Polali Shri Rajarajeshwari: Temples Around Mangalore

The Polali Shri Rajarajeshwari Temple is seen as giving sanctity to the kshetra – the entire area. On the eastern side are the Ranjagiri hillock and the Bayalu Bettu – plain land.


The picturesque place Polali on the banks of river Phalguni is located approximately at a distance of 21 kms from Mangalore. The river originating from Kudremukh mountain range flows on the northern flank of the temple from east to west and takes a turn towards north-west direction to flow down south.


Earlier Polali was known as ‘Holall’, which means a town, so, the kshetra must have been a town long back.. Before the destructive river spate in 1446, it is believed that there were many houses and palaces in Polali that confirms that it was a flourishing township. Later by usage, it came to be pronounced as Polali.

After the spate except for the sanctum sanctorum all other portions of the temple were washed away by the flood. Hence there are no stone edicts to depict the age and historical importance of the place.

According to a few stone inscriptions that are with the Mysore Government, it is believed that the temple was under the domain of the Alupa King. It was also under the rule of dynasties like Kadambas, Hoysalas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakootas and the Palegars – feudal chieftains – like Ballals, Chautas and Bangas.

The legend

When an evil asura named Bhandasura created trouble in the three lokas-world -heaven, hell and earth, unbalancing the rule of the trimurthi’s, all the devatas escaped from their respective palaces and lived on mountains disguised as humans. Saint Narada gives them the advice of asking the assistance of the supreme Goddess Shri Devi who was responsible for the creation of the three main devas-Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Hence, the devatas make a holy fire-yaga, to please the Goddess and begin offering themselves to the fire to please the goddess.

Listening to the anguished prayer of the Devas, Goddess Shridevi appears before them as Shri Bhuvaneshwari Lalitha. All the assembled Devas fall at her feet and ask her to protect them from the evil Bhandasura. The Goddess asks them not to fear. In the meanwhile, the Devas created a small heaven named Manidweepa, where the Goddess had appeared and crowned her the queen. However, a queen is supposed to rule only with a man by her side, hence they married her to Kamashiva, and she acquired the name of Rajarajeshwari. The devas started living there. So engrossed were they in rejoicing the newfound shelter under the powerful Goddess, they forgot all their responsibilities and spent time in merry making. (The responsibilities we speak of here are Brahma’s sristi (creation), Vishnu’s sthithi (even maintenance) and Shiva’s laya (destruction)-for the world to function evenly)

Saint Narada was worried, for Bhandasura’s atrocities were on the increase and the Goddess had not yet done anything to vanquish him. He visits the Goddess and asks her to protect the three lokas which were falling to pieces without Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara- known as the Holy Trinity. Likewise, Shri Devi sends them to their respective Lokas, and accompanied by all her powerful Yoginis (created out of her own being), she rides on the Shrichakra, her divine vehicle and fights the evil Bhandasura for five days finally destroying him in the evening of the fifth day.

The victorious Devi returns to Manidweepa. The three gods then created 16 Kshetras for the Goddess to stay and Shridevi created 16 forms of herself and stationed herself in these places. One of them is Shrinagar (in Kashmir).

So how did she appear in Polali?

Polali Shri Rajarajeshwari Devi

Sutha Maharaja, when he could not fight a hunter tribe called Kolavidhvaunshi, felt ashamed of his weakness and ran off to a forest. There he took shelter with Sumedha maharshi, an ascetic. He meets a wealthy man Samadhi, belonging to the Vaishya caste who had been driven away from his home by his wife and children, in order have all his money. Yet, he is always worried about the welfare of his wife and children. Sutha Maharaja is surprised at his behavior. So he asks him, ” why are you bothered about them who have no care for you?” Samadhi answers him that it is because of maaya (illusion) in our nature. This maaya has been created by Goddess Mahamaya, an incarnation of Rajarajeshwari.

Sumedha mahamuni tell them about the power of Rajarajeshwari and asks the king and the vaishya to pray to this Goddess for help. They meditate on the banks of river Phalguni, by creating a clay statue of Goddess Rajarajseshwari, which later became the temple. The subjects of Sutha Maharaja come to fetch him saying the hunter tribe has been defeated and Sutha should now rule over them. Samadhi’s family too come to him and beg his forgiveness. Thus, the Goddess helps them both.

The Goddess is thought to grant the wishes of her devotees, when they pray fervently.

