Thursday, 11 June 2015

A spiritual Journey – Kollur and Kodachadri Hills

A spiritual Journey –  Kollur and Kodachadri  Hills

Brief description about Kollur

Kollur is one of the seven pilgrimages which were created by Parashurama. It is is situated at the banks of the  river Sauparnika and surrounded by thick forest.

Kollur is north of Udupi  (100 km from Udupi) and around 176  km from Mangalore Railway station.   Here we see the famous temple Mookambika at the foot hill known as Kodachadri.  The Sowparnika River  that originates on the hill flows past the temple

My journey from 6th June to 10th June, 2015

6th June, 2015

My trip to these locations was not scheduled. On the 6th (Saturday) morning, I took the Coimbatore-Mangalore train at 6.30am and reached Mangalore around 1.15 pm.  The hotel folks had organised a pick me up from the Mangalore Station.  It costs around Rs.2700/- to get dropped in Kollur.

On reaching I checked in at Hotel  Beena Residency at 4.15. It is a three hours drive from Mangalore Station to Kollur.  Since I had stayed at this hotel last year, they were kind enough to give a room even though they were over booked being a weekend.

Mookambika Temple opening and closing details:

Morning: 5 am to 1.30 pm
Evening: 3 pm to 9.30 pm

After taking a bath around 5.30 pm I went to the temple.  It is 2 mints walk from the hotel.

Being Saturday, it was slightly crowed.  However, I managed to get into the temple and had a very good darshan. After darshan,  by sitting inside the temple I recited Lalitha Sahasranam  and Vishnu Sahasranam.   It took 40 to 45 minutes for me to complete and I returned to the hotel. 

Brief description about the temple

The skanda purana describes the glory of this holy place and how a sage named kola did penance here. Devi Adi Shakti,  who vanquished the demon Mukasura, was praised by the devas as Mookambika.  It is also said that  the panchaloha idol of the Devi and Sri Chakra were installed by Sri Adi Shankara himself and he had also set up the methods for the various rituals and worship. . It is understood that  many yogis and sages have performed austeritie at this holy place.

The temple houses a swayambhu lingam worshiped as the form of Shiv Shakti.  The devoted accept that all three firms of shakti namely  Mahakali, Mahasaraswati and Mahalakshi are  housed in this sacred image of Mookambika. The image of the devi holds a conch and chakra and shown the hand gesture of blessings and freedom from fear. Onc can also see the images of Kali and Saraswati nereby the main deity.  Also in this temple are enshrined images of Vinayaka with ten hands, Anjaneya. Virabhadra, Siva, and

It is quite difficult to get good food in Kollur as this being a small temple town.   There are only two good places one being Mookamabika Palace and Beena Residency (where I stayed).   Since the choice ares very limited, I had a nice dinner at Mookambika Palace and hit the bed around 9.30 pm.

7th June, 2015

Got up around 4 am and after completing my routine activities I went and stood in the line around 4.,30 am. By the time the temple opened, it was quite crowded being Sunday. Normally the temple is crowded on Fridays thru Sundays. 

I entered the temple around 5.15 am and as usual had a very good darshan. I could stand in front of the idol for around 10 minutes.  Thereafter I sat inside the temple and recited Lalitha Sahasranam and Vishnu Sahasranam.  I got back to my hotel around 6.,30 am.  Thereafter I managed to get some Kerala breakfast in one of the kerala hotels.  After that I went and enquired about trip to Kodachadri  Hills.  Only  jeeps are allowed to take one to Kodachadri hills.  All such jeeps are parked in front of the Kollur Police Station and they take minimum 8 people in one jeep.  If one hires the entire jeep, the cost works out to be Rs.2700 to Rs.2800/ otherwise the  jeep people charge an individual an amount of Rs.350/- per trip. Hence I went and registered myself. After 10 minutes or so, they managed to get 6 more people and we left around 7 am.

Kodachadri hill is on Kollur-Shimogha-Bangalore national highway.  After 12 kms, one needs to take a deviation at Nettur to Kodachadri hills. From this point,  the base of the bill is around 2 km but this 2 km ride took around one hour.   There is no proper road as this being through forest. It was very bumpy.

After reaching the base camp, we started our treak. It was very windy and misty.  First temple we covered was Kalabharavi and a devi temple.  Thereafter we visited one more a kali temple which is the moolastam (means original place where devi sat), I don’t know whether this true or not.

Thereafter we started  the trek and it was comfortable for sometime.  but after sometime, I found it very difficult.  One point I thought I should be return to the base as the path was very narrow and windy/misty.  Due to my enthu I decided not to surrender and moved on.  Then we saw a small cave where we saw a ganesh idol and pooja being conducted on a regular basis.
While climbing I was thinking why did Adi Shankara has to come all the way here and did meditation. After struggling a lot I managed to reach the Shankafra Simhasna.   

Located in the scenic western ghats, Kodachadri (1343 m) is around 14 to 15 km away from this temple.  It is here the Devi  Adi Shakti  is said to have also appeared before Adi  shankara .  The  stone seat called the shankara simhasana is revered by devotees who meditate near  it to receive the blessings of the guru. Adi shankara is said to have meditated here.

