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Friday, March 9, 2018

Udupi Sri Krishna Temple

16 & 17-2-2018: From Murudeswara we traveled 102 Kms southwards along the coast towards Udupi via Bhatkal, Bhaindur, Koteswar & Brahmavar. We had no prior hotel booking and therefore scoured around a bit in the vicinity of the Sri Krishna Temple before settling for Hotel Ocean Pearl. Rooms were nice & cosy and we got a good discount after a vigorous bargain with a good natured and amiable Bihari lad at the front office. We were weary after almost a full days road travel and we simply sunk into the comfortable cushiony beds for some well entitled rest. After a revitalizing shower and a change of attire we went for dinner to the Coral Multi cuisine fine dine restaurant. The menu card had a wide selection of North Indian, Mughlai & Continental dishes to choose from. Some of us had Penne Pasta in Pesto Sauce, Vegetable Au Gratin, Baby Corn Golden fry amongst other dishes. We enjoyed a pleasant and enjoyable evening, good service & great ambiance
Next morning I had to stay back in the room due to sudden stomach disorder and the rest of the group went ahead with visit to the famous Udupi Sri Krishna Temple.
Thousands of  devotees throng the Krishna temple all round the year to catch a glimpse of Lord Krishna. The unique feature of this temple is that the Lord is worshiped only through an exquisitely carved and silver plated window with nine holes called the Navagraha Khidiki
A pleasing & customer friendly Front Office at Ocean View
The Entrance to The Sri Krishna Temple Udupi
The Holy tank or teertham
A  captivating selfie with brightly festooned temple chariots in the background 
Posing alongside a huge statue of an ancient soldier
After visit to the Temple at Udupi we checked out and departed for Mangalore via Mulki & Kateel. At a distance of 29 Kms from Udupi, Sri Venkata Ramana Temple located in Mulki is a 12th century temple dedicated to Sri Venkateswara. Mulki is situated on the banks of River Shambavi on NH 17 between Mangalore & Udupi. Sri Venkataramana, Bindu Madhava, Lord Vittala and Ugra Narasimha are worshiped in this temple. The presiding Lord of this Temple is popularly known as Volalanke Ugra Narasimha. The Sthala Purana says that Lord Hanuman on his way back carrying the Sanjeevani mountain of herbs mistook this beautiful locality for Sri Lanka and started descending. But soon he realised that this is not Lanka and therefore at once ascended and resumed his journey calling this as Volalanke or fake Lanka.The word Mulki is actually derived from Moolikapura. Moolika – means medicinal herbs. People say that a few herbs had fallen here in Mulki from the mountain of herbs that Hanuman was carrying and hence the herbs and medicinal plants grew here. The priests at Mulki informed us that food was ready and it was customary of all devotees to eat there. As we were short of time we expressed our apologies and proceeded on our teertha yatra.
The deity at Venkataramana Temple at Mulki
Entrance to Sri Venkataramana Temple
Next we motored on to Kateel to pray at the Durgaparameswari Temple before continuing on to Mangalore a distance of around 25 Km from Kateel. We finally reached Mangalore around 3.00 pm. We had some basic lunch comprising of Curd Rice and Pickles. From this point our friends carried on to Bajpe Airport to catch their flight to Bangalore scheduled to depart at 7.00 pm. Meanwhile we checked into the retiring room at Mangalore Central. Our train to Coimbatore which was scheduled to depart at 10 pm was reported late by two hours and we finally departed well past mid-night at 12.30 hours.
This brought the curtains down to an incredible trip to important temples of religious importance in South Kanara, Chickmagalur, North Kanara & Udupi districts of Karnataka. The four of us had some awesome darshans, drove through spectacular reserve forests, viewed breathtaking scenery enroute, clicked countless pictures including some memorable selfies and enjoyed some great camaraderie, stimulating conversation and amazing moments together. The high point of the trip was of course the visit and overnight stay at Shringeri and meeting with the illustrious Acharyas.
Kateel Durga Temple

