Shivagange is a small hillock located near Dabaspet in the Tumkur district of Karnataka in India. The name ‘Shivagange’ is a combination of two words – Shiva and Gange. The hillock looks like a Shivalingam when seen from one of the sides. There is a temple of Lord Shiva situated at the summit of the hill. There is also a spring nearby that is locally called Gange. The water from this spring is believed to be sacred. Due to all these factors the place has been named as Shivagange.
Shivagange – A sacred place for the pilgrims
Shivagange is a rocky area that has many shrines and religious spots. There is a stone carving of ‘Nandi’- the bull. It is a major attraction of the place and draws a lot of visitors. At the footsteps of the hill is a small village and many temples are located on the way to the hill-top from the village.
Due to the presence of several temples like Gangadhareshwara temple, Olakala Teertha, Nandi Statue, Patala Gange, etc. the place is also known as Dakshina Kashi or Kashi of South India. It witnesses a rush of visitors and religious tourists almost throughout the year.
Shivagange – An adventurer’s delight
The hilly area of Shivagange is a popular destination for one-day trek in Karnataka. The trail to the summit of the hill is well marked. There are man-made steps carved out in the hilly surface and in some places, the steps are made from boulders and rocks. The steps make the trail an easy trek to follow.
The climb uphill has frequent spots for resting. There are small stalls near such rest stops that serve food and drink to tired trekkers and climbers. The height of the ascent of the 2 km long trek is about 800 metres. Towards the end of the trek the trail changes to a steep and narrow climb. There are safety rails provided in such areas for the safety of the trekkers and climbers.
The area is full of huge boulders and as such it attracts a lot of rock climbers and mountaineers also.
Attractions of Shivagange
The place has several attractions for the tourists and pilgrims.
The Gangadhareshwara temple is an ancient shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the first temples located on the climb uphill to the summit. The temple has a low roof and the earthen lamps lighted inside it are the only source of light inside the dark interiors. Regular pujas and abhisheka are performed here.
An interesting belief about this temple is that if an abhisheka is performed with ghee here, the ghee turns to butter. It is said that the ghee that turns to butter has medicinal powers and can cure many ailments. According to legend there exists a secret tunnel that extends from the inner sanctum (Garba Griha) of this temple to the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple in Bangalore.
The walls and pillars are decorated with sculptures and carvings, some of which are in a bad condition due to weather and neglect from the authorities.
The Olakala Teertha is located further up the hill. The place has a spring flowing in between the rocks and the water of the spring is considered to be sacred. A narrow flight of steep rocks takes one down to the spring. The belief associated with the place is that only the pious and honest people can touch the water of the holy spring here.
The statue of the bull, Nandi, stands at the highest point on the hill. The special feature of the bull is that it has been carved out of a single rock. It is amazing to note that the statue stands just at the end point of the huge boulder and there is not enough space to go round it. It is a wonder how the sculpture had carved the statue at such a high point in such a dangerous position.
The Shanthala point is situated at a height of 500 feet from the base of the hill. The point is named after Queen Shanthala, wife of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. Legend has it that the queen was a great Bharatnatyam dancer who had a big influence in the administration and the religious reforms of the kingdom. But she was depressed as she was unable to give birth to a son who would become the heir to the throne after the king.
The young queen was in the early twenties and could not handle the pain for long. One night she sneaked out of the palace on her horse and came to this point. After praying at the nearby temple of deity Honnadevi, the queen committed suicide by jumping from this point. Since then the deep gorge has been named as Shanthala drop. Local people believe that the restless soul of the queen still wanders at this place and the sound of her anklets can still be heard on some nights.
The view of the surrounding area from the Shanthala point is breath taking.
The term ‘Patala Gange’ means underground Ganges. The temple has been named such as there is an underground spring seeping at the entrance of the shrine. The strange thing to notice here is that the water level of the spring keeps on changing. Sometimes the cold mountain spring water even reaches up to the knee-length.
The inner sanctum (Garba Griha) of the temple can be reached only after crawling through a tunnel. It is believed that the holy water of the spring at Patala Gange is connected to Antaragange in Kolar.
Best time to visit Shivagange
Summer months are extremely hot and during the rainy season the area becomes slippery and dangerous. If possible, visiting the area during such seasons should be avoided. The best time to visit is during the winter months of September to January, when the weather is pleasant for sightseeing and other adventures.
Tips to travelers
Though there are a few small shops offering food items and water bottles, it is advisable to carry packed food.
Beware of monkeys as they roam freely in the area and often snatch food and belongings from unsuspecting tourists and trekkers.
Avoid carrying food items in plastic carry bags in order to avoid polluting the environment as well as attracting the attention of monkeys.
Wearing a cap will provide relief from the sun during the trek.
How to reach Shivagange
Shivagange can be easily reached from Dabaspet (8 km), the nearest town, through private buses and auto rickshaws. Bus service is available from Bangalore (60 km) to Dabaspet. The nearest railway station is at Dabaspet. The international airport at Bangalore is the nearest airport.