Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We went to Devarayanadurga

Devarayana Durga (DD) is a temple town near Tumkur in the state of Karnataka. The town is situated at a height of 3940 ft – slightly higher than Bangalore. Connected by very good roads (NH4) and only 65 Km from Bangalore is a very attractive weekend proposition. DD is dotted with many temples. The main temples are ‘Yoganarasimha’ and the ‘Bhoganarasimha’. About 3-4 Km from the town is another place of interest called ‘Namada Chilume’.

Figure 1 Entrance to DD

It appears that the place was originally known as Anebiddasari, then as Jadakana Durga after a chief named Jadaka and finally Devarayana Durga name was given in 1696 by the king of Mysore Sree Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar. The’ Yoganarasimha’ temple, built in the Dravidian style of architecture located on the hill top is said to have been constructed by Kanthirava Narasaraja I (was the ruler of Mysore from 1638 to 1659). It is also understood that the enclosure and tower were repaired in 1858 by the Krishna Raja Wodeyar III. The hilltop gives a splendid view of the surrounding areas. To the East of Tumkur and North of Devarayana Durga, the region presents beautiful scenery of forests and hill ranges intersected by cultivated valleys
Figure 2 Yoganarasimha Temple located on top of the farther hill

I remember having visited DD many times when I was a boy of seven or eight. That was when my uncle MG Gangadhar Rao was posted as the Assistant Conservator of Forests in Tumkur. Sadly, after so many years I was unable to recollect anything except one incident - where in, the radiator cap of Oldsmobile car, in which we had gone up the hill, burst open with steam gushing out and scaring all of us.

Dore and Lalitha, Sunder and Saroja, Jayanti and Self decided to beat the hum drum existence of the city and headed to DD on 02 Oct 2010.We left Bangalore at 0800 h and reached on top of the hill at about 1030 h after a sumptuous breakfast at Kamath, short of Tumkur. As you drive up the hill you can see green forested area on both sides of the road - an extremely welcome sight to anyone coming from a city. As you continue the drive you are tempted to halt and camp in the lush growth and become one with nature. Truly an invigorating experience – available just 70 Km from Bangalore. An ideal location for camping, trekking and outdoor activities.

Figure 3 Water body on the way

Figure 4 Typical landscape

Understand from forest records that- “Devarayanadurga State Forest is about 42 sq. km large. Apart from being the catchment area of hundreds of streams and many lakes/tanks, the forests, both within the boundaries of Devarayanadurga State Forest as well as the Revenue forests adjoining it, are home to rare and endangered wildlife like tiger, leopard, deer, sloth bear and more than 250 species of birds. Among them is a rare and endemic bird species – the Yellow Throated Bulbul (Pncnonotus xantholaemus). This bird is found only in a few areas of south India including Devarayanadurga forest and nowhere else on earth. This patch of hill is visited by people from all over the world to see the Yellow Throated Bulbul, which is found there in good numbers”.

Figure 5 Yellow Throated Bulbul (from net)

Figure 6 The Team

The road is steep but comfortable to drive and it takes you up to the foot of the temple. There are some 200 odd steps to be climbed to reach the temple. I understand that the temple is maintained by the TVS Group. The outcome is immediately visible. The surrounding area is very clean, devoid of plastic, waste and any throw away. Surprisingly there are no beggars. The entire area is very clean and tidy. The climb itself is relaxing and the steps with stone guard are made of nicely polished granite. All along the way the path is lit by solar powered lamps. The overall ambiance is very conducive to prayer and worship.

