Panchalinga kshetra of Garden City
Located in Bangalore, this four-centuries-old Siva temple is a must on the visitor's itinerary, says T. K GANAPATHY.
The Rajagopuram of Sreesomeswara temple at Ulsoor.
SRI SOMESWARASWAMI temple, the crest-jewel of Ulsoor in Bangalore, is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Siva and Goddess Kamakshi. Its architectural and mythological importance is linked with the genesis of Bangalore founded by Kempe Gowda.
Sage Mandavya is said to have worshipped the presiding deity of Ulsoor. Legend has that taking a vow of silence, Mandavya went into samadhi while in meditation in the sacred precincts of the shrine.
A band of robbers chose that vicinity to hide the gold ornaments stolen from the palace nearby.
The palace guards thought that he was the leader of the bandits. When they thrust iron rods into his body at the behest of the king, they found the sage remained in a trance. Waking up, he removed the rod from his chest and walked away only to complain to the Lord of Death about his plight.
Yama told him that the sage used to prick small insects with needles as a child and hence the punishment. On Mandavya's appeal, Yama changed the rule and said that only parents and guardians should be punished for the sins committed by children.
Lord Rama is said to have visited the sage's ashram during His sojourn in the south. It is said that the Ulsoor shrine has connection with the hallowed city of Kanchipuram.
According to one version, Rana Bhaire Gowda, a powerful chieftain of Alur near Kanchi was living with his daughter Kempamma, a paragon of beauty. Both decided to flee the place to Karnataka for fear of trouble from Selva, a scion of the Pallegar family who was in love with Kempamma. At the time of their escape, river Palar was in spate. The river receded on brave Kempamma' s prayerful appeal to Goddess Kamakshi and Bhairava and they reached Avathi near Bangalore in their bullock cart safely. The romantic Pallegar withdrew in disappointment as he could not cross the river that was in floods again, when he attempted to chase his beloved. In due course of time, Jayappa Gowda, son of Rana Bhaire Gowda, established his power under the patronage of the Vijayanagar rulers.
Once, when Jayappa Gowda went hunting in the deep woods of Ulsoor, a devotee appearing in his dream directed the ruler to dig out a linga from the ground where he was sleeping. Digging the earth, he found a linga and built a garbhagriha.
According to another version, sage Mandavya had worshipped the linga. Yet another version records that the Cholas built the temple. The locals strongly aver that Kempe Gowda reconstructed the entire structure with prakara, navaranga mukha mantapa, Hazara and Kamakshi mantapa. A dwara gopura was built in 1605.
Known as panchalinga kshetra, Sri Someswara shrine is a grand specimen of architectural splendour exuding spiritual radiance. A tall garuda sthambha measuring about 45 ft greets the visitor before he steps into the precincts of the imposing Rajagopuram of Sri Someswara temple, the biggest and the most beautiful in the garden city of Bangalore. Stepping away from a huge Nandi, the devotee is led to Someswara, the presiding deity, in the form of a four-feet linga. There is a separate shrine for His consort, Kamakshi, on the northern side with a Sri Chakra installed in front of the Devi.
The temple chariot with exquisite mythological carvings is an architectural delight. Regular pujas are conducted by hereditary priests Dikshitars from Kanchipuram. The temple is located at about 300 metres from the Ulsoor police station.
Town bus service is available from all parts of the city of Bangalore.
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