Where history meets mythology

Where history meets mythology

A view of Kaivalyadevi Temple in Kalale. PHOTO BY AUTHOR

After the fall of Vijayanagar empire, many chieftains came to prominence in the State. Among them were the chiefs of Kalale or the Kalale Dalvoys. For two and a half centuries, Kalale was their 
political and cultural capital. Kalale is a small village in Nanjangud taluk. Apart from its historical significance, it is also a religious place as it is known for the Dravidian-style temple of Lord Lakshmikanthaswamy. This temple is said to have been built around a thousand years ago.

A number of legends are woven around the temple and the place. According to the Sthala Purana, Sage Athri did penance praying God Srikantha in this place and established the Kailasashrama. Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, visited the place and blessed Athri and his son, Dattatreya. During the course of hunting, Pandava King Janamejaya came to this place and saw a beautiful image of Lord Narayana, which had been installed by Lord Brahma, amid lush bamboo growth. He got the bamboo forest cleared, took a bath in the close by tank and worshipped the image after building a temple.

A local legend adds that a cow belonging to the palace was going into this bamboo bush daily and letting out milk from its udder at the place where the present temple stands. The royal family found the image of Lakshmikantha there and got the temple constructed. Historical records, however, attribute the temple of Lakshmikantha, also known as Srikantha, to the first Dalvoy, Kantha Wodeya (1505-1527).

The idol of Lakshmikantha, which is about 3.5 feet tall, has been carved out of saligrama stone, and has small images of consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi on either side. In the enclosure are the idols of Anjaneya, the 12 Nammalvars, Andal and others. At the right corner is the small temple of the Goddess Aravindanayaki, the consort of Lakshmikantha. A special feature here is the separate shrines for Koorathalvar, Ramanujacharya and Vedanta Desikar with towers having a kalasha on top. The mantapa outside has stone pillars that reveal some interesting carvings related to mythology, including the Ramayana. The dhwajasthamba stands tall in front of the enclosure. In front of the temple are two mantapas called Karthika Mantapa and Navaratri Mantapa.

Lakshmikanthaswamy was the royal deity of the Kalale rulers and continues to be patronised by the descendants of the Kalale royal family. K R Varadarajan, joint secretary of Sri Lakshmikanthaswamy Sabha, Kalale, says that the religious ceremonies in the temple continue in the same tradition as were being conducted during the period of the Dalvoys.

There are a few other temples in Kalale. The Someswara Temple, which lacks proper attention, was constructed by Mallakrishnaraja Wodeya, son of Kantha Wodeya I. In the same premises stands Amruthamma Temple constructed by Chikkadevaraja Wadiyar, in memory of his mother. The Kaivalyadevi Temple, about two km away from the village, dates back to the period of the Kalale dynasty. The village deity, Kaivalyadevi, was the dynasty’s home deity.

The origin of Kalale Dalvoys is attributed to two brothers. The story runs similar to that of the origin of Mysuru Wadiyars. Kantha Wodeya and Krishna Wodeya are said to have come to Kalale from Dwaraka carrying the procession image of Srikantha, after serving the Vijayanagar kings for some time. Kantha Wodeya became the chief of Kalale as a subordinate to the Ummathur rulers, who were the chieftains here.

They developed a relationship with the Mysuru rulers soon after the emergence of Mysore kingdom. This relationship helped them to consolidate their power and position both as rulers and commanders. Mysuru history is replete with their heroism,and literary and religious contributions.