A multitude of idols

 Rising to 108 feet,this idol at Kotilinga Kshetra is believed to be the biggest in the world.

Temples of  Shiva, the Destroyer,  are not uncommon in our towns and villages. While some are huge and sprawling, others may be tiny niches with a small Shivalinga housed in them. But there is one pilgrim centre in Kolar district of the State, where one can see not one or two, but thousands of lingas at one place. This is Kammasandra village off the road to Kolar Gold Fields. Better known as the Kotilinga Kshetra, meaning the abode of a crore lingas, this is an important stop on the religious tourist trail of the district. Though well known locally, its location in the far south-eastern border with Tamil Nadu and the not so direct accessibility has made it remain somewhat unnoticed. 

The highlight of the place is an unbelievably huge collection of Shivalingas installed by devotees over the years. It all started somewhere in 1974 when the objective was chalked out to develop this pilgrim centreas the one with a crore of Shivalingas, with an offer to devotees to install a linga at the shrine. And the saga has continued eversince. In the last three decades and more close to 88,000 lingas have been consecrated here already. It is only a question of time before the target is met.  Driving beyond Bangarpet on the road to Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) the tall Shivalinga can be seen from far away. The whole complex is however enclosed in a sprawling courtyard. Even as one enters this courtyard, a sea of lingas opens up. Thousands of lingas in different sizes are neatly placed in rows, all installed by devotees over a period of time.

The cynosure of all eyes is the gigantic Linga in black granite in the centre. Rising to 108 feet this idol is believed to be the biggest in the world. The pathways in between these umpteen lingas take the visitor through the maze under attractive archways. The other main attraction here is the equally appealing 35 ft Nandi statue on a high pedestal. Like anywhere else it faces the huge Shivalinga. The temple of Kotilingeshwara has a few more attributes. It is not about the numerous lingas alone. A shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva is unique to this place. Also the temple of the holy trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara together is found only here, say the temple authorities. In addition the temples of Venkateshwara, Ganesha and Hanuman are also worth a visit. The legendary significance of the place relates to the threthayuga, when the horse sent by Rama during the Ashwamedha yaga, passed through this region. The mission of 10 million lingas is still progressing. Meanwhile, the temple is involved in social causes too. Every year a mass marriage is organised. Also, free distribution of clothes to the poor and needy is taken up. Free meals are served  by noon everyday to all visitors.

Bahubali, son of Adinatha

Bahubali was not the first tirthankara, as mentioned in the article titled ‘Architecture of serenity in the hills’ (Spectrum, August 24). He was among the sons of Adinatha, the first tirthankara. We regret the error.

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