New, Yet Traditional ….

Sounds contradictory? But that was the first thought that crossed my mind when I visited the Venkateshwara Temple at Belandur  on the outskirts of Bangaluru. (outer ring road).

Recently during the festive time, we decided to go to a temple. I am just a visitor to the city and never been to this temple. The outskirts of this city are fast developing and one sees all new smart structures (whether commercial / office premises or residential buildings) on the outer ring road. And as we turn inside, there are old types of houses (almost rural), busy markets, huge banyan tress with small ‘temples’ beneath it. So I didn’t know what to expect.

Going a little further after crossing a busy market place, there was an open space – and on the left was a big entrance with a very tall Gopuram.

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The entrance and intricately carved tall Gopuram

Once we crossed the threshold of that entrance and went inside, it was like entering some different time – the world of an old, traditional temple.

The structure of the temple appears light grey in colour, almost white. At first glance, it looks like a cement concrete building. I actually believed so. As I went near, I touched the surface of the pillars, and the carvings – it was rock! Probably it is basalt rock of some different, lighter variety. Only because of its newness, it appeared like a cement structure.

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But that was the only new thing about it; apart from it, each and every thing was so traditional, so much like an old temple!

The entire complex is enclosed within tall fencing stone walls. The main deity or the temple is in the centre, amidst rows and rows of carved pillars.

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The fencing walls on all the four sides are lined with broad verandas and there are four smaller temples in the four corners. Just as we enter, there is a tall pillar or the Dwaja Stambh that pierces through the roof of the Sabha Mandapam.

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Taking photographs of the main Sannidhi or the Sanctum Sanctorum was not allowed. It is a beautiful pious place with two dwarpals on the either side of the door. There is a wide space on all four sides for Parikrama. The Gopuram looks quite impressive from here.

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The rainy, cloudy evening makes the place appear dark.

Along the side verandas are Shiva Lingaas of different designs. In four corners are small temples of the Goddess, Subramanium, Ganapati etc.

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Four statues of four protectors like Garuda, Hanumana adorn the four corners of the fencing wall.

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Protector Garuda (or the Eagle) atop the outer wall

Even though it is a new structure, there are no short-cuts or compromises of any kind evident in the construction. Proper attention has been paid to the minutest details.

The pillars and the stone structures show beautiful carvings – Yakshas, Gandarvas and the depictions of different incarnations (Dashavatara) of Lord Vishnu are carved with minute details. No stone is left un-turned — or should we say un-carved — in constructing and presenting a typical, traditional old-world temple.

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Pillar carving depicting first two incarnations/avatar of Lord Vishnu – Matsya (fish) avatar and Koorma (turtle) avatar

The important thing that I felt, was the calm and the serenity of the place. Such peaceful closeness to the Almighty is not found in the modern structures of worship (or sometimes, not even in some of the ancient, well known places). Only a few locals seem to visit this place and one can quietly sit and meditate along the steps or the wide verandas.

The temple is worth a visit if one is in the vicinity of Belandur in Bengaluru.

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