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|Deity||Nanjundeshwara Swami (Shiva)|
The Nanjundeshwara Temple (also called Srikanteshwara Temple) is an ancient temple dedicated to Shiva in the Hindu pilgrimage town of Nanjanagudu in Karnataka, India. It is located on the right bank of the Kapila River, a tributary of the Kaveri River. Nanjanagudu is also known as "Dakshina Prayaga" or "Prayag of South".
Nanju in Kannada means "to poison". The name Nanjundeshwara means the "God who Drank the Poison" (halāhala, a word that has its origins in the legend of the Great Churning of the Ocean of Milk); thus, the town got the name "Nanjanagudu" which means "the abode of the god Nanjundeshwara".
The temple's Dodda Jaathre festival attracts thousands of devotees. The festivities in the fair include five colorful chariots pulled by devotees on a path called the ratha beedi. Parasurama Temple is near Nanjundeshwara Temple.
Nanjungud is mentioned as Sri Garalapuri, in the Shiva Purana. It is said that the legendary holy place is the abode of Shiva in southern India. It is also referred to as "Dakshina Kasi", where the god appeared at the plea of his devotees, the Devas, and sage Narada. The demon Keshi obtained a boon from Brahma and Vishnu by which they would not be able to kill him. He assumed that with this boon, he was as good as immortal and began troubling the people, the Devas, and the sages. At last, Narada and the Devas pleaded with Shiva to save everyone. He appeared in Garalapuri Sri Kshetra (present Nanjungud) and killed Keshi. He further assured that his Ansh (a part of his divine self) would always remain here and bless humanity; the place henceforth would be a papa vinashini ('remover of sins'). After bathing in the holy river of Kabini, every human praying to Lord Srikanteshwara or Nanjundeshwara (Shiva) of Nanjungud would be rid of sins and blessed by the god.
Sage Parashuram, after beheading his mother as per his father Sage Jamadagni's orders, wanted to undo his sins from "Matru Hatya" (his mother's murder). Per Narada's advice, he reached Garalapuri (Nanjangud) and prayed to Sri Nanjundeshwara Swamy. Shiva appeared and advised him to build a mantapa and perform pooja to the Shivlinga. While clearing the shrubs with his parashu (axe), Parashuram's axe unintentionally hit the Shivlinga, and the tip of the Shivlinga began to bleed. Sage Parashuram felt very guilty and said, "I have committed another unforgivable sin; only by killing myself shall I be relieved from all my sins", and prepared to kill himself. Shiva appeared and blessed Sage Parashuram and told him to apply wet mud upon the Shivlinga (the mud of Sri Nanjangud has immense healing powers). The Shivlinga stopped bleeding. Lord Shiva advised Parashuram to build the mantapa and continue his penance. Finally, Sage Parashuram was relieved from all his sins and blessed with immortality.
The Goddess Parvati, consort of Shiva, wanted to visit this holy place, and so he brought her to Garalapuri Nanjangud. When she went to the Kabini River and bent down to touch the water, a gemstone bead (mani) fell off from her crown into the water. Lord Shiva was pleased and declared, "Devi, until now, the place had my divine blessings and presence; from this moment, it shall have your presence, grace and blessings, too. It shall also be called Dakshina Manikarnika Ghat".
During the reign of King Tipu Sultan, his royal elephant became blind. As per the advice of his minister, Sri Poornayya, Tipu sent the elephant to the Nanjundeshwara Swamy Temple and performed 48 days of rituals. On the 48th day, the elephant's vision was restored. Tipu Sultan offered the emerald green Shivlinga as a token of gratitude to Sri Nanjundeshwara Swamy and called Lord Shiva "Hakim Nanjunda" (healer).
View of gopura from inside
Large pillared mantapa with sala towers
Open mantapa with sala roofs
Close up view of sala tower over mantapa
Pillared entrance to temple
Close up view of pillared entrance to temple
Yali pillars in the mahadwara
Kannada inscription (1517 CE) of King Krishnadevaraya's father-in-law
Shree Veerabhadreshwara sculpture
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