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Murudeswara Mahadeva Temple

16 February 2018: Our next temple stop was Murudeswara  a town in Bhatkal Taluk in Uttara Kannada district in the state of Karnataka State.Famous for the world's second tallest Shiva statue, the town lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea and is also famous for the Murdeshwar Temple. Murdeshwar has a railway station on the Mangalore Mumbai Konkan Railway route.From the temple one gets a fabulous view of the magnificent Arabian sea. The tall Rajagopuram in front of the temple is towering like a massive phalanx standing guard over the temple.
Colorful fishing boats moored on the beach
Boats sailing on the high seas
Magnificent beaches at Murudeswara
Side View of the Rajagopuram
The Tall Towering Rajagopuram
Picture taken with help of a local photographer
The bus terminus & car park
The huge Shiva Statue on a small hillock overlooking the Arabian Sea
Finally a Sparkling Selfie

Kollur Mookambigai Temple

16 February 2018: Our Karnataka temple tour continued. We checked out of our rooms at Sringeri and left for Kollur via the scenic Agumbe ghats covering the distance of 110 kms in approximately 2 hours.We reached Kollur by 12.00 noon and immediately proceeded for darshan. The temple inner prakaram reminded me of Guruvayur Temple in Kerala. There was already a long queue of devotees in the general darshan. We bought Rs.100/- special darshan tickets which helped us cut short the waiting period.The entrance into the sanctum sanctorum was quite narrow and three queues of devotees were simultaneously allowed to enter - free queue, the Rs.100/- queue & the Rs.500/- queue. This resulted in a bit of elbowing and jostling near the entrance. Once inside things were controlled again. We had a wonderful darsan of Goddess Mookambigai.
This famous Mookambika Temple is situated on the banks of the never drying river Sauparnika.The gold plated vimanam and copper roofs attracts thousands of devotees and is considered one of the most important places of pilgrimage attracting pilgrims from all over India.
 The Goddess Mookambika is in the form of Jyotir-Linga incorporating both Shiva and Shakthi. The Panchaloha image (five element mixed metal) of the Goddess on Shree Chakra is believed to have been consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya during his visit to this place. There is also an exquisite sculpture of Panchamukha Ganesha.
After darshan we had lunch at the Mahalakshmi vegetarian restaurant - exquisite aloo and gobi paranthas along with refreshing thirst quenching lassis & milk shakes. Our appetite fully satiated and thirst thoroughly quenched we clambered back into our Etios sedan for our drive to Murudeswara.
For more details about this temple,poojas & sevas log onto: Mookambika Temple
The Rs.100/- queue
Devotees who have completed darshan taking a relaxed over view
Twin Dwaja Sthambhas or Flag Staffs - common feature in all Hindu Temples
The chariot that is used to seat the processional Goddess on festival days
The copper roofings
View of the temple from outside
Instructions to devotees before entering the temple
Entrance to the Mahalakshmi Residency & Restaurant
The lunch was satisfying

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Coimbatore - The Smart City

As part of the Smart City initiative Coimbatore Corporation has in collaboration with OFO launched OFO App based cycles in R.S.Puram on an experimental basis.Around 500 cycles have been introduced in R.S.Puram. Currently there are 9 pickup up points and progressively over the next few weeks increase the number of cycles deployed to 2000 and pickup points to about 80.
OFO (pronounced oh-foh) is a Beijing based bicycle sharing company founded in 2014. It operates over 10 million yellow-colored bicycles in 250 cities and 20 countries, as of 2017. The dock-less OFO system uses a smartphone app to unlock bicycles, charging an hourly rate for use.
To start with users require to download the OFO App and then pay Rs.99/- by debit/credit card or PayTM. Next with using blue tooth scan QR code to unlock. After use he returns the cycle to one of the pickup points and lock. The duration is automatically recorded and applicable charges debited. The cycles have inbuilt GPS and hence can be tracked. As part of the initial experiment the cycles can be used only in R.S.Puram area.
Great initiative indeed and kudos to Coimbatore Corporation. The only point of concern here is that  these cycles were imported from Beijing thus going completely against the principle and spirit of Prime Minister Modis "Make in India" initiative. India being one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of cycles why were these cycles not sourced from a reputed Indian manufacturer ?
QR Scan for unlocking

