Hindu temples around the world have their unique past and stories to tell. Some temples are found preserved since ancient times while some get abandoned and are rediscovered or excavated in a critical state. However, those discoveries help reawaken the past and preserve the culture in modern times. One such excavated example of the temple is the ‘Nandeshwara Temple’ situated in Malleswaram, in the north-western area of Bangalore city, which was unearthed in 1997 AD.
This temple is also called ‘Nandi Tirtha’, ‘Nandishwara Tirtha’, ‘Malleshwaram Tirtha’, ‘Bhasava Tirtha’, ‘Malleswaram Nandi Gudi’ or ‘Sri Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyana Kshetra’.
None of the many other temples in Malleswaram is so cloaked in mystery and debate as the Nandeshwaram temple. The controversy starts from its date of existence. The temple is stated to be 400 years old, according to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). They said they used carbon dating tests to authenticate the age of the temple. Some other sources believe this temple to be 7000 years old, but there is no historical evidence of it.
The story behind the excavation
The temple was accidentally discovered by a group of people digging the land for the building’s construction. The locals say that the temple was completely buried, and the land above it was an empty lot. In 1997, a local politician sold that empty plot of land to a builder who started the construction works, and coincidently the worker found the intact stone courtyard supported by pillars.
The local residents protested the further construction and informed the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), who took responsibility for excavating the site further. Surprisingly, the temple was completely buried under the flat land and perfectly preserved by the thick soil layers.
Except for maintaining the rotted walls and filling up the leakages, nothing else has been done to this temple since its discovery. There was no a need to tamper with the original structure of the temple.
Why is the temple called Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyana Kshetra?
Unlike the other Hindu Temples, the sculptures or the statue of this mandir (temple) are facing south i.e. ‘Dakshin’. That’s why this temple is called Dakhinamukha (south-facing). A continuous stream of holy water flowing from the mouth of Nandi is referred to as ‘Tirtha’ in Kannada. The water flown from Nandi’s mouth falls onto the Shivalinga and afterward flows into the tank in the middle of the temple, which is called Kalyani in Kannada. And ‘Kshetra’ refers to the holy precinct. Thus, the temple was named as Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyana Kshetra.
Temple has the usage of rough stone pillars as the main structures. The temple is below the underground level and has no gopuram/tower. The courtyard of this temple is surrounded by the pillars around the Kalyani (Tank in the center of the temple). The statue of Nandi was carved out of black stone with its eyes painted in gold color. Below the statue of Nandi lies Shivalinga which is also carved out of the black stone. The Nandi and Shivalinga have been placed as a two-tier structure which is actually an unusual architectural structure found in this temple.
The water pouring continuously from the Nandi’s mouth falls onto the Shivalinga through the small opening in the floor. In the front of the sanctum lies the small pond/tank called Kalyani with 15 ft deep whirlpool, where the water flowing from the Shivalinga is collected. The pond is the home of big fishes and turtles.
The source of water flowing from the mouth of Nandi is still a mystery. There are many views regarding this. Some say that there can possibly be natural freshwater springs under the temple which are channelized to flow out of the mouth of Nandi. Others say that water comes from nearby Sankey Tank. However, the Sankey tank was built in 1882 AD, and considering the fact, the Nandi temple was built much earlier than the tank. But the fascinating thing is, this temple is one of the Engineering Genius portraying the ancient Hydraulic Engineering.
Despite Hydraulic engineering, the temple’s builders and its age are also the mysteries to be solved. The temple was underground for hundreds of years, and still, its aura and beauty have not been diminished much, which is one of the marvelous facts of this temple.
Rituals and Festivals
Lord Shiva is the main deity of this temple; thus, every festival related to Lord Shiva is celebrated at this temple. Huge crowds come to visit, worship, and see the mystery of this temple all day long. But the temple gets more populated and beautiful on the day of Shivaratri.
Temple’s Opening Hours
The temple is open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.