Rangasthala, near Chikkaballapura on NH7 around 60 kms from Bengaluru beyond Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport in Devanahalli is abode of Sri Moksha Ranganatha Temple which is said to be more than 1000 years old.
Originally built by Hoysala architectural style, it was recently renovated by the contribution of devotees and with significant cultural contribution by ISKCON, Bengaluru. When I visited last in early 1990s, it was such a dilapidated state, and single time Pooja also was performed with lot of difficulty by the Archaka who lived in the premises. I had written about it on now defunct Yahoo 360. Many devotees, predominantly from Bengaluru took initiative and contributed to renovate and strengthen the structure, mainly erect a boundary wall, clean up the Kalyani (which was abandoned). It was then that little heard and less famous philanthropists and devotee from Bengaluru, Sri Konda Srinivasulu Reddy and Smt Konda Devesenamma, took upon themselves to contribute and supervise construction of the exquisite Raja Gopura which was carried out under supervision of ISKCON, Bengaluru and subsequently consecrated in Presence of Madhu Pandita Dasa in August 2013
Sri Moksha Ranganatha Temple Rangasthala is situated in the Nandi Hills range and the local lore goes that if a devotee visits this temple after visiting the Adi Ranga in Srirangapatna, Madhya Ranga in Shimsha and Antya Ranga in Srirangam (TN), they will achieve Moksha (Liberation). The idol of Sri Ranganatha which is around 4.5 feet long is carved out of a single Saligrama Stone – the intricate carvings and detailing of the idol indicate the high level of skill possessed by the artisan of yore. It features Lord Vishnu resting on Adishesha in a reposing posture. The life-like vigraha with enchanting smile of Lord Vishnu is a sight to behold. With Vigrahas of Neeladevi and Bhoodevi at His service, Lord Vishnu is believed to be in Yoga Nidra and is exactly how He reposes in Vaikunta. It is also believed that Pratishta was performed at the same instant when Moorthis at Srirangapatna and Srirangam was installed.
Another speciality of this temple is Bamboo Basket shaped Sanctum Sanctorum (Garbhagriha). The legend goes that Lord Rama after vanquishing Ravana, returned to Ayodhya to extreme delight of subjects and brother Bharata. Preparations were made for Pattabhishekha (Cornonation) of Lord Rama as the King in Ayodhya and Vibhishana also attended the coronation ceremony. As a return gift and token of appreciation for gracing the Pattabhisheka, Lord Rama handed over Lord Ranganatha’s Vigraha in a Bamboo Basket to carry it back to Lanka. Saptarishis will then plead with and convince Vibhishana to install the Idol of Lord Ranganatha with Neeladevi and Bhoodevi in Rangasthala. The sanctum sanctorum is in this shape to depict the bamboo basket for this reason
Another feature of the temple architecture – As we do the circumambulation (Pradakshine) inside the Garbhagriha, we find a small window letting in sunlight. On the day of Makara Sankaranti (January 14/15 th), the sunrays falls directly at the feet of Lord Ranganatha. The precision with which the temple was built in those only proves the perfection of engineering in ancient India.
In the circumambulation path around the Garbhagriha, there are vigrahas of Lord Chakrath Alwar, Sri Ramanujacharya , Sri Vedanta Desikan and Nam Alwar (We were told by the Archaka that it is a rare Murthi and not found in any other place)
The Pushkarani (Shankha Teertha and Chakra Teertha) itself is a sight to behold. The tanks after this picture was been clicked has since been desilted and cleaned up to receive rainwater this season (2019) and hopefully we have the requirements of the temple and the devotees met by this storage.
Inside the temple complex on the left of the main temple, there are temples dedicated to Sri Andal, Sri Lakshmi and Sri Ramanucharya (See picture above)
Feature of the entire temple complex is exquisite and intricate carvings on the pillars all around main temple as can be seen in the pictures below (A part of the collection that I have – I rather everyone visits this amazing temple and appreciate the work of art)
How to reach
From Bengaluru, drive till Chikkaballapur and take Chikkaballapur-Gauribidanur road (around 6 kms) till you reach Thippenahalli. Look for an arch with sign board leading to Rangasthala. For those interested, Muddenhalli, birth place of Sir M Vishweshwaraiah is also close by.
