After the Ecstasy the Laundry!

I have borrowed the title for my post from the Book authored by Jack Kornfield (with the same title), who is a popular Budhist teacher in the US.  This title best describes our recent week-long tour to Ahobilam and Tirupati/ Tiruchanoor and return to Mumbai.

We (myself & my wife) had an incredibly fantastic tour to the above places of worship. There are several commonalities between the two places AHOBILAM & TIRUPATI. Both are hill stations and therefore offer great opportunities for exploring & enjoying the beauty of nature. A major difference, though, is that one doesn’t see crowds in Ahobilam since it is not so well- known like Tirupati. So, expectedly, one doesn’t find well developed infrastructure like roads, electricity or even comfortable places to stay. On the positive side, less crowd implies cleaner environment ( no unsightly plastic bags or bottles!) and ‘no roads’ translates to wonderful trekking experience! Let me give a brief account of our experiences.

Day1: Left Mumbai by Chennai Super fast express

Day2 Afternoon: Reached Kadapa – a district notorious for Maoist Naxalites hideouts. The place is also well-known for beautiful Kadapa Stones used as kitchen platforms. Drove to Ahobilam which is about 2 hours away. This is the foot of the Hill that we were to climb the following day. Reached by 5 pm and relaxed after visiting a local temple. Stayed in the Mutt Guest House, which had all the basic amenities.

Day3: This was the best part of our experience. We had a sumptuous breakfast provided at the Guest House(Pongal – Gotsu) and left for trekking. Trekking was a great experience. Most of the path was rocky. It was not too steep but steep enough to present a pleasant challenge for inexperienced climbers like us. In many places, we had to wade through cool & pleasant waters flowing down our path from several natural falls and streams. The climate was just right as it rained heavily only a few days before our visit, thanks to the cyclone NILAM.  We were just plain lucky to have chosen such a time for our tour. The best part of our trekking was just before we reached the Jwaala Narasimhar temple, which is situated on a cliff. The approach to the temple was through a narrow path with a natural overhead fine shower spread over 2 metre’s length(see the picture below). Since the path was narrow, there was no way anyone could escape getting wet. In any case we were told it is mandatory to walk right under the holy shower. It’s holiness arises from the fact that it originates  straight from the holy UGRA STHAMBHAM , a pillar at a higher altitude above us. According to our mythology, that was the pillar from which Lord Narasimha made His appearance (AVATAR) to kill the Demon Hiranyakasipu.

After we had the Darshan of Jwala Narasimha, we were treated with a deliciously refreshing cool drink prepared using the naturally pure mineral water mixed with jaggery and spiced with lemon and Ginger( This drink is known as PANAGAM in Tamil). That was exactly what we needed at that time to continue with our trekking. Then we  started our climb down to visit the other 8 temples of  Narasimha. Except the temple of MALOLAN, all other temples were easy to reach. Two temples of Narasimha are located deep inside the forest (one is about 25km & the other is 3 km inside) with virtually no approach road. We took a jeep to travel the distance. The journey was very scary as our jeep tilted almost 60 to 70 degrees at some points  and yet defied gravity! We were simply lucky that it didn’t end as a misadventure! That was the only part of the journey which I didn’t enjoy at all. In fact it was too scary to enjoy!

Ahobilam trip (barring the Jeep drive into the forest) is a perfect example of mixing pleasure with pilgrimage.

Day 4 & 5: We drove back to Kadapa and took a bus to Tirupati. We stayed at Tiruchanoor to witness Goddess Padmavathi  ‘utsavam'(PANCHAMI TEERTHAM). This is an annual event very well organized by TTD. Everything about the festival is grand and royal. The high point of these utsavams are the daily  processions of the deity around the temple-town in the mornings as well as the evenings. The deity is dressed and decorated beautifully with rich jewelry and specially chosen dresses. The procession is led by a well decorated temple elephant (this year the elephant was spared of this duty thanks to Diwali crackers), several group dancers, bhajan singers, highly rhythmic & loud kerala drums, a team playing classical music on saxaphone, ‘Goshtis’ chanting Tamil ‘Prabandham’, Nadaswaram ‘vidwaans’ playing enchanting tunes of carnatic music etc. When one crosses all this paraphernalia, one will finally have a glimpse of  the Goddess Padmavathi sitting royally on a pedestal( traditionally called a ‘vahanam’) blessing devotees. It’s a grand spectacle to watch as religion, music, dance  and several other aspects of our culture are on display in one place. The procession befittingly ends with vedic scholars chanting vedas beautifully as if to emphasize that we are after all part of the great, ancient vedic culture.

It’s a great experience to be part of this entire celebration. Being a keen follower of carnatic music, I kept company with the Nadaswaram vidwans throughout the procession. The ‘vidwans’ are none other than the grandsons of the well-known maestro Sheikh Chinna Maulna Saheb. They are not merely the chip of the old block – but the old block itself! I had the privillege of asking them to play a few songs of my choice and they obliged happily.

Day 6 &7: We left Tirupati by train and got back to Mumbai. Entire Tour lasting for a week was like an ecstatic dream. From that ecstasy, we are now back  in Mumbai, slowly getting back to our daily grind and attending to  mundane jobs like cleaning up the house, cooking, shopping and most importantly the laundry!

Here are a few pictures of Ahobilam trekking:

Walking down after visiting Jwala Narasimhar temple at the top

A cave at the backdrop on way to Malola Temple – Guide is on the right

Another shot of the cave

On way to Malola Narasimhar Temple

A Natural Fall turned into fine shower at a narrow path on way to Jwala Narasimhar temple

On way to Malola Narasimhar temple

Ahobila Narasimhar Temple

Published in: on November 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice one! I am glad that you two had a nice darshan. Little disappointed with very few photos as I was expecting in large numbers. At hombre

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Nice pilgrimmage. Blessed couples. Thanks for the photos.

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