Holy hillock of Devanahalli

A few decades ago, a 30-acre hillock on the outskirts of Devanahalli town in Bangalore Rural District, was full of pigeons. Undisturbed, they bred and their numbers increased. The local people still recall seeing thousands of pigeons a couple of decades ago during their visits—mainly at the time of Kadalekai Parishe and after a night-long vigil on the occasion of Shivaratri. Because of the large number of pigeons, it was called Parivala Betta (pigeon hill).

Unlike Nandi Hills, which is located about 20 km away from here, Parivala Betta has not been able to attract many tourists. Today, one hardly finds pigeons on the hillock. Even the greenery has reduced. Locals blame it on illegal quarrying at the hillock and settlements coming up nearby and 24x7 traffic on National Highway 7.

Until a few years, not many visited the hillock, which also has a Hanuman temple. But, soon it will be a place of interest, mainly as a pilgrim centre for Jains. A transformation is taking place atop the hillock and many temples and other structures are coming up. The Shree Nakoda Avati 108 Nakoda Parshwanath Jain Temple is just a few hundred metres away. Of late, the Siddachal Sthoolbhadra Dham, said to be second biggest structure of its kind atop a hillock after Palithana in Gujarat.

As one takes the bypass road skipping Devanahalli town to Hyderabad, a beautiful white structure catches the attention of the visitor. One can climb the hillock using some 100-odd steps or drive up using the kutcha road made for transportation of building material. Construction work is under way and it could take a couple of years for all the structures to be in place. Atop the hill, there are idols of 24 Thirthankaras in nine temples.

The temples housing the idols of Thirthankaras offer regular poojas.

One of the temples has attractive lamps and a chandelier, which combines modernity and tradition. Though they are modern in style, they are meant for placing traditional ghee lamps. In Jain temples (basadis), the use of electric bulb is avoided. Efforts are also on to build a Jain museum. One feels at peace at this beautiful and serene place. After sunset, it is a perfect place to spend time and meditate. Barring the sounds of heavy vehicles, there is total silence on the hillock.

Marble, sand - stones and sculpted pillars have been brought in from Rajasthan. The work is being done by local masons but some skilled workers have been sourced from Rajasthan to handle the intricate work. The state government has leased 30 acres of the hillock and about six acres have been purchased by the Trust for the  infrastructure.

A Jain seer, Acharya Sri Chandra Yesh Sureeswarji lived in this place for Chaturmasa pooja last year along with some 300 followers. During this time, there was a steady stream of Shwetambar Jains visiting this place. The rest of the year during Karthika Masa Poornima, a large number of Jains visit the place which is tastefully decorated for the occasion.

Akshaya Tritiya is another important day for the believers. Many of them break their 13-month-long fasting ritual on that day. The temple trust has also made some improvements in the facilities at Hanuman temple. However, not everything is hunky-dory here. Some locals are not happy with developments and have held protests. But the temple authorities dismiss them. They claim that any good work will always face hurdles.

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