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The Srikanteshwara Temple lies on the right bank of the river Kapila, in the ancient pilgrimage town of Nanjangud, in the state of Karnataka. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, who is also known as Srikanteshwara and Nanjundeshwara. The Mother Goddess is Goddess Parvati. The temple is also called the Nanjundeshwara temple.
‘Nanju’ means poison and Nanjundeshwara means the God who Drank the Poison, referring to Shiva during the Samudra Manthan or churning of the milk ocean. The name of the town gets its origin from the legend and is the abode of Nanjundeshwara. Nanjangud is popularly known as Dakshina Prayag (Prayag of the South).
According to legend, an Asura by the name of Kesian was terribly venomous and he was harassing the Devas. The troubled Devas ran to Shiva for protection. He asked them to conduct a yagna at the site where there was the confluence of the three rivers – Kapila, Koundini and Manikarnika, and throw the Asura into the fire pit when he arrived. The Devas followed the advice of Shiva and when Kesian appeared at the yagna, under the pretext of welcoming him, they threw him into the fire. God appeared as Agni(fire) and destroyed the Asura. Shiva stayed in the place in the form of a Lingam and came to be known as Nanjundeshwara, after destroying the poisonous Asura.
Over time, the Lingam disappeared. Later Parashurama arrived at the place and installed a Shiva Lingam, as penance for having killed his mother, Renuka Devi. He installed the Shiva Lingam and began purifying the place. When he removed the bushes, he found a Lingam bleeding. The injury caused by Parashurama is still visible on the Lingam. He was about to end his life for causing injury to the Lingam when God appeared and gave him darshan. It is believed Parashurama built the temple here.
It is believed that the temple was consecrated by the Western Ganga dynasty during the 9th -10 century A.D. The kings of the Chola dynasty later made contributions to the temple’s architecture in the 11th century. Later, several additions were made to the temple structure by the Hoysala kings. Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali were believed to have been closely associated with the temple. The Wodeyar kings of Mysore also carried out renovations in the temple.
The temple is a fine example of the Dravidian style of architecture. The temple has a nine-tiered gateway tower or the Rajagopuram. The presiding deity is that of Shiva in the form of a Lingam. He faces the north-east direction. His vehicle, Nandi the bull, is on the north-east side too.
The Garba Griha was built during the period of the Chola kings around 11th century A.D. The anterior Mandapam where devotees can sit was added during the Hoysala period around 13th century A.D. During the Vijayanagara period, a brick and mortar shikhara was built over the shrine. Later, the temple saw more development during the reign of Mysore’s Wodeyar kings.
The tower of the temple is also considered to be a Shiva Lingam and there is a Nandi outside the temple too. The Alankara Nandi is in the prakaram (corridor) facing outside.
The shrine of the Mother Goddess Parvati lies to the right of the shrine of the presiding deity. Sri Dakshinamurthy graces the temple premises with his fourteen disciples. There is a Nandi in this shrine also.
The shrine of Sri Narayana lies between that of Srikanteshwara and the Mother Goddess. The temple houses the twenty-four forms of Shiva, the Maragatha Lingam installed by Tipu Sultan, the Vennai (butter) Ganapathy, Murugan amidst the serpents, Sri Chandikeswarar in a standing posture and the Navagrahas.
The temple also houses several, Lingams, Mantapams and carriages on its premises.
The Vilva tree is the Sthala Vriksham of the temple. The Theertham associated with the temple is the Munnadhi Sangama confluence of three rivers – Kapila, Koundini and Manikarnika.
Sri Veerabhadra is considered very important and is seen holding a bow and arrow, sword, dagger, and a danda. In this temple, Mother Dakshayani holds prominence instead of Mother Bhadrakali, holding a lotus stem in her hand, in a standing posture. Daksha, father of Dakshayani is to the right of the God. All of them are seen standing on a lotus Peeta.
A rice Abishekam is being performed to the deity everyday to reduce the amount of venom as God destroyed a highly venomous Asura. It is believed that Sage Gautama performs mid-day pooja to God in this temple. A medicine called Suganditha Sarkarai made of butter, dry ginger and sugar is offered to the deity.
Special poojas are performed to the Alankara Nandi on Pradosham days. Devotees perform special Abishekam to Srikanteshwara and Goddess Parvati. They also perform Angapradakshinam. Devotees perform the Panchamritam Abishekam and offer betel leaves garlands. They also perform Archana with the Vilva. Curd rice is offered as Neivedhanam. On Shivratri, special pooja is offered to Sri Veerabhadra. Special poojas and Abishekams are offered on Tuesdays.
Sri Nanjundeshwara is praised as the Raja Vaidya- Royal Physician. It is believed that he cures the diseases of his devotees. Devotees offer prayers and worship to the deity to absolve themselves of sins from the past life. They seek forgiveness for sins committed unknowingly. People suffering from prolonged illness and poisonous bites offer worship at the temple for getting cured.
The temple celebrates the Dodda Jathre festival that witnesses the devotees pulling five colorful chariots on a path called the Ratha Beedi. Devotees attend the festival in huge numbers. This festival takes place twice a year. The second festival is called Chikka Jathre. The wedding festival of Sri Narayana is conducted in the Tamil month of Avani (August-September).
Procession idols of Ganesha, Subramanya, Chandikeswarar, Srikanteshwara and Goddess Parvati are taken out in separate chariots and a special pooja is performed. The temple celebrates Panguni Brahmotsavam in March-April, the Aadi Shiva wedding festival in July-August, the Avani Perumal wedding festival in August-September and Karthigai Deepam in November-December.
Morning: 06.00 am – 01.00 pm.
Evening: 04.00 pm – 08.30 pm.
The nearest airport to the temple is the airport at Mysuru.
The closest railway station to the temple is the Nanjangud Railway Station.
The temple lies 23 kilometers from Mysuru. There are frequent buses plying from Mysuru, as well as Chamarajanagar.
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