Tuesday 23 October 2012

Sight seeing enroute to Mantralaya

Bangalore: In a few weeks from now, schools and colleges are going to declare Dasara holidays and office-gores too are going to get a lot of holidays. Several of my friends and relatives, including a few from Chennai,  asked me to suggest a place where they could spend some time. While some wanted my help to pinpoint a tourist place, others wanted me to combine a tourist outing with a religious place.  I suggested Mantralaya, the abode of Guru Raghavendra.  Many of  my friends agreed but they wanted to know of places of interest in and around Mantralaya. They also sought to know the road and rail routes.
Hence, this article is about road trips  from Bangalore to Mantralaya and preferably for those who are on a leisurely trip.  There are four road routes from Bangalore to Mantralaya.  The first which is 380 kms long is Bangalore-Yelahanka, Chikaballapur, Penukonda, Gooty (also called Gutti), Pattikonda, Aspari, Adoni (Advani in Kannada), Madhavaram and Mantralaya. This route is nearly 390 kms long and it takes about seven hours.  On this route, there is a diversion to Mantralaya from Adoni via Yammiganur. The second route is through Bangalore ,Tumkur, Hiriyur, Bellary and onwards to Mantralaya and this a longer route at 430 kms. It takes eight hours,
There are two other lesser known routes from Bangalore . The first is Bangalore-Doddaballapur, Hindupur, Ananthapur, Pattikonda, Adoni and Mantralaya,  The second is  also on the Bangalore-Hindupur route but from Hindupur you take a deviation towards Guntakal and from there to Alur, Adoni and finally touch Mantralaya.
There are also KSRTC and APSTRC buses to Mantralaya and most of them leave Bangalore in the evening/night. There are several trains from Bangalore City and KR Puram (a suburb in Bangalore and a junction) to Mantralaya. They are Vivek Express (19567),  Shirdi Express (22601), Udyan Express (16530), Mumbai Express (16340),, Karnatak Express (12627),  Lokamanya Tilak Express (11014).
Coming back to road trips by car or private transport, I will first deal with sight seeing on the more popular Bangalore-Anantapur-Mantralaya road. Many of the places are associated with Raghavendra Swamy or his earlier avatar Vyasa Theertha.

Thirty kms from Bangalore , on the road to Mantralaya , is  Devanahalli town, where the Bangalore international airport is located.  This is the birth place of  Tipu Sultan and there is small plaque marking the spot,  The Devanahalli fort has several temples –Venugopalaswamy, Chandramouleshwara and Ranganatha -which are worth a visit. The house where Tipu spent his child hood and the house of the legendary Dewan Purnaiah can still be seen. A little known fact is that it was Tipu Sultan who first planted Ecualyptus (nilgiri) trees in India in 1790s and the first plantation was at Devanahalli-Nandi Hills area.


Drive down from Devanahalli to Chikaballapur a  district created in 2007, Three kms from the town is Muddenahalli, the birthplace of Sir M Vishveshvaraiah.  Another picnic spot is Nandi Hills which can be seen from the highway. Nandi Hills is also associated with Tipu and it has several ancient temples too. Four kms away from Chikaballapur and on the road to Gauribidanur is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Ranganatha in a small village called Srirangastala. Lenend has it that the idols of Ranganatha at Sriranangam (Tamil Nadu), Srirangapatna (near Mysore )  and at Srirangastala were installed simultaneously. The beautiful idol is four and half feet in height with idols of Bhoo Devi and Neela Devi. The  temple was built by the Vijayanagar Kings.


Kaivara in a well-known pilgrim spot., This small town is mentioned both in the Ramayana and the  Mahabharata . During their exile from Ayodhya, Rama, Lakshmana amd Seetha stayed here for some time. When Seeta became thirsty, Lakshmana shot an arrow on the ground  and the gushing water came to be known as Lakshmana Theertha, This is also one of the  places where the Pandavas lived in exile. Bhima, one of the avatars of Madhwacharya, made Kaiwara his hone for some time and killed Bakasura at this very spot.
There is cave which is blocked with a hune boulder. It is called Bakasura Bande.  The Pandavas built a temple to honour Shiva and also to get over the bramahatya  of Bakasura. This temple is better known as Bheemalingeshwara temple.  There are footprints of Bheema and Bakasura on the hilltop and our lenegds say that this is the very place where bpoth fought each other,  Bheema meditated at this spot every day and one can still see his footprint  and the print of a knee.


