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akhila Sringeri - A travel report by akhila
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Sringeri,  India - flag India
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akhila's travel reports


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The verse Sujalam, suphalam, malayaja sheetalam, sashya syamalam, maataram.. from the song Vande Matraram – came to life as I experienced my extraordinary, scenic, cultural, spiritual motherland in a 3 day tour around Karnataka. report of the month contest
Jul 2006

Vidyasagara temple at Sringeri
Vidyasagara temple at Sringeri
Returning to India was a beautiful experience - after 8yrs of travelling/living abroad, when we finally moved back to India (Karnataka) in May’06. We reached Bangalore in mid May, after a few restful days at my parents place, we decided to set off on our long awaited pilgimage/tour to Sringeri, Udupi and Dharmastala. Travel in india had never been so easy, with tourism having picked up and marketed as much as the other industries here, it was easy, to get a phone number of a driver by just word of mouth. Some of our neighbours and relatives had travelled to these places recently and we quickly got hold of a mobile number that we called. The guy, Ramu, only spoke and understood the native language of the state -Kannada. In our broken Kannada we asked him about the places we wanted to visit and got some details, 7Rs per Km was the charge for the entire trip (food and lodging extra). He said the entire tour would cover a lot more than just the 3 places we were looking for. We were kind of skeptical about doing a whole lot in 3 days and reluctantly accepted the quote and went for the complete package, leaving Bangalore the very next day to Belur - Horanadu - sringeri - kollur - murudeswara - annegudde - updupi - kateelu - dharmasthala - kukke subramaniya - gomateshwara.
Friday, 19th May, at 4PM, the taxi (a 7 seater) arrived at our doorstep. Ramu said he would arrange for everything along the way, including hotel(lodging) at night. The forgotten concept of IST (Indian stretchable time) dawned on us.. things go at their own pace here.. this time, it was our turn to contribute to the "strech" in time, not sure what to expect while travelling with a 3 yr old and 2 senior citizens, we added additional luggage, some bedding too and left home at 5:30 pm.

Favourite spots:
Hoysaleswara temple at Belur
Hoysaleswara temple at Belur
Our first stop at around 11:00 PM was at the hoysalweswara temple at Belur. The temple is 1000 yrs old and still preserves the mangificience of a past era. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spend much time here, as the temple closes at around 9 Pm.

Our way through the jungles and western ghats (ghati as ramu called them) commenced at Belur. Winding tar roads, sometimes only mud paths, hair pin turns, took us over the ghatis, it was a long, but beautiful way, lined on the sides by banyan trees, the fragrance of eucalyptus and wild flowers along the way, and the occasional braking of the car to let snakes and wild animals cross the street was amusing.

What's really great:
View from the Annapoorni temple at Horanadu
View from the Annapoorni temple at Horanadu
The second destination, which we reached past midnight was Horanadu. Horanadu is around 300kms from Bangalore, a very scenic place on the ghatis and home to the famous annapoorni temple. Annapoori - the goddess of Annam (sanskrit for food/grain),is worshipped as a beautiful statue (standing with a bowl of food in one hand and a ladle in the other, ready to serve food) in the ancient temple. What was unique to this temple and would have gone unnoticed if not mentioned was - a giant snake is carved around the main shrine that houses the annapoorni idol, the tail of the snake at the entrance and the head at the end behind the shrine. Typical to most temples in southern india, the concept behind any annapoorni temple is - free fresh wholesome food served on plantain leaves to everybody who visits the shrine 3 times a day at meal times. (Who says India is poor and underdeveloped??) Poha (puffed rice) for breakfast and rice with lentils and vegetables for lunch and dinner.

Kids line up to be blessed by elephants- a common sight in India
Kids line up to be blessed by elephants- a common sight in India
After our darshan and breakfast at Horanadu, we descended the hills, into more ghaatis, bypassed a few temples on our descent, went past tea estates, palm and plantain farms and reached Sringeri at 10:00 AM.
Adi shankaracharya – re-established hinduism (the sanatana dharma) and set up peethas or knowledge bases for this religion in 4 places in India. One of the peethas (holding as much religious significance as vatican or mecca) is the shrine of shankaracharya at Sringeri. Sringeri – the ancient Vidyasagara temple built as the Sri chakram, a recent shiva temple, the mutt of shankaracharya, the tunga river, elephants, deer, fig trees, palms, flowers, the natural serene atmosphere provided unparalled bliss. After enjoying the detailed carvings and temple architecture, and feeding fish at the tunga, we sat for an hour at the meditation center, waiting for the darshan of the present day Shankaracharya of the Sringeri Mutt. We were blessed with holy water from the prayers and elephants.

Shiva at murudeswara
Shiva at murudeswara
There’s free lunch at sringeri too, but we decided to eat outside and not wait for the meals at 12:30 PM. We had lunch at a Kamat hotel nearby, and took off along more ghatis, through the kudremukh national forest towards our next destination – kollur.

We stopped at the Lakhya dam, a couple of small waterfalls, scenic mountains alongside the narrow roads, but we did not spend much time there. Unlike the maps and detailed driving directions in the west, drivers in India rely on memory. With the musical horn blown almost every other minute at bends and intersections, and trusting the directions memorized by practice, we made our way through narrow terrain roads to Kollur. 4 Pm at the mookambigai temple at Kollur – I was fast asleep in the car and refused to wake up. I would blame it on the jet lag. Roads got better as we left Kollur and came down on the highway towards Goa, our next stop at 5 pm was Murudeswara.

