Who is Iguthuppa, the lord who can't bear to see anyone hungry?
Our journey into Coorg's heritage takes us on a spiritual quest — atop mountains, inside forests and coffee estates and by the riverside. These are temples etched in the cultural landscape of the Kodavas, although some of them never find mention in any religious texts.
It is misty as we climb a small hilltop to the Padi Iguthuppa temple in Kakkabe. The bells toll the moment we enter the temple, as a gentle breeze blows from the rolling hills around.
The priest Kush Bhat welcomes us and insists we stay back for lunch. “No one comes to the Iguthuppa temple and goes away without lunch,” he says. For, Iguthappa means giver of food, and the deity is a form of Subramanya or Muruga, son of Shiva.
Legend has it that centuries ago, Shiva and Subramanya came here, and loved the hills so much that they decided to settle down here. The temple is known to feed every visitor, and all pilgrims offer food, not money, to the deity. “Iguthappa told the people of Coorg that they would never go hungry as long as he was there and if they accepted him as God,” explains Kush Bhat.
Now, every festival of the Kodavas starts with an invocation to Iguthappa; the most important festival of the temple is Tulabharam.
We go to the another Iguthappa temple in Naljee, inside a forest through a lush coffee plantation. There is not a soul around, and it is peaceful to just listen to the sounds of the forest.
These monuments are probably lost to the average tourist, but one finds sanctity in the silence around them.