Tales from Keladi

Heritage

Temple Treasures : The temple at Keladi is dedicated to the deity of Lord  Rameshwara.

As you enter the Srirameshwara temple in Keladi, you will notice two wooden sculptures. The sculptures have a history of five hundred years, as old as the temple itself. The sculptures are said to belong to that of two labourers. There is historic significance behind the installation of these statues.

It is said that there was a landlord near Keladi called Chowdappanayaka. These two men whose statues now adorn the temple worked under the landlord, according to local legend. Legend has it that this landlord had two cows, one of which returned every home after squirting milk into an anthill every evening. This caused much intrigue to the landlord and his family.

An interesting bit of folklore has it that Lord Rameshwara then appears in Chowdappanayaka’s dream and instructs him to build a temple. He also tells the landlord that he would become a king if he were to offer two people in sacrifice, and lay his hands on the treasure that is buried in his fields.

Sacrifice saga

It is at this point that the landlord approaches his two slaves and convinces them to offer themselves in sacrifice. They heartily agree. Local legend has it that the landlord gets to lay his hands on the treasure immediately.

Chowdappanayaka then becomes king and gets the temple constructed, says a local story. The idol of Parvathi was installed in the temple, apart from that of Rameshwara.

The story is that the king died after serving his people for five years, during a battle.

Then, Chowdappanayaka’s son Dodda Sankanna Nayaka is coronated the king. This king visits a north Indian ruler upon invitation, and is inspired by the wooden sculptures there. He is said to have come back to Keladi and installed a wooden idol of the goddess in the temple.

The pillar in the sanctum sanctorum of the Rameshwara temple is 15 feet tall. There is also an idol of Vighneshwara here. Following Sankanna Nayaka, Shivappa Nayaka assumed power as the king.

He consecrated the Veerabhadra deity in a temple, which is Keldadi’s third temple. It is after Shivappa Nayak, that Keladi Chennamma takes over the kingdom. She is said to have ruled for 15 years. According to a popular legend, a saint from Maharashtra visits the court of Chennamma, whom she honours.

It is later learnt that the saint was King Shivaji’s son Rajaram in disguise. Chennamma offers refuge to the prince. In memory of this prince is a monolithic flagpost with the carving of the Garuda atop, says a local story.

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