Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Doddamalur visit

It is my third visit to Doddamallur Aprameya Swamy Temple. We started fairly late. Still I made it a point to do our usual pooja at home. Thus our journey started with a right note. Stopped near Domlur and had our breakfast of home made idlies. But we soon realized that we are running a risk seeing the closed gates of temple. I made a mental prayer to Lord and the journey continued.                           

Once we reached Chennapatna, I was eagerly looking for toy shops on the road rejoicing at the fact that I will be visiting these after the temple visit. The driver rode pretty fast and we reached the temple on time. While my husband ran to ensure priest’s presence at Krishna’s Sannidhi, I sneaked in to have a look at the main deity, Lord Aprameya.

 I was greatly disappointed when the gates were closed. Still I could glance at Lord from a distance. Accepting my fate, I started focusing my eyes on Lord, when the temple priest came and opened the gates for us. My joy knew no bounds. We went nearer and had a good darshan. Still I thought I am unable to see Swami clearly. The garbagraham was lit with ghee lamps only and it was pretty dark inside. Though the sketch of Swami was visible, His features were not clear. When this thought flashed, the priest switched on the tube light at outer praharam, which made me see Swami clearly. I thanked Lord Aprameya heartily and left to see Mahalakshmi Thayar.

 Then we went to Krishnar Sannidhi. Shri Krishna was on a simple alankaram. We had a closer look at Swami here too. Priest gave prasadam, which we fed to our daughter and moved on to do thula baaram for both our kids.

After these rituals, we sat at temple for few minutes, enjoying the prasadam and serene atmosphere. When we came out, I was delighted to show sparrows to my son. He has seen pigeons and crows. Sparrow is something new for him. Got some rice and fed the sparrows.

 Just then, a group of ladies arrived to have darshan of Lord. But unfortunately, the temple was closed by then. A pious old lady in the group prayed sincerely still standing outside the temple. Two very young children were there in the group and the family took shelter in a porch of a house, which was convenient for them to feed the children. On seeing the sight, I felt how thoughtful our ancestors were to design a porch. No need to ask permission from any one for sitting there. Whose ever house it might be, if one wanted to rest, it was verily possible. It is very sorry that our modern homes have compound walls, losing the thinnai in its entirety. I promised myself that one day I will build my house with thinnai in a village.

 We knew that there is an anganwadi(govt. crèche) nearby where small children were taken care. On our last visit, we gave them biscuits packets, but the anganwadi lady, collected those packets from the children, stating that she will distribute after lunch. We doubted whether they got the goodies. Still, this time, we carried some bananas and thought we can distribute only if the children were allowed to eat before our eyes. Thankfully, when we went to anganwadi, the incharge lady was not seen. We gave the bananas, which the children relished as if eating a great treat. It was a simple charity, which gave us immense satisfaction.

Purchased few small idols of Lord Krishna and Lakshmi Narasimha for next year Dasara gifts. By then I saw my husband feeding stray puppies. It all went on well till the big dog came to picutre. I insisted that even the big dog be fed. It seemed to be the mother dog. My husband resisted and I insisted. Succumbing, he fed the
big dog and a bad fight started. One of the puppies was badly hurt. It was sad to see him limping. Our good intentions not always fetch good results.

Then we visited chennapatna for toy purchase. Had our lunch at Kamat. Food was very hot. So hot that my stomach started burning just on seeing the food stuff. We nibbled the food and rushed to car to be back home on time. Over all, it was a trip to remember. Though it left my husband with a dent in his pocket, he did not mind, seeing the dents on our faces:)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Manthralayam and Navabrindavanam trip

It was my long cherished desire to visit manthralayam. Swami willed that I should go and there we found a chance to do so. When I say Swami willed, I really mean it. Unless the appointed hour comes, it is very difficult to make any pilgrimage. This time i could feel it. We did book an accommodation in advance which quoted Rs. 500 per day which we concluded was the normal rate in any hotel in that locality. But the moment we landed on manthralaym road station, I met an elderly couple who have just been to manthralayam speaking Tamil!. So maami told me that decent accommodation was available at Sreenikethan lodge at just Rs. 250 per day. Atleast I felt that Raghavendrar Himself is giving me such an information. So the very step in Mathralaym thus started with a positive note for me.

