HUBBALLI: Yamanur, a village 40 km from Hubballi on the highway to Sholapur, attracts people of many faiths. For Hindus, the deity here is Changdev Maharaj and for Muslims, it is Raja Bageswar.
The object of worship is said to be a 17th century saint who rode a tiger, holding a snake as the whip, and wielding scorpions as reins.
The legend goes that Changadev Maharaj performed penance for hundreds of years and thus defeated the god of death Yama. Hence the name Yamanur, or Yama’s place.
Devotees come to the temple-dargah from many parts of India, especially Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. People from Gangavati, Hubballi-Dharwad and Gadag also throng the shrine in large numbers. Muslim visitors peak during the Ramzan season.
“We have been coming here for a long time. We participate in the arati of Bageswar. It is a calm place on the days they have no special rituals,” says Latif M, a devotee visiting the temple.
The temple witnesses two major rituals in a day and pilgrims bathe in Benne Halla (also known as Yamanur Halla), about a mile from the temple. Horse-drawn tongas ferry devotees between the temple and the stream.
The 1 km stretch of Yamanur Halla has saline water, believed to heal skin ailments. All devotees use salt and lime as bathing soap and then proceed towards the temple.
The priest’s family hails from Maharashtra. Unlike other religious organisations, the temple has no properties attached to it. It is run with money contributed by devotees.
The people of Yamanur also live in harmony. Shops lining the temple lane are run by Muslims and Hindus. Sikhs and Christians also come visiting, according to a shopkeeper.
“This is an example of real India,” says Santosh Kumar, a devotee from Gadag.