Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple Astronomical Mystery; Engineering Marvel; Aesthetic to Senses; Religiously Refreshing
Bangaluru’s 9th century temple cut out of a monolithic rock dedicated to Lord Shiva inside a cave (Gavi in Kannada means Cave) is, perhaps, symptomatic of what the city would become in the 20th and 21st century—a hub of science, technology and astronomy. For, the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple nestled in Basavanagudi area in South Bangaluru continues to remain a mystery for many astronomers going by the celestial phenomenon that takes place once in a year.
In mid-January, every year on Makara Sankranti Day, the sunrays fall on the Shivalinga for one hour passing through between the two horns of ‘Nandi’, (the vehicle of Shiva), carved and placed in the entrance of the cave temple. Such was the depth of knowledge of the ancient sculptors in astronomy and archeology that they could craft the horns of ‘Nandi’ (bull) in order to enable the rays of the Sun pass through the two horns and fall directly on the deity, the Shivalinga.
“Going to Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple on Makara Sankranti day is both challenging and thrilling. I am now 86. I have been having the darshan of Lord Shiva on all Makara Sankranti days for almost 75 years,” said, Markandeya Shastry, a priest, who lives in Hanumanthanagar, a culturally-rich and vibrant extension, abutting the famous Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple.
According to archeologists, Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple is an example of Indian rock-cut architecture. The temple is famous for its mysterious stone discs in the forecourt and exact planning allowing the sun to shine on shrine in certain time of the year, on Makara Sankranti day in the month of January.
If the temple if religiously refreshing to the devotees, the awe-evoking monolithic rock has been a place to study, discuss, spend time in solitary as well as thinkers. “I have spent hours together sitting alone on the rock. It is simply refreshing. Though the vehicles on the roads around the rock have increased thus increasing the decibel level, it is, however, still attractive for those who want to spend the time alone or friends for a chat,” say 36-year old Srinivasa Bhat, an employee of a private firm, who lives in Srinagar, close to the temple.
There are other idols inside the temple precincts including the idol of Agnimurthi, which has two heads, seven hands and three legs. It is the firm belief of those who worship this deity that it will cure the eye defects.
Along with other temples such as Doddaganesha, Nandi, Karanji Anjaneya Swamy and Kalahasth-
eshwara in the near-by vicinity, Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple is also a much sought-after place for both domestic as well as international tourists. The temple shrine is a protected monument under the Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act of 1961.
By S A Hemantha Kumar from Bengaluru