It is a mind blowing place. After reaching the place,   I understood why Adi Shankara selected this place.  After reaching this place, one could feel the high positive energy created at this place  and feel the vibration.

After doing my prayers, we returned to the base camp.  Immediately after getting into the jeep, the rain had started.  Around 2 pm we reached Kollur. Since it was feeling hungry,  I had a kerala lunch at Beena Residency.   It was a very good Kerala lunch..

In the evening, around 5.30 pm after taking a batch I went to the temple for my evening prayers.  It was crowded. However, I could manage to enter the temple without much problem. As usual did my prayers by reciting Lalitha Sahasranam and Vishnu Sahasranam. and returned to the hotel around 7 pm. Since the lunch was very heavy, I skipped my dinner and hit the bed around 9.30 am.

8th June, 2015

As usual got up at 4 am. After taking my bath I  stood in  the line around 4.45 am. To my surprise, there were 10 to 15 devotees in the line. Absolutely there were no crowd being  Monday.  After my prayers I reached back to my room around 7.30.  Then the question was where to have the breakfast. Only option was to visit Mookambika Palace. Went had a good breakfast and returned the room.

Then I was debating within myself to stay one day( 9th June)  at Udupi and have a darshan in the Krishna Temple which is very famous. I immediately called up and booked a room in Upupi Resiency near the bus stand otherwise I was supposed to stay one more day in Kollur.   I too informed the hotel authorities at Kollur about my check out program.

Since there was nothing much to do after, I decided to have lunch in the temple itself.  Every day the temple conducts ANNADHANAM in the morning and in the night. There is saying that “if one visit this temple, one needs to have the food in the temple itself. The food is treat as Prasadam”.  This is the practice followed in all temples in this area of Karnataka. This includes Subramanya, Udupi, Dharmsala, and Annapurnaeswari temples. They start the lunch around 12 noon till 3 pm.  I came to know that every day in the morning around 5000 people eat and in the night around 3000.  The food was excellent. As per their custom, after serving rice, they serve rasam first, then sambar and then butter milk.  They too serve payasam.  Every thing is limited – no second serving.

After lunch I went to the room and took a break till 5 pm.  Around 5.30 pm I went into the temple and did my prayers and was back around 7.30 pm in my room. Around 9.30 I went to sleep.

9th June, 2015

I was up at 4 am and packed my bag.  Thereafter I went to the temple around 5.15 am. As usual did my prayers and back into the room around 7.00 am.  After having my breakfast I left for Udupi. In fact I took a bus (8.00 am)  from the Udupi bus stand for which I paid an amount of Rs.75/-. I took around 1.30 hours to reach Uduipi.

Around  9.30 am I reached Udupi.   Since Hotel Udupi Residency was very close to the bus stand, it took five minutes for me to reach the hotel and check in.  I was wondering what to do next. Then I happened to put on the TV and the news of Mr. Tomar, ex-Law minister of New Delhi was going on. I watched the TV till 12.30 pm.  Thereafter I went for a lunch to a nearby restaurant.  I had a North Indian thali and it was too good.  Around 1.30 pm I returned to my room and took some rest means watching Mr. Tomar incident on the TV.

Udupi Krishan temple opens at  5 am and closes at 9 pm.  Around 4 pm after taking a bath I left for the temple. It was a five minutes walk from the hotel.

It is a 13th century temple. This idol of Krishna in the temple was originally worshiped by Krishna’s wife Rukmini in Dwaraka in the Dvapara Yuga.  The deity of Kishna shows Him holding the churning rod in one hand and a rope in the other, with a little smile on his face, reminiscent of the childhood activities. This is the  place where the great spiritual teacher Madhvacharya was born and lived. 

After reciting Vishnu and Lalitha sahasranam say around 6.00 pm I returned to the hotel.  I hit the bed around 9.30 pm.

10th June, 2015

Got up as usual at 4.30 am and after completing my bath, I packed my bag. Around 7 am I had a quick breakfast and left for Mangalore station to catch my train at 11.45 am.  I took the bus of 8 am and reached Mangalore around 10 am. It took around 2 hours to reach the station.

Around 11,45 my train left for Coimbatore and reached Coimbatore around 7.15 pm. While in the train, I took some good photographs of Arabian sea.  There are some excellent beaches between Kasargode and Mangalore and Kasargode and Kannur. 

While in the train, I had taken some photographs :

Overall it was a fantastic spiritual journey.  The experience of 30 minutes near the shankara simhasana at Kodachadri Hills was fabulous.  By this trip, I could knock off two items from my “bucket list”  which are (1)  reciting Lalitha Sahasranam in Kollur Mookambika temple and Vishnu Sahasranam in Guruavaoor Krishna Temple (during my last visit) and Udupi Krishna Temple. It was an excellent feeling after doing all these.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

My visit to Ranthumbore National Park, and Fort at Swai Madhopur

My visit to Ranthumbore National  Park, and Fort at Swai Madhopur

I was in Gwalior on 4th to 5th February afternoon to attend one of nephews wedding. He got married to Sneha.  Several relatives of mine had come for the wedding and we had a gala time.

