Welcome to Sri Srikanteshwaraswamy Temple
Nanjangud, one of the ancient and well-known pilgrimage centers of Karnataka is at a distance of about 25kms from Mysore and is famous for its temple dedicated to Shiva described as Nanjundeshwara. Nanjunda means one who has consumed poison and this legend relates to the churing of the ocean when Shiva had to consume haalahala. Nanjunda became Visha kanta and also Srikanta for having digested it. Hence the deity is also known as Srikanteshwara, one cures diseases. The town is situated on the banks of the Kapila or Kabini River where a dip in its waters on any momentous occasion is considered to be more meritotious than a dip in the Ganges. It is therefore hailed as Dakshina Kashi. In addition, the waters and the soil around the banks are believed to possess curative properties and thus, Sri Nanjundeshwara is also worshipped as bhavaroga vaidya. Tippu Sultan called him Hakim Nanjunda and gifted an emerald Linga and a valuable emerald necklace as votive offerings for having cured his favourite elephant of an eye disease.
Reffered to as Garalapuri in the Puranas, Nanjangudu has been praised as a holy place sanctified by Parasurama and Gauthama. Parashurama, it is said, prayed for the grace of Srikanteshwara to expiate himself of the sin of beheading his mother Renuka. Folk legends call the place as the dwelling of Nanjayya later idenfified as shiva with ballads on Nanjayya describing his romantic interlude with Chamundi of Mysore..
The Srikanteshwara temple of Nanjangudu is the biggest temple in Karnataka and measures 385 feet by 160 feet, with a total area of 50,000 square feet. The Mahadvara (main entrance) is seven – storey high and is decorated with seven gold plated Kalasas that add a further three meters to its loftiness flanked by two horns. The outer walls of the temple are about 12 feet high. A spacious courtyard (Prakara) welcomes hundreds of pilgrims to the divine abode of Shiva and offers a veritable galaxy of stucco figures as it boasts of more than 122 images including Dikpalas, the largest number of Sculptures relating to Shiva and his various manifestations, several forms of Subramanya, Saptamatrikas and others. There are many exquisite bronze icons that Vie for attention and prominent among them are Tandaveshvara, Narayana with Bhudevi, Chandrashekaramurthi, Parvati, Chandikeshvara and others. The inner niches of the temple wall also depict 32 forms of Ganapathi eulogized in the Mudgala Purana ana each is more enchanting than the other. The temple is a centrally protected monument.
A thousand – year old history has made a signal contribution to the massive proportions of the temple as kings and rulers endeavored to surpass the other in building and extending this abode of Shiva, the protector of the land. Chola Kings in the 11th – 12th century are considered to have set in motion the construction of the temple with significant additions by the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara kings. The temple was developed on a full scale during the era of the Mysore rulers and reached its mammoth proportions due to devition of Krishna Raja Odeyar towards the deity.
On the banks of the kapila are the Parashurama Kshetra, and people firmly believe that a pilgrimage to Nanjangudu would be incomplete without a prayer here. There are other temples dedicated to Gauthama, Ganapathi, Dattatreya has also Raghavendra Swami Mutt and Virasaiva Mutts.
Sri Srikanteshwara is worshipped everyday through Abhisheka and Pooja conducted as per Saivagama. Mondays, New Moon days and full Moon days are of special significance. Girija Kalyana held in the month of Mithuna (July) is a grand celebration of the marriage of Shiva with Parvati and it is a feast to the eyes to witness both these bejeweled deities resplendent in all their finery. The temple possesses five exquisitely carved wooden chariots and three among them are pulled on the occasion of Chikka Jathra held in the month of Vrischika (November) and all the five chariots during the Panchamaharathotsava in the month of April. This festival lasts for 10 days. Maha Shivarathri and Navarathri are other festivals celebrated with devotion and fervor on a very grand scale.