Trip to Mantralya

Raj and me visited Mantralaya on 20th Sept. I got the tickets booked through our Time Sol desk.

Travel: We took the Hampi express from Bangalore on 19th Sept. It started at 10:30 pm and reached Mantralya Road at 7:30 am. For return, we took the Udayan express from Mantralaya Road at 10:05 pm and it reached Banglore contonment station
at 7:45 am.

Trip: We reached Mantaralya Road at 7:30 am. As soon as we stepped out there were government buses, which got filled within a minute. It was 8 Rs per head. Apart from busses there were many shared autos which charged 15 Rs per head. From Mantralya road, Mantralya is a 20 minute journey.

We had booked a room in our community's hostel there. It took us 15 minutes to get a
room. We freshened up and left the room at 9:30 am. There are plenty of hotels in Mantralaya, and it is quiet easy to get rooms.

To eat we went to Udupi restaurant, it was close to the temple and it looked decent from outside, food was decent too, we had a quick breakfast and headed for the Tungabadra river.

Tungabadra river:Tungabadra river is a 5 minute walk from the temple. It was a very sad scene there. The entire bank of Tungabadra River was nothing but a Dobhi Ghat. It was muddy and dirty everywhere. People, who wanted to have a bath there, took a coracle to nearby rocks, which were 40 meters away from the bank. We did a quick puja to the river goddess and left the banks.
Tungabadra River

Manchalmma Temple: We reached the temple and first visited the Manchalmma Temple. It is situated on the left corner of the Mutt complex, Goddess Manchalamma is the presiding deity of the village. Before visiting Raghavendra swamy, we need to first visit the goddess. We can offer madallakki to the goddess, this time due to time constraints I hadn't taken it.

In front of the temple

We then looked for what seva we could get done for Raghavendra swamy. In the list we saw that, most pujas were for either 5 am or 7:30 am. Only one puja "Archana sahitha Hastodaka" was for 11 am. We took that and went in. We went into gate 8, for the sankalpa. We were allowed to go into the sanctum right opposite to vrindavan and watch the archana and arathi. We then had a darshan of the vrindavan and went in for 14 pradakshinas.

Behind the mutt in a huge hall, there is idol of Moola Rama. Men not in Dhothis were not allowed into the hall. So, Raj could not come in for the darshan.

We returned to our room and went for lunch in our community hall.

Panchmukhi Temple: After a deep noon sleep, we started from our room at 4 pm. Had a quick tea at Udupi and took a shared auto to Panchamukhi temple. It costed us 30 Rs per head. It took around 40 minutes to reach Panchmukhi owing to the bad roads and stuffed shared autos. Our bodies had started aching by the time we reached Panchmukhi. Taking a bus would have been a good option, but there were no buses after 3 pm!!
Panchamukhi Temple

Panchamukhi Temple

The temple had padas of Hanuman at 3 places. We then went into the temple, took a ticket for mangalarthi. We had expected a glorious idol of Panchamukhi Hanuman. But it was udbhava murthi. We couldn't clearly make out the God. There was udhbava
murthi of Venkateshwara too. There were idols of Ganesha, Rudra devaru and Sesha devaru which were installed by the founder priest Antacharya.
Padukes of Hanuman

It is said Raghavendra swamy performed penance here for 12 years in that place when Lord Venkateshwara, Goddess Lakshmi and Panchmukhi Anjenya appeared and blessed him, and asked him to enter the brindhavan. Around the temple are the natural formation of rocks.
Natural rock formations

Natural rock formations

Return to Mantralya was much better and it took us 50 minutes to reach Mantralya. We went to have another darshan of Raghavendra Swamy. It wasn't crowded as most of the crowd was standing outside the temple for the dinner which starts at 7:30 pm. Preparations for Rathosava was on. The chariots looked magnificient.
Golden Chariot

Silver Chariot

The rathosava was scheduled to start at 8:30 pm, and we had to catch the 10 pm train, we couldn't wait to see the rathosava. We checked out of the room and took a shared auto at 15 Rs per head to the railway station.

Temple Timings: Darshan starts from 6 am in the morning and the temple remains open till 2 pm. Evening it opens at 4 pm and remains open till around 8:30 pm. Dinner at temple starts from 7:30 pm to 9 pm.

