OLD COUPLES MINI MAGHA MASA YATRA (3)
Dt.21st February, 2011 – MONDAY.
We started our further journey from Guntur starting at 6-45 am, reached Vijayawada by 7-30 am. When we are at Bandar Road, Vijayawada, we promptly received a call from my senior colleague and friend Shri Phanibhushana Rao enquiring about our tirthayatra programme and when we would be visiting his house. We informed him that we are already in Vijayawada and we will be in his house in another hour after visiting my wife’s aunt in Labbipet who is not keeping good health on account of old age. Accordingly we are in his house at 9 am by which time Mrs.Vijayalakshmi Phanibhushanrao is ready with breakfast for us. Mrs.Vijayalakshmi and Mr.Phanibhushanarao couple are spending their retired life in Vijayawada and in visiting punya kshetras now and then. They together visited many punya kshetras in South India and North India such as Navagraha temples, Shashti Subrahmanya temples, and other punya kshetras in Tamilnadu, many tourist and religious places in Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Kasi, Allahabad, Gaya, Omkareswar, Ujjaini, Pachmarri, Khajuraho, Vindhyachal, etc.. Mrs. Vijayalakshmi performed many Vratams prescribed for Women in our religious books. The couple donated liberally to the construction of and worship in temples. We have a standing invitation from them to visit and stay in their house whenever we pass through Vijayawada.
After breakfast, Mr.PBR and myself visited a friend Shri Lalita Prasad and spent about an hour with him. Spending time with Shri Lalita Prasad amounts to participating in a laughing therapy. Such is the witty conversation he indulges in, who takes life very seriously and also very lightly. As I have programmed to go to a village near Nuzvid, via Agiripalli and reach Dwaraka Tirumala by evening, we departed Vijayawada at 10-30 am.
AGIRIPALLI – RAJYALAKSHMI VYAGHRA NARASIMHASWAMY TEMPLE
This village, situated between Vijayawada and Nuzvid, is the abode of famous Rajya Lakshmi Vyaghra Narasimhaswamy, Sobhanachalaswamy and Malleswara Swamy temples on a hillock known as Sobhanachala. At the foot of the hill, there is Lakshmi Vyaghra Narasimhaswamy temple and there is the old temple after climbing about 200 steps. Apart from Narasimha Temples in various parts of the State, there are temples of different kinds of Narasimha such as, Varaha Narasimha (Simhachalam, Visakhapatnam), Nava Narasimha (such as Yoga Narasimha, Jwala Narasimha, Panakala Narasimha, Chatravata Narasimha, etc.,) in Ahobilam. This village Agiripalli is famous for Vyaghra Narasimha Swamy Temple situated on Sobhanachala Hill. Lord Vishnu turned into Vyaghra Narasimha, not to kill any demon, but in anger against Lord Shiva for delay in responding to him. One can have a beautiful view of the nature from the top of the Hill with serenity and peace pervading the entire area. The village and the temple are in News recently on account of opening of lockers containing the jewelleery of the temple after a long gap of more than thirty/forty years.
The priests say that once Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu searched for a place for meditations and found the Sobhanagiri is a suitable place. Lord Vishnu enquired whether this place could be selected for meditations, Lord Shiva absorbed in the beautiful view and atmosphere did not reply. Lord Vishnu became angry (!) and became Vyaghra Narasimaha and Lord Shiva pacified him. This temple and the Sobhanachala Hill is very famous in this part of the area and many a persons and institutions bear the name of Sobhanachalam, such as Sobhanadri, Sobhanacharyulu, etc. The Zamindars of Nuzvid, Mirjapur, Gollapalli, etc., improved the temple and provided huge funds and jewels. My maternal grand father who was a resident of Gollapalli frequently visited this temple and used to describe the glory of Kalyana Utsavams performed in this temple in olden days. The famous old film producer of Mirjapur Zamindar named his institution as Sobhanachala Studios which produced the famous film Keelu Gurram. Nama Archana to Lord Vyaghra Narasimhaswamy and Kumkumarchana to Rajya Laksh are daily performed here and abhishekam to Lord Shiva at the temple situated on the top of the hill. We had earlier visited twice this temple. The vaishnava priests of this temple are very dedicated and they climb twice everyday to the temples in the Hill for daily worship. By the time we reached the foot of the Hill, it is about 12-30 pm and the temple was closed for the day. We had offered our prayers from outside and proceeded further towards Nuzvid.
We had our lunch in Nuzvid and then proceeded to Balive village, where my cousin sister resides, situated on the road Nuzvid-Eluru via Koppaka. This village is famous for Bale Ramaswamy Shiva Temple where thousands of people gather for Shivarati Utsavams performed on a large scale in this area. After spending about 2 hours in the residence of my cousin sister, we proceeded to Dwaraka Tirumala and reached the place by 6 pm. We stayed in Vasavi Residency Hotel, situated at the Arch-Gate of the Ghat Road leading to Lord Venkateswara temple, where a room was booked for our stay.
22nd February, 2011 - Tuesday
DWARAKA TIRUMALA OR CHINNA TIRUPATI
LORD VENKATESWARASWAMY OF CHINNA TIRUPATI
Dwaraka Tirumala is popularly known as Chinna Tirupati in this part of the State. It is firmly believed by devotees that who cannot perform an yatra to Tirumala Tirupati, which is known as Pedda Tirupati, if they visit Chinna Tirupati and worship Lord Venkateswara here, the vows are deemed to have been properly performed. The Pujas, etc., as performed in Tirumala Tirupati are equally performed to Lord Venkateswara here in this temple. This village is situated at a distance of about 40 km from Eluru town, via Bhimadole, in West Godavari District. This village is also famous for Sudda Ganulu (Nama Mines) which is the raw material for manufacture of ceramic products. The Sudda extracted here is used for the tirunamam of Lord Venkateswara.