Gopuram of the main shrine in Murudeshwar
Gopuram of the main shrine in Murudeshwar
A view of the ghats, the beach and the Arabian sea, and in all magnanimity, the giant statue of Shiva, on a small hill alongside the sea, the tallest gopuram – still under construction – this is Murudeswara, a beautiful tourist/religious destination near the Karnataka-Maharashtra border. The place was so refreshing that we immediately forgot the tiredness of bumpy roads and over 20 hrs of travel, we freshened up at the hotel and started exploring. We went up the hill adoring the gigantic statues as my mom-in-law narrated the significance and story behind each of the statues. We took a stroll along the pathway around the Shiva statue and enjoyed the sunset. Immediately after the sunset we went to the beach, spent some time in the waters and took a boat ride around the region. Murudeswara has a lot to offer to all kinds of tourists and we surprisingly, did see a lot of non-hindus, which is not very common in a religious center. Camel rides, boat rides, parasailing were some of the other activities we could choose from. My only regret was, we just had a night at Murudeswara.

Bhagirath Pleading Lord Shiva to Free Ganga
Bhagirath Pleading Lord Shiva to Free Ganga
One can spend time at the Kudremukh national forest which is a big stretch of forest land on the ghats. There are several waterfalls enroute. At destinations, the time is best spent at the temples and in temple surroundings. Most of these destinations (except Murudeswar) do not have much to offer in terms of clubs, pubs or other forms of recreation.

The meditation hall at Sringeri, where I spent around 30 min in peaceful contemplation, the banks of the tunga and the mutt is a great place to spend with nature.

At Murudeswar, we had a great time at the temple in the base of the hill where we witnessed the "Bali Puja", sacred offerings and special customs that are followed only on Pradosha (auspicious days).

There is plenty to see and learn in India and everything about this place constantly amuses me as I try to understand and rationalise the details of millions of rituals and customs unseen or unheard of in any other part of the world.

Hotel at Murudeswara
Hotel at Murudeswara
Restaurants and hotels en route and at destinations:

The first hotel we stopped at for dinner was an Agarwal restaurant right on the outskirts of Bangalore before we hit the highway. It would be interesting to note that teh name "hotel" refers to restaurant alone. Acoomodations are named "lodge".

The second stop was at a pretty decent sized hotel - named Kamat hotel near Belur.

The first night was spent at the lodge right adjacent to the Annapoorni temple. They did provide an extra bed for some additional money and hot water could be bought for Rs5 per buckt early morning.

Our 2nd night at Murudeswar, we checked in to the 5 star resort RNS, alongside the sea. The room had the exotic Gitopadesh statue view on one side and the sea on the other. They had an excellent dinner buffet at the sea lounge in the hotel and a breakfast buffet too.

Idlis (steamed rice & lentils) or Vada with sambhar and chutney, Dosa, Puri-Sabji, Poha (dry) and curd rice are typical menu items.

Other recommendations:
Sringeri - gardens
Sringeri - gardens
I would recommend leaving Bangalore early in the afternoon, so one can spend more time at Belur. Spending more than a day at Murudeswar would be advisable for anybody planning to go on this trip. There is a whole lot to see and enjoy at Sringeri too and the Mutts are very clean and comfortable.

Most of the temples are closed in the afternoon and it would be a good idea to schedule visits accordingly.

Had it not been for a hectic schedule and a family, I would have loved to trek my way across some of the ghats and would have spent more time at the dam and the falls.

The one thing that bothered us a lot was the lack of cleanliness in restrooms(bathrooms/toilets) in most of the places. The Mutt at sringeri, the Annapoorneswari temple and RNS hotel at murudeswar were quite an exception- surprisingly clean.

Last, but not the least... be cautious when you ask for an ice cream at hotel Kamath in Belur - we were served with a fly. :-)

--Dedicated to the Guru at Sringeri --

Published on Wednesday July 26th, 2006

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Tue, Aug 22 2006 - 11:12 AM rating by kandath

Sorry for the long delay in logging on and reading this superb report! It is really magical. Well Done You! Carry on with the sterling work. Affectionate regards from Malabar.
- Kris Chettan

Mon, Aug 21 2006 - 09:02 PM rating by eirekay

Truly a beautiful, very moning report! What a joy to read!

Wed, Aug 09 2006 - 06:49 AM rating by gloriajames

A wonderful emotional report and truly well deserved to win ROTM.
Congrats & Excellent!

Mon, Jul 31 2006 - 01:36 AM rating by frenchfrog

Very informative report, well done!

Sat, Jul 29 2006 - 12:17 PM rating by st.vincent

A nice personal account of an interesting trip

Fri, Jul 28 2006 - 05:20 AM rating by downundergal

Well done - a really personal and interesting report.

Thu, Jul 27 2006 - 06:54 AM rating by rangutan

What an exiting and adventurous real life "blitz-trip"!

Wed, Jul 26 2006 - 10:08 AM rating by marianne

A perfect and excellently written report. i especially like the way you blend general information with your personal experience. Good pictures that show what your trip was like.

Wed, Jul 26 2006 - 08:05 AM rating by mistybleu

A very interesting read.

Wed, Jul 26 2006 - 07:40 AM rating by bhairavee

I heard about this place but never had chance to visit, one of the most sacred places for Hindus,I liked the way added your personal point of views into it making more realistic apart from extremely good pictures.

Wed, Jul 26 2006 - 06:52 AM rating by davidx

A great pleasure to read and very informative.

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