HISTORY AND MYTHOLOGY
Kaveri (also Cauvery) is among the most sacred rivers of India and hailed as the Dakshina Ganga or Ganga of the South.
Mythology has several versions about Kaveri’s descent to the earth. The most popular is that a king by the name of Kavera, who lived in the Brahmagiri hills, prayed to Lord Brahma for a progeny. He was blessed with a daughter whom he named Kaveri. She was the water manifestation of the human form.
The great sage Agastya, who married her, contained her in his kamandalu (spouted jug). When a drought encompassed the land, Ganesha in the guise of a crow, tipped the kamandalu and out flowed Kaveri.
A river like Kaveri is not merely a stretch of water. It is an active, living and moving force. It contains life-visible and invisible and, depending on its mood, it can create or destroy. Poets and artists have to develop an intimacy with her before picking up their pens and brushes; engineers have to study her respectfully before building bridges and dams; and those living on the banks are extremely fond and wary of their beloved Kaveri.
ALONG THE RIVER
Coorg is the first recipient of Kaveri’s benevolence and does her proud with verdant vegetation. It is the land of sandalwood and cedar where betel vines cling endearingly to the trees. Swaying with a grace typical of the area, areca palms and cardamom plants add spice to the exhilarating atmosphere. The jungles abound in wildlife. The vistas of the hills and dales of Coorg and the breathtaking views are a treat for nature lovers.
As Kaveri turns west beyond Kushalnagar, the first important shrine is that of Ramnathpura. Rama after killing Ravana is said to have worshipped the Eswara Linga here. A majestically flowing river and lush paddy fields offer a colorful canvas.The entire area is very picturesque with high wooded hills and deep gorges alternating with the plains of the river and her tributaries. Extremely attractive idols of Sri Kodandarama and his consorts adorn the temple at Chunchanakatte.
Kaveri now heads eastwards and deposits all the water in the Krishnarajsagar reservoir built very close to Mysore. The reservoir sports the world famous Brindavan Gardens. The dancing fountains and the myriad colored lights turn this well laid out garden into a veritable dreamland in the evening.
En route to Srirangapatnam is the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary. White crane, night heron, darter, spotted pigeons and other birds of varied plumes and colors flock to this place and often take a joy ride on the backs of the crocodiles lazing in the sun.
Srirangapatnam, which is at a distance of about 15 km from Mysore, was the capital of Tipu Sultan. Standing amidst the minarets and the royal palace is the temple of Sri Ranganatha or Vishnu. Tipu made generous contributions in the form of gold jewelry and silver ritual vessels to the temple.
About 40 km from Mysore lies Somnathpura on the banks of the river and is noted for its Lakshmikeshava temple, a splendid specimen of Hoysala style of sculpture and architecture. Constructed in AD 1268 by Soma, an officer in the court of Hoysala Mummadi Narasimha, this temple must be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It has superbly sculpted walls and intricate ceilings, and no two friezes are alike. The flowing contours of majestic elephants, soldiers and galloping horses, as also the use of space to highlight the dramatic effect, infuse a remarkable realism into stone.
Talakad is another well-known pilgrimage center sanctified by Kaveri. Kaveri is described as changing the direction of her flow in four ways, and in each of these vantage points stand temples dedicated to Shiva. These are the Panchlingeshwara temples nestling in huge mounds of sand.
Having distributed her largesse in the form of mineral deposits and water over a vast tract of land, Kaveri next turns into a gigantic waterfall at Sivanasamudram whose hydroelectric potential has been tapped.
The deafening roar with which she cascades down at Gaganchukki and Barachukki silences the spectators into a mute awe. She then touches the southern border of Bangalore district and makes her entry into Tamil Nadu through an extremely narrow passage aptly called Meke Datu, or goat’s leap. Her tributaries Kanva and Arkavathi swell her ranks here.
As in the case of Karnataka, Kaveri has bestowed immense agricultural prosperity to Tiruchi and Tanjore districts of Tamil Nadu.
As the last lap of her marathon journey, she links her lot with the Bay of Bengal at Kaveripupattinam exactly one year after her emergence at Bagamandala and lends credence to the Hindu theory of rebirth by starting her journey all over again on Tula Sankramana, bringing in her tide a new hope, a renewed faith.