Nanjangud Srikanteswara temple, Karnataka, a soul-stirring place of worship

Nanjangud Srikanteswara temple,Karnatala
Nanjangud Srikanteswara temple,Karnatala,
The highly impressive Nanjangud Srikanteswara temple, also known as Dakshina Kashi  or "Varanasi/Prayag of South", is a popular Hindu temple where the main deity is God Shiva.  Located on the  Mysore-Ooty highway,  it is just 20 km from Mysore.
Nanjangud Srikanteswara temple,Karnatala, you tube
Nanju in Kannada  and also in Tamil means poison. According to ''Bhagavata Purana''  once God Shiva swallowed the poisonous scum emerged during the churning of the Ocean of Milk (Samundra manthan) by Asuras on one side and Devas on the other side using the giant snake Vasuki as the  churning rope and mountain Mandara as the churning rod; God Vishnu taking Kurma avatar was holding the mountain .
Samundra manthan by Asuras and Devas temple
The purpose  of churning the ocean was to get Amrita, the nectar of immortality. Asuras and Devas wanted to live for ever, free from inevitable  cycle of birth and death!! As the  churning  was on for some time, first  poison  called ''Kalakota'' came out of the serpent  and  it s odor and fume affected  demi-gods - Devas, demons  and God Vishnu who turned bluish. God Shiva timely intervened before the situation went out of control and swallowed the poison. The poison was so potent his throat became bluish and he did not allow it to go inside his stomach. Further, his consort held his lower throat hard to save the lord.  This is the reason why God Shiva  is called Neelakandan in Tamil Nadu and other southern states; neela meaning blue, kandan meaning throat, Thus God Shiva saved the Asuras, Devas and God Vishnu from impending danger.   The name Nanjundeshwara means the "God who Drank the Poison" (halahala visham); hence the town is called Nanjankud. This legend has a spiritual connotation. The spiritual endeavor of man  is more important than material and other pursuits. People should gain  immortality  by way of  intense  concentration of mind, control over senses, desires and  ego. Contended mind, practice of austerities and asceticism will take a man closer to salvation.

As so much divinity is attached to this temple, lots of devotees throng this place. Yet another belief is this temple is sanctified by sage Gautama who  stayed at Nanjangud and offered puja to the Shiva Linga.  The place is called Parushurama Kshetra as the rivers  Gundlu and the Kapila join here. The soil around the banks is said  to have  curative properties and thus, Sri Nanjundeshwara is also worshipped as bhavaroga vaidya. Tippu Sultan of Srirangapatna  called him Hakim Nanjunda and gifted an emerald Linga and a valuable emerald necklace to the temple  to express his gratitude  for  having cured his favorite elephant of an eye disease.  Parasurama, an avatar of Vishnu prayed at the deity here  to free  himself of the sin of beheading his mother Renuka.  According to folk legends this place is known  as the dwelling of Nanjayya (Shiva) and the  ballads on Nanjayya describe  his divine romance with Chamundi (Parvati) of Mysore.

The main gopura /tower has (entrance tower) seven tiers and  atop the sikara are  seven gold-plated  kalasas. The prathakshana path around the main shrine is very wide. In the temple there is a plethora of stucco figures of gods and goddesses from the Hindu pantheon and also countless beautiful bronze icons. The workmanship and artistic work are just amazing. The temple has 32 forms of Ganapathi as praised in the Mudukala Purana. The Chola rulers in the 11th and 12th centuries and later Hoysala, Vijayanagara  rulers made solid contribution to this temple. The royal family of Mysore is the patron of this temple and  the tall gopura in Dravidian style was built by queen Devajammanni, wife  of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III in 1849.

 Sri. T. S. Vishweshwara Dikshith, a learned Sanskrit Pandit  and a scholar ( Ghana Patikal) in several Vedas, Yajur Veda in particular, has composed  Sree Srikanteshwara Suprabhata Stotram of Lord, in praise of the main deity.  He was a recipient of covetous awards from the Maharajah of Mysore,  their holiness the pontiffs' of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Karnataka  and Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Tamil Nadu  respectively for his distinguished  services to the Sanskrit Literature.

The popular festival at this temple is called the "Dodda Jaathre" and it  attracts thousands of devotees. Rath Yathtra - chariot festival is associated with this major events and five chastely decorated chariots  will be pulled along the four Ratha beedi (in Tamil Veedi)  by devotees. The other major festivals are Navaratri and Shivaratri that are celebrated with utter devotion and religious fervor. No doubt, this place is an important pilgrimage center for Hindus from south India as well as from the north.,_Nanjangud