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Kotilingeshwara, Bangara Tirupathi
chillibreeze writer — Mangala Rao
Kotilingeshwara and Bangara Tirupathi are popular destinations for a road trip from Bangalore for people with an itch to travel, a set of wheels, and a free Saturday or Sunday. It has all the qualifications for a day trip – it is within 100 km from Bangalore, the roads are fairly decent, and it is interesting.
We had a leisurely start at 9 AM, one fine Sunday morning. ‘Road trip’ enthused the kids into a frenzy of packing, and they were soon ready with a backpack each, filled with enough entertainment for a weeklong trip – books, music, and coloring implements. Since it was a Sunday morning, the roads were empty and we made good time. We went on Sarjapur road, past Sarjapur, then to Malur. An aside - we kept seeing hoardings for apartment complexes and gated communities all the way till Sarjapur and beyond. Wow! Bangalore has really grown so much, that Sarjapur is also part of Bangalore now!
We went through several small towns and villages, through good stretches of road, and on stretches that had me worried for the life and well-being of our car! The stretch of road between Malur and Bangarpet was riddled with potholes of all shapes, sizes and depths. But on the way, we saw the real, rural India, and marveled at everything we saw – the greenery, the tilled fields, and the rows and rows of tomato plants.
We reached Bangarpet (about 70 km from Bangalore) at around 11:00 AM. Our sketchy pre-breakfast snack of tea and bread were already history, and we were pretty famished. I was on the lookout for a decent restaurant, and had gone through Malur and Chikka Tirupathi without finding anything acceptable. When we are on road trips, we are pretty accommodative, and are ready to risk fairly iffy looking restaurants, but sadly, none of the eateries I saw were even upto my very liberal standards! At Bangarpet, we hit gold! I caught sight of a big, impressive looking resort, with a restaurant attached. We trooped in, and were delighted at the big, airy, empty dining area. We were quickly assured by the staff there that breakfast was still being served, and we had our fill of idli, vada, dosa and pongal for a princely sum of Rs. 150/-!
We reached Bethmangala, and then onward to Kotilingeshwara temple, reaching there at 12:30 – a total of 100 Km from Bangalore. The going was very slow in places because of bad roads, and because we chose the scenic route, through all the small villages and towns. At the temple, there were signs all over prohibiting the use of cameras, but at the ticket window, there was a sign that said we could use cameras if we bought a Rs. 100 ticket for the camera! I guess the authorities realized that banning the use of cameras just can’t be done, since all cell phones have cameras, and also that charging for cameras is a great way of making money!
We bought entry tickets, a ticket for our camera and went in. We hadn’t told the kids what exactly they could expect at the temple, so when they saw the rows and rows of Shiva Lingas, they were dumb struck, and stood there with their mouths hanging open! 87 lakh Shivalingas spread over 15 acres is a pretty impressive sight! The main linga is 108 feet high, and has the distinction of being the biggest Linga in the world. Facing it is a 35 ft Basava too. All the other lingas have been installed by devotees as part of a ‘harake’ or a pledge to God. The place was very crowded, people who had come to pray to the linga they had installed, some who had come to pray to the lingas in general, and a few like us, who had come to gawk at the amazing spectacle! We walked around the aisles between the lingas, some simple, some elaborate, and some extremely ornate. We were told that the priests recite prayers and pour water on each and every installed linga twice a day, at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM! That would have been a sight worth seeing!
Apart from the lingas, there were several other temples in the premises – a Brahma-Vishnu-Maheswara temple, the Kotilingeshwara temple (the main presiding deity of the place), Annapoorneshwari temple, Panchamukha Ganapathy temple, Aanjaneya temple etc. Outside every temple, there was a small stall selling prasada, with the seller threatening that it was the only place to buy the prasada in the whole temple complex!
There were two Nagalinga flower trees too, and according to popular belief, unmarried girls or couples aspiring to beget children should tie a yellow thread around the trunk, praying for a husband or child, as the case may be, and their wish will be granted within a year. The tree trunk was covered with yellow threads as high as 7 feet, attesting to people’s devotion and faith. A word of wisdom – like all other big temples, this one is also highly commercialized. At every one of the eleven temples, the priests were standing outside extolling the virtues of the God inside, urging everyone to enter, and then, after the Aarathi, encouraging the devotees to buy the yellow thread, and get a puja done. There were stalls all over, selling everything from toys to bangles, soft drinks to biscuits, CDs to … well, you get the idea. Don’t go to this place expecting to be highly moved, just go as tourists! I have discovered that devotion happens at home, not at Kotilingeshwara temple, not even at Tirupati!
On our way out, we were asked to display our ticket for the camera. I fished it out of my pocket, and handed it to the guard. Immediately, another visitor walked past, and asked for it, with the explanation that since we wouldn’t need it anymore, he would use it and save 100/-! I was quite ticked off, and gave him a piece of my mind! The idea! Cheating right under God’s nose, that too in the presence of 87 lakh lingas!
From Kammasandra (that is the village where the temple is situated), we drove on to Bangara Tirupathi, a distance of about 10 km. This temple is modeled on the world famous Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirupathi, but on a much smaller scale. There was a water tank or kalyani at the base of the hillock, with a little boy swimming and splashing about, having a time of his life. He was very socially responsible, warning us not to step carelessly into the water, since the steps were very slippery! The temple stands on a hillock, with Garuda guarding it and we had to climb a flight of about 50 stairs to reach the beautiful main temple. To view the idol of Venkataramana, we had to peep through a six-holed stone window. The view of the surroundings from that height was breathtaking. We could see an ocean of green, with a few roads snaking through it, and tiny pixels of vehicles crawling on the roads. From there, we had to descend about 20 steps to see the temple of Padmavathi.
We spent about an hour at Bangaru Tirupathi, and then drove to Avani. The approach to Avani was quite bad, the road disappeared quite often! We were misguided a couple of times, but finally found the village. We knew that we had about an hour of climb, but the entire hill and its surroundings looked very desolate and deserted. There was not a single vehicle in the parking area, but we were followed by a couple of villagers, urging us to park right there, and start climbing. They offered their services as tourist guides too. The lack of other tourists and the fact that it was very hot, and sunny made us think twice about leaving our car there and trekking up the hill. We finally decided to conquer Avani another day, and turned around.
It was a very short, but enjoyable trip. Not too tiring, just the right number of stops. We listened to the radio, talked, laughed, sang, and had the ideal road trip.
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Chillibreeze's disclaimer: This is a contributed article and was published on Chillibreeze in January, 2012. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article. The relevance of the facts and figures cited (if any) could change after a period of time.
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