Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Nilakanteswara temple - Jammatige Agrahara, Hariharapura
Hariharapura has quite a few interesting ancient temples and archeological gems to discover just a short drive away from the small village town. There are 3 temples of Hindu built from 10th to 16th century, spread over area of 10 sq. km of forest that is biologically rich in flora and fauna.
The dense forests and Tunga river provides an excellent opportunity to experience nature, lower ranges of Western-Ghats on Tunga River bounded on the Western side by Neelakanteswar temple and Semi-evergreen forest with riparian vegetation and cultivated lands on another side.
We reached Hariharapura and drove towards the Jammatige Agrahara house. It was a small Agrahara have lines of eight Brahmin houses on three sides of the temple and the Shiva temple at the center thus resembling a garland around the temple. This place has a history of at least 500 to 700 years. This village was originally formed as a Brahmin Settlement to carry out the religious activities connected to the Shiva temple. The entire land belonged to the native Brahmins here. During the Keladi and Vijayanagar kingdom, the King used to migrate to Brahmin families to such places, give them land and other facilities. This way a place becomes a pilgrimage and a center of learning.
This temple was built during 1654 AD, by Mallikarjuana and Shankaranarayana, about two kilometers away from the Hariharpura. Kalasada Kalanna, the main architect-sculptor behind this temple. This temple has intricate carvings on its four sides depicting the entire Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The Sculptures being made of granite, it is a small but well proportioned temple, consisting of a sanctum, vestibule Mandapa and portico. It is a gem of architecture and is indeed remarkable as much for its ornate sculptures on its inner sanctum and outer walls are as rich as on the larger temples.
Local people of Agrahara are keen in protecting and developing the Jammatige Agrahara Mahseer fish (Bili Meenu) Sanctuary. It is of religious importance as it is situated below Neelakantheswara Temple. After performing Pooja in Nilakanteswara temple the fishes are fed daily by the Archakas, visitors and pilgrims. This fish has a religious status for the local community and as such it is not consumed as food but is fed, protected and worshiped. Pilgrims and visitors also partake in feeding the fish with rice.
The fishes are worshiped as sacred and are not killed by local people. The river supports rich fish population and water is free flowing and unpolluted. Mahseer congregation is noticed about 1 Km downstream of river Tunga. National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources and Zoological Survey of India have classified Mahseer TorKhudree as endangered fish hence conservative and development measures are to be adopted.