Monday, September 3, 2012
Shivaganga hills -Tumkur
Shivaganga hills is an ancient religious and picnic centre situated about 60km from Bangalore on the way to Tumkur, it has a monolithic black granite hill raising over 1380 meters above the sea level. The cave temples on the hill dedicated to Gavi-Gangadhara (Shiva) and his consort Swarnambha or Honna Devi are worshiped here. Gavi (kannada word) means cave. As the temple is situated within a cave like structure it is called as Gavigangadhareshwara. The inner sanctum is believed to be connecting to another Shiva temple, Gavigangadhareshwara which is at Bangalore.
The place is just fantastic, with breathtaking views from the high altitudes. Brilliant are the views of the surrounding villages, the nearby Pushkarini or pond, from the top of the hill. Most of the place is rocky, with railings to hold on to as you climb, and monkeys to make sure you don’t take any offerings to the deity on top!
The devotees who travel to Shivaganga bring along with them the ghee to offer to Lord Shiva. Shiva is in the form of Lingam at Gangadhareshwara temple. The priest applies the ghee and rubs it all over the Shiva Lingam. Amazingly, one can see the ghee turning back to butter, in front of them. Any answers to this in our modern science? No one has the answer to why this amazing change occurs.
Lots of pilgrims travel to the place during their holidays just to watch the miracle happen in front of them. The ghee that turns to butter has medicinal properties in it.
You will be amazed to see the beautiful natural spring at Patalaganga on your way to the hilltop of Shivaganga. Inside some of the rocks, the underground spring is seen seeping at the entrance. Water level of Patal Ganga sometimes comes up to the knee height and is always cold. Water flowing is connected at Antargange which is quite far from the spot. You could find some small fountains or water bodies, that we were told, never dry up throughout the year!
Here are many spots on the Shivaganga hill where spring water is seen. People believe that spring water comes from the holy river Ganges. Lord Shiva and the river Ganga (Ganges) together are called by the name Shivaganga.
Olakallu Teertha is the spring water found on the hillock. Pilgrims step down the narrow stairs between the rocks to see the spring. People believe that only a pious person can get a touch or feel of the water within. Myself and my bro Ani, one of them luckiest person who were touched the water on that hole.
There is also a Lord Ganesha temple and 108 Lingams near Agasthya theertha. Nandi is a monolith placed atop on a huge rock. Beautiful scenery around can be seen from the top of the rock. It is a peak spot of Shivaganga hills. People who travel to this place during holidays should carry enough water because it is too hot on the hills.
Sculptures and carvings are seen on the walls and the pillars of the temple. Most of them have succumbed to the weather conditions and negligence. A few paintings have lost their heritage look after they were repainted. The only problem that travelers face is the menace of monkeys on the Shivaganga hills.
These hills have Ashtalingas (8 shivalingas) by name Gangadhareshwara along with consort Swarnambha, Shantheshwara, Omkareshwara, Revana Siddheshwara, Kumbheshwara, Someshwara and Muddu Veereshwara.
Ashta Vrishabas (8 bulls) by name Nandi Vrishaba, Makara Basava, Mahisha Basava, Gare Basava, Dodda basava, Kadale Basava, Giri Basava and Kodugallu Basava. Ashta Theerthas (8 sacred water springs) by name Agasthya Theertha, Shankara Theertha, Kanva Theertha, Kadamba Theertha, Maithla Theertha, Patala Gange, Olakallu Theertha and Kapila Theertha.
Queen Shantala’s suicide point or Shanthala drop is a spot which is 500 feet high from the foot of the hill. The Queen, at her young age, always used to practice the dance in front of her deity, Honnadevi. During King Vishnuvardhana’s reign, Shantala Devi had a great influence in the administration and religious reforms. King was a Vaishnava follower as he was influenced by the saint Ramanujacharya, but Shantala was a follower of Jainism Shantala was the Pattamaharani (Queen who had right to sit on the throne).
Shantala was in a big depression as she couldn’t give birth to a child who would become heir after King Vishnuvardhana. Only the Pattamaharani’s son could become a legal successor according to the rule. When Queen Shantala did not have children, the other queen Lakshmi was to be allowed to become the Pattamaharani because she already had a boy baby. But the king never agreed to this. He always believed that Shantala would give birth to a son anytime, sooner or later. Shantala could not tolerate this for long. She made up her mind to end her life near the temple of deity, Honnadevi.
So, one night when everyone at the palace was fast asleep she rode on a horse and reached Shivaganga. After she prayed at the temple, she jumped from the hill to end her life. She was in her early twenties when she died. It is also said that Queen Shantala Devi died after observing the Jaina practice of Sallekhana (fasting unto death) at Shivaganga.
On some days during the night, localities moving around near the Shantala drop have heard the sound of a woman's anklets. Even to this day, they believe that her restless soul wanders at this place, with deep sorrow.
Lord Shiva’s consort Honnadevi also a deity in the nearby temple. Queen Shantala of the Hoysala dynasty was a great devotee of goddess Honnadevi. Patala Ganga, the natural spring water is situated between the two temples.
During the reign of Hoysala rulers, King Vishnuvardhana had contributed a lot for the renovation of the Shivaganga temple. Later Kempegowda too had built a beautiful tower over the temple and renovated it again.
Location:UDUPI Shivaganga, Karnataka, India
I documents my visits to lesser known places in Soth India. It documents places nestled deep in the beauty of the Western Ghats and historical monuments.