En route to Kalhalli is Belenahalli village, with the major flower market. The flowers are grown locally and in the surrounding villages and then brought to the village market for trade. This market is a visual treat.
The last few kilometres of journey is bumpy ride as the roads are not so good. There is a river flowing gently just beside the road. This captivating view will sure relieve our stress. All along the path, there are banana plantations, flower beds and coconut fields.
This temple is dedicated to the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Varahaswamy or the wild boar form. The structure of the temple is very simple. It is a rectangular building built of big grey stone blocks. The temple consists of two units, the sanctum and the front hall. There are two huge wooden doors at the entrance. Inside the sanctum is the awe inspiring deity.
The Pralaya Varahaswamy is in a sitting pose with goddess Bhoodevi seated on its left lap. This 18 feet high idol is beautiful and majestic. It’s a monolith made of grey stone. The horns of the deity are lighter in colour and the eyes have the red tinge. But it is difficult to establish if it was carved out or if it was self formed.
HISTORYThis temple is said to be more than 2500 years old. This region is said to be a ‘punyakshetra’ or a holy region where the great sage Gautam performed penance. It was the maharishi who worshipped the saligrama here. Many years later, according to legend, king Veera Ballala got lost in these forests during one of his hunting trips. When he was resting under the shade of a huge tree he saw a hunting dog chasing a rabbit. When they reached a particular spot, the rabbit turned back and started to chase the ferocious dog. Noticing this strange turn of events, the king was convinced of some unseen powers in that place. He dug up the whole area and found the deity of Pralaya Varahaswamy hidden under the layers of earth. The king then installed it in the temple and offered regular prayers. The temple that we see today is the remains of what the king had built. It has weathered severe floods and stood to tell the tale. Even today, right in front of the temple is the stone slab with Devanagiri inscriptions on it, telling us the story of the place.
This temple is open from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm. Just beside this temple are the ruins of an ancient temple that was once dedicated to goddess Lakshmi. This structure is smaller in size. Legend has it that when the area was submerged in the backwaters of Kaveri river from the KRS dam and the gushing waters of Hemavathi river, she flung open the roof of the temple and escaped to another religious place Melkote which is nearby. The hole through which she escaped is star shaped and the stone slab of the same shape and size has been found at Dodda Gadiganahalli, a nearby village. This stone has been matched to that of the ruins of the temple by archaeologists. On the river bed are ruins of the Hanuman temple, which are seen when the river water recedes.
Just beside the temple, the Hemavathi river flows graciously. Though the river appears calm there are strong undercurrents and thus swimming here is not advisable. In fact, the depth of the river in the centre of the path has not been established yet and is said to be very deep. During monsoons the water level reaches the temple wall. As the backwaters from the dam also rush in, the river here swells, submerging the adjoining areas. And then with the change of season the water recedes. An annual fair is held here on “Varaha Jayanthi”, which is usually in April or May.
HOW TO GET THERETo reach this place take the Bangalore Mysore highway and take a deviation from Pandupura. The village is 32 km from this turn at Pandupura. Kalhalli comes under the KR Pet taluk of Mandya district. After taking the deviation from Pandupura, you come across many beautiful villages like Aaralukuppe, Katere, Hosa Kanambadi, Banamgadi, Belenahalli and Gangikere. Gangikere is the nearest bus stop for KSRTC buses and Kalhalli is about 2 km from here. One has to hire a local vehicle from Gangikere or walk up to the temple as there are no buses plying till there.
Credits: Savitha Ramachandra