Monday, February 18, 2008

Travel - A pilgrimage.... Part 3 (Agumbe-Sringeri-Horanadu-Vittal)

Was looking forward to some real nice mountain drives and sure enough was not disappointed as we set out for Sringeri from Agumbe. The weather had been consistently pleasant and carried on being lovely all the way.
The road from Agumbe to Sringeri, winding through the Ghats was pretty good and enjoyable. Covered the distance of 30kms in 45minutes. A huge parking lot awaited us at Sringeri. There were plenty of Lord Ayappa devotees on their pilgrimage traveling in vehicles of varied sizes. They could be easily identified as all of them were dressed in black and the vehicles were heavily garlanded. The Jagadguru Shankaracharya Mahasamsthanam, Dakshinamnaya Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri, is the first and foremost of the four Peethams established by the renowned 8th century philosopher saint Sri Adi Shankara, the principal exponent of Advaita (non-dualism). The Divinity of Knowledge, Goddess Sharada, installed at Sringeri by Sri Adi Shankara, graces the Peetham as the presiding deity. According to legend, Adi Shankaracharya is said to have selected the site as the place to stay and teach his disciples, because when he was walking by the Tunga River, he saw a cobra with a raised hood, providing shelter from the hot sun, to a frog about to spawn. Impressed with the place where natural enemies had gone beyond their instincts, he stayed here for twelve years.
The Sharada temple, dedicated to the Goddess of learning and wisdom, has grown from a simple shrine dating to the time of Adi Shankaracharya. In the fourteenth century, Vidyaranya is said to have replaced the old sandalwood image with a stone and gold image. The temple structure itself continued to be made of wood until the early 20th century. After an unexpected fire that damaged the structure, the current structure was built in the traditional south Indian (Dravidian) style of temple architecture. The Vidyashankara temple was built in commemoration of the pontiff Vidyashankara, around 1357-58 A.D. It was built by Vidyaranya, patron saint of Harihara and Bukka, the brothers who founded the Vijayanagara Empire. The niches in the temple have a number of sculptures from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythologies. The temple combines Hoysala and Vijayanagara architectural features. This temple also features 61 images carved in bas-relief, of various scenes from the puranas.
Buddha is depicted as one of the incarnations of Vishnu here. The main temple hall features 12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the zodiac and the windows and doors along the temple walls are arranged in such a way that the sun's rays fall on each of them, in the order of the solar months. The 'garbha-griha' has a linga called Vidyashankara installed in the memory of Guru Vidyatheertha.
At the entrance of the temple complex, on the left there is this beautiful wooden structure. The details of this ‘heritage structure’ are there on a board.
The temple administration has built guesthouses for devotees who wish to stay. There are many private lodges also available in the vicinity. We had many miles to go and Horanadu to visit, so off we went, on the scenic route flanked by tea and coffee estates on either side all the way to Hornadu.
Took us almost two hours to complete the 80kms journey as we stopped often on the way to admire and capture the beautiful sights. Sri Annapoorneshwari Temple is an ancient and revered shrine located in the picturesque surroundings of Horanadu. Everyone who visits the Horanadu Annapoorna temple is provided with a vegetarian meal irrespective of his or her religion, caste or creed. Before entering the temple to pay your respects to the Goddess, the temple authorities exhort you to have lunch! But seeing that there were not many people in the queue for darshan we decided to skip lunch and visit the Goddess first. Male visitors to the temple have to remove their shirts and preferably cover their shoulders with a towel or a shawl as a symbol of respect and humility. The main deity of Annapoorna is made of gold and looks beautiful. It is said that a person who seeks the goddess' blessings would never have any scarcity for food in life. It is also believed that Lord Shiva was once cursed and that this curse was reversed when the Lord visited Goddess Annapoorna and sought her blessings. Feeling blessed, we made our way to our car to move on to Vittal, where we would stay for a couple of nights in our house. On the way, we passed Kudremukh – the township for the iron ore miners. And on the winding roads of the Western Ghats via Karkala and Mudbidri (been there done that) we cruised in the cool climes to reach Vittal at 1700hrs, covering a distance of 140kms in three hours. Vittal is a small town in the Puttur Taluka of South Kanara district of Karnataka. There is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Ananteshwar where people from far and near come to seek blessings. There is also a ‘Naag Katte’ outside the temple, which is worshipped daily. Our stay in Vittal was blessed with lovely weather and views so lovely that words cannot possibly justify.
While in Vittal I also fulfilled an old desire of visiting the village ‘Ammembal’ from which we derive our surname.
It is an extremely small place, just about 4sq kms. Visited the local ‘Somnatheshwar temple’ there but could not get inside as it was closed for darshan. The days flew by and we had to move on yet again to Hassan and Bangalore via ShravanBelagola, Belur and Halebid.


  1. very good article; informative as usual . the photographs prove to be an added treat. keep writing..look forward to reading the continuation of this travelogue.

  2. love every one who goes back to his/her roots,that's the stuff that
    makes one truly urban/rural indian.
    great photographs sir,liked the ammenbal one..
    keep clicking n writing..

  3. Hi,
    I am impressed reading your great post with these amazing photos!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Good luck to you!

  4. hi!!!
    i am planning a trip to Hornadu in month of May.Can u Please tell me whether the accomadations at the temple are availabel at this time ?? or i need to book it ???
    is there any other hotels ???
    i searched about it on net and found some ...but as i am going for the 1st time so no idea how could it be ?? so can u tell me sth abt the conditions and accomodations in hotel ???

  5. Hi

    Thanks for sharing your article...!!!
    I am also planning to visit Agumbe & Kudremukh....

  6. wonderful place..ive been to sringeri many times..and i relive it in your post..I would like to go to Hornadu and Vittal