A town steeped in legends

A town steeped in legends

This small town, situated about 70 km from Bengaluru, is an important pilgrimage centre in Karnataka. Kaiwara in Chintamani taluk is popular for its temples that are rich in legends, and the remnants of fortresses on its hills showcase the historical significance of the town.

Legend has it that Lord Devendra installed an idol of Lord Narayana along with his consorts, Sridevi and Bhoodevi, at the Amaranarayana Temple here and sang bhajans in their praise. These devotional songs, which had short verses were called as kaiwara and the town got its name from that.

Another legend says that Lord Rama visited the town twice, once with Sage Vishwamitra and the second time during his exile with his wife and brother. Furthermore, it is said that the Pandavas along with their mother Kunti Devi, spent their ajnathavasa (incognito) days here.

And, in Dwaparayuga, the town was called Ekachakrapura. The story goes that Bheemasena killed the demon Bakasura on a nearby hill. Later, he installed a linga there and worshipped it. This has come to be known as Bheemalingeshwara Temple. In modern times, Kaiwara was the birth place of Yogi Narayana Yathindra, popularly known as Kaiwara Tatayya, a celebrated saint in the region.

The Kaiwara Tatayya Temple, which is also known as Kaiwara Vaikunta Betta, is more like an ashram. At the entrance, there is a beautiful archway. On both sides, there are life-size sculptures of ascetics including Adi Shankara and Sri Vedavyasa.

There is a statue of Tatayya in a yogic posture on a pedestal at the centre, facing giant idols of Lord Narasimha and Goddess Lakshmi. This is the place where Tatayya is believed to have been practiced penance for a long time and attained enlightenment. Kaiwara Tatayya has composed beautiful kirtanas on Amaranarayana Swamy, in Kannada and Telugu.

Inside the town, there is another large complex known as Yogi Narayana Math, a beautiful temple is dedicated to Tatayya. He is believed to have attained jeevasamadhi in this place.

A half-an-hour drive through a ghat road takes you to Kailasagiri hills. You have to trek up the hill along a stone-paved path for about 15 minutes to reach the foot of a giant rocky hill projecting onto the sky. At the bottom of this hill are the man-made caves, inside which the idols of Vallabha Ganapati with his consort Siddhi, Goddess Jagadamba and Lord Shiva are placed. The caves are high enough for people to walk through.

The Amaranarayana Temple is located in the busy market of Kaiwara. This is a protected monument and has a large complex with an arched gateway. Inside, there is a large mantapaand the garbhagriha is at the end. A long row of steps canopied with arches and statues of sages on both sides leads you to the terrace, where a large prayer hall is located.

There is a small shrine for Aranya Rama in the same complex. The architecture and sculptures of the main temple are very attractive. The navranga in the front has four beautifully sculpted blackstone pillars. 

The Alamgiri Temple, which was built during the period of Krishnadevaraya, is also a protected monument. Dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, the temple has many interesting stone carvings.