After lunch in the afternoon I went to Swai Madhopurr to visit Rathumbore National Park. I took a train at 3.30 pm from Gwalior to Mathura. Around 9 pm I took another train from Mathura to Swai Madhopur and reached around mid-night. Fortunately my hotel people had sent me a pickup.  Swai Madhopur is on the Mumbai and N.Delhi rail route. I stayed at Hotel Green View which is around 10 km from the National Park.

6th February, 2015

Since I checked in around 12 mid-night, I took rest in the morning as my safari was in the afternoon from 2.30 pm to 6.00 pm.  After my breakfast, around 2 pm I was picked up by the safari jeep accompanied by a guide and we entered the park around 2.30 pm after picking up others.  Our guide was an excellent person with good knowledge. Straight away he took us to Zone 3 near the lake. Suddenly he noticed a female tiger named Krishna (T-19)  sleeping in the lake.  This  tiger had delivered four babies 10 months back.  Out of four babies, I was told one baby died and other three are in tact.  This tiger was lying down and in between she used to get up. Since we need to get out of the park at 6 pm we left the place but we were lucky to spot one. She made us wait for three hours in the same spot and did not get up till we left the place.

A brief about Ranthumbhore National Park and Fort
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most renowned national park in Northern India. The park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, which is about 130 km from Jaipur. Being considered as one of the famous and former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, today the Ranthambore National Park terrain is major wildlife tourist attraction spot that has pulled the attention of many wildlife photographers and lovers in this destination.

Ranthambore National park contains a huge variety of animals, birds and reptiles within it. Primarialy the population consists of...

Animals: Tigers, Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer, Chital, Nilgai, Common or Hanuman langurs, Macaques, Jackals, Jungle cats, Caracals, Sloth bears, Black bucks, Rufoustailed Hare, Indian Wild Boar, Chinkara, Common Palm Civets or Toddy cat, Coomon Yellow Bats, Desert Cats, Fivestriped Palm Squirels, Indian False Vampires, Indian Flying Foxes, Indian Foxes, Indian Gerbilles, Indian Mole Rats, Indian Porcupines, Longeared Hedgehogs, Ratels, Small Indian Mongoose, Small Indian Civets and Common mongoose. –

The park also has a large number of marsh crocs Reptiles: Snub Nosed Marsh Crocodiles, Desert Monitor Lizards, Tortoise, Banded Kraits, Cobras, Common Kraits, Ganga Soft Shelled Turtles, Indian Pythons, North Indian Flap Shelled Turtles, Rat Snakes, Russel's Vipers, Saw-scaled Vipers and the Indian Chamaeleon
Safari Timing
Timings for entry into, and exit from, the park vary according to the season. In winters, due to the shorter duration of daylight hours, the morning entry time is later and evening exit time is earlier.

After dropping others in their hotels, we reached my hotel around 7.00 pm.  Since I was very tired I had my dinner (as I did not have my lunch) I had my dinner around 7.30 pm and went to sleep early as I had planned to have one more safari on the month of 7th at 6.00 am.

7th February, 2015

I was picked up another jeep with another guide at 6.00 am. By 7.15 am we entered into the jungle and went to Zone 2. Unfortunately we did not see any tiget in Zone 2 but we saw several other animals/birds which was excellent.

Around 11.30 am I reached my hotel and I had my breakfast. Again skipping my lunch around 2 pm I was taken to Swai Madhopur Fort where I was told there are three famous temples – ganesha,  jain , and Laxmi Narayarana.  Fort is very steep and returned around 3.30 pm to the hotel.

Ranthambore Fort
This fort stands majestically atop a hill overlooking the entire park. The walk up, one of the only places this mode of transport is possible, is a very refreshing and exciting one as even the big cats have been spotted up there! The view of the surrounding keeps getting better and better as you go up but the view from the fort itself can only be described as breathtaking. It is advisable to take along a good pair of binoculars and if possible a camera with a very powerful lens when visiting the fort.

The soaring Serpent eagles, vultures and other birds can be seen at eye level. Many animals can also be seen along the edges of all the water bodies, which are all visible from here. The fort itself also offers many interesting architectural and historical sights worth viewing and photographing.
In this fort, there is a ganesha temple which is very famous. Also a Jain  and Laxmi Narayaran temples.

Since I had no plan to go out I saw two old hindi movies in the T.V  Around 8.30 pm had my dinner and went to sleep.

8th February, 2015

After my breakfast around 11.30 am I went to the Swai Madhopur  station to take a train to Ujjain at 1.30 pm.

Overall my trip was excellent. Food in the hotel, and  their services were fantastic. Mr. Rathore who runs this place is a nice guy who is also a professional guide. Most likely within three to four months he is planning to start his own resort.  He is from hotel industry and worked with Taj, Swai Madhopur and other hotels for several years.  In case you plan to visit this Nation Park you can get in touch with him. He contact number is 09251086627/09414726616.