The unlock has been a blessing. God has been getting a lot of visitors. “In these unsettled times, people seek comfort in God, even the non-believers,” says the temple priest at Gulur Ganesha situated in
the Tumkur district of Karnataka. His words resonated within us. We were, one of them. Our journey in search of divinity leads us to two lesser-known places Gulur and Kaidala both in Karnakata. The short trip turned out to be a revelatory discovery of history and religious traditions.
The Gulur Ganesha temple is synonymous with the village of Gulur. It is home to a striking idol of Lord Ganesha in black stone. Right in front of it stands another impressive 10-feet clay idol of Ganesha that is remade every year. Its construction starts on Ganesh Chaturthi and it is unveiled on Diwali. There’s an interesting tale behind its worship. There once lived a poor Brahmin boy thereabouts. One day, he had a dream in which Ganesha told him to pray to him to get rid of his troubles.
But how was he supposed to do it? This was also the time when the well-known Vedic sage, Agastya, had stopped by Gulur during one of his travels. He happened to meet the boy and learnt about his dilemma. Agastya told him to collect clay from the bank of the local lake and make an idol of Ganesha. After 30 days, the boy was freed from his troubles. It was a miracle. The people of Gulur have since made it a practice to pray to Ganesha or the story goes.
Though the temple is the main attraction of Gulur, it takes just half an hour to inspect its features. We recommend taking a short drive to the outskirts of Gulur, through sprawling paddy fields, that will bring you to an ancient stepwell. Another must-visit is Kaidala in the same district. Here you will find the 12th century Channakesava temple, inside which is a six-foot idol of Chennakesava, an avatar of Vishnu. Built by the sculptor, Jakkanacharaya, its Dravidian architecture is telling.
Carvings of gods and goddesses hugging tall, thick pillars greet you at the entrance. Look out for the hero’s stones or Veera Gallu. These honour fallen warriors who died defending the region, narrate their acts and the battle, and the name of king under whose banner they fought. These two places do not fall on the tourist radar, which is what makes them worth a quick hop.
Reach: Located about 80 km from Bengaluru, take the Tumkur NH 4 bypass to Gubbi
Stay: Your best bet is to stay in Bengaluru and make a day trip to Gulur and Kaidala