Come back to Chickaballapur ,take the road to Bagepally which is 43 kms away. The hill shrine of Lakshmi Adinarayana at  Ellode located in Gudibande taluk is worth a visit,. The temple is believed to be  than 1000 years  old. There are 618 steps leading to the top of this tortoise shaped hill. Puttaparthi, where the Sai Baba Ashrama is located, is 55 kms from Bagepalli.

En route to Mantralaya, halt at Ananthapur, Adoni or Penu Konda. All three places have several temples of interest.

Penu Konda

It is at Penu Konda that Vyasa Theertha, the earlier avatar of Raghavendra, consecrated more than 365  temples dedicated to Hanuman. Many of those temples can still be seen. There is a Vyasaraja Math near the Penu Konda fort .The Gagan Mahal atop the hill fort  where Vijayanagar Emperor Krishna Deva Raya stayed is worth a visit. There is gymnasium believed to have been used by Krishna Deva Raya and also a Natya mandira and Homa hall. Try to trace the whereabouts of  Vyasa Prathistha Hanuman on the hills. Locals say  that  when Vyasa visited the area, Jains had a stranglehold over the area. Vyasa defeated each of them in debates and  after each victory he built a temple dedicated to Hanuman.  Raghavendra Swamy visited  Penu Konda and stayed here for some time here.
There are brindavanas of thee saints from different mathas here-Vedavyasa Theertha of Uttaradi Math. He was a disciple of the redoubtable Raghottama Theertha, Uddanda Ramachandra Theertha of Sripada Math. This seer used to fly to the top of the hill on a plantain leaf. He left his danda behind to guard the sacred box and hence the name Uddanda. The third brindavana is of   Lakshmilantha Theerthara of Vyasaraja Math. There is also a Vyasa Raja math in the fort.


Ananthapur is on way to Mantralaya. It receives the second lowest rainfall in India after Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Ananthapur has a unique connection  with Raghavendra Swamy. It was called Datta Mandalam and in 1791 Sir Thomas Munroe was named as its first Collector. It was this very collector who wanted to take overthye Raghavendra Swamy Tempe at Mantralaya and he had the honour of speaking to Gurugalu.. Spend some time here in case you want to see Puttaparti and other places of interest.
A little away from the regular highway (NH 7) which goes to Mantralaya, is the famous town of Dharmavaram . Known all over the world for its aress, Dharmavaram is 47 kms from Anantapur. The Lakshmi Chennakeshava temple has musical pillars and is known for its rich architecture.


Fifty two kms from Ananthapur, is Gooty, which has one of the oldest forts of Andhra Pradesh. There are inscriptions are in Kannada and Sanskrit in the fort dating back to the 7th century AD. Bukka, founder brother of the Vijayanagar along with Hakka,  called it as  the King of Forts. Gooty Fort, built in the shape of a shell, has several temples, including the  Nageswara Swamy, Lakshminarasimhaswamy  and Ramaswamy Temples .


Motor down towards Adoni  which again is associated with Rayaru.  It is here that Venkanna, a shepherd who became literate due to the benevolence of Rayaru,  built a well  (Bhavi in Kannada) for the good of the people after he became diwan to .Masu Ali Khan, the governor of the province.  The well was built with stones. Venkanna was also instrumental in designing the brindavana for Rayaru.
There are several Ganesha temples in Adoni and locals say  the city will be submerged under water if the water touches the stomach of Ganesha. There are two Vyasa Prathistha Hanuman temples here. There is a Hanuman temple on the Ramamandala hill in the city which was consecrated by Vyasa Theertha.  The hill has over 600 steps. This is the very place where Hanuman overcame several Rakshahas who were troubling Rama, Kahkshmana and Sita.The Ramajala lake, as the name itself suggests, was created by Rama when he shot an arrow . It was the then Nawab of Adoni who gave Manchale (Mantralaya) to  Rayaru.  
Adoni was known as the second Bombay duing the British rule as it was home to several businesses. Adoni to Mantralaya is just 50 kms,
here are several places associated with Rayaru near Adoni and Mantralaya which I will deal in the next article.  
This article was first written for my sister's blog Kalpavriksha Kamadhenu.


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