Kodagu’s Paadi Igguthappa temple became a prominent place of worship during King Lingarajendra’s reign. The temple, located atop a hill in a forested area in Kakkabe, has been in existence since 1153
Goddess Cauvery and Lord Paadi Igguthappa are the two presiding deities of Kodagu. If legends are to be believed, Igguthappa temple located atop a hill in a forested area in Kakkabe, in the southern part of Kodagu, has been in existence since 1153 AD. Legend also has it that Igguthappa is one of the seven divine siblings who chose Kodagu as his abode. 

The temple became a prominent place of worship during Lingarajendra’s reign. Legend has it that in 1811, Lingarajendra came to the densely forested area surrounding the temple to hunt for elephants. Lingarajendra’s main source of income, besides taxes collected from his subjects, used to be cardamom and ivory. Every pod of cardamom grown and every tusk extracted from an elephant had to be surrendered to the raja at a price fixed by him!   

Lingarajendra was camping at the nearby Nalknad palace and had instructed his dewan Apparanda Bopu to organise the hunt. Dewan Bopu arranged for machaans to be built on trees and had hunting dogs and drum-beaters to herd the elephants. On the appointed day Lingarajendra and Bopu sat on a machaan armed with powerful guns especially designed to shoot elephants.
In spite of all the drum-beating and dogs barking, not a single elephant was to be seen. The raja started getting restless and directed his ire at Bopu. Lingarajendra’s nasty temper was well-known and Dewan Bopu who was a devotee of Igguthappa started silently praying for some divine intervention. Suddenly a huge pachyderm with mammoth tusks appeared silently from the nearby bushes.
The elephant looked up at the machaan where Lingarajendra and Bopu were seated and started scratching itself on the tree trunk. The raja and dewan froze and were too petrified to shoot the beast. The action of the elephant shook the large tree so violently that they were about to fall off from their perch.  This time around, Dewan Bopu prayed loudly to Lord Igguthappa to save him and the raja. Lingarajendra too joined Bopu in prayer. Suddenly the behemoth stopped, once again looked up, and gently sauntered away into the forest.   

Lingarajendra, a Lingayat, was a worshipper of Shiva and had not visited Igguthappa temple which was dedicated to Vishnu. He made an exception and asked Bopu to immediately take him to the temple. It was a modest shrine. The head-priest welcomed the raja and advised him to perform various poojas including tulabhara (donation of grains equivalent to the weight of the devotee), to thank Igguthappa for saving his life.

After all these rituals, Lingarajendra asked the priest if he could do anything for the temple. The priest was quick to request for a punarnirmana (renovation) of the temple. 

Lingarajendra immediately agreed and the temple was renovated and the approach improved. He also made grants of wet-lands in the vicinity, the income from which continues to be used for the upkeep of the temple. When the reconstruction was completed, he visited the temple again. At the temple, he had a sack full of silver coins brought. Lingarajendra dipped both his hands and scooped out three heaps of silver coins. He then ordered Dewan Bopu, who was present, to get an idol of an elephant made out of the coins. The coins weighed about three kilograms. 

Silver elephant

The best silver-smiths from Mangalore were commissioned to craft an idol of an elephant. On the back of the idol is inscribed in halagannada (old Kannada), the year in which it was dedicated to Igguthappa for favours granted to Lingarajendra. This exquisite silver elephant is used daily in the poojas performed at the temple. 
In 1835, the year after Lingarajendra’s son Chikka Veerarajendra was deposed by the British, Dewan Apparanda Bopu took it on himself to renovate the temple. The structure was reconstructed and was fitted with tiles replacing the earlier thatched roof. The temple once again went through reconstruction in 2008. Descendants of Apparanda Bopu along with other devotees have provided silver cladding for the entrance door.  
Paadi Igguthappa is an important deity for the people of Kodagu. He is considered a provider of bounty and one who fulfills his devotee’s wishes. Iggu means grain and thappa means give. 

Puthari, the harvest festival in Kodagu, is normally celebrated 90 days after Onam. Every year, paddy is first harvested in fields belonging to Lord Igguthappa. People of Kodagu celebrate the festival the following day. On a daily basis, those who visit the temple are served a simple but scrumptious lunch.

Courtesy : Deccan Herald

Author: C.P. Belliappa


One Response so far.

  1. Amrita says:

    Posting an excerpt from a book authored by Lewis Rice in the late 1800s details a Coorg legend of how Iguttappa came to be a God.

    "In ancient times there lived in the Malabar country six brothers and a sister. Five of them, accompanied by their sister Ponnangalatamma, went to Coorg by the Paditora ghat. While they were on the road, four of them said, 'How is it that our sister comes with us? The people will say that she is our wife.' The fifth replied, 'If she comes with us, we will spoil her caste.' When they came to the Chauripade hill near the Kakabe river, they felt hungry. Then Iguttappa said to his sister, 'Prepare us some food.' She replied, 'I have neither fire nor rice.' Iguttappa said, 'I will give you rice, but you must boil it without fire.' She replied, 'I will boil it without fire, but you must eat it without salt.' To this the brothers agreed. Then Ponnangalatamma, seeing a cow, one belonging to the Paradanda house, went and milked her, letting the milk fall into a pot full of rice, and while the brothers were sleeping in the shade of a tree, went to the bank of the river and buried the vessel in the sand, where it began to boil. Then she called her brothers to eat the rice which she had prepared.

    When they had eaten enough, Iguttappa took some rice, threw it up into the air, and exclaimed, 'See how the hail is falling from the sky!' Ponnangalatamma, angry at this, took up a wooden ladle, and giving him a heavy blow on his back, said, 'See how the thunder breaks in the monsoon!' Then the other brothers all laughed at him. Afterwards, while they were sitting together and chewing betel, Palurappa said, 'Let us see whose betel is the reddest.' Then they all spat out the betel into their hands to look at it, after which the brothers, pretending that they were throwing it again into their mouths and chewing, threw the betel behind their heads. The sister, deluded by this, threw her betel into her mouth again, and went on chewing. They now said that by so doing she had lost her caste, and their brother in Malabar too, to whom they appealed, confirmed their decision.

    Ponnangalatamma was excessively grieved, and wept bitterly. But Iguttappa threw an arrow from the Iguttappa-betta and ordered his sister to go with the arrow and stay where it fell. The arrow stuck into a mango tree at Ponnangala, in the village of Yawakkapadi, and Ponnangalatamma, assuming the shape of a crane, flew towards the spot. Near the Karatandra house some Holeyas were working in the paddy fields. Ponnangalatamma flew upon one of them, who thereupon became possessed, and ran towards the tree in which the arrow was sticking. The brothers then separated into different villages, where they settled, and the whole family were afterwards worshipped as gods. Baiturappa has a temple at Baitur in Malabar, the second in Taliparambu in Malabar, the third in the Maletambira forest in the Joma-male in Coorg, the fourth on the Iguttappa hill near Kunjila, the fifth at Palur in Kuyangeri nad; the sixth, Tirnalli Thimmaya, at Tirnalli in the Wynad. A temple was also built for Ponnangalatamma, round the tree where the arrow had stuck. At her annual feast, in April, Ponnangalatamma weeps, and is worshipped by the Holeyas. The arrow is, up to the present day, seen sticking in the wild mango tree."

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