Apr 2, 2016

Gavi Gangadareshwara Gudi

My first ever visit to this cave temple was some time mid 1980s, think it was it parents and few relatives. It was very exciting trip for me. It became even more exciting when someone from the group had mentioned that a tunnel connected this temple to Shivagange, another popular shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. I remember seeing the cave entrance, just behind the temple's Garbhagudi. The next visit was many years later; the four pillars caught my attention. Strange, I don't remember seeing them during my first visit. Then on I visited on and off. I heard about the sunrays falling on the deity on Sankranthi day. Incidentally one of the locals at Shivagange had mentioned that the lamp atop the hill lights up on its own on Sankranthi day. Remember the similar story at Sabarimalai, a divine lamp appearing on the hills.. no dearth for miracles in our world.

Some time 2015 I read an interesting article on Gavi Gangadareshwara Gudi which reveals the facts of the temple's history, design and its significance. The article unveils how people are lead into believing something false and how the fact is completely forgotten. The temple's original design is so badly altered that today the false has become truth. Here's how the temple looked like in 1792.

The temple was painted by Thomas Daniell an employee of the East India Company was in Bangalore after it was captured by the British. The painting now is a part of the collection at British Library.

October 10, 2015
220 years later the temple has changed so much, if not for the four pillars, the temple is unrecognisable. So much metal fabricated stuff, concrete, tiles and oil paint are nothing but eye sore. The peaceful ambience seen in the painting is missing, instead its so business like now.

The temple entrance is flanked by two large boards. Once you step across the doorway, there are steps which descends into the cave. Slightly to the left two Garbhagudi. The cave floor is granite but all the walls in sight are covered by ceramic tiles.. bathroom tiles. Such tasteless changes in the name of maintenance is pretty common in many ancient temples :(

Now coming to the four monolithic pillars in the temple front yard; two pillars are having discs ~ Chakra, their faces parallel to each other; one has a trident ~ Trisula and the last one has a drum ~ Damaruga. Historic sources say that these pillars and the temple structure were created during Kempegowda's rule. Before that the cave was used by Jain and Shaivite monks going back to Chola period.

The significance of the two discs is attached to winter and summer solstices. The two disc pillars named Suryapana & Chandrapana are positioned in east-west orientation. These discs are designed and positioned to mark the beginning of new year i.e. winter solstice and summer solstice. On the morning of winter solstice, shadow of eastern disc covers the western disc completely. Similarly on Summer Solstice the western disc's shadow is cast completely on the eastern disc. However, now due to the presence of trees in the neighbouring park, there's no chance of the eastern disc's shadow falling on the western disc.

Here are the two Shikhara of the Garbhagudi inside. Compare this picture with the temple's drawing in 1792. Tiles everywhere!

A small collection of sculptures places at one of the corners. Ganesha, Shanmugha, Shiva, Parvati and Nandi.

A serpent, a mouse and an inscription completes the collection.

A caged Nandi opposite the cave entrance.

Closer look at Trisula and Damaruga.


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