Of temples and legends

Of temples and legends
River Cauvery splits into two in Shivanasamudra and plunges downward forming two famous waterfalls — Gaganachukki and Barachukki, and then rejoins, thereby forming an island. On this island are situated two ancient temples of Ranganatha and Someshwara.

There are three places where the river forms an island on which are temples dedicated to Ranganathaswamy. The first one is at Srirangapatna, the second is at Shivanasamudra and the third is at Srirangam. The Ranganathaswamy Temple at Shivanasamudra dates back to the Chola period with modifications by later rulers like the Hoysalas. The temple lore, however goes back to treta yuga and many interesting legends are associated with this temple. The main deity, Jaganmohana Ranganathaswamy, is believed to be carved in black fossil stone (saligrama shila). Goddess Lakshmi is depicted as Cauvery, the personification of the namesake river and sits near the feet of reclining Vishnu. The serpent has a seven-headed hood unlike the five-headed hood at Srirangapatna or Srirangam.

There is a separate shrine dedicated to the main deity’s consort, Ranganayaki. There is also a small utsava mantapa in the temple compound. Outside the temple is a tall, four-pillared structure in stone and further away along the same line of sight is a five-pillared mantapa which is now used by the villagers to store their harvest. Both these structures are neglected and need to be restored. The sound of the gushing river can be heard constantly on the island and the trellis of jasmine flowers opposite the shrine of Ranganayaki is a nice place to sit and listen to the river. The most interesting thing about this temple is that the entire history of this temple is carved on a pillar in the Someshwara Temple at Ulsoor in Bengaluru.

A five minute walk away from the Ranganatha Temple is the temple dedicated to Someshwara and Prasanna Meenakshi. Well maintained and sculpturally richer, the Someshwara Temple was restored in 2011. This temple, too, dates back to the Chola period with modifications by the Vijayanagar and Hoysala kings. There is a grand entrance and exit with the exit facing the main road. Well carved images of Nandi sit atop the two gateways. The main shrine houses a large linga in black stone. There is a fish carved on the roof of the mantapa and it is believed that wishes asked standing under the fish facing the linga are granted.

There is a separate shrine that houses Prasanna Meenakshi, the consort of Someshwara. Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have consecrated the Shri Chakra to which the standing goddess’ eyes are directed. The idol is life-like in size and appearance. Just outside this shrine is the venerated shami tree. The two shrines are surrounded by manicured gardens and flowering plants which were in full bloom. Shades of pink and green along with the sound of the river and the gentle breeze were a complete treat to the senses.

These two temples steeped in history and mythology are a must visit en route the famous falls in Shivanasamudra. The place is about 65 km from Mysuru and 120 km from Bengaluru.  

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