Nandi Hills is a famous spot for the techies of Bengaluru to drive to every weekend and catch the sunrise/sunset and chill over a few drinks. It has also become a trekkers paradise. My search for old temples rich in history and architecture took me to the village of Nandi, just at the foot of the Nandi Hills.
The Bhoganandeeshwara Temple in the village of Nandi is perhaps the best example of Dravidian Architecture. It is an amalgamation of Chola, Hoysala and Vijayanagara styles of architecture. The outer prakara of the temple covers a huge area. As you enter the present gate, you are greeted by lush green lawns on both the sides. The first thing you see is the remains of a gopura (entrance gateway). To the right is a Navaratri Dibba of which only the platform remains today. On the left is a Panchalinga Kalyani which is enclosed on all sides by high walls. A small door leads to the steps of this Kalyani (stepped well).
The temple itself is a twin temple built side by side. The northern one is dedicated to Bhoganandeeshwara and the southern shrine to Arunachaleshwara. Each consists of a garbhagriha (sanctum), a antarala and a navaranga. In front of the navaranga is the Nandi Mantapa. Each of the Nandi Mantapas houses three nandis. One large one flanked by smaller ones. The navaranga itself houses a nandi. Both the antarala and the navaranga have ornate jaalis (pierced windows). Both the shrines have shikharas (tower over the sanctum) which are similar in design. There is a mukhachatuski (pillared entrance hall) which was added later on. The pillars in this hall are also ornate.
The unexpected surprise is the small intervening shrine dedicated to Umamaheshwara. In front of this shrine is an exquisite mantapa (pillared hall) which has four intricate pillars adorned with hundreds of parrots and creepers. The stone used in the construction of this mantapa is different from the rest of the temple. One cannot stop marvelling at the intricate work on the pillars.
The prakara (passage for circumambulation) has two Devi shrines, a vasanta mantapa, a tulabharamantapa and a pond. There is a beautiful kalyana mantapa (marriage hall) adjoining the temple complex. Many Bangaloreans prefer to get married in this serene kalyana mantapa, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Next to the kalyana mantapa is a pushkarini (tank) enclosed by a cloistered wall. The tank is a common feature of most temples but they are usually not maintained well. The one in this temple has been maintained quite well. Even though the water level is low, it is clean.
This temple is a must visit for those who plan a trip to Nandi Hills and for all those who have a keen interest in South Indian temple architecture. It is just a 60 km drive from Bangalore. One can visit the Devanahalli Fort on the way. Do carry food and water though tender coconut and grapes are available abundantly in the village.
Plan a Day Trip from Bengaluru:
Leave Bengaluru by 9.00 a.m. —- Explore the fort at Devanahalli —- visit the temple at the foot of the Nandi Hills —- drive up Nandi Hills and relax (don’t miss the sunset) —- return to Bengaluru rejuvenated
Read my article on the Devanhalli Fort. Forgotten Fort at Devanahalli
P.S. This article was published in Spectrum, Deccan Herald on 6th May, 2014. DeccanHerald