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Sri Srikanteshvara Temple, Nanjangud

DISTRICT: Mysore; TALUK: Nanjangud
LOCALITY: Nanjangud (Lat. 12° 07' N; Long. 76° 41' E)
APPROACH: AIRPORT: Bengaluru; RAILWAY STATION: Nanjangud; BUS STATION: Nanjangud

This is the most notable temple and place of pilgrimage at Nanjangud which has grown beginning from the Ganga times till 19th century AD. The Srikanteshwara Temple at Nanjangud is dedicated to the Hindu supreme deity Shiva, also called Sri Nanjundeshwara, ("The Lord who drank poison") to save the earth. For this reason, Shiva is also called Neelakantha, or "the blue-throated one". Srikanteshwara translates to 'Sri' meaning poison and Kanta meaning throat, a translation of Kannada to Sanskrit. He is also described as 'Hakim Nanjunda' as an eye ailment of Tipu's beloved elephant was said to have been cured by administering the holy Tirtha from the temple. This temple is probably of Ganga origin and continuously received patronage under the Hoysalas, Vijayanagara and Wodeyar times, who had erected many additional structures. The sanctum is a dwarfish structure and its cylindrical twin pillars in the inner mandapa indicate their Ganga origin, while the mandapa infront of the original shrine belongs to 13th century AD. To its left is the shrine of Vishnu and behind the latter is the shrine of Chandikesvara. To the north-west of this is the Parvati shrine with sabhamandapa in its front. The Parvati image has Hoysala features. The four brick and stucco sikharas on Srikanthesvara, Vishnu, Parvati and Chandikesvara shrines appear to be of Vijayanagara times. Later, many additional structures have been erected by the Mysore rulers and their officers and expansion work went on till 1900 AD. The entire complex is enclosed by two large pillared cloisters with an imposing brick gopura with seven talas capped by a highly ornate gable roof. There is an inscription on a slab near the Vishnu shrine announcing a grant in 1517 AD and the donor appears to be the father inlaw of emperor Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagara.