Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Suvarnamukhi and the call of the wild

Trekking and Weekend Getaways

How about a temple which is just beneath a huge boulder hill and situated only a little before a well-known national park.
Though thousands of tourists make it to the national park every day, hardly a few of them give more than a passing glace at the spectacular setting of the temple beneath a towering granite hill. Even among them, only a few would take the diversion to the temple.
This is the beautiful temple of Champakadama Swamy, which is situated just before the Bannerghatta National Park, on the outskirts of Bangalore.
Located just 30 kilometers from Bangalore,  the path to the Champakadama Swamy Temple is easy to find, When you come to the Bannerghatta Circle (this is where you either take a left and head towards Anekal or drive right to Bannerghatta ), take the road to the national park.
Just before you reach the national park, take the road to the right which is a winding tarred patch. It will lead you to the Champakadama Swamy Temple. A series of steps cut on boulders will lead you upto the temple. The history of the temple dates back to 12th century. Inscriptions found here point to the fact that the structure was built in 1257 AD. You can an inscription to this effect as soon as you enter the temple.
This temple is called Champakadama Swamy as it was the practice to give the deity Champaka or Sampige flowers regularly. There is an idol of Goddess Lakshmi in the same temple.
The temple is constructed in Dravidian style and it is believed to have been constructed during the Hoysala period. The temple welcomes you with a beautiful but huge Gopura.
The temple has beautiful images of Vishnu with his two consorts Sri devi and Bhoo devi. Just behind the temple is the Lakshminarasimha or Narasimha Temple.
It is located on a hill which is called Vahnigiri. The view from the top of this hill is something to be experienced.  The path to the top of the hill is a zig zag and there are steel railings which can be used for support. The temple closes by 12 p.m., during  Dhanurmasa. 
Two kilometers from here is the famous Suvarnamukhi pond or Kalyani. The water in this Kalyani is believed to have curative powers. Locals will tell you that a dip here will cure you of  several diseases.
This is the place where  Emperor Janamejaya took bathe and prayed after which he was released from sarpa dosha or the curse of the snake. He also got a golden body after he had bathed in this pod. Hence, it is called Suvarnamukhi. He then consecrated the idol of  Champakadhama Swamy.
The Pushkarini, Kalyani or pond is emptied once an year so that the rock at the bottom, which is engraved with the image of  Anjaneya, maybe worshipped. After worship, water is once again let into the pond.
You can start your trek to the overhanging hill either from the Champakadhama Swamy Temple or from Kalkare, a small village. The path will lead you to Suvarnamukhi Hill.
There is also a stream called Suvarna Mukhi which flows from the range of hills inside Bannerghatta National Park. One has to trek inside after reaching the park and this requires special permission from the Forest Department.
The entire area is surrounded by thick forests and it affords a once in a lifetime opportunity of the beautiful landscape. What makes this  more appealing is that it is accessible only on foot, although one can motor up to the national park.
The terrain, at several places, is rough and it is regularly interspersed with bushes, boulders and small hillocks. The area is home to more than 50 different species of birds and is frequented by herds of elephants, mainly during winter and at the onset of summer.
The locals will show you places where a variety of medicinal plants and herbs can be found. The history of Suvarnamukhi is not very clear and it is still shrouded in mystery. However, local legend states that Bannerghatta and surrounding areas were part of Dandakaranya forests in which Rama wandered about with Seetha and Lakashmana.
There is also a maze of  pebbles and stones spread over a vast area depicting various complex themes. Several miniature houses using stones brought by pilgrims have also been built in the belief that their wishes would be granted here.
The beautiful Suvarnamukhi stream, which is tropical, meanders through these hills. In summers, the stream reduces to a trickle and in several years it has run dry.
The dry deciduous vegetation is home to a variety of birds and small animals. Visit his place before heading to Bannerghatta or the nearby Suvanramukhi falls, which is also called Thottikal falls.