Dec 20, 2010

Cave temple of Amminabhavi

I heard about Aminbhavi's cave temple from Shrikant, a trusted driver with Janani Travels. Shrikanth's description about the place made me inquisitive and decided to visit it.

The cave temple is inside a Hindu cemetery, about 200m from Dharwad-Saundatti road. The underground cave was carved out of a monolith single handedly by an ascetic between 1962 and 1977. The ascetic was a worshiper of Lord Shiva.

This board reads "Rundra Bhumi Gavi Aminbhavi" and gives a preview of the place: the artistic impression of the ascetic meditating and the four important art works of this temple. Going clockwise from top right image: Shiva Linga, five headed Nagappa, Basavanna and self portrait of the ascetic. The board also mentions the date of establishment.

Company of the day- Veerersh, Chetan and Neelkant. The visit would have been less interesting without these guys around.

The front yard is little messy with firewood and the utensils strewn around. A notable feature in the front yard: two fully grown ganja plants. However the inside of the cave is clean except for powdery mud which coats the floor and walls.

The gateway to the temple. I remember Shrikanth telling that the ascetic who created this temple landed himself in trouble with the law and was evicted from here. The person in this picture, the current swami, takes care of the temple now. He's lighting two kerosene lamps... the cave is really dark.

Cave's plan

Camera flash was useless because of kerosene smoke. Light would reflect and make pictures hazy. I decided to shoot without flash but that's not easy... hands have to be rock-steady. The little tripod came in handy.

Though orange dominates the picture, these images give a better feel of the place. This is the five headed Nagappa.

The star-shaped fire-pit. Few feet from the pit to the right is the meditation chamber.

Self-portrait of the ascetic.

Wish I had a bigger tripod... This image is shaky. Our artist-ascetic was definitely skilled in carving stones. Arches in doorways were symmetric and decorated floral and geometric motifs. In fact the ascetic was a good civil engineer with a great sense of architecture.

Part of the Basavanna can be seen here. Shiva Linga was behind me. behind these guys the doorway which opens to the hall.

We are in the center of the hall. See the arches on the ceiling

Thanks to the junior swami for the tour. I don't think he missed any of the details. In the beginning a bat zipped past us. Veeresh asked if they attack to which this Swami said "No, they are harmless. They too are lives like us."

End of the tour I asked the Swami to play the tamburee... he chanted Om Namaha Shiva with the tamburi's twang in the background. The Trishul looks deadly.

I placed a 50 rupee note on the platform, in front of the photo. According to Hindu tradition, when one meets holy men, food grains or money should be donated to them. I wish the money is utilized sensibly.

Shiva bhaktas like the one here are known to use ganja (marijuana) on a regular basis. We plucked 3 little branches with the beautiful five-pointed leaves to take home. Personally I feel Ganja is better than alcohol, Ganja makes a person introvert while alcohol makes a person extrovert. Ascetics smoke Ganja to turn their minds inward... towards inner-space.

Do check out one of the ... Aminbhavi Cave Temple videos.

I liked the cave temple, it' on my list of places to visit again. The name Aminbhavi roughly translates to Amin's Well. It's said the well is huge. Also Aminbhavi's Jain Basti is well known ...we'll come again for these two. We moved on since we had to cover two more places on our itinerary- Parasgad Fort and Hooli.

Cave temple coordinates: 15°32'2"N 75°3'30"E


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