Gavi Gangadhareshwara Cave Temple and Vernacular Dwellings of Gavipuram: A Pilot Study

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Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple

The Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple is one of the best attractions in Gavipuram. It dates back to the Cholas and was renovated by Kempegowda in the 16th century. The temple is built out of a monolithic rock and is considered an architectural wonder. On the day of Makara Sankranti, sunlight passes through the horns of Nandi and directly on to the Shiva linga. This astral phenomenon is said to mark the end of Dakshinayana (movement of sun in the Southern direction) and the beginning of Uttrarayana (movement of sun in Northern direction associated with positive energies). Several devotees visit this temple on the day of Sankranti just to witness this amazing spectacle. This annual phenomenon is known as Surya Majjana (sun bath). The temple has four monolithic pillars with objects like a Damaru (drum) and Trishul (trident) representing Shiva’s iconography. The pillars in the front are known as Suryapana and Chandrapana and these are used to calculate the exact day of the solstices. The temple clearly belongs to the Vijayanagara period as the outer mandapa leading to the cave has pillars in the Vijayanagara style. The cave’s entrance is guarded by Shiva’s dwarapalakas (sentinels). The main cave temple is hardly 6ft and contains the presiding deity of Shiva with other smaller deities and sages. There are two pradakshina (circumambulatory paths). The bull Nandi is set facing his master Shiva. The temple is also said to house a cave with a passage that is supposed to directly lead to Kashi. The temple’s structural marvel has been studied and documented by Dr. B.S Shylaja, astrophysicist and Director of Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium. Thomas Daniell, the famous English landscape painter has captured the beauty of the Gavipuram temple in his publication titled Oriental Scenery – 6 volumes which has hand-coloured aquatints of Indian landscapes. There are two aquatints relating to the Gavipuram temple. The first is the depiction of Harihara gudda, East of the temple. The second is titled “Entrance to a Hindoo Temple.” The paintings date back to 1792. Ancient legends say that Sage Gowthama and Sage Bharadwaja performed penance in the temple caves. The outer cave path surrounding the main shrine has idols of Sage Gowthama and Sage Bharadwaja. The temple got its name not only from its representative idol but also the geographical setting. Gavi means cave in Kannada. Gangadhareshwara implies Eshwara the divine relating to Shiva.


Bharadwaj, Arun (2016). Seen & Unseen Bangalore. Notion Press.

Further Reading

Lambert M. Surhone, Miriam T. Timpledon, Susan F. Marseken (2010). Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple. VDM Publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany.

Title: View near Bangalore
Author: The British Library
Subjects: Daniell Collections, India, Bangalore, Karnataka, British School
Publication Details: 12-09-2008
Description: Plate 17 from the fifth set of Thomas and William Daniell's 'Oriental Scenery' called 'Antiquitie...Creator: Daniell, Thomas (1749-1840);Medium: Aquatint, coloured; Date: 1808;Shelfmark: X432/5(17);Item number: plate 17; Genre: Print; Exhibition: Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections;