Since Bangalore’s birth, the pete area has been the heartbeat of the city.
The tag of being the ‘most crowded place’ proudly rests with this commercial centre despite the competition other places are giving it these days but that’s another story.
The epicentre of life and trade, the pete includes Doddapete, Chikkapete, Balepete and numerous other petes, named after the goods sold.
Now, however there is no such distinction.
Balepete sells more than just bangles; Cottonpete sells more than cotton textiles and so on.
In the midst of this maddening crowd where the human traffic is as much as that of vehicles, on a bylane off Avenue Road lies the Hindu God Vishnu in the Rangantha temple (Ranganatha is Vishnu in a reclining position).
A thing of beauty, this temple was built in the 16th century during Kempegowda’s time in the Vijayanagara architectural style. Apart from its beautiful architecture, this place is a gem for historians. Assistant Director of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Bangalore, Dr SK Aruni says that the inscription that can be found inside the temple talks about how Kempegowda, under the Vijayanagara Kingdom was felicitated at the temple.
Very few such proofs of Kempegowda’s existence remain which is why this is an important piece in the jigsaw of Bangalore’s history.
A typical Vaishnava temple, this one has various avatars of Vishnu carved on the pillars.
Vishnu’s loyal watch guards Jaya and Vijaya are carved on the walls of the entrance to the inner sanctum sanctorum where Shridevi and Bhudevi (Lakshmi’s forms) sit gracefully at Vishnu’s feet. The hallmark of the temple however can be found at the entrance. The pillars in the portico have horses etched on them. On these horses are riders who have been depicted in an interesting manner.
The horseback rider appears to be different on either side. One half of the man has an anklet and a knee length dress with no beard whereas on the other side is a bearded man with a full length dress sans the anklet.
These men hold spears thus are warriors, says Dr Aruni. There were 18 such pillars once but over time have been used to build sub temples for other Gods behind the main temple, he adds.
Another awe-inspiring showmanship of the craftsmen of the temple is the way they have included stone discs in the pillars inside the temple that can be rotated.
This was revealed during a Bengaluru Pete Walk I took part in, guided by Poornima Dasharathi who reasons that artists often create to impress! Since no other purpose can be found for the discs it is safe to assume so.
What’s also impressive is the fact that this temple has stood its ground all these years.
It is well-maintained and has undergone many renovations. Ardent devotees continue to throng the temple that sees an all-time high during Vaikunta Ekadashi which is quite an achievement considering where the temple is located! A spiritual centre at the heart of all things material, this temple has witnessed Bangalore’s growth from a small town to the IT city. The best time to visit? Early mornings, when vehicles are few and the Coffee Board serves delicious steaming cups of filter coffee one can pick up on Avenue road.