Raghvendra Swami's Padukes: Last time when I had been to Mantralya, we had seen the the original paduke's of Raghvendra swamy. It kept in the archaka's house. Before Raghavendra swamy entered the brindhavan he gave his padukes to the archaka. Since, then the padukes have been handed over in the family. I can't remember the exact location of the house but I do have the contact number : 08512 - 279427. In case anyone going there get the address please post it on this blog.

Things to remember:
If you plan for bath in Tungabadra river, then take a coracle to some nearby rocks.
Men will not be allowed with shirts on and to enter moola rama mandir, dhoti is a must.
To go to Panchmukhi first half of the day via buses would be better.

Flower show - Lalbagh

Kavitha proposed the idea of meeting at Lalbagh at 4:30 pm on Sunday 9th Aug, to see the flower show. Of course, all of us agreed. It had been around 6 years or so since I went to the flower show and I was pretty excited to go.

Raj and I were late by 30 minutes while the rest of the team - Kavitha, Anitha, Joe, Pushpak, Suvarna were there on dot. We started off to the glass house where the flower show was hosted. It was crowded beyond our expectations.

Jostling as I entered the glass house, I spotted a cute pink teddy bear made with roses. The highlight of the show was - a mermaid, surrounded by four dolphins and four teddy bears. All of them were built with vibrant colored flowers - red, pink, purple and it looked awesome. The other highlight was the flowery dino with its baby.
Dolphins and Teddy in roses

Dino in flowers!

We went around looking at the remaining flowers, not all of them grabbed my attention. Quiet a few were the humble flowers from our gardens.
Colorful flowers

Colorful flowers!

The Dhalia, velvet flowers grabbed my attention. Raj was surprised at the Velvet flower (that is the way I call those flowers) it has the velvety feel; he couldn't believe how the flower felt. Done with the flower show we headed for the vegetable and herbal show. It was lovely to see the vegetables we consume on the plants :-).

Velvet flowers

Vegetables on Plants!!

It was 6:30 pm by the time we were done with shows and started going around the stalls. There were assortment of things on sale - flower pots, seeds, wood works, herbal medicine for cockroaches, bhel puri, gulkan, Eureka forbes, handicraft, purses, bindis so on. When we left Lalbagh it was 8:30 pm. It was just fun and refreshing.

Nisarga Dhama - Coorg Part 4

From the monastery in Kushalnagar we started off to NisargaDhama. We had lunch at a small hotel in Kushalnagar.

NisargaDhama is 2 kms from Kushalnagar and 30 km from Coorg. It is resort belonging to Jungle lodges. The resort has cauvery water going round it. The resort looked more like Cubbon Park to us. The place was crowded with people everywhere and littered with plastic and leftover food.
Hanging bridge in Nisarga Dhama

There were quite a lot of bamboo trees and benches to sit. There was a deer park, where we took a basket of cucumber and fed the deer. Apart from that there were Elephant rides, which we weren't interested in. Going around the place we saw there was a place where people could get into the waters and have fun. If one wants, they can book a lodge there and stay. We went on a boat ride before we left the place. This place I wouldn’t mind avoiding if needed.

Deer Park

View of the river around the resort

From here we headed to the hotel in Coorg. We started off next day to Bangalore.

Kushalnagar / Bylakuppe - Tibetian Monastery - Coorg Part 3

From Dubare elephant camp we headed towards Bylakuppe near Kushalnagar.

When we reached the monastery it was almost 11 am. The monasteries were beyond out expectations. They were huge, colorful (Blue / red and gold), and aesthetically pleasing.

The main temple houses there gold plated copper statues, One being the Buddha's which is sixty feet high, other two belong to the Guru Padhmasambhava and Buddha Amitayus. The hall where the statues were placed was filled with paintings. We couldn't make out the stories those paintings were trying to say, hence asked a monk what they meant but he said he knew nothing of it and had joined the monastery just one year ago. There were pillows in the hall which could be used for sitting and mediating. I went around admiring the paintings and just sat looking at the huge statues.
Main temple

There golden statues

Paintings in the hall of the main monastery

Pillar in the main hall

Painting in the main hall

We went around the other smaller monasteries around. One of them we the students were reciting their scriptures accompanied by the gongs. One of the smaller monasteries had five gold plated statues, we couldn't figure out what they were. This place is a must visit. There are no places to eat around. It would be better to carry some light eatables.

Sub monastery

Five golden statues in the Sub Monastery

Sub Monastery

Students in the Sub Monastery

Dubare elephant camp - Coorg Part 2

16th May we reached coorg and went around Coorg and Talakaveri, more about it here.

