KALABURAGI: The Tinthini shrine on the banks of the Krishna river, 20 km from Surpur, looks both like a temple and a mosque. The building is a blend of Islamic and Hindu styles and motifs. The frontage is a typical masjid, but as you walk up, four huge temple bells greet you.
Beyond the courtyard, a short flight of steps leads to the sanctum sanctorum. A picture of Mouneshwar Baba hangs there; he is dressed like a sadhu and sits with his legs crossed, in a yogic posture. All the paraphernalia necessary for puja is kept before the image.
Just above the image is a small wooden door. Open it and you see a tomb covered with a chaddar and a picture of Mecca-Madina. A board in Kannada describes incidents from Mouneshwara’s life. His parents were Seshappa and Seshamma, and they were a family of goldsmiths from Gonal, about 8 km north of Surpur. Mouneshwara was born in Gonal in the 12th century.
In his childhood, Mouneshwara brought alive the dead son of the king of Surpur, or so the story goes. His miracles were seen in Vijayapura, Bagalakote, Haveri and even outside Karnataka, says the board.
Since Mouneshwara had both Hindu and Muslim devotees, it is possible the latter called him by the name of Moinuddin.
Devotees throng to Tinthini jatra in February. The temple celebrates Bharat Hunnime for five days, and later Moharram is marked, when devotees take part in the Ali-Peer procession.
The cult of Mouneshwara is one of the best examples of a popular composite culture thriving at the grassroots in northern Karnataka, academics say.
Saleem, a trader in Tinthani, put it this way: “Look how they fought over whether the Babri Masjid was a temple or a mosque. Here one building houses both shrines without any dispute.’
Choultries and bathrooms were built by the government some years go, but have not been inaugurated. “Pilgrims face a lot of hardship when they come here,” Mouneshwara Maharaj, priest at the Tinthini temple, told Express.