It is that time of the yet again, when things get a bit difficult, for I am lost for words to thank the Divine for the wonderful Gift who was sent down to the earth and to be my fellow passenger with me to celebrate her birthdays with me (this is 35th Birthday spent with me – No I am not going to reveal how many before that – I don’t want anything happening to me on a day like this)
For someone very very special, Dearest Aparna, May your Birthday be blessed with everything God wants to give you! Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone as special as you in one’s life… I’m one of the lucky few! May beauty and happiness surround you today and beyond. I hope your Birthday is awesome, wonderful, full of love and laughter… just like you!
We missed having Sindhu this year at the midnight, after nearly 13 or so birthdays. She is blissfully settled into her marital home and I am sure she terribly missed the evening too.
Now for my customary tribute! As always I have nothing else to add, year after year and after each birthday and wedding anniversary, except to say that it has only got better, like the wine. It has been an amazing journey for me with her presence. As they say in Mechanical Engineering, a perfect fit. People ask me how does it work, the relationship that kept blossoming, the love that multiplied, family and no of extended family getting larger and larger, yet what clicks and where do you find the time to nurture the relationship. My honest answer was “I don’t know! It is her and all credits to her” For no rhyme or reason, it is simply working well and Thank Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji of the Art of Living and also the Divine who chose to shower infinite blessings on me, by bringing her into my life.
What makes her so special? What is that we all see in her that makes her a fantastic soul? It is the way she lives every moment. A wonderful human being! A great mum to biological and huge number of manasik ones, a lovely friend and wife to me, great sister to her brothers and so on. All the kids could not have asked for a better and no Non-Sense Mum!
What is exemplary is her commitment to fulfil what she has resolved to achieve. Examples galore on the persistence and diligent efforts that she invests, that is worth emulating for anyone. That is the kind of infectious quality she brings to those in her circle of influence.
If I were to emulate and advise anyone else what would be the best she has – her ultimate clarity on the priority – Absolutely unshakeable, selfless loyalty to the family and all her near ones. I have never seen her frown whenever anyone has sought out for any help. Be it within or outside the family. In a dog eat dog world that is not a quality anyone finds so often. Thank you Aparna for being an example that all the kids and friends and myself can look up to, to try and live!
Happy birthday dear one my darling wife. Someday I hope to match up to what you are! Until then Love you loads and May God and Gurudev bless you with health, peace, happiness in abundance.
To sign off! My usual song dedicated to you – Top of the World
Rangasthala, near Chikkaballapura on NH7 around 60 kms from Bengaluru beyond Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport in Devanahalli is abode of Sri Moksha Ranganatha Temple which is said to be more than 1000 years old.
Originally built by Hoysala architectural style, it was recently renovated by the contribution of devotees and with significant cultural contribution by ISKCON, Bengaluru. When I visited last in early 1990s, it was such a dilapidated state, and single time Pooja also was performed with lot of difficulty by the Archaka who lived in the premises. I had written about it on now defunct Yahoo 360. Many devotees, predominantly from Bengaluru took initiative and contributed to renovate and strengthen the structure, mainly erect a boundary wall, clean up the Kalyani (which was abandoned). It was then that little heard and less famous philanthropists and devotee from Bengaluru, Sri Konda Srinivasulu Reddy and Smt Konda Devesenamma, took upon themselves to contribute and supervise construction of the exquisite Raja Gopura which was carried out under supervision of ISKCON, Bengaluru and subsequently consecrated in Presence of Madhu Pandita Dasa in August 2013
Sri Moksha Ranganatha Temple Rangasthala is situated in the Nandi Hills range and the local lore goes that if a devotee visits this temple after visiting the Adi Ranga in Srirangapatna, Madhya Ranga in Shimsha and Antya Ranga in Srirangam (TN), they will achieve Moksha (Liberation). The idol of Sri Ranganatha which is around 4.5 feet long is carved out of a single Saligrama Stone – the intricate carvings and detailing of the idol indicate the high level of skill possessed by the artisan of yore. It features Lord Vishnu resting on Adishesha in a reposing posture. The life-like vigraha with enchanting smile of Lord Vishnu is a sight to behold. With Vigrahas of Neeladevi and Bhoodevi at His service, Lord Vishnu is believed to be in Yoga Nidra and is exactly how He reposes in Vaikunta. It is also believed that Pratishta was performed at the same instant when Moorthis at Srirangapatna and Srirangam was installed.
Another speciality of this temple is Bamboo Basket shaped Sanctum Sanctorum (Garbhagriha). The legend goes that Lord Rama after vanquishing Ravana, returned to Ayodhya to extreme delight of subjects and brother Bharata. Preparations were made for Pattabhishekha (Cornonation) of Lord Rama as the King in Ayodhya and Vibhishana also attended the coronation ceremony. As a return gift and token of appreciation for gracing the Pattabhisheka, Lord Rama handed over Lord Ranganatha’s Vigraha in a Bamboo Basket to carry it back to Lanka. Saptarishis will then plead with and convince Vibhishana to install the Idol of Lord Ranganatha with Neeladevi and Bhoodevi in Rangasthala. The sanctum sanctorum is in this shape to depict the bamboo basket for this reason
Another feature of the temple architecture – As we do the circumambulation (Pradakshine) inside the Garbhagriha, we find a small window letting in sunlight. On the day of Makara Sankaranti (January 14/15 th), the sunrays falls directly at the feet of Lord Ranganatha. The precision with which the temple was built in those only proves the perfection of engineering in ancient India.