Figure 7 The Climb

Figure 8 Dore sitting on polished granite guard

Figure 9 Rock painting on the way

Figure 10 Solar Powered Lamps

As you reach the temple there is a welcome party awaiting your arrival. There are scores of monkeys ready to grab anything and everything from your hand. One has to be very careful. Dore lost his Rayban cover. Understand that ‘this is one of the few patches in entire Eastern Karnataka, where wild Hanuman Languor can be seen roaming freely”

Figure 11 The welcome party

Figure 12 Temple on the Left

The temple itself is small and the idol of Narashima has been installed in the ‘Garbha Gudi’ – ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’. I have always wondered why the ‘Garbha Gudi’ is small, dingy and devoid of any light and ventilation. The net has some answers to offer, one plausible reason being “that the temple developed from the cave-shrine of the extremely remote past. Throughout all subsequent developments in temple architecture, however spectacular and grandiose, this main shrine room remains the small, dark cave that it has been from the beginning. This is another instance in Hinduism where the primitive and the modern, along with all the developments in-between, can be seen to co-exist remarkably and peacefully”. Another reason being “Unlike other organized religions, in Hinduism, it is not mandatory for a person to visit a temple. Since all Hindu homes usually have a small shrine or ‘puja room’ for daily prayers, Hindus generally go to temples only on auspicious occasions or during religious festivals. Hindu temples also do not play a crucial role in marriages and funerals, but it is often the meeting place for religious discourses as well as ‘bhajans’ and ‘kirtans’ (devotional songs and chants).
Whatever the reason may be, I personally feel that time has come to examine this form of traditional architecture in greater detail and establish its relevance in the modern age. It may be time to bring in lot more space, light and ventilation to accommodate the huge and rising Hindu population that visit the temples. A visit to any popular temple on a day of a festival will corroborate my thoughts on the subject. The jostling, pulling and pushing one is subjected, can be very exasperating to say the least. Added to this is the heat, smell of sweat, stagnant air, crying and wailing of children and adults alike. The whole atmosphere is claustrophobic and intimidating, far removed from the ideal surroundings one yearns while praying.

Figure 13 View of the township from the top

Having visited a Vishnava temple I thought it would be in good faith to have my forehead painted with the three namas. There is a person sitting on the steps waiting to draw the Nama and claim his bounty.
Wikipedia says “Of all religious markers, the Sricharanam is the most important of all for Sri Vaishnavas. The Srichooranm describes the type of Naamam Iyengars sport as a sign of their devotion to Lord Vishnu. This may be worn by a priest, ascetic, or a worshipper. It shows the Hindu tradition or sampradaya he follows, in this case Sri Vaishnavism. The Srichoornams are also made in different styles in different sub sects, the dominant types being the Vadakalai type and the Thenkalai type. The Vadakalai sport a U shaped thiruman along with a srichurnam (mostly a yellow line) in the centre, while the Thenkalai sport a Y thiruman with a red srichurnam in the centre”.

Figure 14 Two white lines with a Red in the middle

We then proceeded to ‘Namada Chilume’ meaning the ‘Water spring for the Nama’ (Religious marking on the forehead). Namada Chilume is a natural spring situated in Devarayanadurga. 'Chilume' means spring. The spring issues from the surface of the rock. It is believed that Lord Sri Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, stayed here during their Vanavasa. Lord Sri Rama searched for water to wet the "Nama". When he could not find any water, he shot an arrow into the ground, aiming at the rock, and created a spring.
Figure 15 The mythology of Namada Chilume in Kannada

As you can see in the picture below, the water comes out from a small hole, throughout the year and never dries up. Also, there is a foot impression of Lord Sri Rama near that.
Figure 16 The Spring

The water is pure and slightly sweetish in taste. After a tiring walk it was very refreshing to wash the face and sprinkle a little water on the head to cool off. The water itself is very refreshing to drink.

Figure 17 Relaxing

Figure 18 Nursery of medicinal herbs

There is a deer park nearby, maintained by the Karnataka forest department in addition to a nursery of medicinal plants.

Figure 19 Deer Park

The only downside to this excellent weekend getaway is the lack of any accommodation anywhere in DD. Visitors are advised to take packed food as it is not available at the temple. One must take a head cover as the sun is sharp.

Having come all the way from Bangalore we saw lot of merit in spending the night in Tumkur. Finally we drove down to Tumkur and stayed in a friendly and clean hotel – “Sampige Comfort” on BH Road. The lunch and dinner was wholesome and tasty. We all sat up late into the night recalling old times. It is appropriate to mention :-
“I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines. Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774)She Stoops to Conquer, I


  1. Very good for camping and trekking.Weather is excellent now.If u go in a group you could stay overnight.