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Colourful Kolar

There are at least four historical places to visit around Mulbagal



TENS OF THOUSANDS The biggest linga in Kotilingeshwara is 108 ft tall Photo: K. Gopinathan

The adventurous foursome that we are, we set off to discover a few places we found in KSTDC pamphlets. With a load of hearsay and a couple of maps, we hit the road in a small family car to Chikka Tirupati via Whitefield. Most travelogues and guides flood you with dated info on popular tourist beeline ends, motorable beaten tracks and cushy spots to eat and sleep. For a change, we veered away from any such repeats and that is how we found our way to a Vaishnavaite temple in the middle of a handful of hamlets.

A homely but clean-on-the-inside mess nearby provided us with staple idlis, puris and avarekalu baath. We wended our way on routes frequented more by tractors than plush cars. We passed rose and marigold expanses, tomato, chilli, potato, cabbage, cauliflower, Bengal gram, mulberry plantations and mango and eucalyptus groves. Roses and tomatoes beckoned. We stopped to admire and even had a small chat with the locals.

Uniformly, they stand

On the way, Kotilingeshwara, we found, was one big park of lingas, lining pathways in all sizes amidst bilva and amla trees, but all in one single colour and shape, tens of thousands of them. The temple houses shrines for Manjunatha, Panduranga, Srinivasa, Panchmukha Ganesha, Panchamukha Hanuman, Rama-Sita-Lakshmana, Ayyappa, Annapoorneswari, Santhoshima and Kannika Parameswari, besides Navagraha and Raghavendra.

The biggest linga is 108 ft tall, matched by a huge figure of Nandi. Prasada lunch of anna, saru and majjige is served to all visitors between 12.30 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Then a short drive to Bangaru Tirupati. You can't miss the arch marking the entrance from the road to Mulbagal. The temple dates to Brigu Maharishi's days and is built on rocks. You reach the shrine after a climb of several hundred steps and see the deity through a chequered window. At a different level is the shrine for the consort Padmavathi, dating back to mid-19th Century.

Mulbagal lies just off the NH4. This taluk shows signs of rural progress. The well-known place here is the temple for Hanuman, said to be installed by Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, after the Mahabharata war. Sage Vasishta is believed to have installed the idols of the main deity Srinivasa, Padmavathi and Rama-Sita-Lakshmana.

Off the Srinivasapura road going north from Mulbagal, we reach Kurudumale. Two temples, within a hundred feet of each other, are now protected monuments. The Someshwara temple, where restoration work is under way, was built and dedicated to the locals by Raja Raja Chola. The priest patiently took us through the Chola king's times depicted on some of the pillar sculptures worked on by the king's sculptor, the legendary Jakanachari.

After military plunder some centuries later, just about 15 of the original 30-odd idols have been found and reinstated. The Ganesha temple has dates back to the Krta Yuga. The idol is said to have grown from a salagrama stone (originally from the Gandak river of Nepal) through the four yugas to attain its present size.

Legend has it that the Hindu trinity together installed the idol — hence the name Koodadri, now known as Koodumale or Kurudumale. The Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya built the temple around the idol at the request of the locals.

A recently built Prasanna Venkataramaswamy temple is located along a 1.5 km detour on the road back to Mulbagal. The place is called Doddaguruki/ Vedagiri.

Getting back to Mulbagal, it is a smooth turn into NH4 towards Bangalore. Five kilometres down the highway is a fairly huge Ayyappa Kshetram. Then Kamat group's Upachar, located after the Kolar bypass, is a good refreshment halt, 20 km short of Hoskote and is a standard stop for the KSTDC bus services. With an early start and a couple more hours in hand, it is possible to complete the day with a trip to Kaiwara, a forest department-maintained resort via Chintamani, travelling northwest from Mulbagal and get back on the highway near Hoskote.

How to get there

Chikka Tirupati (35 km from Bangalore): Turn right at Farm Cross, Whitefield; Kotilingeswara: On the right, three km short of Betamangala. Travel on Bangarpet-Betamangala- route via Malur, Tykal, Bangarpet; Bangaru Tirupati; Eight km from Kotilingeswara on the road towards Mulbagal. Entry marked by a stone arch; Kurudumale: Northeast from Mulbagal, off the Srinivasapura Road.

R. SWARNALATHA

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