Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where god's presence is felt

Usually my travels include places which will have religious importance, architectural importance, a river close by. Reason for such choice is my family.It  includes my parents , my sister's kids and us - basically the old, young and the middle aged. So to satisfy all the sections we end up choosing places which have something for all of us.

In all such travels in the last few years, what I have observed is that there are smaller places close by to the main place which are much better and enjoyable than the actual place itself.

Here are some examples
Tirupati , Tirumala
The name of Tirupati takes one back to thoughts of  the long and lengthy queues, the hot weather and lots of people with hardly any peace for mind, sometimes making you wonder - "I am soaked in sweat and I will feel Godliness once I reach the sanctum of Balaji ".  So our usual journey included the traditional visit to Tirupati, the lower temples of alamelu Mangapura,a Papanasanam . But on our second day we headed to a place called "Applaayakunte", this was not more than 40kms from the main Tirumala. Here we found the real peace, the drive itself was wonderful in the midst of paddy fields with the view of how the seven hills look like Sesha - the snake on which Lord Vishnu rests . Once we reached there , unlike the hot weather we had lived with so far, this place had cool breeze and the sculpture of Lord Venkateswara was also beautiful and so huge.Not just this , the water from the well was very sweet , most of all there were far less people and the ones who were there were a lot sweeter.

Second in such experience is Mantralaya. Good thing about Mantralaya is , it has lesser crowd compared to places like Tirupati. We enjoyed the river on the first day, but were really upset after seeing that the sewage was let into the same river not too far from temple. So we decided not to goto the river the second day. On the second day, after the darshan of Raghavendra Swamy's Brindavana, we headed to cross the river Tungbhadra in a coracle and visit Panchamukhi Anjaneya. We visited another place called Bichhali, this was the most serene place and as the story goes, Raghavendra Swami's disciple used to come here for meditation. Apparently, the place has a lot of Nagarakallu - snakes carved on stone and worshipped. Place is famous to have had very frequent snake visits.
The places was serene and the river's flow was aggressive. So visit to Bichhali made our visit to Mantralyam more memorable.

Udupi is known for the Krishna Matha and is a hub for the various dwaitha matha  Matas.The main city of the Udupi was very hot since we went in early may. Here we went to a place called Pajaka Kshetra which is the birth place of SrimadvaCharya. The place was about 15 kms from Udupi.This place again was very serene and scenic.

We usually goto religious places to get a divine place and reach out to the divine energy.But sometimes, we cannot get the real peace we need and we believe we get when we reach the sanctum because of the now common long queues for darshan . But In all the smaller places the biggest difference from the main place is the number of people. The reality is that when with nature, man feels the presence of god more than in the actual temples.