Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Bhoo Varaha of Kalahalli

The temples constructed by Hoysalas are noted for their architectural beauty and exquisite workmanship. Generally, both the exterior and interior of Hoysala temples are minutely carved sculptures with an eye for detail.
Whether it is Belur, Halebid or Somanathapura, almost all the Hoysala temples there show the fine workmanship of the times. There could be only a few temples, which could be counted on fingertips, that are plain in design on the exterior. One such temple is the temple of Varahaswamy in Kalahalli in Krishnarajepet taluk of Mandya district.
The Varahaswamy temple looks so plain from the outside that one would even begin to wonder whether it is a Hoysala structure. Very soon, this illusion is dispelled when one enters the temple.
The massive idol of Vahara, the third incarnation of Vishnu or Hari, takes one’s breath away. The idol, built of grey stone, is 18 feet in height. Vahara is sitting with his consort, Bhoo Devi, on his left lap.
Since Vahara means boar, the deity has horns which are lighter in colour than the idol. The eyes of Vahara is red.
A local legend says the temple is more than 2,000 years old. However, inscriptions found nearby confirm that the temple was built by the Hoysalas during the time of Vera Ballala, the third. 
The temple is also called the Pralaya Varahaswamy. It is on the banks of the Hemavathi. The river looks serene but please do not be deceived by it. There are strong undercurrents at several places and it is better to be cautious. Do not take the risk of swimming.
Coming back to the temple, the temple is rectangular in shape and it s built of  grey stone blocks. The temple has two parts, the sanctum and the front hall.
Another legend is that Sage Gautama performed tapas here and worshipped a saligrama. Another legend states that Veera Ballala, the third, lost his way in the forests here. Tired, he rested under a tree only to notice a dog chasing a rabbit When the rabbit reached a particular spot in the jungle, it turned back and jumped towards the dog. Surprised at the sudden action, the dog turned tail and fled.
Veera Ballala released that the spot where the hare turned on the dog was holy. When he dug up the place, he found the idol of Varahaswamy. He then built the temple and consecrated the idol.
Locals say the temple has withstood several floods. The temple is open from 10.30 a. m., to 5.30 p.,m. What make the temple outstanding is that thsi could perhaps be the biggest idol sculpted by the Hoysalas or consecrated during their period. This is also the only Hoysala structure where the idol is so magnificent that it dwarfs all other aspcets of the temple.  
There is another temple adjacent to the Varahaswamy temple and this once housed Lakshmi. When the area was submerged after the construction of the KRS Dam, Lakshmi herself  threw out the roof of the temple and came to Melukote where she still stands. If you do not believe this, check out the roof of the Lakshmi temple and the roof slab that has been found at Dodda Gadiganahalli village, which is nearby.
The roof slab at Dodda Gadiganahalli matches exactly the hole in the roof of the Lakshmi temple at Kalahalli. This has been verified by historians and archaeologists.
You can also see the ruins of the Hanuman Temple when the water level in the river recedes. During monsoon season, the rover touched the temple.    
If  you are travelling from Bangalore, take the Bangalore-Mysore road and go towards Pandavaura. The small village of Kalahalli is 35 kms from here. To reach Kalahalli, you have to cross other small villages of  Aaralukuppe, Katere, Hosa Kanambadi, Banamgadi, Belenahalli and Gangikere.
KSRTC buses halt from Mysore, Mandya and Pandavapura at Gangikere and Kalahalli is  2 kms from here. No buses come up to Kalahalli. So you have to hire a vehicle or trek.
Kalahalli is also known as Varahanathana Kalahalli. It is just 50 kms from Mysore. It is easily approachable by road and the nearest railway station is Krishnarasagar. The Varahara temple is about 2.5 kms away from the village. The easy route from Mysore is to come to Pandavapura and from there travel to Chinkurli and Bookanakere.

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