BANGALORE: Basavangudi, one of the oldest children of Bangalore city, has a special place in the history of Bangalore. It was one of the first extensions to be made along with Chamrajpet and Malleshwaram to satisfy the spatial needs of the burgeoning city. Some of the oldest memories that we read and hear from our anecdotes today are from this area. Prominent Kannada literati like DV Gundappa lived here. The famous annual Kadlekai (groundnut) and its cousin Avarekai (a bean used in traditional Karnataka food) fairs are held here.
Before massive development took over the natural beauty of the area, Basavangudi was all hillocks and greenary. Basavangudi (gudi means temple) is named after the temple of Basava or the sacred bull ‘Nandi’, Lord Shiva’s vehicle. The temple was built by Magadi Kempegowda, Bangalore’s founder in 1536. The interesting story goes like this — Once upon a time, about 500-odd years ago, a bull roamed in the region that is Basavangudi. It was then a cluster of few villages and the main crop harvested were ground nuts. Every full moon day their crop of ground nuts vanished mysteriously. One such day the villagers decided to catch the groundnut-thief red-handed. To their amazement they saw a huge golden bull, eyes shining bright like jewels, ravaging their crop. After that day they never saw the bull again. Instead, they found a huge idol of a bull on the hill. Some say that the farmers attacked the bull with a club and it turned to stone. The peculiarity of the bull was that it grew in size so much so that they had to hit a nail in the form of a trishula (trident) to stop its growth.
It is said that one day Nandi appeared in Kempegowda’s dream and requested him to build a temple on the hill where the bull idol appeared. Promptly, he built a Bull Temple atop the hill in its honour. The Bull idol is a monolith about 15 feet high with a prominent trident on its head.
It is believed that the source of the Vrishabhavathi River originates at the feet of the statue though there is no proof. The temple is built in simple Dravidian style and is accompanied by the Dodda Ganapathi Temple a few feet below. The Ganapathi idol too is massive in size. It is said that the rocks in this region had the unique property of growing in size and hence the stone idols are so big. There is also a Hanuman and Shiva temple on the premises. The temple complex is part of a park called the Bugle Rock. In Kempegowda’s time, residents were alerted with a bugle from this very place and hence the name. The temple complex and the park are a regular haunt for residents. It is a famous tourist and picnic spot too.
In the bull’s honour, every year a ground nut fair is held. Farmers offer their first crop of groundnut to the bull. The roads of Basavangudi are taken over by peanut sellers for the two-day festivities. The ever-expanding city of Bangalore gains new stories to add to its rich history every time it gains new extensions. As Bangalore grows, so does its story book- a positive outcome in the name of development.