BENGALURU: The 115-year-old Sri Venugopala Krishna Swamy Temple, located in Malleswaram, is where couples offer prayers to have a child.
They make offerings to infant Krishna, one of the deities here, and tie a miniature swing onto any of the temple’s ancient beams. “Once their wish is fulfilled, the couple comes back here and offer a thulabaram,” says the head priest Madhava Narasimha Bhattar. Thulabaram is an offering in kind, and in weight equivalent to that of the supplicant.
Built in 1902, the north-facing Vaishnava temple follows the rituals and customs practised in Melukote temple near Mysuru.Malleswaram is a Hindu, Brahmin, dominated locality and is home to 15 temples. This temple was built when Vaishnavites started moving into this locality, when it was developed in the late 19th Century.
In 1898, when Bengaluru was hit by the plague, residential layouts with better sanitation facilities were being carved out and Malleswaram was one such. Arun Prasad, an independent researcher and historian, says, “Dewan Sheshadri Iyer played a key role in the development of this locality. Apart from wide roads, the layout was planned with conservancy lanes, parks, and space for religious, cultural and charitable institutions. Kadu Malleswara and Nandi Tirtha temple were already there, even before the formation of the layout.”
S Sundar, a resident of Malleswaram whose family has been a regular at the temple, says, “After the expansion, several Madhavas and Smarthas bought plots in Basavangudi and Vaishnavas and Iyengars settled down in Malleswaram. There were about three temples then, and none were dedicated to Vishnu.”
Proposal to Mysore kingdom
Around the time the plague hit, a group of prominent people from Malleswaram approached the Mysore maharani with the proposal to build a Vishnu temple in the locality and the Mysore Maharani readily agreed, says Arun. “Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana was nominated as a queen regent after the death of Chamaraja Wodeyar X, as their son Krishnaraja Wodeyar was a minor, until 1902.”
According to divyadesamyatra.blogspot.com, who writes about Vaishnava temples, the people of Malleswaram led by imminent personalities such as Shetlur Venkataranga Iyengar, Professor M T Narayana Iyengar, Rao Bahadur Narasimhacharya, M T Narasimha Iyengar and Vidwan Asuri Anandalvar Swamy and others greatly contributed to the establishment of this temple.
A suitable place between East Park Road and West Park Road on the 11th Cross was selected and the residents got a grant from the Mysore kingdom. The royal family donated a sum of 3,750 varahas (the then currency) for the construction, says Arun, adding, “The local residents also collected and contributed 1,1794 varahas for the temple. Originally, Nambi Narayana Swamy was planned as the main deity for the temple but, during the construction, it was changed to Venugopalaswamy.”
Bhattar, who is the third-generation priest in his family, says that God appeared in Dewan Venkata Rangar’s dream and asked him to install Venugopalaswamy as the man deity. “The road where the temple is located is named after him,” he says.
Sundar says, “R Narasimhachar, who served as a director of archaeology department with the government of Mysore, played a vital role in the construction of temple.”
Deities of the temple
The deities were donated by Mysore kingdom to the temple. They originally belonged to a ruined temple in Thirukudallur in Tamil Nadu and is believed to have been worshipped even during the Chola rule, says Arun. The priest adds, “The deities are very old. The deity of Utsava Swamy Nambi Narayana is about 1,000 years old. Jakanacharya, who is known for building many fine temples including one in Belur, has built this temple as well.”
Mansoor Ali from Bengalurubyfoot adds, “The establishment of the main shrine along with the consecration of all deities was done on August 22, 1902, on an auspicious day. It coincided with the crowning (Pattabisheka) of the Maharaja Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.” The king also received the title of Rajamaharshi that day.
Rituals at temple
The temple has mukha mandapa, chatur dwaram, veda stambha and vasantamandapa. Festivals such as Krishna Janmashtami and Brahmotsavam are celebrated grandly every year. The government-run temple is open between 7.30 am and 1 pm and 6 pm and 9 pm. But timings are stretched for poojas or festivals. “This temple was established in accordance with paancharaatragama and Vedic practice, and they are being followed today. The main deity is said to be placed in Brindavan,” says Bhattar.