Muslim Tryst with Hindu Temples in Mulki has Ancient Roots

April 7, 2021

The unique thing about our country is that we have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and people of all other religions. We have temples and mosques, gurdwaras and churches. But we do not bring all this into politics.” - Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904- 1966), second Prime Minister of India.

Things have changed since Lal Bahadur Shastri made this optimistic statement. Today inter-religious, inter-communal harmony makes headlines like this one below which was widely covered in the print and electronic media: “Muslim man builds Koragajja temple, performs rituals as a priest.”

Shree Durgaparameshwari Temple, Bappanadu (file photo)

The scene is near Mulki on the Mangaluru-Udipi National Highway. It is not the first time that Mulki comes into focus for such reason. The Bappanadu temple, close to Mulky, off the Highway has long inter-religious roots. The temple itself has a history of about 800 years and a Hindu-Muslim harmony angle. Its main deity is Durgaparameshwari and the sub divinity is Ganesh. The story of the temple’s founding, how Durga reached the spot and how the temple came to be built with the help of a Muslim trader is embedded in legend and folklore with very involved episodes.

It all started with the depredations of a demon by name Darigasura. He was destroyed by Durgaparameshwari who, along with her sisters, started on a northward journey from Kanyakumari.

When the party reached Mulki, they decided to rest in a grove of coconut trees. They saw a toddy tapper collecting toddy and requested him to give them seven tender coconuts. As he was shaving off the coconut husk, one coconut got opened which Bhagavati accepted and drank the water. Since he was a Shudra, others in the group ostracised her and proceeded on their northward journey, leaving her behind. She declared that the toddy tapper was her devotee and stayed put there. She transformed herself into a linga and embedded in Mulki between the Shambavi and Nandini rivers.

Enters Bappa Beary, a Muslim trader from Kerala. He was a God-fearing, religious person with tolerance and respect for all religions. He loaded his boat with provisions for sale in far off places along the coast in the north. As he was sailing in the Shambavi River near Mulki, the boat stopped in the middle of the river. As he looked out, he observed the surrounding river water had turned blood-red. With fear and worry, he did his namaz and went to sleep in the stalled boat. A luminescent Durgambike appeared in his dream and said: “There is only one God for the whole world. There are different names for him. You build a temple for me and your name will be remembered forever”. Bappa Beary accepted the demand.

He went to far off places, sold his wares and returned. Again Devi reminded him of her demand and his promise. He went to the local Jain ruler, Dugganna Samantha, and explained his dream. Samantha, with material help from Bappa Beary, constructed the temple. Bappa Beary also set up his home nearby. Thus, the place came to be known as Bappanadu.

Bappa Beary’s descendants lived in an ancient house about one Km from the temple, in a side street off the National Highway in Mulki town. Only the front portion of the heritage house is now remaining and hosts commercial establishments. When the Bappanadu temple Devi is taken in ceremonial procession, Bappa’s descendants are offered prasadam on priority and they, in turn, offer fruits and flowers to the deity. This ritual is adhered to even to this day.










By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Mohan Prabhu, Mangalore/Kankanady, Ottawa/Canada

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    A very interesting and uplifting example of religious harmony which demonstrates to believers in all faiths that there is ONLY ONE almighty god who bears many different names according to practitioners' denominations. By the same token, believers in one faith should not dismiss as fanciful the various avatars in which god appears from time to time in human history - whether it is Rama, Krishna, Christ or Parasurama (though none in Islam) - they have walked with us for a brief period in history until they vanished, or crucified by fundamentalists of other religions.

  • Roshan, Mangaluru

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    There may be million such miracles and stories in India. Yes, they used to happen all throughout our glorious history. That was the beauty of our culture and traditions. They are happening in silence even today. Unfortunately, times have changed and unfortunately, it immediately becomes religion issue and eventuality of communal clashes are more. So, the miracles now happen, they happen in TV studios or mass congregation. Largely they seem to be theatric for those who don't believe and those who believe it reaffirms their faith. Today every religion have digital platform and in platform there are too many things happening with testimonies. How much real it is? None knows. We need more such stories of the past, to make our digital generation open their eyes and mind, beyond what is politically motivated religious belief and traditions.

  • Avinash, Mangalore

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    Hence there is a close link between Shashihitlu Bhagavathi Temple and Bappanadu Durgaparmeshwari Temple. Then then comes the story of bappa beary, which is mentioned above.

  • Avinash, Mangalore

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    There is small change in the story. The Godess disembarked at Shashihitlu, Bhagavathi Godess drank tender coconut from Malyali Billava(Thiya), Hence other sister's were not happy with this . Looking at this Bhagavathi Godess decided to Stay at Shashihitlu, and we, Malyali Billava (Thiya) from who Bhagavathi godess drank tender coconut began to Worship her. Other sister moved ahead with forward journey, and settled @ , bappanadu, ...etc. other 5 places.. And that way we Thiya community got Bhagavathi Godess. ... There is a meeting between Bhagavathi and DurgaParmeshwari at bappnadu. Its called "BETI". This happens during Bappanadu festival. Hence Bhagavathi Godess became Aradhya Godess of Thiya Community. Then Again Bhagavathi Godess wanted place in Mangalore, So approached Shiva present in Kadri Temple, for which Shiva Told that, there is no place in Kadri Temple but Thiya Community (Malyali Billava) will build you a temple in Kudroli. And you(Bhagavathi) can visit me (SHIVA) from South Door of Kadri temple. Hence South Door of Kadri Temple is closed even today, and opened when Kaliyata festival happen in Kudroli Bhagavathi Temple. During this time Bhagavati Godess from Kudroli Temple will visit Shiva Godess from South Door, which will be opened for Bhagavathi.

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    Ancient Temples in Uttar Pradesh were maintained by Muslims ...

  • James P DSouza, Mulki / Abu Dhabi

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    Nice article Mr. Monterio. Should be read by many. This is not just with Hindu / Muslims but the Christian Community at Mulki. We all grew up with hearing about the help of Hindu brothers during Tippu's time. Also the current Immaculate Conception Church premise Mulki also comes from other community God bless this unity and strengthen the bondage thanks again Mr John Monterio

  • Patrick Fernandes, Mulki/Bangalore

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    Nice article and good narrative historical information shared by Mr. John Monterio. All the best.

  • Kuchan, Kudla

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    By John B Monteiro.. Thank you for sharing.. Please keep sharing such historical article in this forum.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Wed, Apr 07 2021

    This is the reason I love my tulunadu, thank you for sharing the story, I had heard it partly from my paternal grandmother who was from mulky but today I know the whole story thanks to you sir. Bappa was a really lucky man to have witnessed the divine mother in person. As the mother said there is one and only one divine and we all have a part of it in all of us... Hence we all should respect and bow to the divinity in each other...

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