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Indian Culture And Traditions

Nandi Bull - The Mysterious And Unknown Temple
By Tanya Raj, October 2013 [[email protected]]

Chapter :

I  got down from an auto rickshaw at the Temple Road in Malleshwaram –  one of the oldest settlements of Bangalore.  Took a seat outside the  ornate compound wall of the ancient Nandi Bull temple – Sri  Dakshina Mukha Nandi Thirtha Kalyani Devasthana – I wait for Renu,  who is running a few minutes late.  Opposite the road, stand the  golden domed Durga and Narasimha temples next to each other and a  Ganesha temple to the right.  The sound of chants, drum beats and  bells emerge from these ancient structures simultaneously as they  start their morning rituals.

The  morning is windy, with thick grey clouds hanging in the skies, above  the gulmohar lined street.  An old woman with matted locks of tied-up  hair sits underneath the canopy of an old banyan tree.  Her wrinkles,  as old as the banyan tree itself, stand testimony to the many seasons  of life she must have weathered.  Next to her, a flower seller is  busy packing small plastic bags with coconuts, incense sticks and  vermillion and placing it near the heaps of jasmine, roses and  marigold garlands.

Crows  make a cacophony along with the parrots and cuckoos, on the overhead  branches.  I finally spot Renu and get up to meet her.  We enter the  huge archway, with a giant Nandi Bull statue atop it and walk down a  few steps onto the cold and wet stone pathway leading to the inner  sanctum.

This  underground temple, which is said to be 7,000 years old, remained  buried under earth up until 16 years back.  It was found by labourers  digging the site for a building’s foundation and since then there  have been efforts to preserve this piece of heritage.  Another set of  stone steps lead us down to the main temple building housing the  Shivling at the far end, with a large black granite Nandi Bull  statue, resting on a stone slab on top.  Unlike other Indian temples,  this temple has no mandapa – a very uncommon feature.

In  the centre of this complex is a square pond, the corridors  surrounding it are supported with stone columns and adorned with  small brass bells suspended with chains from the ceiling.  We offer  our prayers at the altar and sit on the cold stone steps leading down  to the pond.  Some 15-20 water turtles swim in its murky green waters  that are occasionally disturbed by black fishes somersaulting out of  it.    A few turtles climb out of the water and onto the steps  displaying their moss laden shells.

"This  is a very Jagrit Mandir.  It is said that whatever you wish for here,  comes true," Renu tells me.  We both decide to take a chance and  throw a coin into the pond before making a silent wish.

As  I open my eyes, I notice a woman in pink salwar bend down at the  small Nandi Bull statue across the pond and whisper in its ear.   "What is she doing?" I ask Renu.

"It  is said that women should whisper their problems into the bull’s  ears and they reach God, whereas men are supposed to place their  index finger and thumb on the bull’s horns and see the Shivling  through it.  Devotees believe that this solves their problems,"  says Renu.

This  temple is unlike any other.  The large Nandi Bull on the stone slab  above the Shivling is unusual and unique.  A stream of water flows  out of the bull’s mouth and falls on the black graphite Shivling  through a hole in the upper slab.

We  approach the head priest of the temple – Ravi Shankar Swami – to  know more about the place.  He is a short, thin, middle aged man  wearing an orange dhoti, with sacred ash smeared in three horizontal  lines on his forearm, shoulders and back and a white thread (Janeu)  running across his bare body from right shoulder to left hip.

"Chhatrapati  Shivaji Maharaja’s father – Shahaji – used to come, pray at  this temple," he tells us.

"Where  is the water that is falling on the Shivling coming from?" I ask  him in English, which Renu translates into Kannada.

"No  one knows, is a mystery.  The water flows with the same intensity all  year round.  It falls on the Shivling which then flows into the 15  feet deep central pond.  An underground pipe connects the pond to the  outer well.  The well was used to water the fields in earlier days,  when there were no houses.  But no one knows where the water is  originating from," the Swami says.

I  look around this remarkable place; something I have never seen  anywhere and then look at the priest again.

"The  temple was underground for a very long time.  Since it has been  found, we have not changed anything inside the sanctum sanctorum.   The only changes that were made are to the outer walls and garden,"  says the priest.

"This  is a very unusual temple.  There is no mandapa covering the structure  and the Nandi Bull is on top of the Shivling, instead of, in front,"  I state.

"Yes,  and we have tried to keep everything intact.  Many people offer to  place marble and granite flooring, but we don’t allow that," says  Ravi Shankar Swami.

We  thank him for his time and go back to sitting near the central pond.   The peace and tranquillity of this place transported me back in time.   The stone pillars, pond and bells, everything seems to be telling  the stories of a bygone era.  After sitting here long enough, I could  almost hear the chants, mantras and bells from those ancient times  ringing in its every column.

How  to Reach:

The  temple is located on Temple Road at 15th  Cross in Malleshwaram (behind the Sai Baba Temple), Bangalore.   Sampige Road is the best route to get to this place which is open in  the mornings from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and in the evenings from 5 p.m.  to 8 p.m.  There are no admission costs.

Notes:

My  heartfelt thanks to:

-  Shri Ravi Shankar Swami, Head Priest of Sri Dakshina Mukha Nandi  Thirtha Kalyani Devasthana

-  Mrs. Renu Suhas for being my translator

-Mr.  Suhas Manjunath for translating the written inscriptions

Author  Biography:

A graduate from MatadorU’s Travel   Writing course, I finally took a plunge into my passions for travelling and   writing.  Traveling for me is way to connect with others and more   importantly with myself.  I am a freelance writer and have lived in India   and United Kingdom.  When I am not doing anything, I can be found huddled   up with a book in the remotest corner of my house, letting my imagination take   flight.  Read more about my travels on http://ruminationsofawanderer.wordpress.com/



Also see pictures of
1. Nandi Bull Temple
2. Shiv Temples
3. 12 Jyotirlings

Chapter :

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