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Journalist: aragorn
Status: Public
Entries: 5 (Private: 0)
Comments: 1
Start Date: Aug 31st, 2009
Last Update: Oct 31st, 2014
Views: 2656
 
Description: Trip descriptions whenever and wherever I go

#5
Visit to Amritsar, Haridwar, Badrinath, Mathura and Agra
Date Posted: Oct 31st, 2014 at 00:11 - Comments (1)
I had been planning to visit North India since a long time. The dream finally fructified last week and a half.

I had leaves for 10 days and the aim was to cover as much of North India as possible.

The itinerary was chalked out:

20/10/2014 - Arrive in Delhi from Mumbai by air
21/10/2014 - Reach Amritsar by train and visit Harmandir Sahib
(Golden Temple)
22/10/2014 - Check out Amritsar and Wagah Border
23/10/2014 - Reach Haridwar early morning by overnight train and check out
Haridwar
24/10/2014 - Reach Badrinath by bus
25/10/2014 - Visit the Badrinath temple and Mana village
26/10/2014 - Leave Badrinath and reach Haridwar
27/10/2014 - Visit Agra via Delhi and reach Mathura
28/10/2014 - Check out Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul and Govardhan
#4
Tamil Nadu Trip - Day 1, Oct 18 2009 - Kanchipuram contd
Date Posted: Apr 18th, 2010 at 01:20 - Comments (0)
"Sri Kanchi Nagari Vihara Rasika Shopaka hantri satam, eka punya parampara pashupate rakarini rajate".

Kanchipuram is one of the oldest if not the oldest city in India. It's steeped with history and is important to both Shaivas and Vaishnavas for the sheer number of temples this town has dedicated to the prima duo of Hinduism. However, Kanchi's most important temple is the one costructed for the one and only "Kamakshi Amman" (Goddess Parvati) - the shakti (force)behind the entire universe.

I always wanted to visit this historical city and spend considerable time here and ironically was facing a scenario where reaching Kanchi before dusk was turning arduous.

Kanchipuram is around 120 kms from Tiruvannamalai and was around a 3 hr drive. Enroute the driver suggested that we halt at Thennangur where Swami Haridas Giri has constructed an absolutely stunning temple dedicated to Panduranga Vittala and Rakhumabai. It is surprising (ususally for people from Maharashtra and North India) to note that Bhagwan Vittal is widely worshipped even in South India by followers of Bhajana Sampradaya. The temple's architecture is unique and is very different to the usual South Indian Architecture, especially the temple's sanctum.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

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My father always wanted to visit this temple and we were unsure of the route and had planned to skip it. I guess destiny and God's will made us visit the temple without any plans. The idols of Lord Vittal and Rakhumai were around 8 ft tall and were one of the tallest idols that I have ever seen in the main sanctum. They were adorned beutifully and it was a privilage to visit this temple. This was one of few temples which allowed us to take pictures of the main idols...links attached below.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

We wanted to stay longer but constrained by time we could spend only half an hour there.

Finally reached Kanchi by 18:15 hrs and rushed to the Ekambareswarar Temple which is considered one of the five major Shiva temples (Pancha Bootha Sthalams) (each representing a natural element), the lord here represents Earth. Arunachaleshwarar in Tiruvannamalai represented Fire.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

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http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

The temple like all the other South Indian temples we visited was Humongous and Ancient to say the least. The architecture has to be seen to be believed. It is amazing how the Gopurams (Main Entrances) to the temples with their numerous engravings and carvings were constructed....just amazing!!! The temple had a huge quadrangular with many pillars.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink



Had a good darshan of Lord Ekambareswarar. The Prithivi Lingam was worshipped by Lordess under a mango tree. A mango tree has been fenced in within a short distance of the main sanctum and a temple built under it. This mango tree is believed to be the direct descendant of the mango tree under which the Goddess worshipped and where she married Lord Shiva.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

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We spent around 40 -45 mins here and rushed to Kamakshi Amman temple as we had planned to visit Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple also and all temples closed by 20:00 hrs.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink
The Goddess in this temple is very powerful. Thankfully when we visited the crowd was less and we could gain darshan very quickly. Noticably, the ear rings of the Goddess was shining through and the idol was very beautiful to view.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lh/pho...eat=directlink

We then rushed to Sri Vardaraja Perumal temple and there were hardly 10 mins left for the temple to close...we ran and I had a tough time moving my heavy frame around.

"Here we go one more time here we go one more time
Now we Spinnin' yeah we spinnin'Yeah we spinnin' now we spun "
Flipsyde has been ma band for some time and Spun started playing in my mind.

