Thursday, March 15, 2012

Navavrindavana Darshana

Normally i refrain from writing about religion and my views on it. Religion is a matter of very personal opinion and practice. In my opinion there is nothing like an "Absolute religion" or the "greatest religion".

Even here, though the title of the blog has a reference to religion, i am not writing about my religious views about the places we visited during our trip. This blog is just about the travel experience.

Onward Route
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Last week, myself and couple of my friends, Kiran Rao and Sameer set out for a pilgrimage to Mantralaya. En route we decided to visit Hampi and few temples around it. None of us had seen Hampi in spite of staying in Karnataka for about 28 years. We thought it is a matter of shame that being born and raised in karnataka, we have not seen Hampi. So it was a good chance to visit Hampi since it is on the way to Mantralaya.
Our initial schedule was to leave Bangalore on 6 of March and get back on 7 of March. But due to some unavoidable reasons we had to reschedule the trip to 9 and 10 of march.

River Tungabhadra near Hospet
I got up at 2:30 AM on Thursday,  9 of March. After my bath and prayers (ಸ್ನಾನ , ಸಂದ್ಯಾವಂದನೆ),  i left home at 4 AM hoping to pick up Sameer at 4:15 AM. Sameer stays in Rajajinagar which is about 14 Kms from my place. Thanks to "Metro" work and some diversions on the ring road, i managed to reach his house at 4:30 AM. From there we headed towards Kiran rao's house, picked him up at about 4:40 AM and headed towards Hampi.

We reached Hampi at about 11 AM. We then walked (trekked) upto the Yantrodharaka pranadevaru's (Hanuman) temple located on the Anjaneyadri hills at Hampi.  The Hanuman idol here is installed by Sri Vyasaraja theertharu (The rajaguru of the Vijayanagara empire). After the darshana of Pranadevaru, we headed back to Hospet for lunch. We had our lunch (theertha prasada) at the uttaradhi matha in hospet. The food at the matha was delicious. Since it was holi that day,the menu had some festival delicacies like Holige and paysa. The whole city had people playing with colours. 

Crossing the Tungabhadra river
After the prasada at Uttaradhi matha, we set out for Navabrindavana near Anegundhi. There are two routes to get to navavrindavaha from Hospet. From hospet, one can reach anegundhi via Gangavathi and take a boat ride (ತೆಪ್ಪ) from there. The other route is to get to Hampi, from hampi to Kamalapura and get to Vijaya vittala temple. From Vijaya vittala temple, one can drive for about 2.5 Kms (If there are no rains). Then one has to walk for about half a Km to reach the banks of river Tungabhadra. One can take a boat ride from there to reach Navavrindavana. The former route via Anegundhi involves two boat rides while the latter involves only one. But getting a boat is little difficult.

Road to Navavrindavana 
We decided to take the latter route. We reached Vijaya vittala temple and started driving towards Navavrindavana. After a few hundred meters, the road got really bad but we continued to drive. After about a kilometer or so the road ended abruptly. We encountered a huge ditch. By this time the car chassis had already taken a few blows. It was just impossible to to cross the ditch and we were in no mood for further adventure. We tried backing up the car but it was near impossibility. The width of the so called road was just about same as that of the car.

Finally back  
So we were at a point with no road ahead and almost impossible to reverse or turn. So three of us got a little worried and started wondering what to do. I took a few steps back and found a slightly marshy patch of land. A vague thought crossed over my mind to maneuver the car over this small piece of land. So Sameer and kiran rao stood in front of the car and guided me with distances. The rear sensors and its bizarre beeps guided me on the rear side. The other problem was the slightly slippery land. But thank god, i somehow managed to turn the car with a few maneuvers. The last turn was barely a few millimeters away from touching the tree on my right side. The whole exercise took nearly 45 minutes and the car escaped unhurt.

I drove the car a little distance and parked it. We walked from there for about half a kM to the banks of river Tungabhadra. We dint find anybody there. After a while a man showed up there but he was not the boatman. He started shouting for the boatman on the other bank. But no one was at sight for good 15 minutes. Finally the boatman arrived . He crossed the river with his boat and took us inside. He took us to the other bank.

Again from there, the navavrindavana is about 400 metres. I walked barefoot (since i had no patience to put on the shoes) on the hot sand and rock to finally reach the Navavrindavana.

Navavrindavana is the abode of 9 disciples of Sri Madhvacharya . It is a peaceful holy place on the banks of river Tungabhadra. It was late afternoon when we reached there after our "circus". It was still hot and the sun was twinkling on the tungabhadra river. Absolutely no one was there near the vrindavana. Since the Aradhane of sri Vyasaraja theerta was just a few days away, some temporary shelters were erected on the periphery of the vrindavanas.

There must be something about the place. The solitude and tranquility of the place was something special. Nice cool breeze was blowing across the river and there was strange calmness around (normally not associated with the Mathas). We spent about 30 minutes there and started the trek back to the river. Our boatman was waiting for us. On our return journey, we tasted the sweet waters of Tunabhadra constantly sterilized or rather purified by the hot sun blazing on it.

Vijaya Vittala temple, Hampi
It was almost 4 PM by the time we reached the Vijaya vittala temple. There was no way we could see Hampi. So we had to settle with the Vijaya vittala temple. We took a buggy ride to the temple. Vijaya vittla temple is a treat to any art lover. The magnificence of the place is just beyond words. So one can imagine the grandeur of the Vijayanagara empire during its heyday. We were totally consumed by the place. We spent two hours around the temple before the security people asked us to leave.

Vijaya vittala temple is a very small portion of Hampi. We could not see the entire Hampi. We decided that we will come back again with more time at our disposal so that we can spend quality time to appreciate the grandeur that Karnataka was.

We left for Mantralaya at about 6 PM from Hampi. Next round of our romance with bad roads started right away. Our lifeline "Google maps" showed us the road to Mantralaya. No doubt the road was present as per the map. But it was the road only on paper (rather phone). In reality there was no road there. The state highway connecting Hampi to Adoni via Bukkasagara, Kampli and siruguppa was just pathetic. There was hardly any patch of asphalt all the way till Adoni from Hampi. At certain sections, water had inundated low lying bridges. It was quite a task negotiating those roads.

Awful stretch of state highway. 
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One savior for me while negotiating those awful roads was the discussion i picked up with Sameer.   We discussed truth, God, lust and a host of other philosophical and metaphysical matters. It was a captivating discussion. Kiran Rao meanwhile had decided a nap would help during the discussion.

I was tired of driving by the time we reached Adoni. I handed over the keys to Kiran Rao and he drove till Mantralaya. We reached Mantralaya at 12 in the midnight having driven for more than 6 hours from Hampi.

The next day after the pada pooje to sri Guru Raghavendra,  we had multiple darshanas to sri Guru Raghavendra . Since the temple was not very crowded, we could easily get multiple darshanaas of sri Guru Raghavendra. 
After theertha prasada (Lunch) at Mantralaya, we left for Bangalore at about 1:30 PM. We hit the national highway soon near goothy. From there we just zipped through the awesome four lane highway to reach Bangalore by 8 PM. 

It was a very satisfying trip.

{Some photos of the trip are here}

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