Temple Tales from Nandi Town

Nandi Hills is perhaps the most visited place in and around Bangalore. Bangaloreans literally flock to Nandi Hills, especially to view the amazing sunrise from the hilltop. Also known as Nandidurg or Nandi Betta, it is located in the small town of Nandi about 60 Km. away from Bangalore in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka. I have no count of the number of times I’ve been to Nandi Hills.

Pic 1: At Nandi Hills in 2010. The place looks a lot different now. It’s no longer open as you see here. There are guard rails all around, which does affect the experience to a large extent

This post is however not about Nandi Hills, though I guess I should write one. This post is about Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple – an ancient temple located close to Nandi Hills. We happened to visit this temple quite accidentally when we were on our way to another place. A friend casually recommended that we could stop by this temple as it’s on the way. And, what a miss it would have been had we not take his recommendation seriously!

Pic 2: Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple entrance. Note the stone wheels on the right.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, this is supposedly the oldest temple in Karnataka. It was built in 9th century by the native Kannada Nolamba dynasty. It is now a protected monument, maintained by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The heritage temple has a unique aesthetic charm, accentuated by stone carvings of Gods and Goddesses that adorn the walls and the pillars. It is believed that the temples of Belur and Halebidu were inspired by this temple.

The first thing that caught our attention even before entering the temple was the base of a giant chariot. This chariot would have probably been used during temple festivals but now it did a good job of taking us on a flight of imagination. The stone wheels of the chariot were also neatly arranged just outside the temple entrance.

Pic 3: The chariot lying under a tree just before the entrance.

On entering the temple complex, we discovered that there were three shrines housed in three separate temples that were adjacent to each other. Uma Maheshwara is at the center flanked by Arunachaleshwara in the North and Bhoga Nandeeshwara in the South. Arunachaleshwara depicts Lord Shiva’s childhood while Bhoga Nandeeshwara, depicts Lord Shiva in his youth. The temple of Uma Maheshwara or Goddess Parvati has a Kalyana Mantapa or a marriage alter. The exquisitely carved black stone pillars of the Mantapa is gorgeous. Sadly enough, photography is prohibited in this area of the temple.

Pic 4: Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple on the South, dedicated to the youthful form of Lord Shiva .

The temple also has a lovely pond, which is locally known as ‘Kalyani’. A series of steps encircle the pond. It would have been amazing to walk down and dip our feet in the waters, but the entry to the pond was closed on that particular day.

Pic 5: The ‘Kalyani’ or the temple pond. During special festivals about 100,000 lamps are lit here.

The Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple is a magnificent piece of Dravidian Architecture. It preserves the architectural legacies of the five dynasties that ruled this region. The temple was constructed by the Bana Queen Ratnavali, it was then expanded successively by the Ganga dynasty, Cholas, Hoysalas, Pallavas and finally the Vijayanagara Kings. As a result, the temple can be a real treat to history buffs, conservationists, and architectural analysts.

Pic 6: There are several such corridors in the temple.

As I walked around the temple, I thought to myself how did I miss visiting this marvelous structure in stone before. Especially when I have been to Nandi Hills so many times. Rather, I didn’t even know about its existence. I wondered why my friends, some of whom who were locals from Bangalore, never mentioned this temple. Perhaps they had no clue, or they weren’t interested.

Pic 7: Carvings of Gods and Goddesses on the temple wall.
SIDE NOTE
As Covid-19 surges in India and the pandemic takes an ugly turn in its second wave, I feel somewhat frivolous writing this post. Nothing seems to matter anymore. The situation is extremely distressing, and everyone is affected in one way or the other. Even though the virus hasn’t caught my near and dear ones yet, it feels like it’s just a matter of time. It’s difficult to digest the visuals of how much people are suffering. And, the feeling of helplessness is killing. Well, nobody ever promised that all our experiences would be pleasurable. Trying to keep myself and those around me positive. Sending healing prayers for everyone. May the Divine give me the strength to accept the bad just as I easily accept the good.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

19 thoughts on “Temple Tales from Nandi Town”

  1. A most interesting post!! Thanks for sharing this. I have been to Nandidurga and can’t believe that I, unfortunately, failed to visit this temple. At least, you have taken me there today, so, thank you for that! Stay safe! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you’ve really missed it then. It’s such a lovely place. Perhaps it isn’t so well known or maybe people don’t quite connect it with Nandidurga. I am glad you enjoyed this post. And, thank you so much for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another interesting post, Neel. And once again, I did miss visiting it on my three trips to Nandi Hills during my childhood visits to folks there. I guess in those times and at that schooling age we simply followed the touristy paths…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know that you have visited Nandi Hills. It looks a lot different now (read manicured) especially with the guard rails all around. Back then touristy wasn’t as touristy as it is today 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have thought of visiting Nandi hills so many times, while in Bangalore. Let me admit, this is the first blog post I have read on the temple there. I did not expect such a huge temple despite knowing about the existence of one. Also, trhis seems older than what I assumed. I’m surprised how the wooden wheels have survived such a long period despite being exposed to vagaries of mother nature. Happy to read this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nandi Hills now looks different as compared to before but still you can pay a visit. Trekking up would be a good idea. There’s a temple up in the hill too but I had no idea about this particular temple. And, it’s the oldest temple in Karnataka making it even more significant. Those wooden wheels would have been put later on I guess. The original ones were made of stone (in pic 2).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah! I see. I wasn’t even aware that it is the oldest temple in Karnataka. How I miss the weather of Bangalore, right now. It is pretty hot here at the moment. I’ll let you know when I’m visiting for the suggestions, Thanks, Neel.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Now how did it miss this in the innumerable times I visited Nandi hills!!! The architecture looks so beautiful, the temple tank included – and the history, the age… I need to visit when Covid subsides a bit.

    And that stone slope of Nandi hills, the guard fences totally killed the terrific view. But it provides a lot of safety surely.

    And all the positivity we can gather and spread will help to boost our morales, your post certainly helped to forget the grim situation around us for some time, didn’t it 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, you must visit this place. In between second and third wave maybe. 😉
      Yes, the fence was put up as supposedly some people had committed suicide, that’s what I heard don’t know the real truth though.
      And, happy to see you read the last bit, don’t think anybody else did. 😛

      Like

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