17th May morning we started early for Dubare elephant camp. It is 30 kms from Coorg. We started around 7:30 am in the morning, so that we can be in the elephant camp by 8:30 am. We reached the camp by 8:15 am and rushed for breakfast to the hotel in the camp. Hotel was crowded and fast food like upma / idli was out of stock. So we had to wait for a dosas. There were some thirty odd people waiting ahead of us for the dosas. I was loosing my patience. Finally, we had breakfast and were at the edge of the river by 9:10 am, we saw a herd of elephants retreating. My face immediately dropped that we had missed the elephants. But then saw another herd of elephants coming by. I hurried Raj to take the earliest motor boat. It was 20 Rs per round trip, so we made sure we kept our tickets safe.
Elephants in water

As soon as we reached the spot we were told to go and get tickets for watching the elephants. It was 100 per head to wash the elephants and 100 per head for a ride. We decided to take the tickets for elephant ride later and hurried to wash the elephants. But once at the elephants no one checked for the tickets.

It was so much fun playing with the elephants. The Mahout would make the elephants lie down in water and then start scrubbing them with stone!! The visitors would then join the scrubbing the process. The elephants would just lie and enjoy the attention and the scrubbing.
Washing the Elephants

I removed my shoes and rolled up my jeans and got into the water without any hesitation, started looking for elephants which were less crowded. The mahout was scrubbing the elephants with a stone. But I resorted to just wash them with my hands. The skin felt very rough and thick. Once I felt I had enough of it, I got out of water and put my shoes on. The elephants too started coming out of water, we took few photos with them. Then another of elephants came to have bath. There was a little elephant with them. It went around jumping and spraying water on people. But, I didn't have the energy to go down and remove my shoes and play with the little elephant.
Washing the Elephants

We sat watching the nature. It looked beautiful with all the greenery, water and the reflections.
Nature at Dubare

People started piling for the elephant ride. By the time we decided to go for a ride there were some 70 people in the queue. We ducked the idea of elephant ride and decided to cross the stream on foot instead of a boat. The river and greenery looked beautiful. In secluded areas we could see people playing with water and swimming. We regretted for having not brought another pair of clothes. As we started to cross the river, we realized it was full of loose stones and I did slip and fall. Then it just got harder, so we retreated to take a boat.

Things to remember:
Be there by 8:30 am to beat the crowd.
Take a pair of rubber slippers, a towel and an extra pair of clothes.
Better to be in half pants to enjoy the water and bathing the elephants.
Avoid a rainy day because elephants are not brought out to be washed.

Chikalli Dam

From Dubare elephant camp we headed towards Kushalnagar to see the Tibetan monastery. On the way there is a small board which says “Chikalli Dam 2kms”. Our taxi driver suggested we visit the dam, we were a little skeptical but we decided to take the chance. When we reached the dam we were awestruck at the beauty of the place.

Beautiful Chikalli dam


I had heard a lot about Kumbhakonam and its temples. We (Dad, Mom, Raj and me) started from Bangalore on 13th March. Travel, stay and sightseeing program was chalked by Raji's Dad and his friend Shekaran.

We started from Banglaore on 13th via the Mailadarui Express. Expressed chugged off from the Bangalore station at 7 pm. It reached Kumbhakonam next day morning at 5:45 am. We started back from Kumbhakonam on 15th night at 6pm and
reached Banglaore on 16th at 5:30 am.

Taxi was arranged by Shekaran uncle at 2000 Rs per day. It was there at the station waiting for us.

There are plenty of hotels at Kumbhaoknam. We stayed at Hotel Chela. They charged us 500 per room as it was off-season. Else the cost is 800 per room. Hotel was clean and neat but the staff was rude and of course there is no lift in the hotel. So if you can avoid this hotel, do avoid it.

Places to Eat:
Meenakshi Bhavan is the best place to eat.

