Kumaraswamy temple of Sandur, Karnataka where until 1996 women were not allowed to worship!!

The Parvati and Kumaraswamy temples in Sandur KA deccanherald.com 
 

Kumaraswamy temple, sandur, Bellary dist., KA .deccanherald.com

The Kumaraswamy temple and the adjacent Shiva-Parvati temple  close to Sanduru, Bellary district Karnataka  are famous places of pilgrimage for the Hindus. Roughly 1200 years old the temples are located in the midst of thickly wooded areas. Both temples built by the Chalukyas  rulers are  nationally protected monuments.   Once known as  as Skandapuri in honour of the temple dedicated to Skanda, or Kumaraswamy, lots of  devotees come here for worship and prayer. 

The Kumaraswamy and Parvati temples built in the eighth century by the Chalukyas of Badami have highly intricate carvings. Hence in this area rich in iron and  manganese ores  mining activities are banned by the central government. The quarrying work close to the temples may affect the basic foundation of them as the miners frequently used controlled explosion to widen the quarries. 


The presence of  these temples was not known until the 15th century when it was discovered in the the thickly-wooded Swamimalai hills   by the ruling clan of this area- forefathers of  M.Y. Ghorpade, a  member of the ruling clan.  The main deity is Shiva nd his consort Parvati. The other temple is dedicated to God Kumara swamy, son of God Shiva.  


Kumaraswamy temple Sandur, KA seeglobal.in/

An interesting aspect of this temple dedicated to God Kumaraswamy was until 1990s  women were not allowed inside the temple   though they could visit the Parvati temple  for prayer and bhajan. The reason for not admitting women into the  temple is  beyond comprehension.  The temple priests used to say God Kumaraswamy was almost like a saint and did not prefer women entering the temple premise. He looked upon each woman as his mother, hence women were not even  allowed to have a glance of the idol of  god in the sanctum. They  barricaded the sanctum  and  used  curtain to prevent women taking a peep into the deity in the garbagriha.  


In the case of   Sabarimala  Ayyappan Swamy temple located at roughly 4134 ft tall hills in the  Western Ghat area (a part of Periyar Tiger  Reserve) Kerala state  the god is  a Brahmachari (celibate). The presiding deity  symbolizes   confluence of  Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and other Śramaṇa  traditions    Lots of women visit this hill temple every year during the Mandalapuja days (15 November to 26  December and Makara sankaranthi time (14 january), etc but, before the age of 10 and after the age of 50.  Sabarimala doesn’t distinguish people on the base of religion unlike other temples in Kerala. However, women in the reproductive age are strictly not allowed to enter the temple. For nearly two years, women's non entry  became a controversy across the country and particularly the politicians made a mountain out of a molehill. 


In the case of   Kumara Swamy temple,  the ex-ruler of this area  Murarirao Yeshwantrao Ghorpade, (M.Y. Ghorpade,)  who was a Finance minister in the Congress  ministry of Karnataka  and  also a chief  trustee of this temple was influential and  took serious steps and  introduced certain  social  reforms and facilitated the entry of women into  Kumarawamy temple in 1996 shunning discriminatory attitude toward women.   


Way back in the  1930 when temple entry of Harijans (dalits) became a  serious issue  across India spearheaded by Gandhiji,   in places like Madurai, etc of Tamil  Nadu,   Harijans were allowed to enter the Kumaraswamiy temple  and  pray near the sanctum for the first time. The credit again  goes to ex-ruler M.Y. Ghorpad,  a western educated person with progressive  attitude.  After learning of this on his visit to Sandur in 1934, Mahatma Gandhi said, “A small state in south India has opened the temple to the Harijan, the heavens


Kumaraswamy temple Sandur, Bellary dist. KAmacrotrekkingteam

 During the same period in the 1930s Maharajah Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma on November 12, 1936  made a proclamation  and abolished the ban on the so-called 'low caste people' or avarnas from entering Hindu temples in the Princely State of Travancore, now part of Kerala, India.    Popular lawyer and Congressman  A. Vaidyanatha Iyer (16 May 1890 – 23 February 1955) of Madurai on the advice of  Gandhiji and  Rajaji with support from Muthuramalinga  Thevar (as associate of Netaji)  spearheaded the temple entry movement in Madurai Meenakshi temple of the then  Madras Presidency in 1939.

Tit-Bits: 

The National Institute of Rock Mechanics (NIRM) in 2019 submitted a report to the Mines and Geology department and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), stating that the mining within the 500-metre radius of Kumaraswamy Temple in Swami Malai forest will have adverse effect on the old temple monument and the bio-diversity of this region.  The local people also demanded the government not to allow any mining operation within the radius of 2 km from the temple to save the fauna, fauna and the  old temples.

https://www.civilsocietyonline.com/travel/an-oasis-in-a-valley/

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/offtrack/story/19971201-women-finally-get-to-worship-at-1000-year-old-kumaraswamy-temple-in-karnataka-831002-1997-12-01