Saturday 22 December 2012

Arjuna's Chennakeshava

We have all heard about Arjuna, the renowned bowman of the Mahabharata period and a close friend of Krishna. But did you know that Arjuna visited Kannada Desha after the Mahabharata war.
He is suppose to have visited Bangalore (there was no such city then) and constructed a temple in Anekal which is ear Bangalore.
The temple exists even today and it is known as Arjuna’s Chennakeshava.
Arjuna not only visited Anekal and its surroundings but also Mulabagal, Avani and Kaiwara, all in Kolar. He also consecrated a temple in Mulabagal which was renovated several centuries later by the Mughal nobleman Todar Mal during the period of Akbar.
Anekal is a bustling town just 36 km from Bangalore and it is just a little more than an hour away. Since it is close to the Tamil Nadu border, its name is Anekal which means the place for elephants.
Till a few decades ago, Anekal had several places where there were huge ash mounds. These ashes were the purnahutis (holy ashes) after homas were conducted. Now, you can see such ashes at Budhikote in Kolar district.
The ashes were used by the farmers of the area as fertiliser.
Anekal in olden days was known as Gajasilapuri as elephants roamed the area. Another reason for the name could be because of the frequent hailstorms that lashed the area.
The first mention of the name Gajasilapuri is during the time of the Gangas. The province of Bangalore and its surroundings were part of the Ganga kingdom and the Gangas had their capital at Talakad near Mysore.
The origin of present day Anekal can be traced to 1603 to Chikka Thamma Gowda of  the Sugatur family. The then Adilshah General defeated Chikka Thamma Gowda who was a Palegar of Hoskote. The Adil Shah took over Hoskote and granted Anekal to Chikka Thamma Gowda. He ruled over Anekal for 30 years. His son, Thimme Gowda was the ruler of Anekal for 20 years. 
The Wodeyars conquered Anekal during the reign of  Chikka Thamma Gowda’s grandson, Dodda Thimme Gowda. A few years later Hyder and his son Tipu Sultan made Anekal a part of their kingdom. 
 Anekal has many temples and one of the oldest is the Chennakeshava.
This temple is historically and mythologically important as it was consecrated by Arjuna, one of the five the Pandava. This temple is built in the Vijayanagar style and we can surmise that the structure was repaired during the Vijayanagar period.   
The temple is set in a large ground and the Mahadwara faces south, though the structure (temple) faces East. The temple has been renovated. The idol of Chenna Keshava is beautiful and it is flanked by his two wives-Sridevi and Bhoo Devi.
There are four pillars in the Navaranga and one of them has carvings from the Ramayana. The second pillar has carvings of  Yoga Narasimha. Varaha, Matsya and Kalinga, while the third is carved with Hanuman and  Kamadhenu. The fourth pillars has images of Sugreva, Vali and Balarama.
The idol is also called Janardhana.  The temple is flanked by two beautiful water tanks. 
There are a few other temples in Anekal worth a visit. You can visit Hogenkal which is just a little distance away and Muthyal Maduvu (Valley of pearls), a water fall which falls in the form of pearls.
The Vivekananda Yogashrama is in Jigani, a small industrial town just before Anekal. This a well-known institution which teaches Yoga and Yoga therapy.
Anekal is just a little away from the Tamil Nadu border. Coming back, halt at Bannerghatta and enjoy the wildlife.

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