Papanasam was the first place of our visit. This is 15 kms from Kumbhakonam. Main deity is Paalaivananathar and Dhavala Vennakaimangai.
One of the Main Shiva Lingas

Main goddess

The temple has a complex with 108 ShivaLingas apart from the main Shivalinga, Paalaivananathar and Parvathi. The 108 ShivaLingas bought forth the devotion buried somewhere in the soul. Legend says that Lord Rama installed all the 108 Shiva Lingas for washing off the sins of having killed Ravana. Ravana though an asura was a Brahmin. People had bought oil in cans and pour oil to all the 108 lamps; I really wish I had done that. I wish I had time; I would keep going round the 108 ShivaLingas.
108 Shiva Linga

Mullaivananathar Temple, Tirukkarukavur:
Mullaivananathar temple is located at a distance of 7 km from Papanasam. It is the abode of Mullaivananathar and GarbhaRatchaambikai.

The ShivaLinga is made of ant hill mud. This ShivaLinga was once covered with jasmine creepers. The impression is still seen on the ShivaLinga. No Abhishekam is done here, but once a month a kind of must called "Punuhu" is applied to the ShivaLinga. People with different diseases perform this puja.

We bought tickets for puja at Shivalinga and the Devi and also bought 11 lamps. We started the puja by lighting a lamp in front of lord ganesha. We proceeded to Shiva and lighted another lamp there and got archana done. We could see the impressions of jasmine creepers on the ShivaLinga. We then proceeded to the GarbhaRatchaambikai, we lit the remaining 9 lamps before entering the temple. We got archana done. We had taken the Madalakki and we offered it to the goddess. I could see women wanting to get married or get children, were cleaning the threshold of the goddess with ghee and then putting Rangoli.

The Punuhu puja happens once a month so we had to register for it. We got the Prasad a month later.
Kalyani in front of the temple

We proceed towards the Guru temple which is around 15 kms from Kumbhakonam.
At entrance of the temple is Shivalinga. Prayers have to be offered first here and then proceed to Guru. We lit 2 lamps to Guru. There are two entries one special which is 10 Rs per head and other is free. We took the free one as it is was not crowded much.We offered yellow cloth, channa along with archana to the lord.

Uppaliappan Temple:
From the Guru temple we hurried to the Uppliappan temple which closes sharp at 12:30pm. We grabbed tickets at the Entrance for 10 Rs per head. We were lucky to grab the darshan of the lord. He looked magnificent with Sridevi and Bhudevi. This temple is said to be equivalent of Triumala Tirupati temple.We couldn't get archana done as it was already late.
Gopuram of Uppliappan Temple

We headed to Shekaran uncle's house for a sumptuous lunch, and chalked out the program for the noon.

Mahamagam Tank:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.We first went to Mahamagam tank. It was a huge tank with 16 small mantaps. The water looked serene and I would have liked to spend a couple of hours staring at the water, but there wasn't much time. Kasi Vishwanath temple is located at the bank of the tank.
Mahamagam Tank:

Kasi Vishwanath temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.Kasi Vishwanath and Vishalakshi Devi reside here. It is said that Lord Kasi Viswanatha, at the instance of the Nava Kannikas, i.e., Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Narmada, Saraswati, Kaveri, Kumari, Payoshni and Sarayu, came down to Kumbakonam and stayed with them. Temples for all the Nava Kannikas have been built here.

Sarabeshwara temple:
The god is a combination of Narashima, Kali, Eshwara and Durga. Prayer at this temple cures all the diseases.

Mahalingaswamy temple:
There was a huge Nandi in front of the Lord shiva. There were idols of 27 celestial shivalingas. Couldn't read what each stood for as it was all in Tamil.
Nandi in front of Mahalingaswamy

27 Celestial Shiva Lingas

Surya Narayana Temple:
In this tmeple, the main deity is SuryaNarayana. Opposite to SuryaNaraya is Guru. Within the compound are the temples for the remaining seven planets.We took archana ticket for Surya Narayana temple and got archana done. Then we got to know that there is a 151 Rs archana done for all the planets. Upon my insistence, we then got that done. They would give a plate full of coconuts and flowers, which had to be carried to all the temples. It was a thirty minute process but very satisfying. The archana began with surya narayana. The purhoit offered a coconut at every temple. We were finally given around 10 coconuts. We gave all the coconuts for free lunch.

Rahu temple:
We proceeded towards Thirunageshwaram for Rahu temple. Main deity of the temple is Nageswarar. There is an individual shrine for Rahu Bhagavan. Rahu Bhagavan resides with his both his wives. Hence this temple is called Raghusthalam. We offered blue cloths to the goddesses.

