Temple: Chamarajashwara Temple
One of the ancient and historical temples, the Chamarajashwara Temple is regarded as a very important seat of Hinduism in the country. Every year, thousands of pilgrims throng to this place to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
Chamarajashwara Temple – Overview
The famous Chamarajashwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The priest here chants hymns of Bhilvastakam in praise of the mighty Lord. The temple has been built in an area of 232×195 square feet in the town of Chamarajanagar in Karnataka.
Chamarajashwara Temple – History
Built in 1826 A.D. by Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar, the town was originally known as Arikotara (Ari means foe and Kotara means axe). This temple was built in the memory of Shri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, the father of Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar.
The temple was later renamed as Chamarajashwara Temple after Shri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar of the Mysore Dynasty was born in the year 1776. A stone carved inscription resting in front of the Janana Mandap in near the Chamarajashwara Temple gives this historical information. The Chamarajashwara Temple shot to fame during the reign of Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar.
Chamarajashwara Temple – Architecture
The Chamarajashwara Temple is a wonderful example of Hoysala architecture. This temple has a five storey Rajagopuram which is more than 70 feet high. The Rajagopuram has five brass Kalashas and all of them face eastwards. In front of the temple, on both sides, is a big stage wherein cultural programs are conducted during special occasions.
The Chamarajashwara temple is famous for its stucco coloured images and paintings adapted from Mythological events like Samudra Manthan (churning the sea for Amrit), Kempananjambha shrine, Girija Kalyana and Chamundeshwari. Palace artists hailing from Somavamsha Dynasty used to maintain the images according to the Mysore style. These paintings are coloured in red, yellow and blue. A mixture of diamond and gum has been used after crushing the stones. Stucco coloured images are famous relics of the Mysore Dynasty and can be seen in many temples built during this era. Sadly, most of these paintings are in a bad condition and only a few of them have managed to retain the softness and delicacy which is easily detected by art lovers.
Chamarajashwara Temple – Carvings
The temple has a sanctum sanctorum or a garba griha, an open pillared hall or a muukha mandapa and a Nandi mandapa. These mandapas have carved images of gods and goddesses.
The temple entrance has an idol of Nandi the Bull. This idol faces the idol of Lord Shiva. The idol of Lord Shiva has an iron shield and is made of concrete. The main temple has sixty four idols and other ancient gods and goddesses.
God Snapana Ganapathi at Navarang (along with six lingas) is also housed in the sanctum of the Shiva temple. Installed in front of the Shiva temple, is the Navagraha or the representatives of nine planets. Most devotees visit this temple and pray to the Navagraha during Amavasya.
Lord Shiva was originally adorned with valuable jewels which were presented by the three wives of Mummadi Wodeyar. Now these ornaments are kept in the treasury. Lord Shiva is decorated with these ornaments only during the Girija Kalyana celebration. The temple inscriptions suggest that the idols have been brought from another temple, Balamuri in Srirangapatnam.
The Chamarajashwara Temple – Rituals and Festivals
Special pujas are held during the festivals of Girijakalyana and Shivaratri. The Chamarajashwara Rathayatra attracts a plethora of pilgrims during the month of July every year. The chariot fest conducted during the Chamarajashwara Rathayatra made this a famous event. The main Chamarajashwara Ratha is 167 years old. Basavaraje Urs of Urs Dynasty built the main Rath during his service in the Mysore Wodeyar Palace in 1835 as a bhakshi.
How to Get to the Chamarajashwara Temple
The best way to reach the temple town of Chamarajanagar is by road. This is well connected by buses and is 185 kms from Bangalore.
This temple is an architectural beauty and should be visited not only by pilgrims but also by art lovers.