The temple of Mookambika at Kollur is a temple which always has a very special place in my heart, and is a place which I never get bored of even after visiting it every year. The temple is dedicated to the Mother Goddess Shakthi and is worshiped here in her three main forms of Durga, Saraswathi and Lakshmi.
The temple is located at the base of the well known Kodachadri hill which is also believed to be the place where the goddess first manifested before the current structure was built, which is said to be around 1500 years old.
So my yearly visit to the temple begins with an overnight bus journey from Bengaluru. I reach the destination of Kollur the next morning. I get off the bus and my first stop before heading to the temple is to find a place to freshen up. With ample options available I decided to check into a highly pocket friendly place run by the endowment department of Karnataka Government.
After freshening up, I stepped out of the room and walked towards the temple to see the beautiful goddess who was dressed in pure white. At this point of time the goddess is worshipped as Saraswathi, the goddess of knowledge.
As I entered the temple through the simple yet beautiful entrance tower, I quickly rushed to get into the line to enter the sanctum and immerse myself in the beauty of the goddess. The line is usually quite a long one, yet moves at a quick pace and as I neared the door of the sanctum of the goddess my heart started to beat a bit faster than usual which was truly because of my excitement to see the goddess.
Low and behold, I came face to face with the beautiful idol of the goddess and words are not enough to describe the beauty of her. I stood in front of her with closed palms and eyes closed and the only thought which crossed my mind was why, couldn't I stay for a longer period and pray right at her doorstep.
As I walked past, I stepped up on a raised platform which was on the right side of the shrine. This functions as a place for the priests to conduct poojas for the devotees and also provides a view of the goddess from here.
Walking out of the sanctum, I came across a small shrine dedicated to Ganesha and another right behind that of the goddess dedicated to Shankaracharya and finally a door that leads you out of the sanctum area into the large courtyard of the temple.
As I moved around the courtyard, I came across the shrines dedicated to Veerabhadra, Subramanya, Panchamukhi Ganapathi, Vishnu, Shiva and Hanuman. The temple has a small hall known as the Saraswathi mandapam, which serves the purpose for one to meditate and also a platform to showcase one's artistic skills as an offering to the Goddess.
The Saraswathi mandapam continues to fascinate me even in my repeated visits here. I noticed many children like me who were initiated to the world of letters at this temple of knowledge.
I decided to spend some time at the mandapam in meditation. As I sat there the Goddess was brought out for a procession as part of the daily rituals. An interesting sight unfolded as the idol was taken around the courtyard and the devotees followed the deity in this procession, which I have never come across in any other temple.
I too followed the crowd and the deity in the procession, and very soon the idol was mounted on the golden chariot which was taken out only on special occasions, and indeed my dream of catching a glimpse of the Devi in the golden chariot just came true.
The procession came to an end and the idol was taken back into the shrine, and the worship of Goddess Saraswathi came to an end and the Goddess now took the form of Durga. I again got into the queue system to pray to Durga Devi who was adorned with the finest jewellery and silks unlike Saraswathi who was adorned with simple and elegant cream or white silk.
After the darshan, my next stop was the Annapurna dining hall where the devotees are served lunch every day. The food served here is considered to be the prasadam of the goddess and with all due respect I wiped off my leaf clean without wasting the food served.
Kodachadri, Sowparnika And The Temple Elephant
After the filling lunch, I came out of the temple complex and headed towards the temple elephant, who showerd her blessings by placing her trunk on my head. I walked downwards to the river of Sowparnika which flows below and splashed some water on my face which was truly refreshing.
Since the temple was closed in the afternoon, I decided to use this time to head towards the peak of Kodachadri. For me a visit to Kollur is incomplete without trekking up the peak which is also believed to be the place where the goddess was first worshipped before the current temple came up.
The trek is completed with a visit to the Sarvajna Peetha, which is a small structure built to mark the spot where Adi Shankara meditated. After capturing nature at its best I decided to head back to the temple to worship the goddess in the form of Lakshmi.
I made my way yet again through the entrance and into the sanctum to see the the beautiful goddess, now dressed in yellow silk, who blesses all her devotes with prosperity. I noticed that during the evening hours the temple is less crowded when compared to the morning and afternoon.
After witnessing the evening arati, I bid goodbye to goddess Mookambika to return the following year. The visit to this temple is always so refreshing and gives me all the energy and strength which lasts within me until I come to visit her the next time.