Sholiga Tales

The Tiger Reserve takes its name after famous temple of Ranganatha atop this hill. A copper plate record dated 1667 and belonging to Mudduraju, son of Trimalarajanayaka of Hadinadu sheds light on the history of the temple. Here these hills are mentioned as that of Thiru Venkatanatha (reincarnation of Vishnu) of Bilikal (White Rock). In Sanskrit, this hill was called Shwetadri meaning white hill. This is because the hill’s weathered granite cliff face appears white in colour. The Venkatanatha temple became known as Ranganatha temple after Tipu Sultan visited this temple while on a hunting expedition and described it as a temple of Lord Ranganatha. Hence, the name Biligiri Rangananathaswamy Temple Soliga lore recounts how the Lord Vishnu, after slaying an evil demon at some hills nearby was looking to a place to finally rest, and a local tribal God, Siddappaji shows him this cliff. The story continues that the cliff was raised out from the forests around to make a good seat for the . Further the story goes that the first Soliga, Bomme Gowda’s beautiful daughter Pusumale was wooed by none other than Lord Vishnu, cementing a bond between the Soliga people, their Gods and the “mainstream” Hindu culture around. To this day, the temple of Biligiriranga situated on the white cliff (Biligiri in Kannada) has strong linkages with the Soliga community. During its annual festival in March every year, the deity is carried by four Soliga youth …

There is a mysterious tradition and legend about this temple. Anyone visiting the temple can see a huge pair of sandals. Legend has it that the presiding deity Lord Ranganatha to roam around these forests uses these sandals. Interestingly, these sandals wear out and are replaced regularly with new ones by the villagers.