Last month I had a chance to visit a glorious temple built by kings of 5 dynasties. 5 dynasties did I say? Yes, the Bhoga Nandeeshwara and Arunachaleshwara temple near Nandi Hills is constructed by Gangarasa, Hoysalas, Pallavas, Cholas and lastly the VijayaNagara Kings. The interesting part; though it has been constructed by different kings in different centuries, when you view the temple as a whole you will never find the subtle architectural differences. Enough said, let us learn more about this ancient Dravidian style temple.
The Journey to the famous temples:
The temple is located in Nandi Gram near the Nandi hills. This village is surrounded by five hills Brahma Giri, Vishnu Giri, SkandaGiri, Divya Giri and Nandi hills. There are also five rivers which flow in this place Pinakini, Palar, Papagni, Arkavathy and SuvarnaMuki Rivers.
Arunachaleshwara- Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple:
This magnificent temple which measures 320 meters in length, 250 in width is a wide corridor temple. Though it looks like one single temple it is actually 3 different temples; Arunachaleshwara, Bhoga Nandeeshwara and in between of these is a smaller temple of Uma-Maheshwara.
About the temples:
The temple is basically a Lord Shiva temple. Lord Shiva is represented in 3 forms. Arunachaleshwara depicts the childhood of Shiva; Bhoga Nandeeshwara depicts the youth and Yoga Nandeeshwara the renunciation stage of Shiva. The sanyasa (renunciation stage) of Shiva, Yoga Nandeeshwara is located on top of Nandi Hills. But the other two stages childhood and youth are worshiped in this Arunachaleshwara- Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple.
Arunachaleshwara temple: This as previously said is the childhood phase of the Lord. It is built by Gangarasa in 10th century. Inside the temple you can see a 2 feet idol of Lion Ganapati. It is called as Simha Ganapati. Opposite the temple there is the figure of Nandi made of granite stone.
Uma Maheshwara temple:
Next to Arunachaleshwara temple is the smaller temple of Uma Maheshwara temple. This temple too was constructed in 10th century by the Hoysalas. The idols of Shiva with Parvathi can be seen here. In front of these idols is a small kalyana Mantapa or marriage hall. The hall is created with four black stone pillars. The east facing pillar has Shiva and parvathi seated; the south pillar has Brahma and Saraswathi, the north depicts Vishnu and Lakshmi and west has Agni (God of Fire) and Swaha Devi in it.
The pillars also have figures of parrots carved on them. There are around 500 in number. The beauty of these pillars is that the sculpture has left not even an inch of free space in them. Along with the beautiful parrots there are creepers, animals, goddesses etc depicted on these stones.
All around the temple the marriage scenes of Shiva and parvati are depicted.
The temple of Uma Maheshwara is especially famous for the married couple who come to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva after their marriage.
This is the main temple which is built by Cholas. The idol is mesmerizing to look at and you feel the presence of God when you prostate before it. This idol Bhoga Nandeeshwara represents the youth stage of Shiva. As the youth is the time for fun and celebrations, many important functions are celebrated in this temple. In contrast no significant functions take place at the Yoga Narasimha temple at the top of Nandi hills.
The Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple has beautiful carvings done everywhere. There is a statue of Rajendra Chola, AstaDikPalakas in the ceiling. Opposite to this temple there is statue of Nandi made in black stone. This is much more attractive than the granite Nandi found opposite to Arunachaleshwara.
Inside the temple courtyard there are two other temples of Prasanna parvati (wife of Bhoga Nandeeshwara) and Apita Kuchamba (wife of Arunachaleshwara). The walls of these temples are also carved with scenic pictures of Shiva-Parvati wedding.
To the north of the temple lies two structures Vasantha mantapa and Tulabara mantatpa both constructed by VijayaNagara kings.
There is a beautiful pond here which goes by the name Shringa theertha. It is a place fit to meditate. There is a small temple of Shringeeshwara here. There is an interesting story behind this place getting the name shringa theertha. It is said that Nandi the bull plunged his horns (Shringa) in to the ground for water. And the water of Ganga gushed from it. Hence the name shringa theertha. It is also said that a sage named Shringi meditated here.
The theertha is also believed to be birth place of south Pinakini River. Surrounding the pond there are plenty of beautiful statues albeit in a damaged state. But the beauty of the idols and their carvings can still be felt. It is quite serene place with a distant view of skandagiri hills covered with clouds.
The front of the temple has a beautiful green courtyard where in you can relax. There is a small pond or theertha here too named GereKola.
Other important details:
- There are 10 small windows or holes for air and light to enter in the temple, 4 are found in Aruna chaleshwara, 2 in Uma maheshwara and other 4 in bhoganandeeshwara temple. The beauty of these windows lies in the fact that there are beautiful statues carved outside of it which are themselves real beauties.
- You can see two pillars in front of the temple constructed by VijayaNagara Kings. These are worth observing.
The best time to visit this place is during Shiva Rathri. The mela of cows takes place here during this time. You can see plenty of devotes here during this time.
The route is the same as taken for Nandi Hills. Cross Devenhalli airport at NH-7. For Nandi hills you take a left from the main road. After some time you will reach a T-junction. For Nandi hills you take a left at this junction. But for reaching the Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple you should take a right. Continue on this road to reach this 1000 year old temple.
So what are you waiting for? Go check out this architectural wonder which is comparable to Belur and Halebeedu in its architectural style.