When we went all the way to the lodge, initially the receptionist refused to give a room stating lodge was full. When we felt stranded, sometime later he again called us and told that a recent cancellation has enabled our accommodation possible. Happily we moved in.

A temple with beautiful deity will attract any person again and again to that place. Especially I like temples which has beautiful and big deities. I do not like going to temples having small sized deities or not so beautifully carved deities. For a person who grew up in Tanjore looking Brahadeeswarar temple, it is difficult to appreciate small sized deities or unattractive deities. Though divinity is same in all such forms, my human mind perceives attraction only in bigger beautiful forms. But I was proved entirely wrong when I visited manthralaym and later Viroopaksha temple.

The first darshan at Manthralyam was immensely satisfying. I communicated my heart’s concern with Ragavendrar and I felt that He was hearing. That place made me to go there again and again.

At mandir daily annadanam is conducted. Devotees should be prepared to spend atleast 1.5 hours in annadanam hall to complete the meal. So those who are in a time crunch, can avoid annadanam. But we had plenty of time at our disposal and made it a point to taste the prasadam.

In the evening, we set towards Panchamukha Anchaneya temple. It requires a short boat ride from manthralaym and atleast 8 kms auto ride. It is the place where Ragavendrar did penace for 12 years. Pleased with his penace, Lord Lakshmi, Narayana, Rudra and Hanuman appeared before him. The structure of rocks near the temple is amazing.

Then we also saw a village deity nearby. By the time we left the temple it was almost 6.45 Pm and was dark. There is absolutely no lighting any where around. From auto stand, with the use of cellphone lights somehow we came to river bank. But to our sorrow, no boat was found nearby. It was utter dark everywhere, and we two had four other pilgrims to our company and were confused what to do. Soon one more big gang joined us, and as our number grew, we became comfortable and confident that some boat man will come. Atlast, after wading through tungabadra waters at night for some time, we did find boatmen. We planned to visit goshala after completing Panchamukha anchaneya temple. But this misadventure did not give us any time to do that and hence after visiting Ragavendrar temple again, we retired to our room.

Next day morning, we had a holy bath at Tungabadra river, followed by darshan of Ragavendrar temple. We took an auto and landed straight to Goshala. The goshala experience was amazing. I am regular to Mambalam Sankara mutt goshala. It houses around 100 to 150 cows and except in few hours of morning, all cows are tied. This tying of cows makes feeding easy for visitors. But manthralaym goshala is really huuuuge. I think it houses around 1000 cows. None of the cows are tied. All roam freely inside. So when we went with good stock of vellam and bananas, we were literally flanked by herd of giant cows. Where ever we went the cows followed and it was both enjoyable and frightening. Then we took the help of a worker there who helped to control cows. It was a great moment of joy to see those cows eagerly gulping vellam pieces or munching bananas. That marked the end of our manthralaym trip.

Our next stop was Navabrindaavanam. From manthralaym we caught a train to Raichur. It was just 30 min journey. From Raichur, four hour journey to Gangavathi. Anegundi is just 8 kms from Gangavathi. Navabrindavanam is a small island. The nearest place where accommodation is available is Anegundi. We went straight to Ragavendrar mutt at Anegundi. They offer lodging facilities and charge a modest Rs. 150 per day. Annadanam at mutt is at 12.30 pm. Othertimes, we have to take our food outside only. Just opposite to Ragavendrar mutt, there is a canteen where food can be ordered.

Next morning, we started to navabrindavan. After an enjoyable 10 minutes boat ride, we landed on the island. The island houses samadhi temple of gurus of Sri Ragavendrar. It is a pretty small island and nothing else is there apart from temple. Even priests come to this place through boat and remain here for few hours and leave. After lighting lamps, circumambulating and praying we left the place.
We decided to explore anegundi further and especially desired to see Anjanadri hills. This is theplace where Anchaneya was born. After climbing well over 550 steps, we hard darshan of Lord Anchaneya.

