When festive fervour fills Avani

Avani

All roads lead to Avani, a small town in Mulbagal taluk in Kolar district when Maha Shivaratri approaches. The Ramalingeshwara Temple’s Rathotsava organised on the day after Shivaratri, is a premier religious ritual that draws a large crowd from several parts of Karnataka, besides Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The chariot, which is 74 feet in height, is the tallest one in Kolar district. Though there are multiple shrines, all important religious rituals take place at Ramalingeshwara Temple. It is the cattle fair that assumes significance during the car festival. The fortnight-long cattle fair is the biggest one in the region. Thousands of farmers from far-flung areas like Ranebennur, Haveri, Davanagere in Karnataka and several parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh attend the fair. 

The fair brings buyers and sellers of the cattle under one roof. It is the appropriate venue for farmers looking for top quality cattle for agriculture. Over 50,000 cattle are generally on sale. Normally, there will be a heavy rush to buy and sell the cattle.

Avani’s rich history is equally interesting as Ramalingeshwara Temple’s Rathotsava. Every structure, hill and rivulet at the unpretentious town of Avani has either a mythological or a historical story to narrate. The place has a rich history as it has witnessed the rule of the Ganga, Chola and the Vijayanagar dynasties. Nolambas, the minor rulers enjoying the patronage of the Rashtrakutas, ruled for over 300 years from here. Today, just three grand temple complexes, including Ramalingeshwara Temple, exist throwing light on the heritage of the bygone era. Since the Nolambas followed Shaivism, they built a temple dedicated to Shiva.

The temple, at the foot of the hill with a huge gateway, has many shrines, each housing a linga. There are four shrines one each for Rama and his brothers Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. 

Though the Nolambas built the structure, the Cholas and Vijayanagar rulers have made value additions. The four well-carved pillars exhibit musicians and dancers. Well-carved sculptures all over outer walls draw our immediate attention. The simple but understated elegance of the temple inspires awe. 

“The Nolamba, Hoysala, Chola, and Vijayanagar rulers have erected inscriptions from across time periods. There are many stones in and around Avani that depict the valour of the war heroes,” says Prof K R Narasimhan, a historian. 

He adds, “Around 70 inscriptions in old Kannada, Telugu and Tamil languages have been found on these structures. Divalabbarasi, a Nolamba queen, who built a temple to honour her son Mahendra in 900 AD, erected two inscriptions. The temple was named Nolamba-Narayaneshwara.” The Kamakshi Devi temple, built by the Vijayanagar rulers, is in a class by itself. Temples of Ganesha, Subramanyeshwara, Bharatheshwara, Lakshmaneshwara and Shanthasuguneshwara are equally attractive.

There is mythological reference indicating that rocky hills of the region were the abodes of sages and saints. One of the meanings of Avani is earth. A version of the Ramayana indicates that Sita, contained in the earth, was found at Avani.

Avani is said to be the place that gave birth to Rama’s twins Lava and Kusha at the abode of sage Valmiki. Rama is believed to have worshipped Shiva here to absolve himself of the sin of fighting his own children. A shrine has been dedicated to Goddess Parvathi, known as Sitaparvathi, at the temple complex. The temple’s courtyard has shrines of Subrahmanya and Jambavantha. Lakshmana is believed to have struck an arrow to find water creating the pond named Dhanushkoti for Sita.

A boulder here is named as Thottilu Gundu. It is believed that the cradle for Lava and Kusha was attached here. The appearance of this rock formation is unique.

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When festive fervour fills Avani

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