One fine summer morning I visited the famous ‘Nandi’ or ‘Bull’ temple built in a unique manner, on a hilly rock of Bengaluru’s Basavangudi area. At the entrance of the temple I saw two huge bull horns, made with rock stones. The massive bull statue built with granite stone in the temple is said to be the largest Nandi statue in the world. This statue stands approximately 4.5mts high and is 6.5mts long. The temple was built in 1537, by Kempe Gowda, the then ruler under the Vijayanagara kings and the founder of the Bengaluru city.
The temple is situated inside the Bugle Rock Garden. The rock formation is believed to be 3000 million years old. The garden is densely covered with trees and I was amazed to see a colony of bats hanging on the trees. Their high frequency shrill squeaks were attracting all passers-by. In the garden, Kempe Gowda-II built four watch towers-including one at Bugle rock to mark the city’s southern boundary. It is said that during sunset, a sentry would blow a bugle and hold a lighted torch which could be seen from other three watch towers, to inform people that the area is safe and secure. Owing to it’s popularity, the road leading upto the temple is named the ‘Bull temple road’. Inside the temple, also resides a small idol of Lord Ganesha. Every year on the last Monday and Tuesday of the Hindu month of Karthika Maasa a groundnut fair is held in the temple premises and groundnuts are offered to the deity. This fair is known as Kadalekaayi, in the local language. Groundnut sellers and devotees throng to the temple grounds, during this time. At the foot of the hill, sits the temple of Dodda Ganapathy (with a grand Ganesha idol - 10ft high& 15 ft wide). There is also a temple of Lord Siva, a little above the Ganesha temple.
As an enthusiastic journalist cum visitor, when I asked for the story behind the temple, the priest retold an old tale from hundreds of years ago, when Sunkenahalli as Basvangudi was famous for the farmlands of groundnut crop cultivation. But farmers there were upset with the fact that a wild bull had been destroying their crops for a very long time. One day, a farmer got so annoyed that he hit that bull with a stick. In the spur of a moment the bull became motionless, sat down at the same place and turned into stone. After this incident, an interesting thing began to happen-Villagers found that at a very slow pace the size of the bull statue was beginning to grow. To stop the size of the bull, farmers nailed a ‘soolam’ or ‘trident’ on the forehead of the bull. To appease the bull a small temple was built, at the same spot. Later, ruler Kampe Gowda built a much bigger Nandi temple, in Dravidian architecture, at the same place. The temple also has a small Lingama, enclosed in the tower. It is also believed that the temple is the source of the Vrishabhavati River. And the spring originates at the feet of the Nandi. During the Mysore war-III, a contingent from the Mysore Army re-grouped at this rock, under the leadership of Mir Khammar-Ud-Din, before launching an attack on the British Army.
In the end I can say that this age old Nandi temple today is keeping alive the tradition and legacy of Indian culture. And also it has become much admired and renowned tourist hotspot. People from all over India visit the temple to witness this unusual gigantic bull.