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This is the seventh of a 16-part series on Bangalore, which will culminate in several competitions, including a Quiz, Paint Your City, Photograph Your City, Treasure Hunt, and so on for The Hindu NIE participants.


The Karaga: A symbol of harmony. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G. P.

BANGALORE IS a cosmopolitan city with people from different regions and religions living together in harmony. The city has more than a thousand temples, 400 masjids, 100 churches, 40 Jain mandirs, three Gurudwaras, two Buddha viharas, and one Parsi Agiari.

The tradition of temple construction, started by the founder of Bangalore, continues to flourish. The oldest temple is, perhaps, Domlur Chokkanatha temple of the Chola period (10th Century). The inscriptions here are in Tamil script, but the language is Kannada. According to these inscriptions, there was a Someswara temple here in 1266.

Ulsoor Someswara temple is possibly the next oldest, built by the Hoysalas (between 12th and 13th Century). This temple was renovated and beautified by three generations of the Yelahanka dynasty - Gidde Gowda, Kempe Gowda I and II. The temple is a strange mixture of Hoysala, Chola, and Vijayanagar architecture.

The next series of temples belonging to the period of Kempe Gowda I & II are Dodda Ganapathi, Basavanna, and Karanji Anjaneya in Basavanagudi, Gavi Gangadhareswara in Gavipura, Bande Mahakali, Pralayakalada Veerabhadra, Kalabhairava in Gavipura Guttahalli, Basaveshwara in the fort (shifted to Mamulpet), Anjaneya at Yelahanka Gate, Dharmaraya at the end of OTC Road, and Ranganathaswamy in Balepete.

Many of these temples have an interesting history. Once the river Vrishabhavati originated from the feet of the big Basavanna, but the stream has now dried up. Kadle Kai Parishe, a mela, is held on the last Monday of Karthika (October and November) to offer the first crop of groundnut to Basavanna before sending the produce to the market.

This part of Bangalore wears a rustic look during the mela. The chola style Gavi Gangadhareswara temple has huge tridents, damarus, and discs known as Suryapana and Chandrapana. People throng here on Makara Sankranthi in the evening to watch the sun rays pass through the arch, the window, Nandi's horn, and finally onto the Linga.

The Dharmaraya temple is famous for its Karaga procession connected with Adishakti in the form of Draupadi. Karaga, a five-day festival of Tigalas, who migrated from Tamil Nadu, has many unique features such as intense religious fervour, strict rituals, unchanged traditions over centuries, a fixed route and stops for the procession, welcome and respect shown at all the temples on route. The involvement of all sections of people and the unique communal harmony displayed by the special puja at Tawakkal Mastan Darga are remarkable.

Kadu Malleswara temple has given its name to Malleswaram. Ekoji had donated Medaraninganahalli for its maintenance and thus, the temple must be earlier than his time (1670 A.D). The temple structure around it was built by Yele Mallappa Shetty in 1900.

The adjoining Subramanya temple also has an interesting story. Devotees were in search of Utsava murthi for the main idol and ended up constructing a new temple. The Utsava murthi was in the possession of a Parsi businessman in Eden!

Kote Venkataramanaswamy temple was built by Chikkadevaraya in 1690 and the Basaveshwara there was shifted to Mamulpet.

Possibly, they forgot to shift the scenes from Girija Kalyana on the sanctorum walls along with Basaveswara.

There are also many temples built by the common citizens in Bangalore. Some of them are Kasi Visveswara temple (1840) in Balepete built by Sadashiva Sahu, Bennekrishna temple at Tulasi Thota, the neighbouring Sri Rama temple built by Rao Bahadur Garudachar in 1908 (the idol here was earlier worshipped by saint Tulasi Ramdas, credited with starting the Ramotsava celebrations in Bangalore), Banashankari temple built in 1915 by Basappa Shetty, Narasimha Swamy temple (1800) at Balepete, Srinivasa Mandiram (1889), Manji Someswara temple, Sugriva temple, Laldas temple complex, Subramanya temple (1821) in Ulsoor, and Subramanya temple built by the philanthropist millionaire, Sajjan Rao. The most recent example is the Rama Mandira in Malleswaram, built by the initiative of ordinary employees in Atara Kacheri.

O.T.C. Road and other localities have many temples built and patronised by certain sections such as the Devanga, Golla, Besta, Uppara, Goniga, Kshaurika, Nagartha, Ganiga, Vishwakarma, and so on. There are also a number of temples for the Grama Devathes (village dieties) - Annamma (Subedar Chatram Road), Dandina Mariamma (Shivajinagar), Patalamma (South End), Bisilu Mariamma (Lalbagh), Gangamma (Malleswaram), Muneswara, Bande Mahakalamma (Gavipura), Karumariyamma, and Duggalamma. The Anjaneya temples are popular and the oldest one in Bangalore is perhaps the Gali Anjaneya temple on Mysore Road, said to be established in 1425 by Vyasaraya. It is said to be the sixth of the 635 Anjaneya temples consecrated by Vyasaraya, Anjaneya temples at Yelahanka Gate and Karanji (Basavanagudi) are of Kempe Gowda's time.

Ragigudda and Mahalakshmi layout Anjaneya temples are quite popular and are of recent origin.

The oldest church in Bangalore is the one in Blackpalli (Shivajinagar), Kannika Matha Koil (1658), now upgraded by the Pope as St. Mary's Basilica. It is one of the six basilicas in the country. The other old churches are St. Luke's (Fort, 1830), St. Joseph's (Briand Square, 1857), St. Patrick's (Brigade Road, 1844), Sacred Heart's (Richmond Road, 1874) and others. Among the Protestant churches, the old ones are St. Mark's Cathedral (M.G. Road, 1808), Holy Trinity (M.G. Road, 1851), St. Andrews (Cubbon Road, 1867), East Parade (Dickenson Road, 1862), Wesley Church (Promenade Road, 1896), and Hudson Memorial (City Corporation, 1904).

The oldest masjid, Sangeen Jamia Masjid in Taramandalpet, was built by the Moghuls (1687-1690). Ibrahim Shah Sahele Masjid was built in 1761 (at Kumbarpete) by Hyder Khilledar Ibrahim Khan. Bademakan Masjid (Siddiah Road) was also built during Hyder's period by two Sufi saints hailing from Bijapur. Jumma Masjid (Old Poor House Road) was built by Abdul Quddus in the early 19th Century.

An important masjid is the Jamia Masjid (City Market) built in 1940 and opened by Sir Mirza Ismail. Among the 24 dargas in Bangalore, the popular ones are Kambal Posh Darga (Old Broadway), Hazarat Tawakkal Mastan Shah Darga (Cottonpet), and Besarwali Shahi Darga (Cubbonpet). Sufi saint Tawakkal worked incognito as an ordinary coolie in the construction of Tippu's Fort. His darga is dear to Muslims for its holiness and to Hindus as a resting place for the Karaga during the festival. The Dargas continue to be holy and respected. Places of worship of other religious faiths such as Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Parsees have beautiful architectural features.

The car festivals of many temples and churches such as those at St. Mary's Basilica, Kumaraswamy temple (Hanumanthanagar), Subramanya temple (Sajjanrao Circle), and Ulsoor Someswara temple are popular. So are the Karaga, Kadale Kai Parshe, Dasara by Lancers of Munireddipalya, and the car festivals of Grama Devathas. The existence of these many places of worship and the observance of festivals denote a catholicity of outlook, religious fervour, and fraternity of the common people.

(Readers may reach their comments amd suggestions to the author.

He can be contacted on 6520122 or e-mail: kcmvcm@rediffmail.com)

K. CHANDRAMOULI

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