Tribute to a social reformer

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Tribute to a social reformer

A temple dedicated to the 12th-century social reformer, Akka Mahadevi, at Uduthady in Shimoga district, is now a tourist centre, reports Sreekantswamy B.

When I landed at Uduthady, after a 20-minute drive from Shikaripura, the place turned out to be just the picture I had painted in my mind. Serene surroundings with a hint of a cold breeze, the place assumes significance on the tourist map; for the locals, it’s a sacred place. Uduthady is the birthplace of social reformer Akka Mahadevi.

The place is known for a temple, ‘Akka Mahadevi Mahamandira’, situated at the entrance of the village. The deity here is Akka Mahadevi with a life-size idol of the ‘sharane’. The temple is open throughout the year with the family of priest Sadashivaiah residing nearby.

A stroll inside the temple and you will see statues of Kannada literature’s leading lights including Kuvempu, Da Ra Bendre, Shivaram Karanth, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar and V K Gokak. The idol of Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar also finds a place in the temple. A small library with books neatly arranged in an almirah is yet another feature of the temple. What invariably draws one’s attention is a cradle hanging from the ceiling. The cradle has a statue adorned with a saree and named after Akka Mahadevi.

Nagarathna, wife of Sadashivaiah, who takes over the role of a priest in the absence of her husband. says newly-weds who visit the temple rock the cradle with great devotion.
The birth anniversary of Akka Mahadevi that is just after Ugadi is time for celebration at the temple; people from nearby villages congregate here during that time. A marriage hall and an open air theatre are the other special features of the temple.

Adjacent to the temple is a sprawling garden named ‘Akkana Vana’. It is the result of efforts of Kadali Vanitha Samaja and other philanthropists. The entry fee is Rs three. What makes the garden special is that it is a herb garden unlike other gardens which have ornamental plants and lawns. The priest told Spectrum that a part of the garden land has been given on annual contract to farmers to grow herbs of many types, largely coriander. They are sold in the market at nearby Shiralikoppa or Shikaripura.

Atop a hillock is the life-size bronze statue of Akka Mahadevi. It was installed in the year 2006. The pedestal is decorated with vachanas in Kannada, and their English translation. The temple was once the Palace of Kaushika Maharaja who married Akka Mahadevi.

However, she had some conditions—to allow her to worship Channa Mallikarjuna, whom she had accepted as her husband and not to touch her without her permission. The king acceded to her demand. The small hillock where the bronze statue is installed was once the place of her worship. There are seven such hillocks surrounding the place. It was from here that Akka Mahadevi went to a place nearby to worship Channa Mallikarjuna. A temple still stands there.

Sadashivaiah says it is believed that there are secret chambers (suranga margas) in the region.

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