In a tiny and dilapidated temple on the banks of the Cauvery, we discover a quick-fix goddess
The lone black horse looks away even as its owner drags it reluctantly towards me. It is almost twilight and the lights have just come on in this little hamlet called Ganjam located at the furthest end of Tipu Sultan’s capital town Srirangapatna. Some college girls who have come on a tour are stealing glances at the local boys who have gathered around the temple and are lost in a wave of giggles.
The man asks me if I want to go on a ride. I refuse with a smile, wondering why tourists would want to go on a horse ride in front of a temple. He shrugs and mutters, “We will go around the town. There are several tourist places here.” The horse is, however, reluctant. It can barely balance its gaudy headgear as it looks wistfully away.
The village Ganjam is indeed filled with tourists. Besides the Ranganatha Swamy temple in the main town, several ruins and palaces from Tipu Sultan’s era dot the village. However, I am interested in a temple located right at the end of the hamlet, on the banks of the river Cauvery, dedicated to a goddess who they say grants your every wish within minutes. Which is why her name is Nimishamba! Her power, attributed to Goddess Parvathi, ensures that your prayers are answered in a ‘nimisha’ or a minute.
The locals besiege you with flowers, lemons and fruits as I walk barefoot into the ancient temple.
An old dilapidated monument, the temple rests peacefully on the banks of the river Cauvery. I hear that it was built by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar some 400 years ago. But the priest tells me that they believe that it dates back to the years of Adi Shankaracharya and point to a ‘srichakra’ carved on a stone in front of the deity.
I wonder about the name, Nimishamba, and about the story behind it. “There may be many stories but eventually it’s about faith. Even the ancient Puranas speak about prayers being granted in a minute if you pray with devotion,” he theorises, before addressing a fellow devotee who is interested in the many ceremonies organised by the temple. Later, I am told that the goddess came to the support of a local king within a minute of his prayers when he was fighting his enemies. I learn that there are other Nimishamba temples in Bangalore as well, but this is probably one of the earliest.
“People come here with all kinds of prayers — to get married, to have children, to do well in business, to get good health. It is all your belief. Close your eyes and pray and you will get whatever you want,” he says as he walks away. The bell rings as the arati finishes.
I step out and look at the river bathed in a sheath of twilight, as the clouds turn dark and threaten to rain.
I tell myself that faith is always comforting. And in our days when time is a precious commodity, it is reassuring that our prayers will be answered soon.