Serpents have been worshipped by many cultures across the globe from very ancient times. Temples dedicated to serpents were quite widespread in Kerala villages and so were the traditional singers ('Pulluvan') playing ritual music to appease the serpent gods.
Even today, the ritual of offering milk and quicklime to serpent gods is followed at many temples. The Hindus believe that serpents have divine powers. Many art forms originated in Kerala in the articulation of appeasement rituals favouring serpent gods. The belief that assuaging serpents ensures prosperity is decades old.
There are many well-known temples in India dedicated to serpents. The temple with the largest serpent idol in the world is in India. The Mukthi Naga Temple at Bangalore has a 16-ft tall monolithic serpent idol weighing 36 ton. The Mukthi Naga Temple was constructed only in recent times. The place where the temple stands today was chiefly inhabited by the people from the 'Golla' community some 200 years back.
They worshipped the serpent god 'Nagappa.' Locally, the snake god was called 'Junchappa.' They believed that the serpent god, more than 100-years-old and 25-ft-long, lived there and protected the village. This was a long time before the construction of the temple.
This temple complex comprises of many subordinate shrines and numerous idols. The Mukthi Naga is worshipped in four forms of Lord Subrahmania. These forms represent the four stages of life including childhood. Renuka Yellamma is worshipped as a subordinate deity near the entrance of the temple. Besides the idols of 'Aadi Mukthi Naga,' 'Pattaalamma,' Lord Narasimha, Siddhi Vinayaka et al, there are about 107 smaller idols of the snake gods within the temple complex.
The tradition is that prayers are offered to the Mukthi Naga idol only after praying to the Siddhi Vinayaka and circumambulating the idol nine times. The faithful can make offerings of small serpent idols in addition to attending special evening pujas and conducting rituals. People believe that the snake gods live in the snake-hill here and circumambulating the snake-hill 9 times for 90 days will ensure the fulfilment of wishes.
How to reach
This temple is at 18 km from Bangalore on the Bangalore-Mysore road. From Kengeri, it is just 5 km.