Friday, March 2, 2018

Shringeri - The Fountainhead of Hinduism

15 February 2018: From Horanadu we departed for Shringeri and reached our destination around 2.45 noon. We were greeted by the colossal & colorful multi tiered Rajagopuram through which we entered the premises of the Sringeri Peedham or Mutt. It is in Sringeri in South India that Adi Sankara established the first of the four Amnaya Peedams or Throne of the Vedas around 1200 years ago. The other three Mutts were established in Puri (East), Dwarka (West) & Badrinath (North). 
Adi Shankara was an early 8th century Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.
He was searching for a convenient and holy place where he could establish an institution to spread the truths of Advaita Vedanta. When he came to Sringeri, he saw an unusual sight on the banks of the Tunga. A cobra was seen spreading out its hood over a frog in labour pains, to give it shadow from the scorching mid-day sun. Struck with the sanctity of the place, which could infuse love between natural adversaries, the Acharya (Religious Teacher) chose this very location to establish His first Mutt.
Adi Sankara appointed his prime disciple, Sri Sureshwaracharya as the first Acharya of the Peetham. Since then, the Peetham has been blessed with an unbroken Guru Parampara, a garland of spiritual masters and Jivanmuktas representing Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The succeeding Acharyas have led a life of such austere penance that it has led disciples to adore in them the radiance of Sri Adi Shankara Himself.
The present Acharya or religious head of this Peetham is Jagadguru Sri Bharathi Teertha Swamy and he is the 36th successive religious head in an unbroken line of acharyas. Jagadguru is an erudite scholar, well versed in Upanishads,Vedas & Sanskrit,is fluent in several languages including English and is highly philanthropic & munificent. He has also ordained his successor in waiting - the young and learned Sri Vidushekara Bharathi.
Our accommodation is inside the premises of the Peedham - rooms are basic with sparse furniture & most appropriate for pilgrims & devotees visiting here to meet the acharyas.We were informed that the Acharyas would be giving audience to devotees at 6.00 pm in a special auditorium in the Narasimha Vana. Accordingly we got ready, dressed appropriately,grabbed a quick cuppa outside, ambled back and walked leisurely viewing and soaking in the magnificence of Sringeri - The Saradambal Temple & The Vidya Sankara Temple.
As you enter cross the bridge and enter Narasimha Vana you are filled with a sense tranquility & serenity and you heart is filled with a sense of joy and jubilance. The Vana or forest is flush with greenery - coconut palms, areca plantations, banana plantations & a wide array of beautiful plants and shrubs. We proceed to the expansive auditorium and are seated cross legged on the floor and patiently and reverently await arrival of the acharyas. At 6.00 pm sharp they arrive - both the Jagadguru and his successor in waiting. We stand up respectfully and offer our pranams to them.The queue moves along and the acharyas take time to talk to each and every devotee. Devotees offer him fruits,coconuts & flowers as is customary.The atmosphere is relaxed and your heart is filled with a sense of calm and peace. We were also fortunate to view the biggest Veena in the world on display in the auditorium - The Maha Sarvabhuma Veena.
We returned to the auditorium once again  in the night to watch Chandramouleeswara Puja - a puja that is done by Jagadguru himself every night (Puja = worship of the God).The ritual lasts around one hour and concludes with Depparathanai.(an offering of fire lamps to the God). It was an awesome experience.
We left  Sringeri next morning around 9.30 am after a satisfying and inspiring overnight stay. For more information on Sringeri please log onto:
The Tall Towering Rajagopuram
Sankara Krupa - where we stayed
A beautiful building to our right as we enter the portals of Sringeri through the Rajagopuram
Bharathi Tirtha Guest House - Newly constructed with modern amenities (outside the Rajagopuram)
The Vidya Sankara Temple - built during 1357-58 is a unique mix of Hoysala and Vijayanagar Architecture
Serene & Tranquil sanctuary
Clicked on the Bridge across the Tunga - proceeding to meet the Acharyas
The Tungabhadra River which flows through Sringeri
The bridge connecting the Sringeri Temples with Narasimha Vana
The Rajagopuram at dusk
The Saradambal Temple
The Vidya Sankara Temple at dusk
The River bank and bathing ghat
The bridge as viewed from the river bank
The massive dining hall - free food is offered to all devotees
Next morning - a view of the deserted Sringeri Township. Clicked as we ventured out for our morning cuppa
Morning picture at Vidya Sankara
Selfie at Vidya Sankara Temple
Pictures clicked at Narasimha Vana
Selfie at Adi Sankara Temple
The Mahasarvabhuma Veena - the biggest veena in the world
The Bathing ghat as seen from the bridge