Monday, April 15, 2024

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Bull (Nandi) Temple




Basavanagudi, Bangalore district, Karnataka



Monolithic idol of Nandi, the Bull mount of Lord Shiva

Best time to visit


Whole year



6am to 8 pm

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The Bull temple one of the oldest temples in Bangalore, the capital of the state of Karnataka was built by Kempegowda, a ruler under the Vijayanagar Empire. Located in Basavanagudi, a residential and commercial area in South Bangalore, the temple on a hillock at the southern end of the Bull Temple road, draws  thousands of devotees from all over the country. The name Basavanangudi in the local language Kannanda, means the Bull (Basavana) Temple (gudi).

This 16th century typical Dravidian style temple dedicated to Lord Shiva's bull mount Nandi, is also known as the Nandi temple. An interesting story behind this temple is that the surrounding area known as Sunkenahalli was famous for growing groundnuts. The farmers found that their fields were ransacked after every full moon day. One day a farmer saw a bull grazing in the field and hit the animal with a club. Suddenly, the bull sat down and started growing bigger and bigger.

The frightened farmer prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva asked him to retrieve a trident  (small iron plate) buried in the earth and keep it on the bull's forehead to prevent it from growing further. The farmer did accordingly and the bull disappeared mysteriously. A huge stone idol was found in its place in the hillock. Since then the farmers in the area, offer their first groundnuts to the sacred idol. Even now one can see the trident placed on the forehead of the bull. Legend has it that the Nandi appeared in the dream of Kempegowda and he was asked to built a temple where the idol was located.

Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the five hundred year old temple, but one can get a clear view of the Dravidian style temple architecture from outside itself.  The temple has an impressive gopuram (tower) which is adorned with relief figures on all the sides.  The 4.5m tall and 6m long mammoth, monolithic bull carved out of a single granite rock facing north, in a crouching position is supposed to be older than the temple itself.

The original colour of the Nandi bull was grey which has now turned black due to the constant application of coconut oil by the devotees. There is a belief that the source of the river Vishwa Bharti originate at the feet of this statue.  At the base of this statue, there is an inscription dates back to the 17th century. Entry to the temple is free and the daily timings are from 6a.m. to 8 p.m. On all weekends, music concerts are organized in the temple.

Every year during the last week of November or the beginning of December, 'Kadalekayi Parishea' (Ground nut Fair), a festival to celebrate the harvesting of peanuts is held here for two days. The fair falls during the last week of the Karthike month of the Kannada calendar. Ground nut farmers from all over Karnataka pay obeisance to Nandideva and offer ground nuts, which is believed to give them bountiful crops. 

There is also a small Lingum shrine at the back of the Bull temple. Dodda Ganesha Temple at the foot of the Nandi hill, holds a magnificent image of the Lord Ganesha around 10ft high and 15 ft covered with 100's of kilos of butter. The butter is distributed as prasada (God's food) every four years.