Any devotee visiting a temple of Śiva will not miss seeing a reclining bull facing the Śivaliṅga. It is the Vāhana or mount of Lord Śiva.
In the purāṇas as also in the icono-graphical works, it is called ‘Nandi’ (See NANDI for details.) or Nandikeśvara.
Nandi is always sculptured as a reclining bull whereas Nandikeśvara is shown in a human form with the head of a bull.
Temples dedicated only to Nandi are very rare. There is one such in the Basavanagudi area of Bangalore (now Bengaluru).
This temple is said to have been built by Kempegowda (A. D. 1513-1569) a chieftain under the rulers of Vijayanagara empire, in the year A. D. 1537.
It is perched on the top of a small hillock called the Bugle Rock.
The giant image made of a single granite block, is 5 metres (16.5 ft.) in height and 6 metres (20 ft.) in length.
Initially grey in colour, it has become black over the years, due to the devotees applying coconut oil.
A small rivulet, Viśvabhāratī, is believed to originate from the feet of this bull.
According to the local legend, a ‘divine’ bull used to eat away the entire crop of groundnuts in the nearby area. To pacify this bull, a temple was constructed.
It is said that this stone image of the bull started growing bigger and bigger. As per the advice received from Lord Śiva himself, the devotees placed a triśūla (trident) on its forehead, thereby stopping its growth.
Behind this enormous image, there is a Śivaliṅga which might have been a later addition.
The major festival of this temple called ‘Kaḍalekāyi-pariṣe’ (‘Groundnut-fair’), falls on the last Monday and Tuesday of the month of Kārttika, usually in November. The farmers offer their first harvest of ground-nuts to the Nandi, followed by a fair (village market).
There is an ancient temple of Gaṇeśa, with a huge image nearby.