Kateel is a temple town in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka, an important seat of Shakthi worship, steeped in Puranic Lore. The Durga Parameshwari Temple here on the banks of the River Nandhini attracts a huge number of pilgrims from all over India.
The Legend Behind The Region
In ancient times, this region was plunged into a devastating drought due to the actions of an Asura named Arunasura. Sage Jabali, who had been in deep meditation, saw in his mind's eye, the sufferings of the people.
He took pity on them and decided to find a way to redeem the situation. He decided to perform a Yajna and wanted to bring down the Divine Cow, Kamadhenu. He sought the permission of the Lord of the Devas, Indra, who told the sage that Kamadhenu was visiting Varunaloka, but he could take her daughter Nandhini instead.
Nandhini arrogantly refused to accompany him, saying that Earth was a place of sinners and she would never set foot there. The sage pleaded with her, detailing the sufferings of the people and telling her that by coming down, she could help relieve them of their travails.
The angered Sage Jabali then cursed Nandhini to fall down on to Earth as a river. Chastised, Nandhini begged the sage to pardon her and to show her a way for redemption. The sage then told her to meditate on Goddess Durga, who would free her.
Nandhini prayed to the Goddess who appeared before her. Devi Durga asked Nandhini to flow down as a river in fulfillment of the sage's curse. She assured Nandhini that she herself would be born as her daughter to relieve her of the curse. Nandhini then emerged as a river from Kanakagiri in Kateel.
On the banks of this river, sage Jabali performed the Yajna, and the rains returned, bring prosperity and peace back with them.
A Look Into Further Mythology
Arunasura meanwhile had increased his powers by doing penance and obtaining boons from Lord Brahma. Brahma granted him a boon that he would not die by any two legged or four legged creature, and that no weapon could kill him.
Encouraged by this boon, Arunasura defeated the Devas and his atrocities increased. The Devas appealed to Devi Durga for help. The Goddess appeared before Arunasura as a beautiful young woman. The enchanted Asura followed her. When she revealed to him who she was, Arunasura tried to kill her, but the young woman turned into stone, and from the stone emerged a swarm of bees that stung him relentlessly till he died.
This was in fulfillment of the boon that no four or two-legged creature could kill him, or any weapon. The Devas then prayed to Bhramarambika (Queen of Bees) to assume her benevolent and gentle form. The Goddess then appeared in a beautiful form in the middle of the Nandhini River, fulfilling her promise that she would be born as Nandhini's daughter. The little islet where she emerged became known as Kateel.
In Sanskrit, Kati means ‘middle’ and Ila means ‘land’. Kati Ila became Kateel, as this was the midway point of the river. A temple was built on this small island with the idol of the goddess consecrated in it as Durga Parameshwari. Hence Kateel Durga Parameshwari temple is a popular tourist place in the region.
The Celebrations In The Region
The lovely temple, the river surrounding it, and the lush green hills in the background all contribute to make this, a divine site. The special festivals here include the eight-day long Mesha Shankramana celebration during the month of April, Navaratri celebrations, Magha Shudda Poornima which celebrates the descent of the river Nandhini, Ganesha Chaturthi, Krishna Janmashtami, Kadhiru Habba and Laksha Deepothsava.
The temple trust runs many educational institutions here, performs Annadhana and encourages and supports folk arts like Yakshagana.