Why? you ask...this was my first Vaishnava temple visit in Tamil Nadu...infact outside Maharashtra. I now faced a maze. This temple is huuuuuuge and me, my wife and kid ran like our lives were threatened because the temple was closing. The main sanctum is very hard to find in the first glance and there are directions in the temple to find the main sanctum. The main sanctum itself is on an elevated storey and one has to climb stairs to reach it. This I believe was to keep off invaders who constantly tried to harm the Lord's idol. The troika of us made it just in the nick of time and had a glimpse of the Lord Sri Varadharajar. My father due to his age couldn't catch up in the race and was last in entering the main sanctum. I tried pleading the chief priest to just wait for minute longer so that my father could atleast have a glimpse before the main sanctum door closed...but sadly the Lord has ears but his servitors don't and it was like in the movies...as the door closed my father made it. He was disappointed but I consoled him. We couldn't have darshan of the Thaayar (Consort of the Lord) and also of the famous Golden Lizard.

This temple is located in Vishnu Kanchi of Kanchipuram and is cosidered important as this is where Guru Ramanuja resided for some time.

Being in Kanchi was exhilarating and I honestly wanted to stay for a few days visiting the temples at ease and enjoying the enviorns there but the plan made by us was constricting and we had to cover more than 10 different cities & towns in 16 days which was a huge task.

I wanted to visit the Kanchi Sankara mutt and may my homage to Paramacharya's samadhi. We visited the mutt and paid homage and as we were about to leave someone informed us that both the Acharayas were giving darshanam and we should also meet them.
I was fortunate to meet both the Acharyas impromptu(considering their packed schedule) and lucky to seek their blessings. God's will.

It was almost 22:30 hrs when we set off from Kanchipuram to Chennai, we reached Chennai by mid night and were totally exhausted with the travelling. This was Day 1 and I was dreading how we would cope with the rest of the tour. The journey cotinues....

PS: Kanchipuram and Tiruvannamalai need to be visited separately and considerable time needs to be spent there...these places are the most ancient centres of Indian philosophy and learning and have loads to offer. Since Chennai is not far off.. would be advisable to start early from Chennai spend a few days and return back to Chennai to move on to other tourist places.
#3
Tamil Nadu Trip - Day 1, Oct 18 2009
Date Posted: Oct 19th, 2009 at 11:28 - Comments (0)
Have completed the first day of my 16 day trip of Tamil Nadu and have already found how tough it is to stick to the itinerary!!!

Starting out from Mumbai on 17th Oct 2009 from Mumbai, plan was to visit Tiruttani the first day and then move to Kanchipuram. Stay overnight in Kanchipuram and then move onto Tiruvannamalai.

But after reaching Chennai and discussing with our gracious hosts here it changed to going first to Tiruvannamalai and then finish Kanchipuram the same day.

So trip began on 18th Oct 2009 from Chennai in an A/C Indica (enough for the 4 of us). Started a trifle late at 8:00 a.m.
With God's grace...traffic was less in Chennai on account of Sunday and was able to cover considerable distance quickly.

The distance between Chennai and Tiruvannamalai is around 180 kms and we were able to cover the distance in approx 3 and 1/2 hrs....we were cursing ourselves for starting out late as we reached the Annamalaishwar temple by 11:45 a.m.

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...eat=directlink

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The temple was a grand monument with Gopuram on all the 4 sides as is the case with most south temples. The Arunachala mountain
forms a majestic backdrop to this temple town.

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...eat=directlink

Entered the Temple through the North gate as it was open and was the first one which came to our sight.

Valuable advice: Always start early by atleast 6:00 a.m. in Tamil Nadu as:

1. Temples as huge....grandoise.....you need time to traverse a considerable distance from the main entrance to the Sanctum.

2. It is Hottttttt.....after you leave your footwear at the entrace you need to walk to the sanctum bare feet,,,,not a good task for a newbie here to accomplish.


Continuing further....reached near the main sanctum and saw a serpentine queue for darshan and the best part was that the temple was closing at 12:30 p.m. which meant that we had a tough task cut out to visit the temple in half an hour.....managed to squeeze in between the line meant for special Darshan which with Lord Shiva's grace started moving and we were inside within 15 mins.....had one of the most beautiful Darshans.

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...eat=directlink

The main sanctum is quadrangular in shape with various small shrines within.....the crowd and the fervour is infectious.

