India & Around, Living, Photography, Travel
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A hamlet steeped in history: Begur

Braving the hot sun, we ventured out towards Begur last Sunday morning. I had come across a mention of this hamlet somewhere online and had seen a couple of photographs of an old temple. And then there was another reason why I wanted to visit this particular town. According to history, the name ‘Bengalooru’ apparently occurs for the first time on a 9th century stone inscription in the town of Begur. This Bangalore hamlet was part of Gangavadi 96000, the numeral being a revenue-pin code of those days.

Naganatheswara Temple

Begur, we discover, is hardly around 5 kms from the Bommanahalli junction, off the Bangalore-Hosur highway. The roads are pretty bad right from Bomanahalli and due to some commotion on the roads (election fever), we actually had to battle heavy traffic to get to the town.

Begur is said to have been a prominent place during the rule of the Chola kingdom. We reached the first temple, which is situated beside a tank, called the Naganatheswara temple dating back almost 1200 years. It has five lingams contained within it. The main complex has a few beautiful statues and a small statue of a Nandi bull.

Nandi and the flower

In the compound, you can also see the remains of a very old fortress, which is home to another temple about a kilometre away : the Kashi Vishwanatha temple . Of course, we would have never known about it if not for a local gentleman called Srinivas who volunteered to take us there. There are no markings or signs anywhere so we were quite lucky to bump into him.

Naganatheswara Temple

Srinivas seems to be someone who is linked closely with the temple as he tells us more about its history and heritage. There doesn’t seem to be much being done from the government’s side though to preserve the temples, which is rather sad.

The second temple especially, located in the middle of a big field, wears a rather ‘uncared for’ look and though they had painted it recently (red and white over the natural stone colour) there were enough signs to say that it wasn’t getting the attention it deserved.

The priest at the temple led us inside a little shed like structure where there are 2 big statues of Hanuman and another god (forgive me for forgetting his name). Behind these statues is a secret passage, says the priest, which they have blocked off now. There’s no telling if it’s really true or one of those myths to create some mystery about the place, but we can’t exactly ask for proof.

Priest

The main temple complex has another little whitewashed structure that houses one of the most beautiful black stone sculptures (3 actually) that I have seen. The stone still has a lovely shine and the statues are in great condition, even after around 2000 years (that’s how old they are according to Srinivas).

Black beauty

Srinivas then takes us to his house and shows us more pictures of the temple. He offers us bournvita and biscuits, which we gladly drink down and gobble up respectively, before getting back on the road again.

We decide to visit a 3rd temple (since we’re in the mood for that kind of thing) at Banerghatta. From Begur we get onto the NICE road from where we connect to Banerghatta road. The Zen had to do a lot of off-roading, but behaved rather well. Unfortunately, for us, we find that the main temples at the base of the hill and on top are both being renovated. With the sun blazing in full force by now, we’ve had our fill of temples and decide to wrap up our tour for the day.

~~ The Begur Temples Album

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