By the time we reached Omkareshwara temple the sun had set . Few bunches of small white flowers on the side of mud path leading to temple entrance were twinkling, wrapped in dusky haze of evening, First thing one encounters on entering the premises is a water tank encircled by wide pavement. In the middle of the tank is a mandapam connected by a causeway. I could not get any detail relating to this structure. Why the structure was erected in the middle of tank etc?

On the left side were steps leading to main temple.The temple is unique in it’s structure.On first look it does not look like usual temples.The gate looks more like a gate of fort and the boundary wall extending on either side of gate has tiled canopies. Roof of sanctum has a dome and four small turrets on four corners.The temple is said to be an example of Indo- Islamic architecture. Similar kind of roof we had seen over the tombs of royal families at Raja’s tomb.
The temple was built by King Lingarajendra -2. It is said that the king killed an honest and pious Brahmin as he opposed certain acts of the king. The spirit of Brahmin turned into Brahmarakshasa and started torturing the king. The king then consulted religious men and on their advice brought Shivlinga from Kashi and built this temple. It is believed after this act of atonement the spirit stopped tormenting the king. There is a Tamr Patr nailed on the door just after the linga. The history of the temple is inscribed on this patra and we were told that king Lingaraja himself ordered to place that Tamr Patra there. This story is written on the plaque near the steps to the temple.
There was pitch darkness behind Linga. Flame of the lamp in front of Linga burnt steadily. As the priest narrated the legend to me I almost felt like being transported to another world. I don’t know whether it was impact of darkness slowly enveloping us, the utter silence around us or the interesting mix of architecture and an equally intriguing tale, may be all of these together or throbbing presence of Shiva but I stood there spellbound and like tiny droplets of light an assurance trickled down deep within —– there are forces to set the things right.

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Above three pictures are of temple at Bhagmandla. On way to Talacaveri from Medikeri, this temple falls on route.  One need not take any diversion to visit the temple. The distance between Bhagmandla and Talacauveri is about eight kilometer. Bhagmandla is a sacred place of great importance. It is located at the confluence of three rivers  Cauveri, Kanika and Sujyoti. Sujyoti like Saraswati at Ganga Triveni Sangam in Allahabad is invisible/ antarvahini. People of Kodagu visit here to take a dip at the sangam and offer oblation to their departed relatives, ancestors.
It is said that this temple has it’s reference in Skanda Purana. Bhagmandla is said to derive it’s name from Rishi Bhaganda, who did severe penance here to please Lord Shiva and Lord Subramanya. This temple houses shrines of lord Subramanya, Ganpati and Lord Shiva. Shiv Ling here is known as Bhagandeshwara.
We visited this temple on our way back from Talacauveri. The moment I got down from taxi and started walking towards temple entrance I wished I could have more time in hand to spend there. No, it was not the stately, four storyed tiled gopuram but something powerful, purifying in the still air that asked to sit silently and imbibe the positive aura of the place. Once inside the wide, clean open courtyard of the temple my urge intensified. Some priests in yellow garbs were performing puja, archna at shrines, others sat at some corners chanting and reading, devotees paid their homage from one to another shrine, fragrance of flowers mixed with dhoop wafted in the air, mellow blue sky of closing day stretching over the open courtyard appeared to lean closer to caress with blessings and benevolence while far off hills wrapped in mist and haze beckoned to land beyond. I wished to sit there under the openness till the night descended with all it’s dark velvety grandeur and the lamps of sky were lit while the glow of lamp from the dark sannidhi flickered to dispel all the darkness inside.

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We saw these idols behind Marriamma temple near Raja’s seat. We had earlier seen such idols in the courtyard of Medikeri fort. It aroused my curiosity and thanks to Google, I gathered that Dasahara festival in Medikeri is celebrated with many local rituals and rites and  these idols are taken out during those ten days of religious fervor and festivity. Many mythological anecdotes are carried out through these huge figures, mainly victory of suras over asuras. In one of the articles I read, it was said that earlier these images were carved out of wood but now with the advancement of technology the form,texture of the idols and the procession have greatly changed. Reference of huge wooden images made me remember two gigantic figures of asuras and one life size horse all carved out of wood kept in the big hall in front of our village home. As a kid I used to visit my native place during summer vacations and heard a lot about the grand Dasahara procession of our village when all those idols were draped in costly royal attires and shinning ornaments and a procession was taken out, many stories enacted. That is the beauty of our land…..a small village in northern India and small place in Karnataka, I am sure nobody from one place would have visited another in those far off times yet the cultural throbbing was so identical. What an enriching feel of bonding such chance encounters provide.

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This is exterior of  Kundurumotte Sri Chowti Mariamma temple near Raja’s seat. Mariamma in Kodagu is worshipped as Goddess of Shakti.

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This temple is some where in the vicinity of the Omkareshwara temple. While taking a round around the pond in front of the temple we saw it and clicked the picture. The temple appeared to be quite old and it’s architecture and aura beckoned us  but we could not visit it…….may be some other time….

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This huge Ganesha idol and many others were kept in a verandah in front of the small temple in the courtyard of Medikeri fort. The idols were not kept in any proper order rather they appeared to be dumped, leaning upon one another. I presumed that these idols were taken out, draped and decorated at the time of a particular festival etc.

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emple inside Medikeri fort. At present Medikeri fort does not look formidable but is nice open,  neat and clean space where tourists can roam about having a feel of era bygone. Some government offices are housed in fort. Boundary wall and gates are intact. There is a church too in the premises and a museum. At the time we visited fort, the museum was closed hence could not explore that.
This temple is of Lord Shiva and appeared to be recently renovated.

I would love to end my this blog by this quote from James E. Faust.

All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.
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