Exit quickly to the separate sanctum of the Amman temple which is a separate sanctum (as is the case with the majority Tamil Nadu temples). Quickly visit the other adjacent temples as the floor burns in the mid-day sun.

We traverse quickly through a mandapam and my little one spots an elephant and our time and coins get spent on the pachyderm.


In haste, we exit via the East gopuram......this adds to our misery as our footwear is at the North gate....me thinks will call the taxi guy and use vehicle to collect footwear but can't reach him.

Run boy Run!!! and I run in the hot sun - makes things worse...finally collect footwear...locate cab and we are off to Ramana ashram... long cherised dream about to be fulfilled.

Before going to Ramana Ashrama...hunger pangs are felt...it's around 14:00 hrs and cannot locate any place to eat...finally settle for Hotel Auro Usha which is opposite Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram. An hour goes by in dining and haste sets in as we need to cover the great city of Kanchipuram as well as per our fully packed itinerary.

Ramana Ashrama is one of the most tranquil places to visit. At the entrance one is greeted by a huge courtyard and a map explaining the important place one can visit. I feel unqualified to describe the beauty and importance of the Ashram. We paid homage at the samadhis of the Maharishi's mother and entered a huge hall which housed the Maharishi's samadhi. I was greeted by a silence as soon as I entered. A few devotees were meditating there.

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The Hall had a life-sized statue of Sri Maharshi in padmasana, this was inaugurated by Smt. Indira Gandhi (mentioned in true Indian style below the statue). Four large carved pillars support a tower. A white marble lotus adorns the center of the mantap and over it is installed a sacred Siva Linga.

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Since it was late afternoon the Matrubhuteswara Temple was closed. We checked out a small meditation room with a large photo of Sri Maharishi. A small lane led to a courtyard where I saw peacocks and peahens moving freely.

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There were samadhis of the Maharishi's deer, dog, cow and even a crow.
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This demonstrates how Sri Maharishi never discriminated any living creature.

Time was running out and hence rushed to get some books from the bookstore. Then, Kanchipuram here we come!!!

Will continue soon.
#2
Visist to Gopalpur, Vishnupad and Sri Siddeshwar
Date Posted: Sep 1st, 2009 at 11:40 - Comments (0)
In the evening after taking a quick nap....we proceeded to check out Gopalpur, Vishnupad and the Chandrabhaga river bank (time permitting). The good thing about Pandharpur is that you can hire Tongas from specific points. We found a set of Tongawallahs/ Tangewallahs at the Ashram gates. Hired one to take us to all the points for Rs 100/-.

The way to Gopalpur was scenic with lots of small buildings and a chaotic town traffic thrown in at the beginning.

Gopalpur is around 2 - 2.50 kms from Pandharpur and is home to the residence of Sant Namdev and Sant Janabai who worked as a servant girl at Sant Namdev's house. She loved and in turn was loved by Lord Vittal. It is said that Lord Vittal would come everyday and help her in the daily chores including grinding grain. En route to Gopalpur we saw many fields of Sugarcane. This temple is on a small hillock.



At the base of the hillock, there was a small temple with a churning stick and a big pot half buried in the ground....seems Janabai sang and composed Abhangs while churning milk....was asked to churn here which I did hesitatingly, fearing the monetary implications. However the caretaker here was a decent chap who actually didn't demand anything and took whatever was offered.

The temple was again fortified...i.e. it looked like a mini fort rather than a temple. A flight of around 50 stairs took us to the top. We were warned by the Tange wallah not to take any prasad/offering in the temple as it would lead to the money game.

Both sides of the stairs were flanked by vendors selling pooja and prasad materials. Tried and succeeded in evading them. After reaching the top was amazed seeing the scenic beauty of the surroundings...it was a great view from there. The Fort temple...if I can put it that way is actually built on a Mesa. The first temple to greet us (facing the entrance) was the temple of Lordess Rukmini's parents King Bhishmaka and his wife.


Then there was a temple dedicated to Lord Dattatreya ....it was explained by the priest that there are three small swayambhu lingams which symbolise Lords Brahma, vishnu and Shiv....(these were actually tiny pebbles which were cemented/rooted to the ground). There was an idol of Lord Dattatreya just behind these three lingams. Also two trees appeared to grow from behind the idol...it was explained that there were actually three trees and only one of them is alive as of now.

The next temple in the courtyard was the main temple of Lord GopalaKrishna....The idol was really very beautiful.... It was decorated the same way as Lord Vittal's idol in Pandharpur...it too had the fish shaped earrings and sandalwood tika shaped inthe same way as Lord Vittal. The only difference was that the Lord here was playing his flute with crossed legs.


