyakattu-from this place. This system is still in vogue and it is adhered to by Bunts, Billavas and Jains. 
Barkur was the provincial capital of Hoysalas and later the Vijayanagars. Between 1336 and 1565 when it was under the Vijayanagars, more than a hundred Governors presided over the province of Mangalore and Barkur from here.
Locals and historians point out that Barkur reached its peak under the Vijayanagar emperors. It was an important port for the Vijayanagars and it is from here that they imported horses.
When the Vijayanagar Empire disintegrated, the local Palegars became independent before the Keladi rulers captured it. Then it was the turn of Hyder Ali and subsequently the British.
A local tale credits the legendary Vikramaditya of Ujjain having visited Barkur several times.
The Bhanderkeri Matha in Barkur was built by Madhwacharya who visited this place in the early part of the 14th century. Several centuries earlier, Shankaracharya visited Barkur enroute to Kollur.
Barkur is well connected by road. Mangalore is 75 kms away and Bramavar is nearby. Barkur is also on the Konkan railway map.

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