Muthathi faces Mekedatu threat; Rajkumar family pitches

Muthathi faces Mekedatu threat; Rajkumar family pitches

An overview of the Anjaneyaswamy temple at Muthathi. DH Photo/Ashwini Y S

While the execution of the controversial Mekedatu balancing reservoir and drinking water project itself hangs in balance, the government’s keenness to implement the same has come as a big worry to the entire settlement of Muthathi — an unspoilt hamlet on the banks of the River Cauvery, merely 100 km from Bengaluru.

Muthathi, a major pilgrimage and tourist attraction located in the midst of the dense forests of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, has been demarcated for submergence in the pre-feasibility report of the proposed Mekedatu project. Incidentally, the village and its surroundings are only a part of the near 5,000 ha of forest, revenue and private lands marked for inundation.

Legend has it that Sita, wife of Lord Rama lost her nose ring while bathing at this spot.
It is believed that Hanuman found the piece of jewellery. Sita blessed Hanuman that he will be revered at Muthathi. DH Photo/Ashwini Y S

The 400-odd people (including the Soligas) who reside here, however, aren’t concerned about their fate. They are worried that their beloved ‘Muthuraya’ faces the threat of submergence. The very notion is unfathomable to these people who are literally cut off from the real world, given that there is no mobile or internet connectivity here.

Muthuraya is the presiding deity of the Anjaneyaswamy temple, which has become the only source of livelihood for the residents here.

The Rajkumar connection

While the temple, known for its “special powers”, attracts thousands of devotees all year long, its connection to Kannada thespian Rajkumar makes it more exceptional to the villagers, who have only one appeal to make to the government — “safeguard and protect the temple”.

Youngsters like Bhaskar and Rakshit, who are making concerted efforts to learn more about the Mekedatu project, told DH that saving the temple was paramount. “We are not too worried about our displacement. But this temple means everything to us. Every single villager is dependent on the temple for his/her livelihood. Moreover, the temple was very dear to ‘Annavru’ (Rajkumar). We will not let it be destroyed at any cost,” they said.

The demarcated point indicating the submergence of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, including the Muthathi village. DH Photo/Ashwini Y S

While his stage name was Rajkumar, the cultural icon was born Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraj. His parents, Puttaswamayya and Lakshmamma, a childless couple, named him after Muthuraya for blessing them with a baby boy.

Shocked at hearing that the temple may be destroyed forever, Rajkumar’s elder son Raghavendra Rajkumar said his family would do everything in their capacity to save Muthathi, its temple and its people.

Narrating the significance of the temple to his family, Raghavendra said, “To start with, the temple has got a history of its own, given that it finds a place in Ramayana. Sita dedicated the temple to Lord Hanuman, who helped her find her pearl nose ring which she lost while bathing in river Cauvery alongside Muthathi. Over 90 years ago, my grandparents who could not bear a child for several years, trekked through the forests looking for the temple. They were told that if they prayed to Muthathi Muthuraya, they will be blessed with a child. However, as they were entering the temple, grandmother had her periods and she burst into tears thinking it was an inauspicious sign. She was consoled by the temple priest, who told her that it was indeed a good sign, and that she will bear a baby boy. Within a year, my father was born and my grandparents named him Muthuraj, after Muthuraya. Though my grandfather could not go back to the temple, my father fulfilled his wish by building the temple. He used to visit the temple once in two months.”

The Anjaneya deity. DH Photo/Ashwini Y S

Raghavendra also recalled that ‘Shiva Mechchida Kannappa’, a recreation of ‘Bedara Kannappa’, was shot at the temple.

“I remember my father donning the role of Shiva, while both my brothers Shivarajkumar and Puneeth got to act in the film. It was shot for two months at Muthathi. My father has also sang nearly 60 to 70 devotional songs after Anjaneya, many of which are popular to this day. My father wouldn’t be here without the blessings of Anjaneya — he is the ‘Varaprasada’ of the temple,” he said.

Incidentally, reels of every film produced by the Vajreshwari Combines are first brought to the temple for puja before they are released.

“My father believed that he could make a mark in the Kannada film industry because of the blessings of Anjaneya. We are carrying forward his tradition. It saddens me that the temple will be submerged. Places like Gajanur and Muthathi village, which were so dear to my father, should be protected. My brothers and I will take the guidance of people like Baraguru Ramachandrappa, Bhagavan and Tiptur Ramaswamy and together make an appeal to the government to save the temple,” he said.