Karnataka is popularly known as a land of art forms and of grand temples. Every place, every village has its own uniqueness and greatness. Some places have historical significance and are epitomesJ of permanent evidences for pre-historic events and anecdotes. One such place is Gadidam of Bagepalli Taluk in Chikkaballapura District (around 100 km north from Bengaluru city on Bengaluru-Hyderabad Highway)
There are references in the records that Gadidam Sri Venkataramana Swamy temple was built by Emperor Janamejaya who rule Bharata Khanda (Indian Sub-Continent) in the beginning Kali Yuga. Janamejaya is son of Pariskhit. Pariskhit is son of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna. This proves the antiquity of this amazing temple.
In one of the hunting expeditions, Parikshit forayed into the forest areas owned Maharshi Shrigu. By the grace of Maharshi Shrigu he was successful in his hunt. Tired of intense heat in the region, Parikshit was very tired and began searching for water and could never find any source. He then sights Maharshi Shrigu who was engrossed deeply in meditation. He approaches the sage and pleads for water but the penance of Maharshi was not disturbed and could never be awakened from meditation. Furious with this and disappointed with Maharshi not coming out of his medidation, Parikshit puts a dead snake found nearby, round Maharshi Shrigu’s neck and starts moving away.
Maharshi Shirgu’s son, Shrungi sees this and says, “You appear to be of a royal descent. What harm did my father to warrant putting a dead snake around his neck. I curse you that you will die of a poisonous snake bite within 7 days”. Curse of realised Sages being powerful, Parikshit dies of snake bite immediately thereafter. Janamejaya who comes to know of this curse on his father, becomes livid over snakes and vows to seek revenge by wiping out the entire snake family from the earth. He begins the Sarpanasha Yagna (sacrificial fire installed and invoked to destroy serpents). Serpent kings like Lord Vishnu’s Adishesha, Lord Shiva’s Nagaraja and Elakruta,devotee of Lord Krishna seeks help of Gods. In the meanwhile, cores of snakes were getting consumed by Janamejaya’s sacrificial fire. A serpent king, Takshaka had sought refuge in Lord Indra. During when the chant Sarpayaga, “Sahendraya Takshakaya, Indraya Indra sameta Takshakaya swaha” was made, Takshaka along with Indra were also to be consumed by the fire. In order to protect himself, Lord Indra abandons Takshaka to save himself. Sage Astika then assumes form of a Brahmin boy scholar and seeks protection of Janamejaya, who offers to fulfil any of his wish. Astika then seeks to end the Sarpanasha Yagna right away, forgive the Nagas (Serpents) and let them survive, thereby briging the Yagna to an end and any further destruction of the serpent race.
However, killing of so many serpents was sinful and as a Karmic retribution of Sarpa nasha (destruction of serpents) Janamejaya begins to suffers from Leukoderma/Vitilligo (Pandu Roga). Janamajeya seeks remedy for this from learned sages. Adishesha, on whom Lord Vishu rests, then advises that Janamejaya as a remedy to his ailment should build 101 Temples of manifestations (avataras) of Lord Vishnu. One of the 101 temples built and the one in the Dandakaranya is Gadidam Sri Venkataramana Swamy Temple.
Gadidam – Legend behind the name
As the story goes in Mahabharatas Shakuni schemed with Duryodhana to destroy Pandavas along with Kunti, by building House of Wax/lacquer (Lakshagriha) and setting it on fire when they were asleep. Pandavas were forewarned by Vidhura before Pandavas set out on the journey after Kauravas invited their cousins to visit a fair held there and also to live in the house for some time. Vidura tactfully, in the presence of the Kauravas, warned the Pandavas about the imminent danger in coded language:
A weapon not made of steel or any other material element can be more than sharp to kill an enemy, and1 he who knows this is never killed.
Fire cannot extinguish the soul but can annihilate the material body. But one who protects the soul lives.
The conflagration that devastates a forest cannot hurt a rat which shelters itself in a hole or a porcupine which burrows in the earth. The wise man knows his bearings by looking at the stars.”
