LAKSHMI SHARATH

Heritage An idol meant for Belur landed in Kondajji

It had been a long day, and the Sun showed no signs of relenting. We were in Malenadu, or the hilly regions of KarnatakaWe had planned to call it a day at Adagur, where another derelict Hoysala temple greeted us. The entrance of the shrine had become a temporary shelter for a coconut vendor.

As we were chatting with the vendors, one of the workers asked if I had been to Kondajji. “Don't miss it,” he said, giving us directions to reach this place named after a grandmother.

We asked for the temple, and several hands pointed past a lake to a vast swathe of land. A single vimanam in granite faced us, and there was a narrow entrance to the sanctum.

It was pitch dark inside as we bent our heads and walked in. As the priest lit the lamp, and held out a kerosene lamp, a 15-foot-tall Chennakesava, called Alakanatha, made of black saligrama, smiled at us.

Holding a conch, a chakra, a mace and a lotus, the deity, also referred to as Varadarajaswamy, is believed to have come here from Tamil Nadu.

The priest told us that the original temple, built during the Hoysala period, had collapsed, and a makeshift vimanawas built to restore the shrine.

The idol was apparently meant for Belur, but it was too tall to fit there. “We believe it was brought from Srirangam,” the priest said, and added: “an old lady kept it here; so, we call it Kondajji.”

It is believed that the old lady's contribution to this village brought it immense prosperity.

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