Terming this place of worship a symbol of glorification of dogs would be an understatement and the reason is quite simple. Believe it or not, this sui generis temple in the bustling city of Channapatna in Karnataka has dogs as the main deities. The canine lovers definitely cannot ask for more as they can have a field day at the temple. Don’t be in a rush to pour scorn on the rituals at the temple as dogs, man’s best friend, find mention in Hinduism.
It is believed that heaven and hell are guarded by dogs and the canines are also closely associated with incarnations such as ‘Bhairava’, ‘Yama’ and ‘Muthappan’. The ‘Dog Temple’ is situated in the sleepy small hamlet of Agrahara Valagerahalli, which is 14km away from Channapatna.
‘Nai Devasthana’ Temple
The main temple of Agrahara Valagerahalli is the Veeramasti Kempamma Devi Temple and the villagers over many generations have been worshipping the Kempamma Devi deity. It was decided to renovate the temple 15 years ago and interestingly, two dogs that came from nowhere started to watch over the construction activities of the temple. The dogs that roamed around the temple premises became friendly with the villagers and slowly became part and parcel of the hamlet. Mysteriously, the dogs disappeared into thin air after the renovation works were completed.
After a while, it is said, Kempamma Devi came in a villager’s dream and asked him to find the dogs so that they could protect the temple. Though the villagers searched every nook and cranny of the village for the dogs, their efforts were in vain. As they couldn’t find the dogs, the devotees decided to construct a temple with the two canines as the main deities. A small marble temple for the dogs was constructed near the Kempamma Devi Temple with the help of local businessman Ramesh.
The villagers believe that the dogs would safeguard the hamlet from evil forces. The poojas are held on Sunday, Monday and Thursday in the evening, and the main offerings are fruits and flowers. Goat sacrifice is performed during the temple festival in the middle of August and the meat is given to the dogs in the locality. People from adjoining villages would also attend the grand temple festival.
Many dog lovers, some with their pet dogs, visit the temple on a regular basis. People come to the ‘Dog Temple’ to give names to their pet dogs and pray for their well-being. It may be noted that there are similar temples in Uttar Pradesh. A dog’s tomb is worshipped in a temple 15km away from Bulandshahr, another dog’s tomb on the premises of the Bhairava temple in the Chipiyana village near Ghaziabad is revered and a female dog queen is the main deity of Revan village, which is 65km away from Jhansi. The main deity of the Kurkurdev Temple in Khapri village of Chhattisgarh is also a dog. Dogs are also revered at the Parassinikavu Muthappan Temple in Kerala.