Vidura also had a miner assisting Pandavas to create a secret underground tunner with its one mouth in the centre of the palace-house and the other mouth close to Hill of Hidambhasura in Dandakaranya, which lies in the northern direction of the present Sri Venkataraman Swamy Temple. Pandavas lived for a full year in the house while the tunnel was being dug in secrecy and was completed in less than 6 months. The lakshagraha was to be burnt on an Amavasya night and when it was done, Pandavas escaped through the tunnel and emerged at the Hidambhasura Hills. While they were resting after the escape, Bhima stood guard for them while others fell fast asleep. Hidambasura who lived on the hills senses presence of Humans and orders his beautiful sister Hidambi to seek the humans, kill them and bring the flesh to him. Hidambi sees Bhima and was besotted to him. She forgot her brother’s orders and stood there forgetting herself and the time admiring Bhima. Hidambhasura worried about his sister not returning for a long time comes in search of her and finds well bodied Bhima there. He wanted to devour him but Hidami stops him and expresses her intention to marry Bhima. She pleads with him not to kill and consume Bhima which fell on deaf ears. Finally Bhima and Hidambhasura fights each other, at the end of which Bhima kills Hidambhasura. Roar during this fight wakes up Kunti and other Pandavas who see the gory sight. They also get Bhima married to Hidambi, to whom Ghatotkacha was born in this place. Thus came the name Gadidam (gradual morphing from Ghatotkacha). On the southern side of Gadidam hill the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple for Lord Venkataramana was built by Janamejaya.
Speciality of the Deity’s Murti
On the stone ornamental arch surrounding the Moola Murti (Main installed Idol), there are carvings of Lord Vishnu’s Dashavataras (10 manifestations). Sudharshana Chakra towards the head region of Moola Murti. Like in the rear of the ornamental arch, it is replicated in the front and the form of Lord Venkataramana Swamy is carved. This is the speciality of this pratishta.
Kshetra Mahime (Temple Glory)
Post Mahabharata period, this temple fell into disuse and the Murti got covered by anthill and it remained so for thousands of years. During the reign of Cholas, the king remained childless for a long time. They undertook penance, performed many worships and finally begot two daughters. Both were extremely beautiful, talented, intelligent and possessed all positive virtues. However both had Kantaka Dosha (Ill effects of Saturn transitions) in their horoscope. Their marriage was getting delayed which worried the King a lot. One night, Lord Venkataramana Swamy of Gadidam appears in the King’s dream and instructs the king thus – “On the banks of river Chitravati, besides the ridge of Gadidam Hills, there is a temple dedicated to Me. It has only me installed and worshipped. As a remedy for the worries, as a remedy for the Kantaka Dosha of your daughters, you have to install & consecrate the murtis of Sri Bhooneela and Sri Lakshmi besides me. It has to be done on Vishaka Nakshatra (star) on the Full moon Day, in the Vaishaka and conduct a Bramha Rathotsava (Chariot festival). The King thus sets out to renovate and restore the temple, does as instructed by the Lord in his dreams. He also organises a grand Chariot festival which is one of the biggest events of this temple even to this date.
Present Day Temple
In the 14th Century, Harihara and Bukka of Vijayanagar Empire, unable to bear the torture of the enemy King Turushkula of the neighbouring Kingdom in present day Maharashtra move towards Hampi in Hospet Taluk of Bellary’s District. They see Sage Vidyaranya Swamy in deep meditation and penance on the banks of river Tunga Bhadra in Anegundi village. They prostrate before the learned Saint who then briefs them about the speciality of the place. Under the guidance and with grace of Sage Vidyaranya they build a beautify new town and calls it Hampi Vijayanagara. With the guidance of Vidyaranya they begin ruling the Vijayanagara kingdom. During their tour of the Kingdom, they worshipped in Lepakshi, Penukonda temples and arrive at Sri Bhooneeladevi and Sri Lakshmi Venkataramana Swamy temple in Gadidam.
They found that the temple was too small and they construct a huge courtyard/atrium (prangana), establish 4 Dwaras (Entry/Exits), Dwaja stambha (Flag Mast) and the Gopuras (Towers). This fact has been established by the epigraphs in the precincts.
Near the Southern Dwara there is an ancient Banyan Tree that has serpent shaped roots which is fascinating sight and is a possible indication of the History of this temple.
