Deccan Herald, Thursday, September 4, 2003


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Cradle of history

Magadi, a truly historical town, is full of ancient temples 
nestling in beautiful environs. Not too far away from Bangalore, it certainly merits a visit

Magadi town is a historical place synonymous with Kempegowda, the architect of Bangalore City. It was here that the Kempegowda clan established base when they arrived in Karnataka from Kanchi. Kempegowda II, who built modern Bangalore, was born here. Magadi has many historical and natural spots for the discerning visitor and there are temples, forts, hills, lakes and forests to choose from.

The Someshwara temple, located on the main road outside the town towards Kunigal, is said to have been built by Mummadi Kempavira Gowda around 1712 AD. The temple sprawls an area of around 25000 sq ft and has a spacious inner Prakara (courtyard) with lofty lowers and several fine mantapas (sheltered structures with an attractively designed arch). These mantapas are now in ruins due to neglect and lack of maintenance.

There are beautiful sculptures of figures of humans, birds, animals, etc. decorating the pillars of the temple, which is built in the Hoysala style of architecture and the pillars have the typical symbols of lions, soldiers and dancing girls on them. To the left of the main temple is a small temple dedicated to Parvathi, which has small towers at the four comers of the enclosure and a large pond at some distance in the front.

There is another unique place about 100 metres behind the temple - a tall imposing boulder with a Nandi shrine on top. This is accessible through a flight of 50 steps. When one climbs to the top of the boulder through the steps, one is bound to be awestruck by the splendid view of natural beauty all around. The sunset can be viewed from this place and one can see the sun change from a blazing yellow colour to a soothing orange before setting in the far horizon.

Outside the town, towards Bangalore, is a strikingly attractive monument, the Ranganatha Swamy temple, built at the base of a small hill called Swamadri Parvata. The area in which this temple is situated is called Tirumale. There is a main deity called Ranganatha, which is actually a standing image of Narayana in the Vijayanagara style. This deity is said to have been installed by Sage Mandavya and hence this place gets the name of Mandavya Kshetra, also. There are many stone pillars adorned with attractive carvings and relief sculptures in the temple. The entrance to the temple has two huge elephant images on either side, which are attractively painted and look imposing to the visitor. There are also sculptures of Elephant, Garuda, etc.

made of wood, stone and stucco. Behind the Garbagriha is a small sculpture of a reclining Ranganatha locally called Beleyuva Ranganatha. In the same complex are smaller shrines of Hanuman, Amma-navaru and Seetha.

There is a large Kalyani, or water pond, in front of the temple which, when full, is about 50 ft deep and contains crystal clear water. But in summers the water level recedes to a bare minimum. Nearby is a small hillock about 200 feet high, which houses a Narasimha temple accessible by steps. From the top of this hillock, one can feast his eyes on the beautiful hill ranges and the town below. The approach to the hill is not well maintained and very dirty.

The Kote Venkataramana Swamy temple is located inside the fort town. The fort is in ruins now and only parts of the once glorious structure exist today. The temple is always closed and, according to locals, is opened once a week only on Saturdays and on festivals. The temple, also built in Hoysala style, has beautifully sculpted pillars and is well-maintained. Sankranthi festival is celebrated with great pomp and show at the Ranganatha temple and the Shivarathri is celebrated at the Someshwara temple.

Srinidhi Raghavendra L V 

Distance: 55 Kms
How to get there: KSRTC buses ply frequently to Magadi from Bangalore. Hire an autorickshaw at Magadi and visit all the places of interest. If you think you can walk on the pollution-free streets, then it is a good idea.
By Road: Travel on the Magadi road towards Magadi, 31 kms later you will cross the Tippagondanahalli Reservoir -- the main supplier of drinking water to Bangalore -- built across river Kumudavathy. The view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, the smooth road which winds away through the lush green hills soothes your soul as you approach Magadi another 20 kms away. You will know that you have reached Magadi when you see a large lake on the left and the remains of a fort on the right.
Drive ahead and pass through the town after about 1 km from the town is the Someshwara temple on to your left.
To visit the Ranganathaswamy temple and the Swarnadri Parvata you don't have to come to Magadi town. There is a sign board pointing to the right and an arch built across the cross road 1 km before Magadi. Take this road and 1 km later you will arrive at the entrance of the temple located at the foot of Swarnadri Parvatha. You can reach this place by passing through the town also.
Place to stay: There are a few hotels, lodges located at Magadi and there is a PWD and Forest Inspection Bungalow also located here. You can stay either at one of these places or return to Bangalore as there are buses aplenty -- both public and private.



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