Peace, solitude, glimpses of mythological past and a touch of divinity are what you get when you head for a trip to Mulbagilu. We set out from Bangalore by eight in the morning on Bangalore-Hoskote route. It was just me, my 5 year old and my husband.
We reached Kurudamale by 10 am and covered both Maha Ganapathi and Someshwara temple. Chat with the Someshwara temple priest for some time if you can and he will gladly furnish you with details of the temple architecture and its history.
Our next stop was Anjaneya temple. The 10 feet idol was mesmerising and after the pooja we set out for Sripadaraja Mutt. We stayed here for 30-45 minutes as there was a main pooja of the Brindavan going on. After the lunch we set out to the 13th century Virupaksheshwara temple. There was a long queue of eager people there.
By 2.30 pm we again set out towards Avani. The Ramalinga temple was very beautiful with the Valmiki hill towering in the background. You get a sense of peace when you encounter the Ramalinga. If the temple is closed, you can always ask the priest of the temple who sits nearby to open it for you.
At 3:30 pm with the sun beating down and armed with water bottles and caps on our heads, we started trekking up the hill. Though we had not asked for a guide, a small boy named Salim accompanied us. He was a silent companion and spoke only when he had to narrate the significance of the place. He seemed quite knowledgeable about the Valmiki hill, the Sita temple atop and the birthplace of Lav and Kusha which is believed to have taken place in Valmiki ashram on the hill. By 5 pm, we were back with no after-effects of the climb. With steps carved into the hillside, it is easy to climb it even with a 4-5 year kid. It took us another 3 hours to reach Bangalore. On the way back don’t forget to alight at Woody’s and have a cup of cold lassi.
So where is Mulbagilu?
Mulbagilu town is located in Kolar district of Karnataka. The town got its name Mulbagilu from the word Mudalabagilu, which means the eastern gate in Kannada. It was an eastern gate for both Vijayanagara Empire and the state of Mysore.
The town is about 30 km from Kolar and is home to many temples and Dargah. It is also the birthplace of D V Gundappa or DVG famous for his works, Mankuthimmana Kagga.
Places of attraction:
Anjaneya Swamy temple (Hanuman temple): This temple has a beautiful idol of Lord Hanuman, which is 10 feet high. It is said to be installed by Arjuna (one of the pandava brothers). The temple also has beautiful idols of Narasimha, Keshava, and Rama-Lakshmana-Sita. The complex also has two other temples Anatheshwara and Lakshmi Venkateshwara temple. The latter is said to be installed by sage Brighu who is the father of Hindu Astrology. The temple is open till 1 PM in the afternoon. The temple is located near Mulbagilu Bus stop.
Baba Hyder Vali Dargah: Baba Hyder Vali was a 12th century Sufi saint and his mausoleum is located at Mulbagilu. He was the King of Iran who later dedicated his life spreading the teachings of Prophet Mohammed. The mausoleum, which is more than 700 years old, is visited both by Hindus and Muslims. Every year the annual festival Urs is celebrated with great splendor and is attended by people from all parts of country.
Sripadaraja Mutt: This mutt is located at Narasimha theertha about 2 kilometers distance from Mulbagilu. Sripadaraja spread the preaching of Dwaita philosophy founded by Madhwacharya. He was an important advisor of Vijayanagara kings and has penned many Kannada hymns. His contributions to Dwaita philosophy and Haridasa literature are immense. The Narasimha theertha has his resting place (Brindavan). There is also a beautiful idol of Yoga Narasimha and Lord Hanuman here. The bas-relief sculpture of Yoga narasimha was sketched by Akshobhya theertha, the guru of Sripadaraja and the Hanuman was installed by Vyasaraja, the disciple of Sripadaraja.
The mutt also serves lunch and is open till 1 PM.
Virupaksheshwara swamy temple: This temple is located at Virupakshi village, 4 kilometers from Mulbagilu towards south. This temple was built in 13th century and has the beautiful Shiv Linga. It also has a huge gopura, a parvati shrine with a lion in front of it, a meditation room, and Kalyani in its complex. The Shiv Linga is an Atma Linga (One of the most auspicious of all Lingas) and as such very powerful. You can sense the vibration of this Linga too. There is a place marked in front of the Linga where you pray with your hands raised above your head. A temple associate will chant Lord Shiva hymns. After some time the devotee can sense the vibration coming from the Linga. So believer or not you can definitely check out this place. The place is also sacred on account of a famous sage Atri who did penance here.
Kurudamale Maha Ganapathi temple: This is a 5000 year old temple of Lord Ganapathi. It is located 8 kilometers towards northwest of Mulbagilu. The idol is 18 feet tall and is made from a single Saligrama stone. Legend has it that the idol was installed by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The idol thus is very old but the temple was built in KrishnaDevaraya times. It is said that Lord Rama visited this temple when he was in search of Sita. And the Pandavas to gain victory over Kauravas also visited the temple before the war. As proof there are Pandava temples nearby.