On the street leading to Western dwara Vinta’s son Jarutanta stands in obeisance with folded hands in Namaskara praying to the Deity.
The Eastern Dwarna or Entrance is newly built and the Gopura is 108 Feet tall. There are intricate carvings on this and it is a sight to behold. In front of this door is a gigantic statute of almost life like Lord Hanuman facing towards the Main Deity
The huge temple complex also houses the murits of Saptamatrikas.
Gadidam Temple, known as the second Tirumala (Tirupati) is known for its remedy for those having Sarpa Dosha, Obstacles in getting married.
New Developments (as on 31/01/2019 when I went there)
A new Dwaja Stambha was being made and work was in progress. Expected to be completed and installed by the Bramhotsava time
Daily Opening and closing time of Gadidam Venkateswara Temple
6:00 AM to 1:00 PM
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Festivals and special ritual day timing
6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Ways to Reach
The nearest town to the temple is Bagepalli. It is around 3 km away.
Chikkaballapura Railway Station is 35 km away. Hindupura Railway Station in Andhra Pradesh is 50 km away.
Bengaluru Devanahalli Airport is around 50 kms away
Gadidam Shree Lakshmi Venkataramana Swamy Temple
After a blissful Shata Chandi Homa and Rishi Homa in the Art of Living Ashram conducted by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, amidst the Navratri/Dasara Season, it was a snap decision by the family to visit Sri Ghati Subramanya Swami Temple on Saturday 4th October 2014. As always, with a road that is largely great to drive on, we preferred driving down to this Temple town and got there after about a 1.5 hours drive by 3:45 pm, only to be welcomed by a bustling crowd of devotees. The atmosphere was truly scintillating as also festive.
After I shared some pictures on the Social Media, it was surprising to know that not many knew the Stala Purana and the Kshetra Mahime of this Legendary and Powerful Deity of this Historic temple. That is how idea for this piece came about. This is a Maxi-Post (a long one, since I decided to write down Legend associated to Lord Subramanya to make the context complete)
I acknowledge the contribution of Purohits who explained the details during various visits, as also inputs I derived from the Kannada Booklet on the Kshetra Mahatme, authored by Sri CS Rajagopal.
Legend of Lord Subramanya :
As Lord Krishna said
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in Dharma (righteousness), O descendant of Bharata, and a dominance of Adharma, I manifest Myself, In order to protect the pious and to annihilate the wicked, as also to reestablish the principles of Dharma, I reappear repeatedly in ages (yuga).
Tarakasura by power of his penance received a boon that he shall not be slain by anyone else other than an offspring of Lord Shiva, knowing well that Shiva being an ascetic would not marry or have children. They also sought that such an Offspring shall be worshipped in all the three Lokas, should be Brahmachari (Bachelor) as well as Gruhasta (Married). Having achieved such an invincibility, he began tormenting all Devas and Humans on the earth. Lord Shiva finally married Goddess Parvati. Since Parvati couldn’t conceive due to a curse,She meditate along with Shiva wherein a ball of fire emerged out of their cosmic energies. Agni or the God of fire attempted to get hold of this ball of fire, who could not bear the heat of the energy of Shiva and Parvati. Goddess Ganga was then handed over this ball of fire and when she failed to bear it deposited the fire ball into a lake in a forest of reeds. Parvati took the form of water body as she alone could bear the energy of Shiva and Shakti. Finally the fire ball took the form of 6 babies which were taken care of by six women who represented the Kritikas and hence the Lord was also known as Karthikeya, son of Kritikas. Parvati was then told that the babies were in the hands of Kritikas, she comes and grabs all of the Six babies in one go and embraces them whereupon they become single bodied baby with six faces, reason why Subramanya is also called Shankmukha (One with Six Faces). As he grows up, He kills Tarakasura and becomes the commander-in-chief of the Gods. Subramanya is generally depicted with a spear (Shakti) in His hand. His Vahana (vehicle) is a peacock and symbolizes power and strength. You can read more & a small variant of this story here
