In Kannada, the word Basavana itself means bull. Words like Basaveshwara, Basavanna are very common in the local diction. The locality called Basavanagudi derives its name from the portmanteau of two words Basavana and Gudi, where Basavana means Sri Nandikeshwara and Gudi means temple. Thus, Basavanagudi of Bengaluru derives its very identity from the Dodda Basavana Gudi (meaning Big Bull Temple).
The History of Sri Bull Temple
The Big Bull Temple picturesquely located in Bengaluru is the first of its kind in India which is why it attracts thousands of pilgrims from India and abroad. It is said to house one of the largest Nandi idols in the world. The height of the murthi is approximately 15 ft (4.6 m) and it is approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) long.
The temple has fascinating legend attached to it. About five hundred years ago, there was a hill now known as Bugle Rock, around which were fields where groundnut grew in abundance. There was a host of villages around this spot like Sunkenahalli, Guttahalli etc., Once there was a heavy downpour and the fields yielded a bumper peanut crop. After the day-long toil in the fields, the farmers were in deep slumber. On very full Moon light, the full moon light, the Big and beautiful Bull ravaged forcefully through the fields where the bumper harvest and enriched. Thereafter, He disappeared into the night like a divine shadow.
Next Morning, the villagers were naturally shocked and distressed at the sight of the ruin and destruction which greeted them. Next full Moon day they appointed a farmer to guard the fields and discover the architect of the ravage. As usual, the big Bull visited the fields. Its body was shining like a gold and its eyes sparkled like diamonds. The farmer witnessed this amazing spectacle and reported it to the farmers. He excitedly described the unearthly Bull he had seen. One farmer was so provoked that he hit Bull with a club. The Bull sat there and miraculously transformed into a stone stone Bull. Thenceforth Bull began to grow day by day. The terrified farmer prayed to lord shiva who directed him to a place a trident on the head of the Bull. The farmer did so and the Bull’s growth stopped miraculously. Since then, it has become a custom for farmers to make an offering of the first crop to Lord Basavanna at the festival. This is the origin of the Kadlekayi Prishe or the Groundnut Fair, generally held in November (on the last Monday of Kathika Masa), in honour of the sacred Bull.
Once Kempegowda, the founder of Bengaluru came here in disguise. He saw people hurrying to temple and enquired where they were hastening. They told him that they were going to offer worship to Lord Nandi. Kempegowda also offered worship to Nandi. The same night Nandi appeared to him in a dream and indicated a spot where there was a treasure. Kempeowda built a Nandi Temple on top of nearby hillock and dedicated it to the Big Bull (Dodda Basavanna). A remarkable thing about this temple is that everyday Abhishekam (Sacred bath) is perfomed with milk, butter, ghee and coconut oil. Specail worship is performed and naivedya (Sacred Food) is offered. The people were grateful and happy as the land received sufficient rain.
It is said that the river, Vrishabhavathi, sprang from the right foot of Lord Basava. It Flows west ward to the “Garbhagudi” (the sanctum sanctorum) of the Gavigangadhareshwara Temple and joins the Arkavathi river near Kanakapura. In southern India there are 4 Nandis Carved out of Single Stone and this is the 2nd biggest Nandi statute. This Nandi is about 12 feet height and 20 feet length.
Source: Much of the content above is obtained from a board put up in front of the temple by Satish Stores.