Moving on from Pattadakal, I made a visit to the temple at Mahakuta. It was an impulsive decision – I had initially planned to spend a whole day in Pattadakal, but at some point changed my mind to go to Mahakuta. It turned out to be a good idea.
Unlike Pattadakal, Mahakoota’s temple is still alive with a deity(Lord Shiva in the name of Mahakooteshwara) and pooja happens everyday. That also means a fair happens here once a year which brings in people in large numbers. When I arrived there a little after 2pm, I met with usual bus loads of school children. I walked around the temple and was pleasantly surprised with the interiors.
Unlike its neighbours, this is not a temple that is restored to its original shape and maintained neatly by ASI. On the contrary, sections of the temple are dusty and unmaintained while the main courtyard is in good shape. A few modern additions and restorations have happened to suit the need of the temple, but it still retains the old world charm. The best and most beautiful part of the temple are the ficus trees that don the interior and have spread their tentacles all around to block the sun. Some of the temple gopuras are completely enveloped be the leafy trees and gives them a charming look.
The real temptation of the temple is a little fresh water pond in the main courtyard, with a appealing mantapa in a corner of it, and covered by trees all around it. The water in the pond is continuously replaced by a spring emerging from the ground, which keeps it fresh and clean. When I arrived, many of the children were swimming and bathing in the pond. After walking around the temple for a few minutes, I settled down comfortably, watching the kids at play in the water.
In some time, the cool of the shaded and leafy courtyard had made me close my eyes without my knowledge. When I woke up and saw the time, it was nearly 3.30pm. The group of children in the pond had gone, and there were no visitors left in the temple. There was complete silence around and only people in the temple were a couple of staff who sat idly in a corner. The absolute silence in the pleasant atmosphere filled me with peace and held me to the place. I took another slow walk along the inner walls of the temple, visiting each of its shrines.
Mahakoota’s temple has an attraction that I have not seen anywhere in its neighbouring counterparts. Roots hanging from ficus trees, leafy gopuras and the silence inside put me in a state of solitude and feeling of fulfillment I had always longed for. It is an experience I wish went on forever. Along with the all this, I spotted a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher – an unlikely guest in these parts – who hopped around the gopuras with me for a few minutes and went away. I wonder if he was here just to complete my experience.
Sometime later, I jumped into the fresh water pool and had it all for myself for almost an hour. Needless to say, it was pleasure at its best form. Mahakoota was the highlight of my visit to the region, I had the time of my life in those waters. I left Mahakoota unwillingly as the sun was about to set and had to return to my temporary abode at Badami. It is an experience not to forget.
Continued at: The Cricket Hour at Aihole