Historically referred to as Sri Garalapuri in the Shiva Purana

Srikanteshwara Mandir

Commonly known as the Nanjundeshwara Temple

Introduction :

The Srikanteshwara Temple, commonly known as the Nanjundeshwara Temple, is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, situated in the sacred town of Nanjangud in Karnataka, India. Nanjangud is nestled on the right bank of the Kapila River, a tributary of the Kaveri River, and is often referred to as “Dakshina Prayaga” or “Prayag of the South.” The name “Nanjundeshwara” is derived from the Kannada term “Nanju,” which means “poison,” and “Ishwara,” which means “God.” Thus, the temple is dedicated to the “God who Drank the Poison” during the churning of the Ocean of Milk, and the town got its name as “Nanjanagudu,” meaning “the abode of the god Nanjundeshwara.”

This research article delves into the historical significance, architectural marvel, religious importance, and cultural heritage of the Srikanteshwara Temple in Nanjangud.

Historical Significance :

Nanjungud, historically referred to as Sri Garalapuri in the Shiva Purana, has deep roots in Hindu mythology and is considered one of the holiest places dedicated to Lord Shiva in southern India. It is often regarded as “Dakshina Kasi,” where Lord Shiva manifested at the request of the Devas (celestial beings) and the sage Narada. The town holds the legend of the demon Keshi, who had obtained a boon from Brahma and Vishnu, rendering him nearly invincible. Keshi’s malevolent acts led to the Devas and sages imploring Lord Shiva for salvation. In response to their pleas, Lord Shiva appeared in Garalapuri (present-day Nanjangud) and vanquished Keshi. He declared that his divine presence would remain at this place, sanctifying it as a “papa vinashini” or a place that eradicates sins. Taking a dip in the holy Kabini River and offering prayers to Lord Srikanteshwara here is believed to cleanse individuals of their sins and bestow divine blessings.

Another significant episode in the temple’s history involves Sage Parashuram, who sought to atone for the sin of beheading his own mother, as per his father Sage Jamadagni’s instructions. Sage Narada advised him to visit Garalapuri (Nanjangud) and pray to Lord Nanjundeshwara. While clearing shrubs with his axe (parashu), Parashuram accidentally struck the Shivlinga in the temple, causing it to bleed. Overwhelmed by guilt, he contemplated taking his own life. However, Lord Shiva appeared, blessed Sage Parashuram, and instructed him to perform a special ritual and apply wet mud from Nanjangud, known for its healing properties, to the Shivlinga. The bleeding ceased, and Parashuram was relieved of his sins, achieving immortality.

Legend has it that the temple also bears the blessings of Goddess Parvati, who lost a gemstone bead from her crown into the Kabini River during her visit to the holy place. Lord Shiva was pleased and declared that the temple would henceforth have the presence and blessings of Goddess Parvati, and it would be known as “Dakshina Manikarnika Ghat.”

During the reign of King Tipu Sultan, his royal elephant lost its sight. Following the counsel of his minister, Sri Poornayya, Tipu sent the elephant to the Nanjundeshwara Swamy Temple. After 48 days of rituals, the elephant miraculously regained its vision. In gratitude, Tipu Sultan offered an emerald green Shivlinga to Lord Shiva and bestowed upon Him the title “Hakim Nanjunda” (the healer).

Architectural Marvel :

The Srikanteshwara Temple stands as a magnificent testament to ancient architecture and craftsmanship. Its most striking feature is the nine-storied, 120-foot-tall gopuram (gateway tower). This impressive structure, along with the temple’s extensive exterior, was commissioned by Devarajammanni, the queen of the Mysore king Krishnaraja Wadiyar III. The gopuram is adorned with intricate sculptures and carvings, reflecting the artistic and religious significance of the temple. The temple’s architectural grandeur attracts devotees and tourists alike.

Religious Significance and Festivals :

The Srikanteshwara Temple is a revered site for devotees of Lord Shiva. The temple holds regular worship services and rituals, and it is a place of pilgrimage and prayer for countless people seeking the blessings of Lord Nanjundeshwara. One of the temple’s most prominent festivals is the Dodda Jaathre, which draws thousands of devotees. The festival features colorful chariots, or rathas, which are beautifully decorated and pulled by devotees along a path known as the ratha beedi. The atmosphere during this grand celebration is one of devotion, spirituality, and cultural vibrancy.

Conclusion :

The Srikanteshwara Temple, also known as the Nanjundeshwara Temple, is a cherished symbol of faith, history, and artistry in Nanjangud, Karnataka. Its origins in Hindu mythology and the legends associated with the temple add a deep layer of spiritual significance to this sacred place. The temple’s architectural beauty, especially its towering gopuram, reflects the rich heritage of Indian temple architecture. The temple remains a focal point for pilgrims and visitors alike, commemorating the divine presence and the enduring cultural heritage of Nanjangud. It continues to be a place of worship and a testament to the enduring connection between spirituality and tradition in the region.

Editor – Kaalchakra Team

[ Note – Before Concluding anything as a Finale, Please Go through Original Scriptures of Vaidik Literature Written in Sanskrit and Also with Meaning of That time of Language. Because English is a Limited language to Explaining the Deeper Knowledge of Vaidik Kaal. ]