Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple
In a little while, as we drove towards Basavangudi, we came across an area with huge monoliths. On inquiring, a passerby said it was part of a cave temple called Gavi Gangadhareshwara. We immediately pulled over the car and decided to explore. A huge trident made of stone was the first thing we noticed on entering the temple premises.The word 'gavi' means a cave or a den in the local language. The temple is dedicated to Gangadhareshwar, which is another name for Lord Shiva. It is known to be one of the oldest temples in Bangalore and with its stunning rock-cut architecture, it is indeed a fine example of an architectural prowess.
A stone idol of Nandi, Shiva's mount, is placed outside the shrine. A placard near the entrance gave a very interesting information about the architectural planning of the temple that is backed by scientific knowledge. It mentioned that during a specific time of the year, the sunlight passes between the horns of the Nandi and enters the inner sanctum directly illuminating the Shiva Lingam.
This temple has many features that will take you by amazement. Built in the 9th century, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also popular as the Gavipuram Cave temple. Coming to the unique features of this temple, the two huge discs on the foreground of the shrine. The next thing that will attract your attention at the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple is the idol of Agni deva or the fire god. Here the Agni deva is depicted as the Lord with two heads, seven hands and three legs.
Architecture Of Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple:-
The Gavipuram Cave Temple is an architectural wonder in itself. The temple was cut out from a natural monolith rock. The inner sanctum of the temple is situated inside a cave carved out in the rock. The main attraction of the temple is the granite pillars situated in the forecourt of the temple. Two of the pillars support huge discs that represent the sun and the moon. The other two pillars have a trident (trishul) and a two-headed drum (damru), representing the two significant possessions of Lord Shiva.
But the main architectural significance associated with the temple is the creation of the cave temple and the placement of the stone discs in such a manner that they allow the sun to illuminate the Shivalinga for just one hour every year.
Old paintings show different scene:-
Several old paintings, including two drawings of the British artists Thomas and William Daniell from 1792 show though somewhat different architecture and disposition of elements of this unique temple two centuries ago.
Paintings show that the area around the temple was barren and devoid of vegetation. Nowadays the view to the east is obscured by trees.
Temple has been supplemented by new walls and enclosures. This has been done with a great skill to change the earlier dates of the illumination to contemporary January 14.
Later there has been added also a bronze pillar - Dhwajasthambha. Also this bronze pillar has unclear function - shadow of this pillar sometimes falls on the vertical mark on one of the discs. It is possible that Dhwajasthambha was installed to mark the entry of the Sun into Cancer.
Further analysis of these old drawings shows that earlier the Sun illuminated the shrine during both the winter solstice and summer solstice.
Mysterious discs in the courtyard most likely were aligned to mark the summer solstice.
History Of Gavipuram Gangadhareshwara Temple:-
Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple is a famous ancient cave temple. The temple is renowned due to a significant and almost magical phenomenon, that occurs in the temple every year, on a particular day in the month of January. Apart from the wonderful phenomenon, the temple also stands as a glaring example of the marvelous Indian rock-cut architecture. It is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva. The temple is unique from all other temples of Karnataka, due to the presence of two huge discs in the foreground of the shrine.
Another major attraction of the temple, is the presence of a rare idol of Agni, the God of fire. The figure has two heads, seven hands and three legs. It is perhaps the only temple in South India that has such an idol. The temple has a wonderful sculpture of Nandi (a bull), Shiva’s mount. A beautiful image of Shakti Ganapathi, with 12 hands adorns the left side of the main entrance to the temple.
The history of the temple dates back to the 9th century. It is believed that the temple was cut out of a rock in the 9th century. It was used by the great sage Gowthama to perform penance. Later in the 16th century, Kempegowda I, the founder of Bangalore, revamped and extended the temple. According to local legend, Kempegowda was imprisoned by Rama Raya. He suffered imprisonment for five years. When he was released, he constructed this temple to show his gratitude. Artistic depiction of the temple is found in the painting of the British artist James Hunter in 1792.
Every year on the 14th of January, a rare and significant phenomenon takes place inside the inner sanctum of the temple. The rays of the setting sun on the western horizon, shoot a beam of light, that passes from under an arch, on the western wall of the temple, before moving towards the inner sanctum. It first lights the back of the statue of Nandi and passes over its horns and reaches the feet of the Shivalinga. Finally the beam of light illuminates the whole of Shivalinga.
