A lake and its many legends

A lake and its many legends


Epic connotations: The 31 forms of the serpent god found near the serene ‘Yaksha Sarovara’.  Photos  by the author

Temples for gods and demi-gods dot the districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. The coastal region has umpteen structures dedicated to a plethora of gods and goddesses.

Apart from many temples dedicated to a variety of gods (devasthanas), the region is well-known for temples dedicated to demi-gods (daivasthana). The region has a temple dedicated to Koti-Chennaiah (also known as garadis), a temple for the sun god and one for Mahatma Gandhi too.

A unique daivasthana is the temple where the Pancha Pandavas and Draupadi are worshipped. Idols of the five Pandavas (Yudhishtira, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva) and Draupadi are worshipped at the temple.

All the six idols, a satya kallu (the stone of truth), yaksha peeta (the seat of yaksha) and 31 nagana kallu (various forms of the serpent god carved in stones) were found in the same area just a few years ago.

Localites chanced on the idols when they were working in an arecanut plantation. They found three stones dedicated to the serpent god. When they dug up the place, they found a total of 31 stones pertaining to the serpent god, two stones pertaining to the yaksha peeta, the stone of truth and six idols. Then they decided to hold an ashtamangala prashne following which a daivasthana was constructed in 2008.

‘Yaksha kere’

Though the Sri Krishna Yaksha Pandava Nagabrahma Kshethra at Keddotte (‘kedu’ means tank and ‘oate’ means a kind of bamboo) in Kunthoor village (believed to be the village where Kunthi lived), about eight kms from Alankar on Uppinangady-Subrahmanya road, was constructed in 2008, a lake located next to the Kshethra has a long history.

The lake, which once measured 60 acres, has today been reduced to 11 acres, because of silt accumulation. Localites Vishwanath and Shivaprasad point out that here is a belief that those who are suffering from skin diseases will be cured if they use the water. 

Legend has it that when the Pandavas lived in the forest adjacent to the lake, a deer took away the stick used to make fire from a sage’s home (also in the forest) with its antlers. Then, he requested the Pandavas to trace the deer and get back the stick. The Pandavas followed the hoof marks of the deer throughout the day and strayed deep into the forest.

Yudhishtira , the eldest of the Pandavas, wanted to drink some water before carrying on the chase any further. Sahadeva, the youngest brother volunteered to fetch the water.

He spotted a lake nearby. When he approached the lake, he heard a voice (of a Yaksha) which told him that he would die if he drank water without answering his questions.

However, Sahadeva did not bother and drank the water from the lake and died. The other brothers too are said to have died in a similar manner. On seeing that all his four brothers were missing, Yudhishtira went in search of his brothers, to find them all dead.

However, as he answered all the questions that the Yaksha posed to him, he is believed to have brought back all his four brothers alive. Hence the name ‘Yaksha Sarovara’ (also known as Visha Sarovara).

There are other stories too pertaining to this lake, and according to one such story, there is a treasure in the lake and the snakes guard it.

Though the State government has promised Rs one crore to de-silt the lake and spruce up the area around it, villagers feel that it may require around Rs five crore to safeguard the lake and retain its historical significance.

Fear of submergence

Till not so long ago, Kurumbi Anekattu Parisaravadigala Horata Samithi President Padmanabha Gowda and the rest of the villagers were worried that the lake may be lost if the proposal to construct a dam across River Kumaradhara is implemented. Following the recent High Court order against hydel power projects in Western Ghats, their fears have been allayed.

The river, Kumaradhara, flows about one kilometre away from this lake and the region is filled with huge rocks. There is a long black mark on one of the rocks and villagers believe that it was an impression made by Draupadi’s saree when she dried her saree there.

Perabe Gram Panchayat’s Vasanth Gowda said that a lot of fish (kari meen) are found in the lake at certain times of the year. Apart from the many legends around the lake, the surroundings of the ‘Yaksha Sarovara’ (Visha Sarovara, Keddotte) as well as the banks of River Kumaradhara, make for a great place to unwind. You can lose yourself in the backdrop of the lake and the chirping of birds and the sounds of the breeze.

The region once ruled by Ballals and later occupied by Malekudiyas is today peopled by local Gowdas. There are 14 houses in the vicinity and all the families are related to each other.

How to get there

Travel via Uppinangady (60 kms from Mangalore and 300 kms from Bangalore) and take a turn towards Subrahmanya. You will reach Alankar, a small town, about seven kms from the highway (NH-48). Continue on the same road for about four kms till you get a small board that indicates the way to Keddotte. If you travel for four kms on the bumpy, mud road in the dense forest, you will arrive at a fork.

The path to the left takes you to the Yaksha Sarovara and the daivasthana while the one on the right takes you to River Kumaradhara. Take the help of local people, or chances are you might get lost in the forest.

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