An important temple town situated on the scenic banks of River Kabini (Kapila), Nanjangud is home to Lord Srikanteshwara Temple—one of the oldest temples of India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is better known as 'DakshinKashi, this temple is built in the Dravidian style and is home to three main deities -- Goddess Parvathi, Lord Nanjundeshwara and Lord Vishnu, along with Bhudevi and Sridevi. This important place of worship houses 121 idols of Lord Shiva in various forms , carriages, mantapas, 65 shivalingas, and many other idols showcased during the popular procession linked with the Chariot festival.
Built during 300-1000 CE by the rulers of Ganga dynasty, the original temple underwent major restoration work during the reign of the Hoysalas. The presiding deity in the eras gone by was referred to as 'Hakim Nanjunda' (where Hakim means a doctor). This name was give n to the temple by Tipu Sultan, who elephant was totally cured after offering reverence at this very spot. After performing the Urulu Seve ( a ritual where devotees roll on the plantain leaves left behind by Brahmins and sages after their meals), devotees proceed to take a bath in the holy waters of Kapila River. Though shocking in nature to many, this ritual is believed to cure various diseases and cleanse devotees of their sins.
Also known as Nanjundeshwara, Lord Srikanteshwara is referred to as the” God who drank poison”. As per legendary tales, the ocean was churned by both Demons and Gods to procure 'Amritam' (ambrosia). Its emergence was preceded by that of poison, which was drunk in entirety by Lord Shiva. The act was done to prevent the destruction of mankind. It’s believed that his consort, Lordess Parvati, had held his throat tightly –to prevent the poison from spreading into the other parts of his body. This is the reason behind Shiva’s throat turning a deep blue and giving him the name of 'Neelkantha' or blue throated.
The words Nanjanagud mean “the residing place of Lord Nanjundeshwara” and it is famous for its bananas (known as Nanjanagoodurasabale), Ayurvedic products marketed all over India and bi-annual Chariot festival—where all the deities are taken out in a long procession in ornately dressed chariots. The other highlights of this region are Pancha Brindavana (the mortal remains of 5 saints) and Prateekab Sanidhi (idol of Shri Raghaventra Swamy).