The Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple in the Mandya district of Karnataka holds a singular space in religious tourism of the state, thanks to its one-off set of traditions. While most temples in India make names for their architectural grandeur and the lavish offerings of the devotees, this temple has drawn wide notice due to some starkly contrasting reasons.
The Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple is situated on the Kiraganduru-Bevinahalli road, only 2 km from the Mandya city on the Mysuru-Bangalore NH-275.
Stone Offerings to Lord Shiva
It’s a common custom to offer fruits, anna (rice, lentils along with salt, Ghee and other spices), milk, payasam (sweet rice), and even gold, precious gems and monetary donations at the temples. Strikingly, the Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple in Mandya accepts none of these offerings. This temple dedicated to Lord Shiva holds the unique tradition of accepting only pebbles and stones as offerings from the devotees. Yes, those rugged and deserted stones of all shapes, sizes and colors found anywhere and everywhere!
Devotees visit the temple praying for wish fulfillment. Once the prayers are fructified, they revisit the temple to thank Lord Kaadu Basappa (Shiva) by offering three or five stones instead of the usual foods or riches. This fact shall answer your curiosity when you visit the temple and find it replete with piles of multifarious stones.
It’s a customary practice among the dwellers of all the villages in the Mandya district to offer their prayers at the temple with stones from their own land, especially after the harvesting of crops. These villagers, who are mostly farmers, pray to the Lord seeking a handsome agricultural yield, as well as the health and safety of their livestock. And once the crops are reaped, they offer their heartfelt gratitude to Lord Kaadu Basappa with three or five stones from their very own land.
A Temple without a Structure
Another distinctive facet of the Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple is its structure, which ironically, has no structure at all. There isn’t any concrete house or building to shelter the stone idol of Lord Kaadu Basappa. It stands humble and unaffected in the open against every challenge of the weather.
No priests – only self-rituals
Is it possible to think of a holy hub without a priest? Of course, it is very much possible at the Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple. To one’s bewilderment, the temple does not have any priest to conduct rites or rituals. The devotees have entrusted the faithful responsibility of offering their prayers with themselves without any guidance of a Vedic-enlightened priest.
Insight into the Unique Traditions at the Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple
While the traditions of the Lord Kaadu Basappa temple in Mandya seem standalone and amusing, a deeper thought to it reveals a few core spiritual reasons and relevance.
Every theist will validate that God never craves foods or riches. It’s those humble gestures of gratitude and devotion that matters the most. Hence, giving up a tiny piece of one’s own possession (be it even a few pieces of stones from one’s land) as a gesture of gratitude is enough to please the Divinity. The road to the Almighty is through devotion and benevolence. It doesn’t matter whether a devotee follows the textbook rites or not in order to experience the Divinity. Hence, prayers without priests can still reach the Almighty.
Finally, if an all-powerful entity that we call God, exists at all, it needs no concrete buildings to shelter itself. The Lord exists everywhere and cannot be bound by mere man-made glorious buildings. Hence, letting the idol stand open amid unadulterated nature does make sense.
How to Reach the Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple
Mysuru is the closest airport to Mandya. From the airport, the journey to the temple in Mandya is an easy ride in a taxi taking around an hour and forty-five minutes.
The Mandya railway station is located hardly 1.3 km from the main city. Reserve an auto rickshaw from the railway station to the temple.
Taking the well-pitched road from Mysuru to Mandya on a hired taxi is the most convenient way to reach the Kotikallina Kaadu Basappa temple.