The templePolali_Rajarajeshwari_Temple_festival_1

The main attraction of the Kshetra, is the Rajarajeshwari temple. It attracts pilgrims from far and wide. Various parts of the temple is constructed on terraces. The garbhagudisanctum sanctorum of the temple is built at a height of about four feet from the ground, facing the east side. From the centre of the garbhagudi, extending again on the east side is the mukha mantapa – facing the garbhagudi, which is at the ground level. The outer most parts of the temple is a feet below the mukha mantapa. The mukha mantapa is balanced on four wooden pillars which have intricately carved creepers with flowers, and different forms of men and women.

The deities have been carved according to the shilpa shastra – the Indian school of sculpture and architecture. The entire temple has copper plated roofing. The entrance portal is a stone construction. The garbhagudi has three entrances. As you enter through the central entrance, you will see the Maha simhasan – the throne, on which the idol of Shree Rajarajeshwari, – the presiding deity is enthroned. Popularly referred as Ammanavaru or Devi, the idol is bearing the Varabhaya mudra – sign of blessing and security. She is flanked on both sides by the fanning idols of Goddesses Laxmi and Saraswathi. The other idols surrounding the main idol are the Subramanya Swami, Ganapathi, Brahma Batuka and Vishnu Batuka. (Batuka means a dwarf). Near the feet of the Goddess are the idols of Bhadrakali Devi with a garland of heads and another idol of Shivadoothi bearing the sword. Also found are idols of Manthresh, Mathrukeshwari and Karalee Devi. On the walls are the carvings of the four Bhairavas representing the asthabhairavas. Close to the right foot of the goddess is the idol of Rajamatangi with her musical instrument dandike and near the left foot is the idol of Dandanatha Devi depicting taala – the musical beats. In between the foot is a small peacock, the vahana – vehicle of lord Subramanya. At the foot of idol of Bhadrakali Devi is an image of vixen. Since the idol of Goddess Rajeshwari is constructed of clay, the biggest in Karnataka, abhisheka which is an invariable ritual in Hindu temples, cannot be performed. Hence, small replica of the Goddess in bronze has been installed for the purpose. The faces of all the idols are mesmerizing. The eyes of the goddess seem to be looking at us, in any of the direction.

Outside, in the precincts of the temple is a small temple of Goddess Durgadevi. A six feet idol of Kshetrapal-the guard of the temple is also found nearby along with his wife clad in a red sari.

The front of the temple has Dwajastambha – the flagpole – which is copper plated and on the tip is a small idol of peacock facing the west. The dome of the temple is two storeyed and enormous. In the temple courtyard is a large Bhojana shala – the dining hall.


Simha Sankramana, Gokulashtami, Kadiru Habba, Navaratri Habba, Deepavali, Karthika Bahula Padya, Lakshadeepotsava, Subramanya Panchami and Subramanya Shasti, Dhanurmasa utsav, Dande-maale Utsav and Chendina Utsav, Mahashivarathri utsav, the annual car festival, Sauramana Ugadi and the Hathanedya habba.

Chendina Utsava: A game of throwing ball. This game or ritual attracts many a people to this temple during the month long jatha. The game is held for five days. The size of the ball is quite large and made of leather by the samagara family. The ball is symbolic of the head of asura.

When members belonging to the ‘Sanje Guthu’ occupy their respective places in the temple courtyard, The members of ‘Sapaliga’ family bring the ball and an umbrella made from olegari-palmyra leaf. The participants of the game are identified by the mundasu on the head. Everybody then prays to the goddess. The opposing teams are from Aamunje and Mulali, and people of Mallur- Bellur can join any team they wish. The other rules of the game are just like rugby. When one of the teams has scored three goals. It heralds the finish of the game. This game is played for five days. On the fifth day an offering of betel leaves– veelyadele honors the eminent people.

Every day of the game a chariot is taken round the temple premises. These Chariots are the Kumara Teru, Hu Teru, Surya Mandala Ratha and on the fourth day it is the Chandra Mandala Ratha. On the fifth day, the God is carried in a palanquin. A surprising feature in Polali, is that, though the presiding deity is Rajarajeshwari, the car or the Chariot festival is held for Subramanya Swamy. Various musical instruments accompany the entire period of the game and the game is held in strict discipline.

A special aspect of the temple is its one month long jatha-fair, which one of the longest held jathas in India. During this time, the goddess is dressed in novel forms and with a tightly woven garland of kepala -ixora flowers. This is the Dandemaale Utsav The priest who officiates during this month long affair belongs to the Moodbidri Chauta family. The main daivas are the Kodamanithaya and the Oolipadi and various rituals are performed to please them, for the festivals to proceed without any hitch.

Important days

Friday is the auspicious day for devi temple. But there is a steady stream of devotees visiting the shrine to thank the deity for favours received.

Address :
Shri Rajarajeshwrai Temple
Polali, Bantwal
Dakshina Kannada,


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