Monday 22 October 2012

Underground temples of Bangalore

I was visiting the Gavi Gangadheswara Temple (behind Ramakrishna Ashrama) in Gavipuram Bangalore along with a group of friends from Mysore . They were all impressed by the architecture of the temple and its history.
The name itself implies Gavi in Kannada means cave and it is one of the oldest cave temples of India . After entering the temple premises through the arch, there is a flight of steps leading down to a cave where there is a Shiva Linga popularly known as Gangadhareshwara. There is also a deity of Goddess Durga.
It is only once an year and that too on Makara Sankranti that  the rays of the sun touch the Linga.On that day, the rays slowly appear from a small hole in the wall of the temple and move towards the Linga through the two horns of the Nandi. This is a spectacle worth watching.
The temple is believed to have been built by Kempe Gowda. Legend has it that this is the very place where sages like Gowthama and Bharadwaja performed penance and offered prayers to Shiva. The idols of  these sages can be seen here.
There are two underground passages in the cave and one is supposed to lead to Shivagana which is 70 kms from Bangalore and the other to Kashi ( Banaras ).
One of my friends said he had never come across any other underground temple and he wanted to know if there are any other similar structures.
I told my friend that there is another temple in Bangalore which was excavated only recently. This is the Nandeshwara temple on 17th Cross in Malleswaram which was excavated only in 1997. Locals say that the temple is more than 7000  years old, while historians say it was probably built by Shivaji  or during his time.  The  is supported by beautiful
stone pillars and at one end is a statue of Nandi carved out of a black stone. water flows continuously from the mouth of the Nandi onto the Shiva idol.
The cave of Hulimavu off Bannerghatta Road almost opposite the Meenakshi Temple is worth a visit. There is an idol of Shiva and a small Dhyana Mantapa.

Other temples

There are two underground temples in Hampi. One of these is that of Prasanna Virupaksha or Shiva, believed to have been built in the 13th century and used until Muslim attacks left the city in ruins in 1565. This structure, built several metres beneath ground level, is underneath the water table, and the inner sanctum is usually flooded.
The best examples of underground temples (cave or structures beneath ground level) are the Panchalingeshwara temples in Talakad near Mysore .
Located on the banks of the Cauvery, Talakad was once the capital of the Gangas who ruled over large parts of South Karnataka .
It is believed that there are close to 30 temples that are buried under sand. So far, only five have been excavated and they are a magnificent sight to behold.
Talakad is 45 kms from Mysore and 135 kms from Bangalore . Ramanajucharya consecrated a Narayana temple here.
Another underground temple is the Narasimha Temple at Torvi, which is near Bijapur. It is here that Kumara Valmiki sat and composed Ramayana in Kannada. A few kilometers from Bijapur is the erstwhile princely state of  Mudhol where there is an underground temple dedicated to Shiva called Nela Gudi.
There is a beautiful underground temple of Vishnu in Narone in Gulbarga district. This place is 34 kms from Gulbarga . The cave housing the sculpture of Kalika and Bhairava is worth a visit.     
The Jeera Narasimha temple near Bidar too is underground and devotes have to wade through water to reach the shrine.
The Ankeshwara Temple in Savadatti was built by the Rattas in the 11th century. Built in the Chalukyan style,it has a flight of steps leading down to the Mukya Mantapa.

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