September 3, 2018

Shri Krauncha Giri, Kumar Swamy Temple - Discovery of Chalukya Legacy

Whether you are travelling on the road or off the road, you are never far off from a wonderful Offbeat Spot. Such is the beauty of Land called India. 

The era of Vijayanagara empire has been often called as the most prosperous region ever to have happened, on this earth. Other than the majestic Hampi Kingdom, this region also has some impressive monuments which are yet to be explored. While meandering in this region came to know about a panoramic temple on Krauncha Giri (Giri means Hill in hindi language), somewhere nearby.
Search for that exclusive temple took me to the Swamimalai Forest Range, wherein lies the legendary Krauncha Giri mountain. I had no idea that I was going to walk into a legendary chapter of our Mythology. Legendary…? 

Located 10 km away from Sandur in Bellary district, this mountain is the site of the famous Kumar Swamy temple (also spelled as Kumaraswamy/ Kumaraswami). The  Kumar Swamy Temple complex consists of 2 temples dedicated to Lord Karthikeya and Goddess Parvati (Mother of Lord Karthikeya). Lush green mountains in the backdrop make a perfect canvas for this temple.

Located inside the mountains, this beautiful temple complex was built during the reign of Chalukya Dynasty, around 7th century, almost 1200 years back. Chalukya rulers were great patrons of architecture. Cave temples at Badami is another notable construction by Chalukya Rulers. 
Originally the temple was dedicated to Goddess Parvati. Perfect ambience to pray to the Gods. 

Distinct dome of the temple is complimented by intricate carvings on the walls:

With the decline of Chalukyas in this part, Rashtrakuta dynasty (6th – 10th century) took over the Southern India. This temple was rebuilt by the Rashtrakutas and the present idol of Lord Karthikeya (Lord Subramanya) was put at the place, inside this beautiful temple. 

After the decline of Rashtrakutas, the area was taken over by the forests and the temple was lost for a substantial period of time. But such a jewel could not have remained lost for long. During 15th century Ghorpades (sub-clan of the Maratha Bhosale clan) discovered the temple. The Ghorpades who valued and respected the local cultures and were equally respected by the locals. Since then the temple has been a sacred place for worship by everyone.

The entrance of the sanctum is decorated with beautiful engravings on the Soapstone. This temple has some peculiar domes/ temple tops, very unusual composition, as compared to other temples in the country. Check out the domes of Karthikeya Temple, Lord Ganesha sitting at top:

Lord Krishna decorating the top of a small Lord Shiva Temple:

While walking around in the premises, saw something peculiar about the Karthikeya temple. After seeing carefully, noticed that the upper temple structure has been placed on the blocks. Check out- 
This is amazing, India had got such architectural techniques so long back.

Legend about the mountain
Word Krauncha looks strange. As per mythology, Krauncha was a demon who used to take the shape of mountain to kill the sages who used to pass through this way. Sage Agastya cursed him to turn into a mountain till being killed by Lord Karthikeya by ripping apart the mountain. 

The unique feature of mountain Krauncha Giri is that it is shaped like an ellipse, with a pass cutting across it. According to the legends, this gap in the mountain was made by Lord Karthikeya (Known as Lord Subramanya or Lord Murugan in South India) when he had ripped apart this mountain to kill the demon Taraka, who was hiding inside this mountain.

Thereafter Krauncha Giri became the first residence of Lord Karthikeya in the South India. This story is told in Mahabharatha Salya Parva and in Skanda Purana. This gap in the mountain has also been mentioned in Kalidasa’s lyric poem Meghdutam. 

Walking around and chatting with the priests about the  past of this place, came across a small complex of Shivalingas and statues:
  
Now in the Swamimalai forest range, trees like rosewood, sandalwood, teak wood, etc. flourish in their full glory. 
According to geologists, this peculiar mountain is made of volcanic eruptions and is very rich in mineral deposits. The soil and lake here is red marshy that owes to presence of rich ferrous and manganese deposits. Check the panoramic road to Kumar Swamy temple. 

Tigers used to roam freely here till 1960’s. But not anymore, due to hunting and habitat loss resulting out of mindless mining, they were swept away. Peacocks are also a very common sight here. The forest range is also a very good habitat of leopards.

Krauncha Giri is just 10 km away from Sandur. Karnataka State highway (SH-40) pass through the gap in the mountain, connecting Sandur to rest of the State. The temple complex is located on south-west corner and is connected to Sandur by road. Road condition is reasonable good albeit some rough patches. However heavy vehicles carrying mines are regular on this route so caution is required while driving. 

Nearest Rail Heads are: Hospet, Bellary & Toranagallu (24 km) on Guntakal-Hubli line.
The temple is open from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM and from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM. Location and route to Kumar Swamy temple from nearby landmark points like Hyatt Hampi (17 km.), Toranagallu Junction and Hampi (57 km.):

Keep Exploring Guys…

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