Yellamma Temple, situated in the Bijapur District of Belgaum, is visited by pilgrims from both Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. This temple in Karnataka is visited by several travelers each year. In the southern parts of India the deity is known by names such as MahanKali, Jogamma, Gundamma, Pochamma, Maisamma, Jagadambika, Holiyyamma and Renuka. As a result the Yellamma Temple in Karnataka is also known as Renuka Devi temple. According to historical sources this temple dates back to 12th century.
The principal idol here is Goddess Yellamma. According to legends Yellamma is an incarnation of Goddess Kali. Kali on one hand symbolizes the death of the ego and on the other hand she is looked up as a mother figure who is very compassionate where her children are concerned. According to history the ritual of Devadasis were quite popular. Devadasis literally means the servants of the gods. These Devadasis were women who dwelt in the temple and educated as courtesans or artists. In ancient ages the works of temples were looked after by these women.
There are many stories that are prevalent about the temple. One of most famous ones is that Renuka was married to a sage called Jamadagni and had 5 sons. One day while returning from the river she got engaged in watching young people play by the riverside. She got late in returning home. Her husband became suspicious of her chastity and ordered his sons to punish her. Four of her sons declined. In his rage the sage turned them into eunuchs. Her fifth son, Parashurama, however, complied by his father`s order.
He beheaded his mother. Surprisingly, however, Renuka`s head kept on multiplying and moved to different regions. This made her sons as well as other people worship her. The followers of Yellamma are mostly poor people who come from Karnataka and the neighboring states to participate in the festival of Bharat Hunnime or Durga Puja. During this time Goddess Yellamma is worshipped as a manifestation of Shakti or prowess.