Tired to the core, we came back to mutt, took some rest and got ready for our journey towards Hospet, from where we had booked our Bangalore train. We thought that if time permits, we can see some Hampi temples on the way. So after an half an hour walk from mutt, we reached the river banks and took a boat to Hampi. It was just 2 minutes ride. After crossing the river, nearby, we saw an old Vittal temple. It was destroyed by mughal invasions. Seeing that temple left me a bit depressed. It is great pain to see just remains of beautifully constructed temple. The marvelously carved stone chariot and superb carvings stood lifeless without deity in garbagraha. Just for a moment I thought why such great fuss is made about Babri masjid issue.

From Vittal temple, we took an auto to Hospet. The autowala promised to show Viroopaksha temple on the way. We saw huge carvings wherever we went. Huge Narasimhar and big Lord Shiva were feast to eyes. At last we landed at Viroopaksha temple. We heard that there is temple elephant inside. We purchased good number of bananas. Fed some to cows outside and took major portion to temple. The giant elephant was standing majestically. As the elephant was already munching something, it just collected the bananas kept them aside . This disturbed us. But in a short while, as if to address our concern, it started eating all bananas. The majestic animal gave a friendly glance at us and much satisfied, we proceeded to see my Lord Shiva.

At Lord Viroopaksha’s sannidhi, devotees were standing far away from the garbha graham. They were not allowed to go nearer. Just one gentle man was standing near garbha graham. When I asked the priest whether I could also go inside, he said, a special abhishekam ticket for Rs. 100 has to be purchased. We immediately paid Rs. 100 and ran towards Lord Shiva. It gave me immense joy seeing my Lord at close quarters. Here also Viroopaksha is a small sized diety. A priest was performing abhishekam to Lord and we witnessed to for few minutes. With utmost satisfaction we came out. Handful of flowers were given to us as Prasad. Unwilling to waste even a bit of flower, I accommodated all of them in my head/hair.

Bhuvaneshwari matha and Parvati Devi also adore the temple. Both of them were beautifully decorated and it was a real feast to eyes. As a completely happy person, I came out of the temple.

At last, we caught the train and came to Bangalore, to address mundane duties.

For traveller's reference:
Sreeniketanam Lodge number: 9885247216, 9885247362
Ragavendra mutt at Anegundi number:08533-267733

Monday, December 20, 2010

சிருங்கேரி Trip

Too short to call it a tour, yet we made it up into a spiritual weekend. Our first destination was Horanadu. From Shimoga, we hired a taxi and proceeded towards Horanadu. The whole drive was pleasant and refreshing. We encountered lot of waterways, few elephants and coffee estates on the way. After nearly 4 hours we reached Horanadu. It is a village completely surrounded by forest. The view surrounding the temple was really startling.

We got an accommodation in Temple trust itself. After an hour, we came out refreshed, ready to visit Annapoorni temple. Ma Annapoorni is in a standing posture and is quite gigantic in thanga kavasam. Annadhanam is a regular feature at the temple and it is unique to note that both at Horanadu and at Sringeri, they first serve rasam, followed by sambhar payasam and buttermilk. As I was fasting, while others enjoyed their afternoon meal, I sneaked in my tiffen box at adige mane(kitchen) to collect some poha which I can enjoy in the evening.

On our way, we got down at Kalasa to see Kalaseshvarar and Sarvangasundari Ambal. It was another three hours journey to Sringeri. When we reached Sringeri, we were utterly tired that my eyes begged an immediate sleep. But for few hours we dodged our eyes and went inside the mutt to see Jagadguru doing pooja.

Initially, my Kanchi slaved mind compared this Acharya and that Acharya for every now and then and made me wonder whether the trip will be peaceful or an internal turmoil as usual. Thankfully, I convinced myself as I was the only person seeing the difference, while the rest of my company were in their cool self.

Sringeri is best-suited spiritual destination because of serene atmosphere, which surrounds the temple. While outside mutt Mother Nature spreads her love, inside mutt, Sharadambal marks her strong presence that it is close to impossible to take leave of her. After a hearty and fulfilling darshan, we left for Guru darshan.

