Adorned by exquisite facade

Adorned by exquisite facade

Adorned by exquisite facade

Legend has it that Hiremagalur, derived from hireya magalu ooru or the ‘town of the elder daughter’ in the Kannada language was a given as a gift by King Rukmangada to his elder daughter.

Rukmangada, the palegar or local chieftain of Sakarayapattna who held rule over the region and its surroundings, presented Chikmagalur, the town close by, to his younger daughter (chikka magalu).

It was also known as Bhargavapuri since it was the home of Parashurama or Bhargava as he is known, and it is also believed to be the place where siddhas performed penance near a pond that later came to be known as Siddha Pushkarni.

Further, the Temple also came to be known as Bhargavapuri Kalyanarama Temple.

Bhargava is Parashurama’s name and since Rama gave him darshan in his wedding avatar, the name Bhargavapuri Kalyanarama.

The Temple is believed to have been constructed in stages. It was established by the Chola kings along with the trio of idols in the sanctum, sculpted from saligrama stone.

The sculptures have been immaculately and intricately carved with utmost care given to every minute detail of jewellery and position of the bodies.

A hybrid style

Subsequent developments to the temple took place under the Hoysala rulers and then the Dravidians. Thus, we get to see an amalgamation of architectural styles.

While its sanctum sanctorum and vestibule reflect Hoysala style, the remaining portions reveal Dravidian architecture.

In the circumambulation path of the Temple, there are small shrines, presumably from pre-Hoysala times, dedicated to various Vaishnavite deities, including Narasimha as Yoganarasimha in the meditative pose, Kalinga Mardhana, Hanuman, Ramanujacharya the founder of Vaishnavism, his disciple Vedantha Desikan and the poet-saints of South India who espoused their bhakti to Vishnu in their musical compositions.

The exterior walls of the sanctum have pilasters and turrets and a pair of rows with various incarnations of Vishnu and other deities sculpted on them.

Unlike in other temples, rituals and prayers are performed in Kannada rather than in Sanskrit here. An annual yatra of the Lord takes place for one day between February and March.

Replete with history

At the Kodandaramaswamy Temple, about 4 km from Chikamagalur, the trio of idols, Lakshmana, Rama and Sita, stand resplendent in all their beauty.

It is seems that they are on the move as evident by the leftward tilt of their feet.

Since Rama’s bow is called kodanda, the structure goes by the name of Kodandaramaswamy Temple.

Contrary to the customary position in which they are placed in other places, Sita is to the right of her consort Rama, while Lakshmana stands to his brother’s left. 

This is because once Parashurama expressed his desire to meet Lord Ram while his wedding was going on.

Thus going by the conventional Hindu wedding tradition, Sita was on Lord Ram’s right.
The idol of Hanuman is conspicuous by its absence.

Rama and Lakshmana are depicted holding the arrow in the right hand and strung bows in the left, but have been sculpted sans the quiver slung on their backs as seen in most instances.

As per research conducted by historians Dr Wright and later Dr Bhandarkar, and recorded documentation, the edifice it is claimed, is the first temple built for Lord Ram in South India.

Whereas history records that puja and aaradhana at the Temple have been performed for the past 1,200 years, the legend associated with the Temple goes back to the times of the Ramayana and is chiefly linked to Parashurama, the 6th incarnation of Vishnu.

The axe-wielding Parashurama, one of the seven immortals or chiranjivi of Hinduism, made his appearance in both the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

He was considered an authority on all aspects of warfare, especially the science of archery. He was also known to possess two of the most powerful bows – the Shiva Dhanush and Vishnu Dhanush, in different times of his existence.

He avenged his father, Saptarishi Jamadagni’s death at the hands of king Kartavirya by ridding the world of kshatriyas 21 times.

Good over evil

However, according to mythology his ego is vanquished when Rama strings the more potent Vishnu Dhanush on being challenged to do so by Parashurama.

Rama had earlier bent and broken the Shiva Dhanush which came into the possession of King Janaka, Sita’s father.

It is believed that Parashurama’s ego  of being invincible in war was totally annihilated at the site of the Temple. In testimony to this, on a raised platform at the entrance, we see the idol of Parashurama in an act of surrender to Lord Ram.

These sculpted and painted idols of Ram and Parashurama look to be of more recent origin though.

The absence of an idol of Hanuman in the sanctum sanctorum is explained by the fact that when Parashurama met Rama during his exile, it was the Aranyakandam section of the Ramayana where Hanuman had not yet made his appearance.

However, according to Hindu dharma, since no aaradhana or worship of Rama is considered complete without Hanuman, a metal embossed Hanuman is placed at the bottom of the pedestal on which the three deities stand in the sanctum.

This is the only Temple in the world that does not have a statue of Hanuman in the sanctum of a Ram Mandir, emphasises Mohan Bhargav, the priest at the Temple.