The temple is open from 7-10 in the morning and 3-7 in the evening. Every year there is a grand festival held during Ganesha Chaturthi.
Someshwara and KshamaDamba temple: This Chola temple is located very near to Kurudamale Ganesha temple.
This is a 1300 year old temple sculpted by Dankanacharya, son of Jakanacharya (sculpture who constructed the Belur temple). The architecture and sculptural details of this beautiful Shiva Linga temple resembles the Belur- Halebidu style.
All around the temple there is Tamil inscription on the stones. Inside the temple there are figures of Chola kings, Lord Subramanya and other gods. The intricate black carvings both inside and outside the temple complex can leave you mesmerized. There is a small room called Sukhnyasa in front of the Linga for priests to recite Rudra (Shiva) hymns. This room is airy compared to the inner sanctum of Shiva as there is plenty of ventilation provided in the ceiling. This style of architecture was preferred due to the fact that during the chanting of Shiva hymns the body becomes intolerably hot. Another noteworthy architectural feature worth mentioning is that there are 12 openings in the eastern wall of the temple and each month the sun’s rays pass through corresponding opening so that the deity has constant sunlight all through the year.
Opposite to the Linga is the Nandi and next to it are the feet of Shiva. The priest said that the correct way to bow before the lord is to touch the feet and then prostrate before the God.
Inside the temple complex there are other temples of Kshama Devi and Subramanya (with 6 heads and 12 hands). There is also a broken Ganesha statue kept outside the temple which produces a musical note when tapped.
Avani: Around 10 kilometers from Mulbagilu lies a place called Avani. Many interesting legends are associated with this place.
RamaLinga temple: Avani or Avanthi is home to many ancient temples like Ramalinga, Lakshmaneshwara, Bharateshwara, Shatrugneshwara, Hanumantheshwara etc. 12 such shrines are located in RamaLinga temple complex itself. The temple was built in 10th century by Nolamba dynasty and then renovated by Chola kings. Each shrine has ornate carvings of elephants, lions, yakshas, Dwarapalas etc. The Lakshmaneshwara Linga is the largest of all lingas in the complex. The Ramalinga is smaller than Lakshmaneshwara but is made of darker stone.
Lav-Kusha hill: The hillock Valmiki hill or Lav-Kusha hill is adjacent to the Ramalinga temple. It is 3249 feet above sea level and has 2000 steps for reaching the top. Legend has it that Sage Valmiki resided here and Sita after being rejected by Rama also stayed at the Valmiki ashram. You can see the Valmiki ashram, a cave where Sita delivered the twins, Lav-kusha cave midway of the hill. The Lav-kusha cave is full of holes and beating these holes gives a copper or iron vessel sounds. Ascending further you can view Dhanushkoti, Kudure gundi, Agni Theertha and Horalu gundi. Finally at the top of the hill you can view a beautiful temple of Sita and Parvati. It is said that Sita worshipped the idol of Parvati when she was residing in Valmiki ashram. The temple is famous for granting wishes to childless couples. The women folk desiring child should worship goddess Sita of this temple. The view from top of hill is spectacular as you can see the entire Avani, the temples and the numerous water bodies.
Avani also has Shankar mutt and Sharada temple. With so many temples and legends the place is rightly called as Gaya of the South.
How to get there?
Mulbagilu is located 108 kilometers from Bangalore. It is 30 kilometers from Kolar. To reach Mulbagilu you can take Bangalore- Old Madras Road-Hoskote-Kolar-Mulbagilu stretch. For Kurudumale, just before entering Mulbagilu take the road to left and go for about 8 kilometers or so. Buses also ply for Mulbagilu and Kurudumale from Kolar and Chittor.
Food and accommodation: Food is distributed as prasadam at Sripadaraja Mutt. The lunch is generally served between 12-1:30 p.m. You can also lunch at Kamat hotel found at Hoskote-Kolar stretch or try Woody’s and Café coffee day after Kolar. At Mulbagilu you can try Reddy Deluxe or Mayura Apoorva for lunch. Lodging is available in Woody’s and at Mayura Apoorva, or you can try staying in Kolar hotels for lodging.
Accessibility: As the road to Kolar is NH-4 highway the drive is pleasant. And all the roads to temples at Mulbagilu and Avani are also in good condition. But expect some traffic at Bangalore-Hoskote-Kolar stretch. Night driving is bit difficult, as there are no streetlights to guide you. You can easily take elders along with you for visiting the temples. But trekking Valmiki hill is not advisable for elderly people and with mothers carrying their small wonder.