Major draw: This giant rock is called the Thottilu Gundu, which is close to the Ekantha Rama temple. Photo by the author Of temples and myths at Avani

The Avani hill is about 30 km from the town on Kolar-Mulbagal route and is famous for its temples.

The main attraction of Avani is the ancient Ramalingeswara temple, built by the Cholas in the 11th century and subsequently renovated by later-day rulers. In the 16th century, it was renovated by the Vijayanagara rulers. The principal deity is that of Goddess Kamakshi. It is accompanied by a Shiva linga known as Ramalingeswara. The beautiful mantapas are added attractions of the temple. The other shrines are Lakshmaneswara, Bharateswara, Shatrughneswara, Hanumantheswara, Ganesha and Subrahmanya. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Jambubana, who was a devotee of Lord Rama. The images of ashtadikpalas (eight sentries) and saptamatrikas (seven mothers) along with Uma maheswara can be seen on the walls and the ceiling of the temple.

The 500-year-old Sharada Math was built as a branch of the famed Sringeri Sharada Peetha, established by Adi Shankara in Sringeri. The hill is a major draw for tourists. After reaching the mid-point of the hill, I saw the flat surface, smaller shrines, a beautiful mantapa and a small water body full of crystal clear water. Many trees surround those structures. The mantapas were probably built by the royalty as a place for relaxation during their tours and pilgrimages. The inscriptions on the stones narrate the history of the place, but authorities should pay serious thought to preserve these records before they are destroyed by forces of nature. Some of the inscriptions were damaged owing to quarrying undertaken in the region. The Ekantha Ramaswamy temple and the Pancha Pandava temple are also located in the vicinity. According to mythology, Pandavas visited these parts during their exile and worshipped Lord Shiva here. Mythology has it that the great epic poet Valmiki also stayed here and offered shelter to Sita in a cave and that her twins Lava and Kusha were born here. The hill here is called Valmiki parvatha. There is a Parvathi temple atop the hill. There are beautiful rock formations and depressions in the area. The myth is that these depressions were caused by the vessels used by Sita for cooking. One giant rock is called the Thottilu Gundu which is close to the Ekantha Rama temple. Other rocks here go by the names of Kuduregundu and Horalu gundu. Avani can be a major tourist destination, but the Tourism Department and the Archaeological Departments should work together to preserve the monuments and post security personnel at the place.

How to get there

Avani hill is about 95 km from Bangalore and 30 km from Kolar town. Lots of buses are available from Bangalore to Kolar and Mulbagal. The place is just 10 km before Mulbagal.

Accommodation is available only in Kolar. Mulbagal, which is nearby, is famous for its Anjaneya temple and Narasimha tirtha. Kurudamale, famous for the Ganesha temple, is also close to Avani.