It is tough to imagine a 9th century historic temple in the middle of traffic congested Bangalore. And that too a temple that is famous for a special celestial event. Situated between Hanumanthanagar and Basavanagudi and at a 10 minute walk from my house is the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple, a protected monument under the Karnataka ancient and historical monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1961.
This cave temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and built in Indian-rock cut architecture is believed to have a Chola origin, though it burst into prominence during Kempegowda’s (Founder of Bangalore) reign. A fairly small temple, this place of Hindu worship is home to many special attributes, some of which are seen nowhere else in South India. For example, it is home to an extremely rare idol of Agni, the god of fire. This idol of Lord Agni has two heads, seven hands and three legs. It also houses an idol of Shakti Ganapati with 12 hands and four monolith pillars that symbolize Dhamaru, Thrishula and two fans, the tools of Lord Shiva.
It’s most special attribute is the fact that on Jan 14 and/or 15, the day of Makar Sankranti, the rays of the setting sun finds its way into the dark cave for an hour or so and illuminate the Shiva Linga. This architectural and astronomical wonder ensures that on the day of Makar Sankaranti, the rays of the setting sun pass through the horns of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva and then light the feet of the Shiva Linga before illuminating the body of Lord Shiva for a brief moment. Lakhs of devotees come to see this live event in person. As the temple is too small to accommodate so many people, they show the live event through television sets at the entrance of the temple. Personally, I have never seen this celestial event as I don’t do that well with crowds, but I like the simple cave like aura of this temple where you have to crouch everywhere inside the temple, especially to see the Sannadhi of Goddess Parvathi.
Photography is not allowed inside the temple and hence I can only show the pictures of the temple courtyard here. But, if you wish to see more, just drop by this ancient temple of Bangalore. It is located in a nice quiet part of South Bangalore and may be, you could join a visit to this temple with a visit to the Bull Temple, Vidyarthi Bhavan restaurant, Brahmin’s cafe, Gandhi Bazaar, the original MTR, Lalbagh, VV Puram’s Thindi Beedi and other iconic places of South Bangalore. This super green lung space of Bangalore is home to many beautiful temples and lip smacking restaurants.
Temple Location: Gavipuram (near Basavanagudi Bull Temple Road), South Bangalore
Temple Timings: 7:30 AM to 12:00 noon and 5 PM to 8:30 PM
Important Days for Temple: Makar Sankranti, Maha Shivaratri, Pradosham