Lord Venkateswara appears in this temple in two forms. One idol in front from the naval and upwards and behind this idol, a full sized idol in a standing position. The Sthala Purana says that Sage Dwaraka traced the idol of Lord Venkateswara hidden in an ant-hill and brought to light for worship by himself and other devotees. Hence the place is known after him as Dwaraka Tirumala. The idol is half hidden and appears from navel upwards. It is said that the feet of Lord Venkateswara are on the head of demon king Balichakravarti. When the demon king was pushed down to Patala Lolkam by Maha Vishnu, according to his prayers, the Lord allowed his feet to remain on the head of Balichakravarthi for his worship. The priests say that this idol was worshipped in Tretayugam by King Aja, father of King Dasaratha and in Dwaparayugam by Lord Krishna. The priests also say another version that the feet are on the head of Dwarakamuni, as per boon granted to him, and not on the head of Balichakravarti in Patala Lokam. The standing idol of Lord Venkateswara was brought from Tirumala Tirupati (Pedda Tirupati) and installed by Srimad Ramanujacharya in 11th century.
According to another legend, Sage Dwaraka while lost in penance, was advised by Lord Venkateswara to install his image, lying in the ant-hill, in a temple and he can recognise the ant-hill from the position of an eagle sitting on a Kunkudu Tree (soapnut tree). The Tree which is said to have been in the temple premises was not there are at present as the same was said to have been decayed on account of age.
VISIT BY BUDDHIT MONKS
History says that this place is visited by Buddhist Monk Acharya Nagarjuna, prior to his opening a school at Nagarjuna Hill which drew students from all over the world. Many a Buddhist relics found around the village testify to this fact. One such relic is situated at a nearby village known as Jeelakarragudem. There is a Buddhist stupa in this village, said to have been built in 2nd century BC. I had an opportunity earlier to visit Jeelakarragudem and the Buddhist stupa there situated on a hillock.
KONDA MALLESWARA TEMPLE
There is a Shiva Temple known as Bhramaramba sametha Konda Malleswara Swamy temple, at a distance of 1 km from the temple of Lord Venkateswara, on the north west corner of the Hill. Regular pujas and Abhishekams are performed in this temple.
We wished to perform Kalyanam to Lord Venkateswara and accordingly by 7-30 we went to the ticket counter and purchased Kalyanam Ticket (Rs.1,000). Mr.PBR informed us that Kalyanam to Lord in this temple will be performed in a detailed manner and one can absorb in the deovition of Lord Venkateswara listening to the Veda Mantras of priests. It is stated in the Counter that the Kalyanam Seva starts at 9-30 am and we should gather at the Kalyana Mandapam by 9-15 am. Though, I had visited Dwaraka Tirumala, a number of times, but I have not visited the temple of Konda Malleswara Swamy situated on the same hill and we have decided to visit this temple today. When we are at this Shiva Temple, the priest is leisurely performing puja and we enquired him about performing Abhishekam with my own hands in the sanctum sanctorium. First the priest stated that devotees cannot perform abhishekam by themselves but when I informed him that I had an opportunity to perform Abhishekams in sanctum sanctoriums of ten Jyotirlinga Temples, he agreed for my performance and provided cows milk, coconut water, pure thirtham, flowers, Bhasmam, etc. I purchased Abhishekam ticket and performed laghunyasa purvaka Rudraabhishekam leisurely reciting Namakam, Purusha Suktam, and Sri Suktam for about 40 minutes in a very serine and peaceful atmosphere. After taking tirtham, prasadam from the hands of the priest Shri Nagaraja Sarma and honouring him with dakshina, we proceeded to the Kalyana Mandapam of Lord Venkateswara at the main gopuram of the temple.
KALYANAM SEVA TO LORD VENKATESWARA
The priests started kalyanm by 9-20 am. As this day happened to be Tuesday, we thought there may not be many devotees performing this seva. Surprisingly more than 60 couples participated in this Kalyanam. It took nearly two and half hours for this seva performed very leisurely and devotedly by the priests, reciting the gotra namams of the devotees thrice in the process. At no point of time, the priests tried to hasten the process of Kalyanam Seva. I have witnessed Kalyanam Seva in many a temples such as Tirumala Tirupati, Srisailam, etc., but at no other temple, this seva was performed as perfectly, leisurely and devotedly as done by the priests in this temple. The names of all the 60 couples with their gotrams were pronounced clearly thrice in the process by the priests. There is an unique feature in this regard. The priest Brahmashri Rambabu endowed with such an ability of eaka santhagrahi that he pronounced the names and gothrams of all the 60 couples without referring to their names written in a book after reading once for the first time. He conveyed the BLESSINGS OF LORD VENKATESWARA AND ALIMELU MANGA to all the 60 couples with aseervachanam. The devastham presented a sari and a saluva to the couples along with Lord’s prasadam of Laddus and Pulihora. They also provided annadam coupons enquiring about the number of persons with each of the couple. After this we proceeded to the Sanctum Sanctorium of the Temple and worshipped Lord Venkateswar and took His Blessings through the priest. With the immense satisfaction of participating in such a divine Kalyanam performed by priests with great devotion, we returned to our room.
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RAGHAVARAO U.V.G.V. DUGGIRALA,
HYDERABAD, Dt.12th MARCH, 2011.
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