This is a wonderful sight, as the event is marked by continuous ringing of the bells and chanting of mantras by the priests and devotees. The linga is bathed in milk by one of the priests during the entire period of the phenomenon. It seems as if the Sun is showing reverence to the Lord on the auspicious day. A large crowd of thousands of people gather from far and near and wait for hours to witness this magical event every year on the particular day that is also celebrated as Makar Sankranti. It is on this particular day that the dark interiors of the cave and the linga are illuminated by the rays of the bright sun for few moments every year.
Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple Has Many Demigods in The Same Premises:-
The temple may also stand as an example of how Indian culture may have diluted from a sophistication of thought and expertise in certain faculties of human knowledge to the primitiveness of ritualism and superstition. As such, the temple authorities continue to be reluctant to admit the findings of the research team, probably fearing the loss of the ‘divinity’ of the temple and the ‘fan-following’ they receive for the event of January 14th.
Towards the left of main entry, there is a splendid image of Shakti Ganapathi, which has 12 hands. You will find four monolith pillars at courtyard, which symbolize Damaru, Thrishula as well as two fans.
The temple as well has a rare idol of Agni, the fire god, probably the only one of its kind in the entire South India. The Idol of Agni is two headed, seven handed as well as three legs. It is believed that worshipping this deity will get rid of all eye related problems.
Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple is one of few temples in Bangalore dedicated to Shiva and it is visited by a large number of devotees during Makara Sankranthi and Maha Shivaratri.
The outer mantapa of the temple features fourteen pillars in Vijaya Nagara style, unique and beautiful granite structure like suryapanas, a trident dhamaruka.
The two Shikaras of the temple are said to have built during the period of Kempegowda, the founder of Bangalore.
There are two idols of Sage Gowthama and Baradwaja here who were said to have performed penance here.
Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple – Magic Created by the Sun:-
Every year on the 14th of January a rare and significant phenomenon takes place inside the inner sanctum of the temple. The rays of the setting sun on the western horizon shoot a beam of light that passes from under an arch on the western wall of the temple before moving towards the inner sanctum. It first lights the back of the statue of Nandi and passes over its horns and reaches the feet of the Shivalingam. Finally the beam of light illuminates the body of the Shivalingam.
This is a wonderful sight as the event is marked by continuous ringing of the bells and chanting of mantras by the priests and devotees. The lingam is bathed in milk by one of the priests during the entire period of the phenomenon. It seems as if the Sun is showing reverence of the Lord on the auspicious day.
A large crowd of thousands of people gather from far and near and wait for hours to witness this magical event every year on the particular day that is also celebrated as Makar Sankranti. It is on this particular day that the dark interiors of the cave and the lingam are illuminated by the rays of the bright sun for some moments every year.
Beliefs Surrounding the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple in Bangalore
There are lots of beliefs and myths associated with the temple. It is believed that anyone who worships the idol of Agni (the God of fire) situated inside the temple will be cured of all eye defects.
Devotees also believe that there are two tunnels that extend from the inner sanctum of the temple. One of them proceeds towards the city of Varanasi in the northern part of India. The other extends up to another temple of Shiva with the same name, the Gangadhareshwara temple, located on the hill of Shivagange, about 10 miles from this temple.
From 7am to 12-30pm and from 5pm to 8.30pm.
Festivals celebrated at the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple:-
The Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple is known for its festivities, which reflect the true colors of South Indian culture and traditions.
Makar Sankranti festival:-
Celebrated at the month of January, this festival is marked by the presence of thousands of devotees. The crowd is there to check out the amazing phenomenon, where the sunrays at the dusk pass through the horns of the stone idol of Nandi to fall directly on the Shiva Lingum inside the shrine. This phenomenon takes place between 5 pm and 6 pm.
This is another important festival of the temple. Thousands of pilgrim line up in front of the temple to bathe Lord Shiva with milk at all the four phases of the day. The festival takes place every year in the month of February or March.
Poojas and Rituals at Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple:-
Devotees can witness unique customs and rituals of worship at the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple.
•Besides the daily pooja, devotees can ask for special offerings.
•A curtain guards the passage of the temple during Mangal aarti.
How to Reach:-
National Highways NH 4, NH 7, and NH 48 connect Bangalore to some of India's major cities. The Kempegowda Bus Stand is the Central Bus Stand, with buses plying all over Karnataka and other states. Various State Transport Corporations and private bus operators conduct interstate bus services to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Pondicherry and Goa.
Bangalore is well connected to the rest of the country both by meter gauge and broad gauge rail services. It is an important railway station on the southern railway network.
Regular flights operate from Bangalore to prominent Indian cities. The airport houses booking offices of international airlines and there are direct international flights to Sharjah, Muscat and Singapore.