The Pandavas walked here...

The Pandavas walked here...

The Pandavas of the epic Mahabharata left their indelible imprints in various regions of Karnataka, as they did in other parts of India. Aivarakandapura, a small hamlet three km from Hesaraghatta, is one such. The brothers came, they stayed and they worshipped Shiva in the form of lingas that miraculously materialised to enable them to offer their daily prayers — and all this in one night!

According to local lore, the Pandavas, along with their mother Kunti, halted for a night in Aivarakandapura. Even as they wondered how they would offer their routine prayers to Shiva, the lingas magically appeared on the spot. While historians attribute the temple structures to the Chola rulers, who held sway over the region in the 10th and 11th centuries, legends say that the shrines manifested as a miracle in commemoration of the Pandavas time here! However, a couple of stone inscriptions in Tamil, dating to the Rajaraja Chola era that stands at the entrance to the temple, lend credibility to the former version.

As if in testimony to the abounding tales associated with the place, there are simple temple structures dedicated to Kunti and the five Pandavas. Five plain and whitewashed structures of different sizes, bordered with brick red bands, stand on a mound on one side of a narrow alleyway. They look desolate and uncared for, albeit a priest does conduct daily puja in the largest of these shrines, the one honouring Dharmaraya. If one may call this patch of ground as a complex, it contains five shrines dedicated to Yudhishtra, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva and Kunti. These simple structures, some of which are two-celled, have nandis standing before the lingas.

Besides lingas, sculptures of various deities in rough black granite, smeared with turmeric paste, adorn various parts of the temple. Across the alley on a slightly higher mound, the Bheemeshwara Temple, for Bhima, stands in solitude. The nandi, decidedly larger than the linga, adorns its entrance. Locals narrate an interesting tale associated with this stand-alone shrine. Bhima, who was at this spot, could not attend the evening ritual of mahamangalaarathi that was taking place at a temple on the other side. Hence a shrine was built at this very place.

While it is surmised that the shrines here may date back to much earlier times, locals claim their village to be one filled with a plethora of temples, most of them dating back several centuries. While most of them lie in various states of ruin, many are not amenable to repair or renovations.

We then visited the Venugopalaswamy shrine, which is located a few 100m away from the Pandava complex. Local lore reveals that the Pandavas worshipped Krishna in this form at this temple, which is fairly well preserved. A temple of significant magnitude dedicated to Renuka Devi lies opposite the complex.

Hesaraghatta area, of which Aivarakandapura is a part, comes alive with mythological history associated with the epic. We have just enough time to stash away our digital devices as sudden showers douse us in their wake as we make our way towards a cluster of rocks, one of which has the imprints of Bhima’s giant footprints. It is supposed that Bhima visited Makali, located 18 km away from Bengaluru on the Nelamangala Road, after halting at Aivarakandapura. He installed and consecrated a linga here, on the banks of River Arkavathi, and the Bheemeshwara Temple was later built around it. Legends, mythology and history aside, it would be well worth the effort to preserve such heritage sites for posterity. 

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