Abhisheka for Rahu lord is done three times a day apart from the Rahu kala. At 9 am / 12:30 pm an 4:30 pm. It is 150 per head to witness this miraculous abhisheka. Milk turns blue as soon as it touches Rahu bhagawan. When a trip is planned to Kumbhakonam, atleast half day must be dedicated to this temple to witness this feat. It is better to go there for the morning Abhisheka, crowd is a little less. During Rahukala crowd is overwhelming.

Within the temple complex is a shrine for Sri Lakshmi, Sri Saraswathi and Sri Shakti devi, called as GiriGujambika Devi.
Rahu Bhagawan

Nageshwaram Temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam. Nageshwara is the main deity of the Nageshwaram temple. In the complex is a Nataraja temple, it is in form of a chariot.
Temple is constructed such that sun rays fall directly on the lord once a year.

Temple in form of a chariot

Sarangapani Temple:
Sarangapani is within Kumbhakonam. Ranganatha swamy resides here with Sridevi and Bhudevi. The main temple looks like it is on a chariot.
Sarangapani temple in form of Chariot

Brahma temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam. The main diety here is Vishu with Sridevi and bhudevi. Yoga Narashima is also in the complex. Brahma with Gayathri and Saraswathi reside here.
Brahma Temple

Ramaswamy temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam. It is an awesome temple and the dieties are awesome. Sri Rama, Sita devi, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrugnaya and Hanuman reside here. Lord Rama, Site and Lakshmana are standing, while Bharata and Shatraugnaya are flying the chamara. Hanuman is sitting with a tambori and singing Ramayana,
In the temple complex painting of Ramayana are seen. It goes in three rows, to read the complete Ramayana we need to go around the temple three times, once for each row.
Pillar in the temple
Pillar in the temple
Paintings of Ramayana

Aathi Kumbeshwara temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.Kumbheshwara resides with Mangala devi. The shape of Shivalinga here is different.

Chakrapani temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.Here the main deity is Chakraraja and Sudharshana Chakra. Lord Vishnu can be seen within the Chakra.

SwamiMalai temple:
This temple is around 10 kms from Swamimalai. Main deity of this temple is the Lord Subramaneshwara temple. Of the six scared shrines of Lord Subramanya, this is the fourth. Around 120 steps have to be climbed to reach the lord. Mom so stayed back while Dad, Raj and me went up to the temple. Temple was heavily crowded, but we managed to get a good darshan.
Temple Gopura

Thiruvalansuzhi Vinayakar Temple / Vellai pillayar Swamy temple:
This temple is ar a distance of 2km from swami Malai.
Temple has a small white ganesh. It is believed that the Ganesh was formed by the white foam of the sea. This Ganesha is located in the start of the temple. Coconut and flowers are a must for archana in this temple. Atleast 200 meters from this temple within this complex is a Shivalinga.
Temple of Vellai pillayar Swamy
Main Shiva Linga in Vellai pillayar Swamy temple

This is at 5 km from Kumbhakonam.Goddess Durge, with eight hands resides here with Patteswaram. She is said to bestow all the Soubhayas to the devotees. First we need to visit Patteswaram and then come to visit goddess Durga. There is a area to light lamps in lemon rind. We bought the lamps and lit around 12 lamps. At 11 am abhisheka starts for goddess Durga. We bought tickets for Abhisheka and special entrance tickets. We could witness the abhishekam at close proximity.
Goddess Durge

Airavatesvara Temple:
It is a archelogical site and located in Darasaram. When we went there it was past 12 pm. So the temple was closed but we were allowed into the temple complex. The temple is called as Airavatesvara as Airavata, the elephant of Lord Indra worshiped Lord Shiva here. Temple has exquiste archeticture of Cholas.
Airavatesvara Temple Complex
Airavatesvara Temple Complex

Some points learnt:
To visit all the Navagraha temples 2 days is needed. When we visit Navagraha temples, we must first visit the Navagraha and then visit the moola God. But, we should never return without seeing the moola god.
To visit the other temples in and around Kumbhakonam around 2 days minimum is needed. So the total plan must be for 4 days if we need to do justice of going to Kumbhakonam.
From people in Kumbhakonam we got to know that the best time to visit is in March. That is when heat is bearable, and crowd will be less because of exams. Decemeber or any other holidays the temples get so overcrowded.
Try lighting Lamps in all the temples and get archana done. In many places without coconut archana is not done.
Make sure to be in Rahu temple to witness the miraculous abhisheka.
Don't try to take photos in any of the temples as it is strictly prohibited.