The Bull and the Bugle
On some television channel Usha was watching, the anchor was asking a small child from Bangalore where his parents took him on weekends and the child mentioned Water Kingdom and Forum Mall.
Usha’s mind went back twenty-five years ago, when Saturday evenings meant going to the Bull Temple and watching the sunset on a cool and quiet Bangalore evening. Thereafter, the family would go to the adjacent Bugle Rock Park where children would enjoy themselves running around the place and playing ball.
Usha was talking about this with me and we decided to take a walk down memory lane! Last Tuesday, early morning (and thanks to the holiday!), I got my first glimpse of the Bull Temple and listened to Usha recounting her experiences as we walked around the beautiful, quiet and green adjoining park. Here are some words (by Usha) and pictures (by me).
The Bull Temple, Basavangudi
The temple used to be situated in what was called Sunkenahalli originally but later renamed after the temple – Basavanagudi which literally means the temple of the Basava.
This is one of the oldest temples in Bangalore dating back to 1786 and is believed to have been built by Kempe Gowda. The huge Nandi is 4.57 m high and 6.10 m long and has been carved out of single granite rock. Legend has it that the area was a huge ground nut field and this bull kept devouring the crop. Having exhausted other means to keep the bull away from their crop they finally built the temple and their crops stayed safe thereafter. That is the official version.
But I like the more colorful story that the locals would tell you: The villagers found that every full moon day their crop of ground nuts vanished mysteriously. They decided to stay on watch & on a full moon day they witnessed a huge bull golden in color, eyes shining bright like jewels consume their crop. But after this incident the bull no longer visited their farm.
Instead, they found a huge idol of a bull appear suddenly on the hill, which was growing at a steady pace. They had to hit a nail in the form of a soolam (trident) to stop its growth. Later a bull is supposed to have appeared in the dream of Kempe Gowda, which prompted him to build the temple on this hill.
Since then the first crop of ground nut is offered to the deity in gratitude. The last part is true to this day. Groundnut farmers still offer a part of their harvest to the deity in the temple. This festival is called the ‘Kadlekai Parishe’ .This festival celebrated every year on the last Monday of the month of Karthik which falls around Nov/Dec. Shivratri is another important festival in the temple as the bull is the mount of Lord Shiva and very special to the Shaivaites of the State who are huge in number.
The temple is not very ornate but consists of a corridor and a shrine just about enclosing the huge shiny-black Nandi in monolithic granite who is 15 feel tall and over 20 feel long. The entrance is a gopura in the Dravidian style sculpted with forms of gods and other divine forms. It is believed that the source of the river Vishva Bharti originates at the feet of the statue.
The Bull temple is abuzz with fervent activity during the Shivratri festival. It is preserved as a heritage monument and there are notice boards by archaeological society warning visitors about penalties for abuse of the place.
The Bugle Rock Park
In the days of monarchy in Bangalore, a bugle call was given from a watch tower on the highest rock here, to alert sepoys to brace themselves for an impending danger. This led to the rock being referred to as the Bugle Rock. The huge rock, a rare phenomenon, is 3000 million years old and has attracted world geological interests. In geological parlance, the rock formation is called ‘peninsular gneiss’.
It is situated right adjoining the Bull temple and the park here has been a great place for children to spend an evening playing ball and frisbees. The park is full of small children in the evenings. Recently the BMP has renamed the park after a humanitarian and local politician T.R.Shamanna who lived around the area. The park has been beautified at a cost of over 70 lakhs to landscape the park with rocky steps, add a nice entrance sculpted with rock pillars, and adding murals and engravings of the faces of eminent people to and unused water tank.
It houses an amphitheatre for cultural programmes and the seating has been made entirely of small boulders from Mulbagal and Kolar. The park has a cool and shaded walking path all around making it convenient for the residents of the locality to have their walks at any time of the day. The park also has a musical fountain.
A delightful example of how the corporation can contribute to improve the life of a neighborhood. Hope other corporators will take the cue and do similar improvements in their constituencies. Can go a long way in justifying the sobriquet Garden City, which sounds more of a misnomer now.