We then checked the kitchen which comprised of some earthenware, grinding stone, chappati stone and other kitchen ware used by Janabai during the course of her daily routine.


Finally, reached a temple within a cellar which is where Janabai met Lord Krishna everyday. This cellar contained both their idols. Great place to be in but unfortunately not with a priest asking for money...cos u can't escape!!! Managed to pay him some amount and move out quickly.


BTW....it is always prudent to carry notes of Rs 10 as you will need to pay every person in front of every temple. Rs 500 by the way is the most favoured number everywhere

Time was fleeting here and we desperately wanted to check out Vishnupad which was half a km from Gopalpur and essentially on the way back to Pandharpur.

Vishnupad is a small square shaped platform built on banks of Chandrabagha river which houses the footprints of Lord Vittal.
The approach road to this platform is a kuccha lane and hence partly hidden from the main road.

Not many people were visible here and the atmoshere was serene and beautiful. We sat here for half an hour immersing our feet in the holy water of Chandrabagha. We could see from a distance the busy shore near the Pandurang temple which was upstream.

The day we went to Pandharpur was the 7th day of the Ganesh Utsav and people were bringing their Ganesh idols for visarjan to Vishnupad. Still the number of people coming here was very less.

Watched the sun set and checked the time...it was almost 6:00 p.m. and that meant we had to rush to the bus depot to catch a bus to Solapur.

We had booked our return by the 10:45 p.m. Siddheshwar express to Mumbai. Pandharpur has a brand new MSRTC depot and all the time we were assured by anyone we met in Pandharpur that we would get buses to Solapur every 10 mins.

Reached the bus depot at 6:45 p.m. Waited for 10 mins...bus for Solapur didn't arrive...was informed that by 7:15 p.m. at least we would get one. 7:15 arrived...but the bus didn't. Legs started aching and my shoulders even more with bag I was carrying. I prayed for a miracle as the crowd wanting to travel to Solapur kept increasing...someone stated that sometimes 3-4 buses come at the same time or we would have to wage a war to get a seat.

It was 7:45...almost an hour and the 10 min buses to Solapur seemed to have forgotten their time schedule that evening. Me and my friend wanted to ensure that my friend's elderly mother atleast got a seat to get through the 1 hr 30 mins journey.

Atlast at 7:55 p.m. a bus came...everyone charged at the bus...felt I was in a rugby match and I was the forward charge.
I clung to the door almost blocking the people from alighting...behind me were 50 odd people pushing me inside and the ones inside pushing me out. Managed to somehow enter the bus ...my friend had already gotten in and caught a seat...hehe. More surprises in store...it seems u could block ur seat from the outside by having ur hanky, chaddi, baniyan , any damn possesion placed on the seat. Infact our seat had already been blocked this way but unfortunately the bag which was placed on the seat had fallen down in the melee that ensued in getting a seat. I placed my posterior firmly on the seat and me, friend and mom shared a seat meant for two till Solapur...was not comfortable but at least didn't have to stand in the crowded bus.

Reached Solapur by 9:30 p.m. ..... Hadn't had a morsel since lunch (except a bottle of juice and some sev) and was feeling famished. Friend dear had plans to visit the Siddeshwar temple...but I felt that would be impossible as had only an hour or so to catch the train and have dinner. We headed to a nearby Shudh Shakahari restaurant and had a quick bite. Met a rick driver outside the restaurant and asked him the possibility of risking a visit to the famous Solapur temple and catching the train. Guy thought for a few minutes and said could be humanly possible if we could rush our darshan. It was nearing 10:00 p.m. and he was unsure regarding the closing time of the temple. Anyhows took up the challenge and we rushed to Siddeshwar temple.

Siddeshwar temple is located on a lake which is considered to be dug by the founder of the temple Shri Siddharameshwar. The temple looked beautiful even at night and we felt sad that we could not spend more time there. Anyways the temple is located in the middle of a lake and is connected by a man made platform. The temple is a huge complex with many temples inside...coudn't check them. We rushed to the main Shiv temple.....but unfortunately like police in every hindi film...we were late.

Had to be contented prostrating before the main door of Sri Siddeshwar. Now...with little time left we started rushing to catch our waiting rickshaw and move towards the station.

