Koteshwara or Dhwajapura is located 2 Kms north of Kumbhasi has an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva known as Kotilingeshwara and is one one of seven Muktistala’s of Karnataka.
The temple is built in typical Kerala type temple architecture. This temple is said to have seven ‘prakara’(circular path around the central deity). There are two separate shrines found diagonally opposite to the main shrine. One shrine is dedicated to Goddess Parvati and another to Dhandeswari (utsav idol – bronze idol). Each and everything in this temple is unique and astonishing. The car street is very wide, reminds one of that at Puri Jagannath car street.
This temple is said to have seven Prakara. The outermost prakara is now a concrete road and the temple has got doors on all the four sides. There is a 10’*10′ platform very outside of the temple, leading to the main entrance. Once can see the deity directly from this platform.
The main entrance door, facing east, is a huge one about 25 feet high and 10 feet wide. There is a big ‘Dwajasthambha’ of about 100 feet height and there is a small ‘Nandi’ on the top of that. The second prakara is also very wide, having many big stone plaques (shila-shashana) narrating the history of the temple. Unfortunately no one knows how to read them and so the history of the temple is still mysterious. The main kitchen hall, the overhead water tank in the shape of ‘Damaru’ and the small temples of Shri Ganapathi, Shri Mukhyaprana and Shri Venu Gopalakrishna are main attractions in this prakara.
The next door leads to the main building of the temple. The temple, a rare and miraculous construction of granite stone, dates to many centuries back. The giant pillars, slabs, and roof-sheets everything is by granite stone and it is beyond one’s imagination about how they constructed such a big temple without any modern tools and technology.
There are many small temples on this third prakara; few of them are Sapta Matarikas, Subramanya, Venkatramana and Mahisasura Mardhini. There is a very unique deity called ‘Kali Laxmi’ holding a child in one hand and broom in other hand. It is very interesting to see such unique statue. Unfortunately the purana behind this is yet to be unfolded. There is a big Nandi and as seen in any other Shiva temple, lot of stones representing the ‘buta gana’ are lined up in this prakara. The garbagudi starts from here onward inside. There are two big full size Nataraja statues made of bronze, on both sides of the door.
The shlokas composed by Shri Vadiraja are written with big letters at this entrance and devotees can pray Lord by reciting these shlokas.
The car festival is a grand nine day program of evening festivals and it is called ‘Kodi habba’ meaning the top most car festival, top in all respect, in duration, gathering, size of the chariot etc.. The deity will go on procession, in the late evening to nearby villages, in one direction each day for four days, and in the night after return from the tour, the deity will be taken around the temple on a small chariot. On the final day, (the full moon day of scorpion) the big chariot or ‘Brahmaratha’ will be used for procession in the morning and evening. Thousands of people gather in that small town on that day and everything goes very peacefully and methodically.
The decorated chariot is very lovely and it is amazing to see that giant chariot being pulled by people. The proceeding of the festival continues for another two days. It is said that in earlier days, all three nearby major towns ( Kandhavara, Gajapura, Brahmavara) used to contribute for this temple, accepting Lord Shankar’s supremacy.
Knowledge Source : Coondapur.com