Once, during his travels, Lord Subramanya comes across 4-headed Brahma and seeks introduction from him. Brahma replies that he is the Creator of the world, and Personification of “Om”. Brahma scoffs when Subramanya’s asks him to explain what is meaning of Pranava (Primordial). A livid Subramanya then stops Brahma and holds him in captivity. The entire process of creation comes to standstill and world order goes haywire. Sage Narada approaches Lord Shiva and explains the predicament. Shiva summons Subramanya and seeks reason for holding Brahma in captivity. Subramanya explains that it was his strong urge to understand the meaning of “Pranava” that forced him to do that and the thirst to know it was still not quenched and has only become stronger. Brahma then gives Subramanya the Primordial knowledge or knowledge of Pranava (Om). This pure knowledge awakens and triggers a sense of remorse in Subramanya, who curses himself to become a Serpent and seeks blessings of a grieving Shiva, Parvati and Ganapathi (his elder brother) and Brahma and proceeds south of Vindhyas. A natural question here is Why form of Serpent? In order to kill powerful demons like Tarakasura, it is very tough and time consuming to assume control of all the faculties and function of the human body. It required years of powerful penance, hold bodily functions to a standstill. Whereas it is believed that a serpent can live for 1000 years on air alone. It was also time for Subramanya to assume his original form (as a result of Parvati’s Shashti Vrata). In the meanwhile, other serpents led by Takshaka, Vasuki etc approached him for protection from sworn enemy Garuda (Eagle), the Vahana of Lord Vishnu. Subramanya then pleads with Lord Vishnu to protect his fraternity before he redeemed himself from the self imposed curse. Lord Vishnu advises Garuda accordingly and assures Subramanya that he would be with him in the form of Lakshmi Narayana to protect the serpents from Garuda.
Having achieved his objective, Lord Subramanya assumes his original form and before setting out to his abode he realizes that demon Ghatikasura was tormenting the Rishis and sages. He decides to stay back here for some more time before returning. During this stay he slays the demon Ghatikasura and assures the sages that he will stay around this place (current Ghati Subramanya) for some time along with Lakshmi Narayana.
Ghati Subramanya Temple: The Stala Purana and Kshetra Mahime
Ghati Subramanya Temple is situated in Doddaballapura Taluk, Bengaluru Rural District, around 60km from Bengaluru. Presiding deity of this temple is Lord Subramanya & another main Deity is Lord Lakshmi Narayana. An unique feature of the idol is both the Deities are carved onto the same Idol. Lord Subramanyaas Seven Hooded Serpent, facing towards the Mahadwara (East) is directly visible as we enter the main temple area. Lord Lakshmi Narayana facing west is on the opposite side of the Idol and Darshan of the Lord is through a Mirror placed inside the sanctum sanctorum. The head priest of the temple, SN Subba Shastrigalu in one of visits said that the temple is more than 600 years old. We were lucky enough during that visit to hear from him the legend associated to this temple (it was one of those rare less crowded days).
It was during the reign of Ghorpade clan of Sandur that the temple is believed to have been constructed and consecrated. The Ghorpades were very devout, and rulers of great virtues. Their family Deity was Lord Subramanya and the Sandur Kingdom was prosperous and the citizens were rich and happy.
A Betel Leaf trader during his travels from town to town peddling his wares used to regularly stop over in this place where he used to have his bath in Kumaratheertha (now Pushkarni, or the temple pond) have his food along the bank of this pond and used to rest on an idol witha tree above serving as shade for him. He used to hear a voice saying “rise, o rise, you are resting heavily on me” which he dismissed it away since it never appeared in his dream and passed it off as mischief of wind. One of the days the Lord appeared in his dream and tells him that he lives in about 20 Gajas (1 Gaja = 1 yard) and that his devotees live in Sandur. Tomorrow you will meet a learned Scholar, with whom you shall go and inform the king about my presence here. He will them come here and build a Temple and facilitate regular Puja rituals. Saying this the lord vanished away. He wakes up and finds the sun had already risen and goes to Kumaratheertha and after his ablutions, finds a Brahmin Scholar. He approaches him and tells him about the dream. Together they set out to Sandur to inform the king.
