A magnificent temple with royal patronage

The 180-year-old chariot of Chamarajeshwara Swamy Temple which was damaged in 2017. Photos by author

Whether it is a protest, procession or a political campaign in the state, they all generally begin at the 200-year-old Chamarajeshwara Swamy Temple, a landmark in Chamarajanagar town of Chamarajanagar district.

Son’s tribute

Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, a Maharaja of Mysore state, got Chamarajeshwara Swamy Temple built in 1826 in memory of his father Chamaraja Wadiyar, who was born here in 1774. The town which was earlier known as Arikutara was renamed as Chamarajanagar after his father.

The inscription carved on a huge slab standing in front of the Janana Mantap near Chamarajeshwara Temple gives information about the birthplace of the Maharaja. The Shivalinga of the temple was presented by Sringeri Mutt and it was named Chamarajeshwara. Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar got an idol of Goddess Kempananjamba installed to the left side of the Chamarajeshwara Linga, in memory of his mother.

The imposing temple of Dravidian architecture comprises a 70-foot high five-tier raja gopuram with five glittering brass kalasha at the apex. The temple has carvings of gods and goddesses. At the entrance to the temple, there is Lord Ganesha on the left and Goddess Chamundeshwari on the right.

The temple has two mantapas — Mukha-mantapa (open pillared hall) and Nandi mantapa, and Garbhagudi (sanctum sanctorum). All the mantapas have elaborate carvings of motifs of gods and goddesses.

The temple was wealthy and well-funded during the rule of the Wadiyars. Mummadi Wadiyar who visited the temple along with his three wives presented exquisite ornaments to Lord Shiva. He also donated the revenue collected from 13 villages to the temple to meet its expenditure. Today, the income of the temple comes from the donations of the devotees.

Ratha yatra

As famous as the temple itself is its historic 180-year-old chariot. The famous rathotsava (car festival) is celebrated during Ashada month, which usually falls in July. During the rathotsava, newly-wed couples throw a pair of bananas at the chariot with the belief that doing so would bring them fortune and blessings. As Chamarajanagar is close to Tamil Nadu, many devotees from the state visit the temple.

The first chariot festival was held on the occasion of Ashada Purnima in 1836 and the wheel of the chariot was changed in 1970. Unfortunately, the historic chariot was partially burnt in February 2017 by a miscreant. As a result, there has been no chariot procession for the past three years, as it is considered inauspicious to use burnt materials for religious purpose. A new chariot is yet to be assembled. 

However, this has not deterred the devotees who continue to throng the temple seeking divine intervention. 

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