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

3 Comments:

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011 1:48:00 AM  
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