Saundatti also known as Sugandavarti and (Savadatti in Kannada) is one of the oldest towns in Belgaum district in the Indian state of Karnataka. It is a celebrated pilgrimage centre located 78 kilometres from Belgaum and 37 kilometres from Dharwad.

The temple of the goddess Yellamma or Sri Renuka devi, is a popular pilgrimage site for Shakti devotees. Every day, hundreds of pilgrims visit the temple with great devotion. The congregation is especially large, crossing the ten lakh mark on two auspicious days Banada Hunnime and Bharathi Hunnime.

The century-old temple of Yellamma is situated atop Yellamagudda, amidst picturesque Ramalinga Hills about 5 km from Savadatti. The deity in the temple is the goddess Yellamma or Ellama or Renuka, revered as a fertility goddess.

According to the legend, the goddess worshiped in the temple is associated with Parasurama’s (an incarnation of Vishnu) mother Renuka, the wife of the sage Jamadagni. She was known for her chastity and devotion to her husband. Such was her faith, that she was able to fetch water from the river in a pot of unbaked clay, with the pot held together only by the strength of her devotion.

One day while at the river, a group of Gandharvas in a chariot passed by in the sky above. Filled with desire for only a moment, the unbaked pot she held dissolved in the river. Afraid to return to her husband, she waited at the river bank, uncertain of what to do next. Meanwhile, Jamadagni noticed his wife had not returned. Through his yogic powers, he divined all that had taken place and was enraged. The sage called his eldest son, handed him an axe and asked the boy to kill his mother. Horrified, the boy refused, and so Jamadagni turned him to stone. He then asked each of his sons, and as they refused, one by one, he turned them to stone. Finally only his youngest son, Parashuram, was left. Ever obedient, the boy beheaded his mother.

Renuka devi’s head multiplied by tens and hundreds and moved to different regions. This miracle made her four sons and others to become her followers, and worship her head.

She is also revered as one of the Saptamatrika or seven divine mothers, who protected the earth and its rulers. The goddess is also known as Yelumakkaltai, meaning “the mother of seven children” in Kannada language. She is a cult figure worshiped by the pastoral community of the Dhangar and Kurumbas of southern Maharashtra and North Karnataka.

There are three water tanks or ponds at the back side of the temple known as Kumkum Kundam, Yoni Kundam, and Arihan Kundam. These are considered holy and are places where people bathe and offer worship.

There is also a sacred well called the Jogal bhavi; the water of this well is believed to cure skin diseases. Another location adjacent to the temple known as Parasurama Kshetra is believed to be the site where Lord Parausrama sat in penance.

Within the temple precincts stand shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesh, Mallikarjun, Parashuram, Eknath, and Siddeshwar.

Festivals are held at the venue of the temple twice a year during October to April. A very large number of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, Goa, and Maharashtra visit the temple during these festivals.



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