We did Bhikshavandanam and pada pooja and sought His blessings. At mutt, free lunch and dinner is served to all devotees. Though food quality is good, administrative sluggishness is too high that eating there is not always a pleasant experience. But when ma Sharadha has already made us content, this slight inconvenience could not displease us.

Atlast, we had to start for our train. Unwilling to leave, I paid a final visit to Sharadambal and joined our gang. Overall, it was a very well spent weekend.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

காசி பயணம்

An ideal place I would consider to be my retirement home. That is what I have to say about Kasi. There cannot be a more perfect concoction of traditional and modern outlook. Both Ganga Matha and Gomatha are too very generous in Kasi that milk flows as free as Ganga throughout the Kasi town. Every street has one or two yadav brother’s shop as its face lift. And these shops provide everything right from hot milk, malai, dahi and to add to all these bread bajji(that is how my south Indian mind perceives this stuff).

I think this is the only town where in sanatana dharma’s varnashram is still existing atleast with slightest resemblance to original version. We still have dhobhies, mallas(boatmen) and yadavs doing their respective jobs. Not to mention, we still have Brahmins who stick to vaideegam in huge number in this holy place. Seeing the scenario there, I do not think that people repent for still following their caste based jobs.

We landed straight at Allahabad and had a short stay at shiva madam. We performed Veni Dhanam. A religious ceremony wherein woman gives small part of her hair as dhanam to triveni matha. This veni dhanam just happens once in life time of a woman. Boat ride in Triveni was refreshing. After Hiranya Srartham, we proceeded towards Kasi. I was too very excited to reach kasi.

Three full days in Kasi was tight packed. I never felt that I am new to the holy place. After our first trip to Vishwanath Temple, subsequent trips were relatively easier. Viswanath Temple was always full up with both humans and monkeys. While we humans patiently wait in long queue to have darshan of Lord Viswanath, the monkeys patiently wait on temple walls and gopurams to get a chance to grab any edible stuff the devotees have. The unique thing about Viswanath temple is that every God except Annapoorni is only in Lingaroopam. Dandapani, Vishu are all there in Viswanath temple but in Lingaroopam.

After pitru karma and visits to Annapoorni and Viswanath Mandir, one day was planned for visiting other temples in and around Kasi. One temple which I visited with much devotion was Lord Kalabairava’s temple. He is the guard of Kasi. There are eight Kalabairava temples in each of the eight directions of Kasi. It is said that any person who visits Kasi should pay a mandatory visit to lord Kalabairava’s temple also. Another mandatory visit is to Choudi Amman’s temple. Only on visiting her, the Kasi trip gets completed.

The fourth day was planned at Gaya. It was tedious day at Gaya. Pitru karma lasted almost till three o clock. When we were in Akshaya Vat, Sastrigal enthusiastically narrated gaya asuran’s tale that we were all ears to hear it. After fasting for full day, we had a so so meal at around 4 PM. Then immediately we headed towards Budh Gaya.

For our fifth day, we were back to Kasi. Left with no religious rite to perform, the whole two day were entirely for us. We utilized these two days to have a hearty darshan of Lord Viswanath and Annapoorni. Annapoorni devi was too very kind to us that one day she fed us her prasadam and the next day she fed us a full meal. We were really excited and happy to eat her prasadam. I felt as if Annapoorni has showered her full grace on me(us).

With lot of good memories which will stay with me for years to come, we were ready to head towards Bangalore.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

crazy kirukkal

விதவிதமாய் குரலெழுப்பி
ஏதேதோ பேசுகின்றாய்
யாரென எட்டிப்பார்தால்
மரத்தினிடை ஒளிகின்றாய்

வானளக்கப் பிறந்துள்ளாய்
கீழோன் எனை அஞ்சுவதேன்?
பார்க்கத்தானே விழைகின்றேன்
அதையும் கூடத் தடுப்பது ஏன்?

