Quiet sanctitude by the river

Quiet sanctitude by the river

Balmuri, located in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district has carved a niche in the tourist map of Karnataka for its waterfalls. The man-made waterfalls cascading down the check dam is truly a treat to watch and is well known among tourists as a picnic spot. The place is also known for a temple of historical significance.

As you enter the main door of the temple complex through the recently consecrated gopuram, you can see renovated temples inside the compound. The main deities Agastyeshwara and Narayanaswamy are housed under one roof in a twin temple. The door to the prayer halls of these temples are short and one has to bend while entering. 

To the right of this temple, are two smaller temples – one is Parvathi Devi temple and the other is Anjaneya temple. Both temples resemble the main temple in architecture. Lord Ganesha temple located in this temple complex was recently reconstructed by a philanthropist.

It is said that when Chola King Raja Raja Chola I visited this part of his vast empire, he happened to see a Shivalinga. He came to know that sage Agasthya had done penance here and worshipped this linga. A staunch devotee of Lord Shiva, the king immediately constructed this temple and liberally gave donations to perform puja regularly. It is believed that he constructed the temple overnight and by the strike of first rays of the rising sun, he performed mangalarathi to lord shiva.

As the main deity Shiva was worshipped by sage Agasthya, the temple became popular as Agasthyeshwara temple. The spacious open verandah outside the prayer hall was built much later by the Wodeyars of Mysore.

The temple has simple, but robust architecture. Majestic granite pillars of the verandah have intricate carvings which bear testimony to the patronage of the Wodeyars to art and culture. Each pillar is crafted differently reflecting the skills of  sculptors of the period. The temple complex also houses stone inscriptions. While one inscription is at the top frame of the entrance to Parvathi temple, another is on the wall of the Agasthyeshwara Temple. At the back of this temple is a stone inscription installed on the ground which lauds the majesty of King Raja Raja Chola.
Lack of maintenance
Travelling from Srirangapatna to Balmuri is an exhilarating experience. Even though a stretch of the road from Belagola to Balmuri is badly maintained, the sight of vast paddy fields on either side compensates the agony.
However, what is disheartening is the  public apathy towards keeping the area clean and tidy. Lack of proper infrastructure and poor maintenance give a negative picture of the place to tourists. The area is littered with plastic bottles, paper plates, and food waste. Piles of waste dumped in the river pose danger to tourists who venture into cool water. Eateries mushroomed nearby have become a nuisance to visitors. It is alleged that these eateries sell unhygienic food, affecting the health of tourists.

Balmuri has a great potential to grow as a tourist spot and as a pilgrimage centre, but the lack of systematic efforts has affected the development of the place.  Though a committee exists, it doesn’t seem to have met the expectations of the people. There is an urgent need for the district administration to act positively and take necessary steps for the comprehensive development of the place.

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