Suddenly we heard a man call out and tell us....aapne Sri Siddaharam Maharaj ka jeev samadhi ko namaskar kiya kya?
I had noticed a Samadhi which located in the middle courtyard of the temple complex but had ignored it due to the last minute rush. It was fenced on the sides and had a lane for pradakshina...we felt guilty and did a quick pradakshina and prostrated before the Samadhi of the great yogi. We felt that there was a reason for us after all to visit the temple even though it was a very quick visit. It is said God takes two steps forward for every one step taken. We had only thought of visiting Pandharpur and visiting the Sri Siddeshwar temple was on our agenda only if time permitted...but God felt otherwise.

We then quickly ran to the temple entrance and got into the rickshaw... the rick driver was the talkative kind who had stayed in Mumbai and gave us the lowdown of living in Solapur.

We reached Solapur station by 10:30 p.m. and found that our train had already arrived. Quickly rushed to our coach and relaxed. Train again was prompt in departing Solapur at 10:45 p.m. precise.

Slept almost immediately after settling in the train...woke up early next morning @ 6.00 a.m. as had to alight at Dadar station which we reached by 6:45 a.m.

Thus ended our memorable visit to Pandharpur....it is the temple where people of different castes and languages are united by only the Divine Force...Lord Vittal. All praise to the dark complexioned One...Jai Jai Vittal!!!
#1
Trip To Pandharpur
Date Posted: Aug 31st, 2009 at 14:33 - Comments (0)
I went on a one day trip this weekend to Pandharpur from Mumbai alongwith a friend and his mother.

Booked Friday's tickets on Mumbai - Pandharpur fast passenger which left Dadar Central station @ 11:10 p.m. Railways have improved in terms of timely departures and the train departed the station precisely as specified.

Train was a "Fast Passenger" train so essentially while it was still a Passenger train....it was fast in stopping at almost every station. The only good thing is that being an overnight train you can sleep through the journey. We reached Pandharpur @ 9:30 a.m. almost 30 mins behind schedule due to unforeseen stoppages by the train along the route.

Pandharpur station (for a Mumbaikar) was pleasantly clean than the local stations in Mumbai. Outside the station we were mobbed by the usual gangs of rickshaw drivers and "Tonga" wallahs. Caught a Tonga - charge was Rs 5/ head which was cheap considering the minimum distance fare in Mumbai by any transport.


We headed to Swami Gajanan Maharaj Ashram where the trust has created many rooms for devotees visiting Lord Pandharinath.
The fare of a room for 3 people with bathroom and toilet attached was Rs 200/day with an additional Rs 200 to be paid as deposit(this was returned at the time of check-out).


Room was pleasantly very clean and airy considering a verandah provided with every room. There were only 3 cots in the room with a fan and a mirror. The bathroom cum toilet as is the norm nowadays was also very clean. Only hitch for people wanting to bathe in hot water is that it is available only between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Moving on... we finished our morning cleansing rituals and went to the temple by keeping our bags in the room. It is always prudent to carry valuables/ electronic items with you rather than leaving it back the hotel room.

As soon as we reached the gate of the Ashram we were accosted by a man who claimed to be a local "guide" but was more of an agent of the shopkeepers and the temple priests. More on that later.

He stated that he will show us and would explain the importance of the various points in the temple. We let him accompany us. The disappointing aspect of Pandharpur is that we cannot even click photos of the temple from the outside.
Mobiles and cameras are strictly prohibited within the temple premises. The shops outside the temple selling various pooja and gift items double up and make a killing doubling as the local safekeepers. They charge Rs 5 / electronic item kept with them.

Apart from this the temple is a beautiful structure....fortified on all the sides. There was a security check at the main entrance. The entry to the temple was beautiful with a Ganesh idol greeting us on the left side. There was a small area with taps to wash our feet and hands.

The guide accompanying us took us to a person who claimed to be one of the priests in the temple. He said that there are three types of pooja that could be performed at that hour (we reached the temple by 11:30 a.m. which was a little late). The first pooja was Tulsi pooja. The second was Prasada pooja (worship with 1 sweet) and the third Rajabhog pooja (worship with 4 sweets). I had heard of the infamous temple priests here and asked them the cost of the poojas....the quote was awesome....Rs 1100 for a Tulsi pooja...approx Rs 2000 for the Prasada pooja and Rs 2500 for the Rajabhog pooja.....and the final icing on the cake....the punchline was you can wish to give whatever u like.


Me and my friend declined the offer and drove the "guide" away as he was in cahoots with the apparent priest. It is people like these who's greed is destroying the sanctity and divinity of our ancient temples....it spoils our experience and makes indelible scars to the faith we have in the tenets of our great culture. More on these voracious beings a little later.