உன் உலகம் என் வியப்பு
அதைக்காண ஏன் மறுப்பு?
என் உலகும் குறைந்ததில்லை
நீ வந்திருக்கத் தடையும் இல்லை

நீ கூடு கட்டி வாழ்ந்திட
என் கூடத்தில் இடமுண்டு
நீ இரை தேடப்போகையிலே
உன் வீட்டிற்கென் காவலுண்டு

நான் பொங்கி வைக்கும் சோற்றினிலே
உனக்கென்று பங்கு வைத்து
நீ கொத்தித் தின்னும் அழகினை
ரசித்துப் பார்க்கும் எண்ணமுண்டு

எனைக் கண்டு அஞ்சுவதில்
பலன் என்ன கண்டுவிட்டாய்?
தீங்கிழைப்பேன் என நீயும்
எதைக்கண்டு எண்ணிவிட்டாய்?

உலகம் சுற்றும் சிறு சிட்டே
உன் மீது காதல் கொண்டேன்
நான் ஆசை தீர உனைப்பார்க்க
சற்று நெரம் வந்திடு நீ

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Trip to Mudumalai

Who will not enjoy being in the lap of Mother Nature? We recently enjoyed the happiest weekend by being in Mudumalai. Chirping birds, green carpet and water bodies are part and parcel of their life, unlike we urbanities to whom these are luxuries.

We landed at Jungle Homes at Mudumalai. Horse riding and nature walk occupied first half of the day. As we were exploring a small water body, a sudden breaking noise attracted us and we were excited to see an elephant that was enjoying its feast. We were able to get a closer look.

Some abandoned birds (was told to us as ‘hornbills’) were given a new home there. It was strange to see small birds eating pooris and chapathis.

The next half of the day really disappointed us, as safari in Bandipur was cancelled due to heavy rain. It seems they no longer do jeep safaris. Only van safari was available and that too got cancelled due to continuously pouring skies.

The distance from Jungle home to Bandipur is almost 20 kms. Whenever we search the net for accommodation in bandipur, Jungle home comes first in the search result. Our enquiry did not enlighten us about the quantum of distance. So our choice of stay proved wrong. Personally, I feel the money paid to Jungle home was not worth. The rooms were not great and food was in ok to terrible range. (they charge Rs. 410 per person per day compulsorily for food). Jungle Home is lesser than a resort and greater than a lodge and thus fails to make a mark. But there is a point to mention. The proprietor is kind hearted and courteous enough which made these things tolerable.

The next day early in the morning we were in Mudumalai for safari. It was a pleasant experience. We sighted Bison, deers and peacock. The safari was enjoyable and made us to yearn more.

We also saw elephant feeding camp. This is for tamed elephants which work in Mudumalai forest. The session was wonderful as the mahuth gave a lot of information about elephants. They were fed a mix of kollu, ragi and rice. It seemed the huge animals were thoroughly enjoying their feed. Once the feeding was over, as if to end the meal with sweet, they were fed sugar cane. Apart from the normal food which they have in the forest, this feeding was to boost their strength.
What we missed was elephant safari. Sitting on an elephant and enjoying a ride in the forest would have been different and wonderful. But safari was already booked to full.

After this, we headed towards Gopalswamy Betta. There is no doubt that Karnataka is beautiful. Mother Nature had been too liberal with Karnataka that the whole state boasts of mountains, water and wild life. The scenic beauty of Gopalswamy betta was wonderful. Even wonderful is Lord Krishna in the temple atop.

I think Lord Krishna is in one of His happiest of homes, thoroughly pampered by nature.
After those blissful moments, we headed towards Mysore for a short trip to Brindavan Gardens. Musical fountain and other fountains were thoroughly enjoyable. The crowd was too heavy. No, it was toooooooooooooooo heavy. Eateries are flooding through out the campus. But adequate measures were taken to control the crowd. I wonder safety measures may require a revisit there.

