‘Avani’ at Kolar, less than 100 kms from Bengaluru has been existing from the days of yore – Ramayan. This is one of the places where a temple for every character of the epic . . . Ramayan. . . exists! Forget temples of Ram-Sita-Lakshman or Hanuman! Apart from them, one can find major exclusive shrines of Lakshman, Bharat, Shatrungna and minor shrines of Vali & Sugriva! Apart from them the temple has idols of Vishnu, Ganesha & Goddess Parvati too. Basically it is a Shiva temple.
Avani is one of the few places where not only a temple is enshrined to ‘Sita’ but there’s a hill named after her. ‘Avani’ means ‘Earth’ and Sita is called ‘Avanisutra’ meaning – ‘Daughter of Earth’! This hill forms a beautiful backdrop to this picturesque huge temple complex of the 9th century by the Nolamba Dynasty who ruled these areas of present – Karnataka, Andhra & Tamilnadu. Avani hill is believed to be the home of Saint Valmiki, who wrote the epic – Ramayan. This hill is also where Lord Ram & Sita’s twin children Luv-Kush were born and unknowningly Rama fights his children who had tied his Ashwameda Yagna’s horse! This hill can be reached by climbing around 500 steps and is a favorite of rock climbers! It gets pretty hot during the day – it’s advised to begin climbing early in the morning.
The beautiful Ramalingeshwara temple complex is a vast area and is at the foothills. Avani also has a Sringeri Sharadhama mutt beside the temple complex. Here the Goddess is displayed with the Shree Yantra! This temple and mutt was established by Sri Natasha Bharathi IV. Maha Shivarathri finds this place throning with pilgrims. It also has its own temple cart festival.
The architecture is Dravidian, stone block construction by Nolamba dynasty of the 900’s. Parts of the temples were modified and rebuilt by the Cholas – who ruled after them. It’s believed that the Nolamba queen Devambika built the exclusive Ramalingeshwara shrine after she lost her son. A stone inscription at Begur adjacent to Bangalore says of the existence of Avani in 890 AD! This place in the olden days was called -‘Gaya of South’, ASI – Archeological Society of India attributes that to stone inscription found dated 399 AD! Nolamba Dynasty has built a lot of temples all around during their reign.
A lot of mythology is attributed to this beautiful picturesque place. One can find sculptures on stone of all God’s & Goddess of Hindu mythology. One can find sculptures entwined aesthetically of elephants, lions with imaginary animals! All aesthetic, pleasing and eye pleasing work of art displayed of 9th & 10 century!
Avani is 10 kms from KGF – Kolar Gold Fields, 32 kms from Kolar, 13 kms from Kolar & 95 kms from Bangalore taking old Madras road toll paying roads, one’s got to take a right deviation on NH4 closer to Mulbagal. Road signs are clearly marked. Asking around friendly local people will help you not going around circles!
Kolar District has lot of temple tour destinations. This tour can be combined with Kolar Tourism plan and is a day trip. Avani is good for the body & your spiritual soul. A good hill climb for your two legs. If not fit or too late in the day, please don’t attempt to go there. As usual carry your own eatables, drinks & cash. Highway restaurants – Nandi Group, Coffee Day, Adigaas, Kamat & dhabas are the only place for your refreshments. This 9th century marvel should pull you to this place with family & friends! It’s a good motorable road up to the base of the hillock at Avani. Locally this place is well connected with buses and autos. Kolar is the nearest railway station.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography