I went with my family on a trip to Kote Varadaraja Swamy Temple, Satyagalam in Kollegal taluk to attend the Rathotsavam that was happening there. We left Bangalore at 7 am and reached the temple by 9:30 am. The temple is famous because Sri Vedanta Desika, a philosopher of Sri Vaishnavism, stayed there for 12 years.
Desika came to Satyagalam from Srirangam during the time of Muslim invasion. Temples were looted and many people were killed. News reached Srirangam about the invaders reaching the town soon. So Sudarshana Suri, the commentator of Ramanuja’s ‘Sri Bhashyam’ entrusted his manuscript ‘Srutaprakasika’ to Desika and urged him to leave Srirangam. Desika fled to Satyagalam. During the time that Desika resided there, he composed a number of hymns. The most famous one is ‘Abheetistava’, a hymn addressed to Lord Ranganatha to rid his devotees of their fears. It is only in this temple that the usthavar vigraham (idol) is in the standing posture. In other temples, the Acharya’s idol is in the seated posture. It is believed that the idol is in the standing position because Desika is ever ready to go back to Srirangam when he hears good news from there.
Rathotsavam There is also a stone in the shape of a tortoise in the temple. It is believed that when Desika performed his daily rituals, a tortoise followed him, expressing its wish to serve as his seat. Desika refused to use a living being as his seat. Once, the Lord appeared in his dream and told him that the tortoise was a good soul and that he should oblige him. The next day, Desika found that the tortoise had turned into stone. As the Lord instructed, he used the stone tortoise as a seat when he performed the rites. This stone can be seen in the temple.
Apart from the Kote Varadaraja Swamy temple, we visited some other temples nearby. One of those was the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple in Marehalli, Kikkeri in Karnataka. It is also known as Marehalli Narasimhan. The idol of Narasimha has his right leg up on the left leg with Goddess Lakshmi sitting on his lap. The features of the idol, like the eyes and hands were decorated with diamonds and silver. It was a beautiful sight. The temple was built during the time of the Chola dynasty (300s BCE - 1279 CE). According to the temple priest, the temple was built in the 10th century and the idol existed before that. He estimated it to be about 1,000 years old or more.
Another temple nearby was Madyaranga devasthanam. It is on the stretch of the Barachukki falls road, Kollegal taluk. This place is also known as ‘Shivana Samudra’. According to its history (Stalapurana), it is one of the oldest temples of the Krutha Yuga. Legend says that River Cauvery, which flows on either side of the temple, was once obstructed by a Rakshasa in the form of a huge rock at a place near Shivanasamudram. Goddess Cauvery prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva killed the Rakshasa and Goddess Cauvery continued her journey. It is also said that Lord Sri Rama offered oblations to his forefathers in the same river.
As for the story of the idol of Ranganatha reclining on Sesha, it so happened that Devendra had a curse. When he asked the Saptha Rishis regarding the curse, they suggested that he instal an idol of Lord Ranganatha in that place. Not just any idol though. It should be the exact replica of the Seshashayana form of Lord Vishnu in Vaikunta. Devendra installed the Saligrama idol and was redeemed of his curse. After having a darshan of the lord, we headed to Sri Someshwara Swamy temple located near Madyaranga devasthanam. The holy Sri Chakra was installed in this temple by Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The temple is very old, according to the temple priest. Apart from the Shiva lingam, the aforementioned Sri Chakra and Prasanna Meenakshi Amma is also there.
Then we headed for Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls in Mandya district. The falls are a few kilometres away from each other. It was a spectacular sight to see. River Cauvery divides into two parts forming the eastern side Barachukki falls and the western side Gaganachukki Falls. The falls together are known as Shivanasamudra Falls.
It was a wonderful trip. We basked in the beauty of nature. It made us forget our hectic and fast paced life in the city.
The ancient temples we visited gave peace to our restless minds. They stand forever as a symbol of Hindu culture and heritage.
(The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 9880377900)
Satyagalam is about 125 kms from Bangalore on the Kollegal route. After reaching Maddur on the Bangalore Mysore highway, go left towards Kollegal when travelling from Bangalore. Buses towards Kollegal pass through Satyagalam. A trip to Satyagalam, and nearby places can be completed in a day.
Before reaching Maddur, there are many restaurants on the highway including Kadambam, Kamat and Shivalli.