Serenity on a hillock

Last Updated 21 November 2011, 12:09 IST

The temple here, dedicated to the deity of Jenukallamma, is located about 15 kilometres from Hosa­nagara, Shimoga district. During our drive to the temple, we realised that the road leading up to the place was in a very bad state. But once we reached a small hillock, we were in for a visual treat.

The hillock is quite small and we had to climb just about 75-80 neatly built steps with a shelter, to reach the top. Once there, we were amazed to see the huge flat rock under which is located a small temple.

Mythology has it that the goddess resided on the adjacent hillock. She used to wander around the area during nights and return before sunrise. (People believe that there are traces of a chariot wheel on the rock).

One night, as she was wandering around Ammanghatta, she heard the cock crow and stayed put in an as-is, where-is condition. The position of the deity (facing the inside of the cave) is attributed to this mythological episode.

Mythologically speaking
This huge rock was called Jenukallamma, according to legend, because swarms of bees used to nest here. It is also believed that the rock has been growing over the last 400-500 years and even tigers used to reside in the caves.

“Of course, you don’t see any beehives now. But I have seen a few in my childhood and my grandfather says he used to see lots of them in his day.

There are many legends and beliefs attached to this deity. They say the bees never attacked the thousands of devotees who visited the temple on auspicious days. Thus, if at all they ever attacked anybody, it was believed that they did so because the person had sinned in some way and earned the goddess’ ire,” says 73-year-old Bidarahalli Purushotham, a lawyer by profession, a social activist, ex-vice president of Shimoga ZP and presently a very active trustee of this temple, which runs purely on the offerings made by the devotees. C Swami Rao, an ex-MLA is the President and Vijayendra Rao is the Secretary of the Jenukallamma Seva Samithi, formed in 2000-2001.

On the day we visited the temple, a group of NSS students were cleaning up the hillock after a nine-day Navarathri celebrations and also trekking to the nearby hillock. Lunch is served on all auspicious and important occasions in the temple. The temple has its own water source, an open well with pure water.

Purushotham is dedicated to the development of this temple. He says the immediate need right now is a well-laid road from nearby towns like Hosanagara, Shimoga and Sagara, from where thousands of devotees come to this temple regularly.  The Samithi also wishes to offer daily anna dana (mass feeding) to the devotees who visit the temple from far and wide.

“This temple is as holy and famous as the Chandragutti temple of Renukamba Devi in Soraba taluk and hence we need to make travel to this temple easier,” says  Vijayendra Rao. However, our fear as we left this hillock was that in the name of development, the serenity and beauty of this place should not be sacrificed. 

Getting there
Ammanghatta hillock is located in the Devarakadu forest, 13 km away from Hosanagara and 52 km from Shimoga on the Shimoga-Kollur highway. It falls under the Kodur Gram Panchayat. There are buses plying from Shimoga to Kollur which stop at Kodur, from where people can reach the hillock by trekking three-four km.

Vehicles can reach up to the foothills. If one wants to enjoy the serenity of this beautiful place, he/she can visit the temple anytime during the year, preferably between June and March. If one wants to participate in the festivities and watch the crowds, the best time to go there is during Pithrupaksha (just before the beginning of Navarathri) and Navarathri festival.

A lot of places like Sri Ramachandrapura Mutt Goshala, Sharavathi backwaters, Singanur temple, Hegg­odu/Neenasam, Save­voklu dam, Chakra Dam, the mighty Kodachadri mountain, the well-known Kollur temple and so many more places which are worth seeing are situated within 50-100 km radius from this temple.

(Published 21 November 2011, 12:09 IST)

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