Sandalwood Garuda in Bindiganavale, Karnataka

Thanks to Mr. Varadachari who is a walking encyclopaedia on Temples in South India, we reached the little hamlet in the Nagamangalam district of Karnataka, about 73 kms from Hassan and 130 kms from Bangalore. Our driver although a seasoned tourist traveller knew only the usual touristy places. We decided to rely on Google Maps to reach this temple. It took us about 1.5 hours from Hassan. Kudos to Google Maps. The directions were just perfect.

Bindiganavale temple is about 1000 years old built by the Hoysalas. Saint Ramanuja has visited this temple and legend says that Brahma with Saraswathi have visited this temple to worship the Main Deity, Chenna Kesava.

The temple was about to close as it was late evening, but the priest seeing us alight from the car decided to wait for us to finish the darshan. A fragrance of sandal wood assaulted our senses. Before we could wonder where it came from, the priest began the Deepa Aradhanai to the main deity Chenna Kesava Perumal and his consort Sowmya Nayaki.

On the left side of the main deity was a huge sandalwood Garuda and a smaller Sandalwood Anjaneya. The priest started narrating the story. We were amazed that he knew Tamil and we eagerly listened to the fascinating story which has brought glory to this little sleepy village which was called Mayurapuri earlier.

The Belur Chenna Kesava Temple, which was nearby, had ordered a wooden statue of Garuda and the order was placed with a sculptor who belonged to Kanchipuram. The Garuda statue once completed, began its journey by road to Belur. On the way the caravan stopped for the night at this village, Bindiganavale. That night the chief of the caravan got a dream that Garuda wanted to remain in this village temple. The next day when he tried to move the statue, he was unable to. So the temple chief made arrangements for the Garuda to remain and began to do regular poojas. Thus Garuda became a prime deity here unlike other temples where he finds a place at the base of the Dwarastamba or flagpost.  Many years passed. The wooden Garuda got covered with anthills and soon snakes started infesting the idol.  The poojas were stopped. Garuda is said to have appeared in the Bangalore Municipal Chairman, Shri Rao Bahadur B.K. Garudachar’s dream bidding him to install a new statue and begin pooja again. B.K. Garudachar decided to sculpt the idol in sandalwood and hired the best sculptor. The sculptor was unsure as he had never sculpted a Garuda before. Garuda himself is said to have appeared in the sculptor’s dream and requested him to go ahead. The next morning the sculptor woke up to see an outline already carved on the sandalwood magically. He just followed the outline. The sandalwood block which remained was carved into an Anjaneya idol and took its place beside Garuda in this temple.

While we stared in wonder at the two magnificent sandalwood idols, we were called back to the Main deity by the priest. While we waited curiously, he made us wash our hands in water. He brought out a beautiful Aalilai Krishna idol in silver resting in a silver mandapam. He called me and my husband together and asked us to hold the idol in our palms. He told us to close our eyes and asked us to pray. In a monotone he bid us to think of the hardships we have in our lives currently and ask the Lord to solve all of them. While we were praying with bowed heads, he placed a silver mace, the size of a cricket bat or slightly smaller (which he had brought in from inside) on our heads.

He repeated this ritual for my sister who had accompanied us on this trip as well as the young driver who drove us there. It was an out of the world experience for all of us.

We decided that we must visit this place again as we had missed out seeing a 600 year old Shiva Temple also in this village.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 comment