Wednesday, 30 October 2013

This temple opens for a few days only

Hassan district is known as the cradle of Hoysala Kingdom and of course much earlier that of the Gangas. It is in this district that we find that Chavundaraya commissioned he magnificent monolith 60 feet or 16 metre statue of Gomata or Gomateshwara or Bahubali, one of the Jain Thirthankaras or prophets in Shravanabelogala.
It is also in Belur and Halebidu that we find the incomparable Hoysala temples. Halmadi is a tiny village in this district where the earliest Kannada inscription dated 450 AD was discovered.
Hassan is also known for its coffee and black pepper. It is veritable paradise of Nature and it has emerged as the favourite destination of tourists, Nature lovers and pilgrims alike.
However, the district has one peculiarity that few know of. The name Hassan comes from the deity of Hassanamba, which is the guardian of  the city.  
Hassan boats of at least 50 temples of historic and archaeological importance but the Hassanambha Temple is unique in the sense that it opens only for a few days and it is otherwise closed for a major part of the year.
The Hassanambha Temple is dedicated to Goddess Shakti and it has its own importance.
The temple structure, as it stands now, is believed to be of the twelfth century. This was the time when the Hoysalas were ruling from Dwarasamudra or today’s Belur which is 31 kilometres from Hassan.
The city of Hassan itself was founded in the eleventh century and the Hassanambha Temple is a Hoysala style structure. The temple is easy to find as it stands on the busy Bangalore-Mangalore road.
The Goddess Shakti or Amba is the main deity here and the inner chamber of the temple housing her statue is open for only two weeks, especially during Deepavali and it closes three days after  Balipadyami.
The goddess is sculpted on an anthill or hutta in Kannada which resembles the deity of Hassanamba as Goddess Parvathi. When the temple is closed, people keep water, bags of uncooked rice, a lit lamp and flowers in front of the goddess.
Devotees believe that when the temple is opened the next year, the rice remains the same and the lamp too burns without going out. The inner chamber also has an idol of Ravana and his nine heads. This is a rare idol as we see Ravana playing the veena.
Hassanamba is believed to be a smiling and ever merciful Goddess. When the temple doors are opened during Ashwayuja (October), thousands of  devotees flock to have her darshana. The devotees fell that it is during this time that the Goddess bestows her mercy and grace to them.
There is an interesting legend about how the Goddess or Shakti came to the place. Several thousand years ago, seven women or Maatrukes or Sapta Maatrukes as they are called in Kannada came floating towards south from Varanasi where they were residing.
The women were Brahmi, Maheshwari, Kumari or Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundi. When they saw Hassan, they fell in love with the beauty of the place and the calm and serenity that the place exuded.
All of them decided to stay back in and around Hassan instead of going back to Varanasi. While Maheshwari, Kaumari and Vaishnavi took up residence in the three anthills inside what is the Hassanambha temple, Brahmi stayed back at Kenchamma's Hosakote, while Indrani, Varahi and Chamundi chose the three wells in Devigere Honda or Devikere Honda.
The temple has another amazing legend but this is as true as the stone which is connected with it.
There is a stone within the temple. The stone is believed to move less than an inch every year towards the deity in the inner sanctum. Once the stone reaches the deity and touches the Goddess, the world is supposed to come to an end and Kali Yuga too ends.
Well, how did this legend take birth.
According to the priests of the temple, several centuries ago, a woman used to visit the temple every day. She sued to pray every day before Hassanambha and seek her blessings. One day, her mother-in-law threw a stone at her and the woman started bleeding.
The woman was petrified and she cried out to Hassanambha for help. The Goddess manifested herself before the woman and transformed her into a stone. She ordered the stone to remain within the temple so that she could guard her every day.
The stone has been moving towards the deity inch by inch as if to seek protection from the Goddess.
There are four other stones in what is called  Kallappa Gudi. The four stones represent the four robbers who came to the temple to burgle it. When they saw the jewels on Hassanambha, they tried to steal it. They ended up becoming cursed and turned into stones.
The construction of the temple is also ascribed to Malik Kafur, the renowned general of Ala-ud-din Khilji.
Kafur had completely devastated Dwarasamudra and he came to Hassan where he and his troops took rest. His soldiers cooked meat near an anthill where three of the devis from Varanasi had stayed back and made the place their home. Angered over the manner in which their habitat had been desecrated, the devis cursed the soldiers and they began dying one by one.  
A panic stricken met the priests of the devi temple but to no avail. Hassanambha then appeared in Kafur’s dream and asked him to build a temple for her. When Kafur did so, he earned the forgiveness of the devis and the soldiers stopped dying.
Kafur then went on to conquer the rest of south India.   
Locals, however, insist that a palegar, Krishnappa Nayaka, built the Hassanambha temple.
Once the temple was completed, the devis ordered the archakas and others to ensure that it was opened for darshan only once in a year and that too during the lunar month of Ashwayuja.

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