Tuesday 26 February 2013

The legend of the temple whitewash

This is one of the lesser known places in Karnataka. Set amidst huge hills and  rocks, this is the place where the Krishna merges with the Ghataprabha. This place is also associated with the famous social reformer, saint and poet, Basavanna.
Apart from these two things, this place has attained fame for a quaint and unique temple built in the Chalukya style. The temple is as famous as its legend.
The fort here is a mammoth structure and looks imposing and the  temple is that of Sangameshwara.
The Sangameshwara is worshiped here in the form of a Shiva Linga and the surrounding hills have given it a name-Kalakeshwara. This is the famous rock town of Gajendragad.
The Kalakeshwara temple in Gajendragad is famous here and it is referred to as  Kashi of the South or Dakshina Kashi.
Gajendragad, in Ron taluk of Gadag district, is a picturesque town in the midst of hills and rocky mountains. The temple is famous for its Udhbhava linga and you have to climb a fleet of steps to enter the sanctum.
The nearby pond is called Athara Gange and it is a custom to bathe here before going into the temple for performing pooje. The water from the Athara Gange falls on a Peepal tree nearby and this phenomenon has been going on for years without a break. Till date, nobody has been able to identify the root of the Peepal tree and it continues to remain a mystery
However, what sets the Kalakeshwara Temple aside from other temples of its kind is the miracle of whitewash. This miracle occurs during every Ugadi and it has to be seen to be believed.
A day before Ugadi, the temple priest  makes a limestone mixture and places a brush close by in the temple. When the temple doors are opened the next morning, the inside of temple premises are painted. This has been happening every year.
The paint brush appears wet and a hookah that is also kept nearby appears to be used.
Another legend is about the temple bells.
Locals will also tell you that in 1970, the bells of the temple suddenly disappeared. They say that the bells vanished into the  skies even as they were ringing.
The bell was equivalent to size of soaked kidney beans that fit into 22 gunny bags. The disappearance of the bells was taken as a bad omen and days later, plague struck Gajendragad.
The priest will show you the place where the original bell was tied.
It is not just the legend that make Kalakeshwara Temple a must see. Check put the exquisite architecture and the beautiful paintings and carvings within the temple premises. The gopuras are a sight for sore eyes.
The temple has a deity of Veerabhadra and this is another unique aspect of the temple. Generally, you do not have Shiva and Veerabhadra together. The Kalakeshwara temple is the sole exception, at least in this region.
The Gajendragad Fort was built by the Rashtrakutas. It was later renovated by Shivaji. There are several wind mills installed o the hills around the temple.
Tourists can make their way to Kalakeshwara Temple by road, rail and air. Bangalore and Hubli are the nearest airports to Gajendragad. LSRTC buses ply from Bangalore to Gajendragad and there are plenty of transport options from Gadag and Ron.
Gajendragad is about 54 km from Gadag. It is surrounded by a number of historical sites such as Badami (40 kms), Aihole (39 kms), Pattadakal (42 kms), Mahakuta, Banashankari, Itagi (13 kms) and Kudalasangama (72 kms).
On the way back to Gadag, check out the temple of Devi known as Itagi Bheemavva, about 13 Kms away from Kalkaleshwara. The place is very famous and thousands of believers come here to get their vow fulfilled. They tie coconuts and wish for their desires to be fulfilled. The devotees come back here and untie the same coconut after their wishes are fulfilled.

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