District: Bangalore Urban
Temple: Channakeshava Temple
Similar to all the other Southern states, Karnataka too has plenty of temples that tower over their towns and bring devotees and tourists in thousands every year into their vast spaces where they can worship and wonder.
Channakeshava Temple – Overview
The Channakeshava Temple in Anekal, Karnataka in the Bangalore Urban district is a magnificent example of the Vijayanagar style of temple architecture. The fact that the term ‘Anekal’ is a Tamil word meaning elephant (ane) and stone (kal), signifies the proximity of the temple to neighboring Tamil Nadu. It is situated about 915 meters above sea level, on an elephant shaped hill as the name indicates.
Channakeshava Temple – History
Though the name suggests some ancient history and excavations have brought up old bricks (indicative of a township that must have flourished at the site), there are no definite remains to prove that. The people in the region now are descendants of Chikka Thamma Gowda, belonging to the Sugatur family who settled there in 1603. Later the Mysore royal family annexed it to their kingdom before Hyder Ali added it to the Mysore district. It is currently managed by the Muzrai department of the Karnataka government.
Channakeshava Temple – Architecture
The architecture of the Channakeshava temple in Anekal is distinctly of the Vijayanagar style. It is a magnificent structure that faces that east, with the Mahadwara facing the south. Carvings of Lord Vishnu, accompanied by his two consorts decorate the niches in the outer walls.
There are four pillars in the navaranga which are ornately decorated with stories from the Bhagavada, the Ramayana, the Dasavatara etc from various puranas and ithihasas, depicting the stories of Vishwaroopa, Gajendramoksha, Yoga Narasimha, Varaha Matsya, Kalinganardana, Garuda, Hanuman, Kamadhenu, Kurma, Balarama, Vamana, Trivikrama and other avatars of Vishnu, and Vali and Sugriva in a fight.
The khumbas and kalasas of the outsides of the arthamandapa are done in high relief and are painted in bright colors.
Channakeshava Temple – Religious Significance
Although there’s very little archeological evidence, the temple is believed to be a very ancient and important structure. The ash mounds that once stood as a testament to some ancient thriving settlement were all apparently removed by the locals and used as fertilizers. It is quite reasonable to conclude that the temple structure has stood the test of time for more a few centuries. Along with the Kambada Ganesha Temple and the Bhramarambika Temple located in the vicinity, the Channakeshava Temple acts as a key site for devotees and believers.
Channakeshava Temple – Mythology
According to the Archaeological Society of Mysore, experts think that the original deity might have been consecrated by Arjuna, the Pandava king.
How To Get To Channakeshava Temple
The Channakeshava Temple in Anekal is in the Bangalore Urban district and is reachable from Bangalore city by car in about an hour. There are other picnic spots and places of interest around Anekal, including small waterfalls that make it worth the drive of about 40 kms.
Channakeshava Temple – Facts
- The family that has been maintaining the temple for generations is in the process of renovating the temple premises and restoring it to its former glory.
- Apart from the ash mounds, bricks were also picked from the site by the local inhabitants, making it harder to verify the temple’s historical value.
- The temple has two large tanks, quite similar to the other Vijayanagar temples of its era.
The Anekal Channakeshava temple is definitely worth a visit if you are in Bangalore, as it is so close to the city, yet located in pristine countryside surrounded by natural scenic beauty.