I stood in the line(which was comparatively less crowded on account of Ganesh Utsav...currently going on in Maharashtra) to get the darshan with my friend's mother and my friend got the offerings like 2 big tulsi malas, sweets for the Lord, anointing powders for the Lord like haldi, kumkum, coconuts for around Rs 100.

Again on our way in we were waylaid by yet another priest. He stated that for Rs 150 he will do the Tulsi pooja...which my friend agreed. Talk about competition in the corporate world...price cutting in temples is becoming a norm.

I was more interested in getting a glimpse of Lord Vittal in the same temple which great personalities like Sant Gynaneshwar, Sant Tukaram, Sant Gora Kumbhar, Sant Janabai, Sant Eknath, Sant Namdev, Sant Chokamela, Sant Ramdas, Sant Kanohpatra et al the divine beings had worshipped. I considered myself fortunate enough to stand for a few minutes in these holy surroundings , though, it had a few holy men with unholy intentions - this was negligible.

The temple is one of the most beautiful temples even though it is small in comparison to the big structures of any South Indian temple. The courtyard of the temple is covered with a wooden roof and the temple itself is in black stone. There are idols of Ganeshji as you enter to the left and front. On the right hand side..there is a Garud Stambh which is gold and silver plated....representing Garuda the carrier of Lord Vishnu. Every devotee is required to embrace it. Finally the garbha griha where the Lord is kept is fully charged with positive energy...devotees feel blessed with a glimpse of the Lord....Jai Jai Vittal emanates from everyone's lips automatically. The Lord's idol is 3 - 3.50 feet tall with arms folded at the hips. Devotees are allowed few precious seconds to lay their head at the Lord's feet and then asked to move. Few seconds...eternal peace...memories etched forever!!!

Finally....our turn came to touch the Lord's feet....never felt so good....pause - the priest butts in...What's ur name?, ur father's name?, ur wife's name?, ur child's name?, ur Gothra? and so on.....a mechanical blessing given and the time arrives....please give whatever u can.... I reach out to my pocket and place Rs 101 at the Lord's feet. A voice is heard...please place minimum Rs 501/-. I think to myself....my moment with divinity is being traded.... I feel like the few seconds I am seeing the Lord is being purchased by me..... I have waited for years for this moment to arrive and feel pained..... In order to see our Lord we have to pay trusts which claim to maintain temples but often stress on profits...Sad.

I quickly ignore the priest and move out...the priest keeps calling out my name for money!!! Imagine this!!!

I would like to clarify that in no way am I against the policy of donating money to priests and poor brahmins but feel that asking for a donation / specific amount is no different from begging!!!

Nowadays , the lanes of the temples have been enclosed in such a way that you can move only in one direction...various doors and entraces have been closed to bar people from straying.

We moved to the next temple which was of Rakhumabai...Godess Rukmini's temple where the line was comparitively small and managed a quick darshan. The Rukmini temple is adjoined by various small temples which are deciated to Lordess Satyabhama, Tulja bhavani, Shiva, Narsimha, Balaji, Ekmukh Dattatraya to name a few.

We also saw Sant Kanohpatra's temple...she was courtesan and had refused the advances of a king who wanted her to be his concubine. She didn't give into him and chose to surrender her life to Lord Vittal ...her abhangs depicts pain and yearning to be with the Lord. It is said she died at the southern part of the temple and as per her last wishes, her dead body was laid at feet of Vithoba and then buried. A big tree rose from the very spot where she was buried and is still existing there. It was explained to us that no one waters the tree but it is still alive. I saw big chains tied to it...don't now why as no one knew the answer.

We exited the temple...but felt a void in our heart as a feeling of incompleteness enveloped us. It was mutually decided to enter the shrine again and partake another glance of the Lord. We stood in the line again and within 15-20 mins again came face to face with the Lord. I decided to totally ignore the priest and enjoyed my experience wholly this time around. I suceeded...Jai Jai Panduranga Hari!!!

The priest smirked while saying "Tumhi parat aale ka?" ..."You've come again is it?" ....hehe...fat chance with the money dude!!!

Again did the second round of visits with the Rakhumabai temple and the other temples.

After the darshan...felt hungry as we had avoided having anything before visiting Panduranga...we had lunch at
Sri Krishna Lunch home (as far as I can recollect) which was just across the Ashram. We returned to our room to rest and then proceeded in the evening to Gopalpur (Sant Janabai's house) and Vishnu Pad - where the Lord's feet is imprinted.


Will continue the second part soon......
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