They appear before the king and introduces themselves as those coming from Ksheerasagara pura. They also inform him that around 2 miles into the forest from where they hail, Lord Kumaraswamy (Subramanya) has manifested who appeared in the dreams to pass on the message to the King to build a temple and arrange for regular worship. They requested the King to accompany them to this place and do the needful. The King thought that this was too small a task for him to leave all royal duties and travel to a place so far. He promises them enough monetary and other support and asks them to carry out the task themselves whereupon the Trader and Brahmin declines them saying, if we have to achieve this goal, we also have the wherewithal for it and not depend on you for support. Saying thus, they immediately leave the palace and begin their journey back to Ksheerasagarapura. Tired that they were, they decided to stay in a Brahmin house for the night and resume journey the next day.
The Lord then appears in the King’s dream in a Ugra roopa (fiery form) and curses that for dishonoring the instructions, the entire kingdom will now undergo tremendous hardships. The king immediately wakes up, begs pardon and early next morning sends out his guards in search of the trader and the Brahmin. The royal family then accompanies them to Ksheerasagarapura. They reach by around noon and begin searching for the idol in the temple. Specialty of this temple is that every rock and stone appears in the form of snake. After a long unsuccessful search they return back to the camp. The cooks then bring two big and two small rocks to create a stove for cooking. (The big rock now is part of the Main Idol of Lord Subramanya). After a while when the cook opens the lid to check if the ingredients have been cooked, he discovers to his horror that everything inside the container appeared bloodied. He was mortified with fear and rushes to the King to inform him about the same. On closer observation they also find openings of Anthills inside it and It was then decided that this indeed was the abode of Lord Subramanya.
The same evening, they also found amongst the cattle that was herded across this village, a particular cow on its return to its village, used to stand across this anthill and automatically the udder started releasing milk into the anthill. Until this day, everyone in the village used to suspect the cowherd of having milked the cow and drinking all the milk. It was the same evening when elders of the village also came to test the boy and found this miraculous sight.
After the entourage retired for the night, the Lord appears in the King’s dreams and asks him to remove the anthill which would reveal the Lord along with Lakshmi Narayana. The next morning, they discover Lord Subramanya along with Lakshmi Narayana in the form of an idol. All the families assembled there together donates land and wealth and appoints the Brahmin as the main priest of the temple. Till this date, the main priest is form the same family.
It is believed that devotees who worship here sincerely are never troubled by Serpents/Snakes. Those who take bath in Kumaratheertha, the temple pond will be relieved of all pains and ailments like lunacy, leprosy, back/stomach ailments, heart problems and also infertility. Those devotees who have their wishes fulfilled ritualistically install an idol of the Serpent God as mark of gratefulness. Check pictures below
The temple celebrates its annual car festival (Brahma Rathotsava) Pushya Shuddha Shashti (6th day of Pushya month). This year it is on 27th December 2014. As part of this celebrations – Anukurarpane (Sowing 9 types of Seeds in Earthern containers), Dwajarohana (Flag Hoisting) and other such rituals are performed. Renowned Cattle Fair is also held during this period.
The other festival celebrated in big way in this temple is Narasimha Jayanthi.
Other Common Sight here
How to reach:
By Road: Personally I suggest you to personally drive down to the temple from Bengaluru. The roads are good throughout (on the day we drove, a stretch of about 1 km was under construction). Maximum of 90 min drive. Worst case 120 min, But worth the drive – See pictures below. You can stop over for a photo session too 😉 I am sure you wouldn’t want to miss this scenic drive.
And another advantage of driving is a stop over to pick up some for farm fresh vegetables, sold directly by the farmers who grow them and virtually throw-away prices (actually this are the prices they sell it to Middlemen/Agents who make a loot by the time it is sold to us in the city).
By rail: on Bengaluru-Guntakal Section, alight at Makalidurga and take an auto to the temple – it is less than 5 kms.
Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation and KSRTC runs regular service to Ghati from Bengaluru, Doddaballapur, Gauribidanur and other major centre
Added on 10th October 2022
The road is now perfect right from Bengaluru right to the Mahadwara of the Temple.
Met a priest who recognised me because of this article and requested me to add this part about Mooladevaru here. He said not too many know about it and overlooked part of the temple, though it is the most significant part.
Please don’t miss to visit this Upadevalaya on your next visit