Brahmakalashotsava for 1200 year old temple today

Come January 18 and a little sleepy town of Vittal in Dakshina Kannada district will witness a glorious and historic moment in the form of Brahmakalabhisheka of Shree Panchalingeshwara temple, after 576 years.

Though no one knows how many times the temple has been renovated in the past, there are evidences that the previous Swarna Kalashotsava was held in 1436, and renovated in 1744 and 1894. According to renowned historian Dr P Gururaj Bhat, the temple must have been constructed in 7-8 AD.

Quite interestingly, though the authorities concerned decided to reconstruct the temple in 1980 as it was in a dilapidated condition, they could start the work only in 2001 and complete it in 2013, 11 years after they decided to renovate it.

The largest temple in Vittal region comprising of 16 villages, Shree Panchalingeshwara temple is famous for its unigue antiquity and rare artistic splendour, which is in the shape of the back of an Elephant (Gajavrashta), a rare style in the temple architecture in South India.

The sanctum of the temple has five lingas - Sadyojotha, Vamadeva, Aghora, Thathpurusha and Ishana, supposed to be the five features of Lord Shiva. The legend has it that the temple was built by the Pandavas.

The unique feature of the temple is that people of 16 neighbouring villages have been toiling hard day and night for the last five years to renovate the temple to give it a modern structural stablity while retaining the earlier historic architecture.

After obtaining a formal approval for renovation from the Department of Endowments, the work on the new structure began on the auspicious day of Vishu Sankramana, on January 29, 2007.

Donations pour in

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Temple Renovation Committee President and Campco former president L N Kudoor, said that the donations started pouring in on its own, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. “If there is no power in the region, why will people donate,” he questions and adds that he could see people return satisfied and smiling after visiting the temple.

Terming the temple as a sacred place which unites and draws people from all religions, he expects more than 60,000 people to visit the place on January 18 to witness the Brahmakalashotsava.

In fact, the committee had asked people from neighbouring villages not to cook at home and ever since January 9, on an average 35,000 to 40,000 people have been taking food in the temple from morning till night.

King’s descendent speaks

When contacted, 75-year-old V Janardhan Verma, the descendent of Vittal Palace, said that his forefathers had been making donations to people irrespective of caste or creed. “Be it the Basadis for Jains, mosques for Muslims and churches for Christians, the palace has been donating land or cash,” he said and noted that the place has been a region of communal harmony ever since the days of Vittal rulers.

Muslim donates more Rs 7 lakh

A Muslim, who wish to be anonymous, has been donating the income he generates from the first sale of the day to the temple for the last few years. His contribution has exceeded Rs 7 lakh as of now, that includes his recent contribution of Rs 5,55,555 for the renovation of the temple, according to Kudoor.

Structure without base

*  The previous structure of the temple, with 55 feet tall, was without a base. Surprisingly, the workers found that there was a 4,750 sq feet lake beneath the temple;
* Though the authorities concerned estimated the cost of the new temple at Rs 3.85 crore, it went upto Rs 11 crore to complete the project;
* Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari Dr D Veerendra Heggade, who is also the honourary president of the entire renovation works, has donated Rs 50 lakh to the temple, besides donating 3 Kalashas, each comprising one kg of gold, worth over Rs 1.2 crore.
* Dr D Veerendra Heggade’s grand father Manjaiah Heggade, also known as ‘Mathanaduva Manjunatha’ (talking Lord), who was the Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala from 1918 to 1955, hailed from Vittal;
* The renovation committee formed in 2001 comprised of 305 members and all of them continue to be the members even after 11 years - neither anybody has quit nor anybody has passed away;
* The 66.5 foot tall temple poll (Kodi Mara) was brought from Panja (originally 75 foot tall) and the authorities concerned took only 5 days to select it; It was kept dipped in 4,500 litres of gingily oil, donated by villagers, for about three years;
* The temple maintains 17,000 odd accounts of villagers. Whatever agriculture produce donated by the villagers is sold by the temple and the amount received is mentioned in the donors’ accounts, maintained by the temple.
* Ever since the temple renovation began, the local cashew factory employees (numbering 350) worked overtime and donated the overtime income (Rs 5 to Rs 7 a week per person) to the temple, which amounted to Rs 8.5 lakh.

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