Impressive Mekekattu Nandikeshwara wooden temple, Karnataka

Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple
Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple
The state of Karnataka has numerous historical Hindu temples, Mosques and Churches that are pretty old. In particular, Hindu temples of great antiquity and beauty stand out among them. For centuries they had been patronized by the 
Hindu rulers  of various  dynasties. Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple, dedicated to lord Shiva has an aura about it. Attracted by the charm and uniqueness, lots of  tourists  visit this temple  built  in a remote place.

Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple, about  20 kilometers from Kundapura town of Udipi Taluk, Karnataka  is  altogether a different temple with unusual ambiance,  unlike traditional temples of South India. In almost all south Indian temples, the tradition has it that  the deities are made of either hard stone or alloyed metal, consisting of five metals (Ayemponn) in particular proportion. Considered
 to  be  at  least  1000 years old   Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple is believed to have been built by  Parshurama just like other major temples of coastal Karnataka.  This  unique temple is  situated in a remote place near Saibra katte, close to Barkur in Shirya village.  It’s said to attract large crowd during Sankaranti festival, especially during annual festival, Hasara and Sedi.
Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple
What is it  so appealing about this Hindu temple? The absolutely amazing aspect of this none- such-a temple is is the presence of  a huge collection of  well- painted, impressive wooden idols, some of which are tall up to 10 feet and are beautifully, but carefully carved proportionately. The main wood used here is  well aged Jack fruit tree wood (Halasa Mara; in Tamil- Palaa Maram ) that is available in plenty. The wood from this tree is strong and and can withstand the vagaries of alternating climate and gives resistance to water. With a view to preserving the safety and longevity of these marvelous wooden idols, there are no anointing  or abisheka protocol as normally done in many Hindu temples either daily or periodically.
Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple
The idols being wood no abiseka is not allowed. Most of the idols wear warrior dess, something unusual in Hindu temples where the  serene deities are personification divinre grace, appealing to our soul and mind. The wood will not with stand any of the offerings made during rituals. This complete collection of wooden statues,  it is believed, might have been created in memory of a historical battle waged  between two armies - probably  during Mogul or Bahamani invasions.   No records are available to prove them, it seems, the battle might have been taken place here during 1600-1700 A.D

The wooden deities survived  for about  150-200 years after which they were remade. They were recreated as far back as 1970, and  repainted in 2007. This place around Barkur had  once 365 temple, but now there  are only five functional temples. Rest were destroyed, perhaps during Muslim invasions.  It is interesting that some statues hold the replica of an old hand gun or sword as if they were battle ready. Each and every wooden statue is  given local legendary names.

Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple
The legend has it that this place was the creation of Parasurama. When this area experienced severe drought conditions, Sage Agasthya performed Yajna to placate the rain god Varuna. In the midst of Yajna/prayer the demon Asurakumbha gave serious trouble to the little sage, The sage remained undisturbed, it was  warrior Bheema (of Mahabharata) killed the trouble making demon with a special magical sword gifted by Lord Shiva.
Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple
According to other story  in the past this place came under the influence of different dynasties. The temple is associated with the Allupas Dynasty - 450-1400 C.E  and they were subordinate   kings who controlled coastal Karnataka. The local ruler became feudatory  to Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Vijaynagara Rayas. The name of the king of Allupas dynasty is not known. When the ruler of this region was facing a big army,  it was Lord Shiva who sent his army under Nadikeswara and helped the king get back his kingdom. The ruler built the temple and dedicated  it to Lord Shiva and his mighty army as a token of his expression of gratitude to him.

A note on Jack fruit tree: 
01. This well-known tree was named after William Jack (1795–1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra, and Malaysia.

02. The word "jackfruit" comes from Portuguese jaca, which in turn, is derived from the Malayalam

03. Matured jack fruit wood is the main wood used for making the wooden statues at the Mekekattu Nandikeshwara Temple.
A tree branch full of jack fruits.

04. The Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), also  called  jakfruit,  is  a species of tree in the mulberry and fig family (Moraceae). 

05. It is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is  said to  have originated in the southwestern rain forests of Indian Subcontinent, in present-day Goa, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka coastal Karnataka, and Maharashtra. 

06.The aged wood from jack fruit tree is widely used in building construction work. Though it is resistance to water, it is not as good as timber wood. However, it is strong enough to last for a long time.