So with Brindavan Gardens, our trip ended and unwillingly I am looking forward for a boring Monday at Bangalore.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Shimoga Trip

It is wild. Any human presence is generously allowed by nature. While the Shimoga city is like any other city, inside of shimoga presents a different picture offering sheer luxury to nature lovers.
In addition to her bounty like the mighty jog falls, copious other waterfalls, the animals, the temples, the view points and the sanctuaries, the green carpet and silvery water which liberally fills whole of the district itself is enough to make the city dwellers dumbstruck. There is a lot to explore and find at this place. A best bet for adventure tourism.
14 kms from shimoga city, river Tunga crosses the speed breaker. Gajanur dam is wonderful and one can take a closer look at her at full speed. At the time we visited, the dam was fully opened, allowing her to flow with all valors. A few kilometers from Gajanur, at Sakrebayalu, wild elephants are tamed. Early in the morning, these elephants have a lavish and lazy bath, with mahouts taking the pain of cleaning them thoroughly. Lined up after the bath, they are fed and left inside the forests.

Elephant Camp
Koodali, 16 kms from Shimoga city is a place where rivers Tunga and Badra confluence. Surrounded by various age-old temples and a temple established by Sankaracharya the beauty and serenity combination is so wonderful that place should not be missed in anyone’s must see list.

The bird sanctuary at Mandagadde disappointed us since there was no boating due to heavy rains. Unmindful, the birds seemed to have their good time there, enjoying our deprival. The sanctuary houses three varieties of beautiful migratory birds, Egrets being the majority. Lion and tiger safari at Tyarekoppa is not to be missed.

Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary

Sagar taluk at shimoga district houses the legendary jog falls. July to January being the correct season for the falls, river sharavathi was taking a spectacular leap, leaving us to gape at her. Sharavathi makes four different falls before hitting the ground. Raja, rocket, roarer and rani. One can also have closer look at Raja and Rani before they make a fall. Raja is wild and irrepressible and still generous enough to allow us to walk through his wildness. A close to death view allows us to appreciate the full height of the falls. A guide should accompany this viewing strictly. Different views of the falls can be caught at different points, each being as thrilling as the other.

Lot more in stock nearer to Sagar. Prearranged nature camp, Guduvi bird sanctuary, Honnemaradu Island with water games, Ikkeri and Keladi temples. The weather has to be conducive for nature camp and bird sanctuary. Sagar is the favorite place for rain God, and shrubs and greens manifesting the abundance of rainfall occupy even the rooftops of houses. An ill prepared trip may spoil the mood.

A closer look at Jog

Though the temples are magnificent and wonderful, it is sad that they are ill maintained and full of algae. Insides are extremely slippery and harder than a climb to a rocky mountain. A careless step could be pleased with a mighty fall, drenching our dress thoroughly with the liberally spread water on the floor.

The most enthralling and peaceful village Agumbe is located 30 kms from Thirthahalli Taluk of Shimoga District. It seems that there is one water fall for every 4 or 5 kms and no local cares to visit any. Abbey falls, Jogigundi falls and Barkana falls gives an excellent view. But the help of local guide is needed as these falls are inside the forest and paths to them takes several bends and turns and one should not feel unease with leeches. Only a daring spirit will have its reward proper.

Jogigundi falls
The sunset point at Agumbe is beautiful. Someshwara and Bandipur Sanctuary are nearer. 30 kms from Agumbe, one can have a hearty trek on Kundadri.

Though whole of shimoga district is connected properly through wide number of private buses, shimoga is so wild that some of its places are sparsely populated and a wait for a bus at wee hours of evening may leave one anxious to reach home safely. Hence the day has to be planned well in advance if one chooses to take the service of these local buses. But a journey in one’s own vehicle would be unquestionably luxurious and independent.

Shimoga is a treasure. Wildness presented as such. Interested and patient souls never go out of the district with disappointment. To enjoy the trip thoroughly, remember information is wealth. Armed with as many information as possible, the trip is bound to be a sure success.

Good food at reasonable rates can be enjoyed at Shimoga city. Also, decent accommodation is available at best price. Average cost per day for accommodation could be in the range of Rs. 400- Rs. 800. Hotel Jewel Rock gives good comfort and can be contacted at 08182-223051.