In the circumambulation path around the Garbhagriha, there are vigrahas of Lord Chakrath Alwar, Sri Ramanujacharya , Sri Vedanta Desikan and Nam Alwar (We were told by the Archaka that it is a rare Murthi and not found in any other place)
The Pushkarani (Shankha Teertha and Chakra Teertha) itself is a sight to behold. The tanks after this picture was been clicked has since been desilted and cleaned up to receive rainwater this season (2019) and hopefully we have the requirements of the temple and the devotees met by this storage.
Inside the temple complex on the left of the main temple, there are temples dedicated to Sri Andal, Sri Lakshmi and Sri Ramanucharya (See picture above)
Feature of the entire temple complex is exquisite and intricate carvings on the pillars all around main temple as can be seen in the pictures below (A part of the collection that I have – I rather everyone visits this amazing temple and appreciate the work of art)
How to reach
From Bengaluru, drive till Chikkaballapur and take Chikkaballapur-Gauribidanur road (around 6 kms) till you reach Thippenahalli. Look for an arch with sign board leading to Rangasthala. For those interested, Muddenhalli, birth place of Sir M Vishweshwaraiah is also close by.
Karnataka is popularly known as a land of art forms and of grand temples. Every place, every village has its own uniqueness and greatness. Some places have historical significance and are epitomesJ of permanent evidences for pre-historic events and anecdotes. One such place is Gadidam of Bagepalli Taluk in Chikkaballapura District (around 100 km north from Bengaluru city on Bengaluru-Hyderabad Highway)
There are references in the records that Gadidam Sri Venkataramana Swamy temple was built by Emperor Janamejaya who rule Bharata Khanda (Indian Sub-Continent) in the beginning Kali Yuga. Janamejaya is son of Pariskhit. Pariskhit is son of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna. This proves the antiquity of this amazing temple.
In one of the hunting expeditions, Parikshit forayed into the forest areas owned Maharshi Shrigu. By the grace of Maharshi Shrigu he was successful in his hunt. Tired of intense heat in the region, Parikshit was very tired and began searching for water and could never find any source. He then sights Maharshi Shrigu who was engrossed deeply in meditation. He approaches the sage and pleads for water but the penance of Maharshi was not disturbed and could never be awakened from meditation. Furious with this and disappointed with Maharshi not coming out of his medidation, Parikshit puts a dead snake found nearby, round Maharshi Shrigu’s neck and starts moving away.
Maharshi Shirgu’s son, Shrungi sees this and says, “You appear to be of a royal descent. What harm did my father to warrant putting a dead snake around his neck. I curse you that you will die of a poisonous snake bite within 7 days”. Curse of realised Sages being powerful, Parikshit dies of snake bite immediately thereafter. Janamejaya who comes to know of this curse on his father, becomes livid over snakes and vows to seek revenge by wiping out the entire snake family from the earth. He begins the Sarpanasha Yagna (sacrificial fire installed and invoked to destroy serpents). Serpent kings like Lord Vishnu’s Adishesha, Lord Shiva’s Nagaraja and Elakruta,devotee of Lord Krishna seeks help of Gods. In the meanwhile, cores of snakes were getting consumed by Janamejaya’s sacrificial fire. A serpent king, Takshaka had sought refuge in Lord Indra. During when the chant Sarpayaga, “Sahendraya Takshakaya, Indraya Indra sameta Takshakaya swaha” was made, Takshaka along with Indra were also to be consumed by the fire. In order to protect himself, Lord Indra abandons Takshaka to save himself. Sage Astika then assumes form of a Brahmin boy scholar and seeks protection of Janamejaya, who offers to fulfil any of his wish. Astika then seeks to end the Sarpanasha Yagna right away, forgive the Nagas (Serpents) and let them survive, thereby briging the Yagna to an end and any further destruction of the serpent race.
However, killing of so many serpents was sinful and as a Karmic retribution of Sarpa nasha (destruction of serpents) Janamejaya begins to suffers from Leukoderma/Vitilligo (Pandu Roga). Janamajeya seeks remedy for this from learned sages. Adishesha, on whom Lord Vishu rests, then advises that Janamejaya as a remedy to his ailment should build 101 Temples of manifestations (avataras) of Lord Vishnu. One of the 101 temples built and the one in the Dandakaranya is Gadidam Sri Venkataramana Swamy Temple.
Gadidam – Legend behind the name
As the story goes in Mahabharatas Shakuni schemed with Duryodhana to destroy Pandavas along with Kunti, by building House of Wax/lacquer (Lakshagriha) and setting it on fire when they were asleep. Pandavas were forewarned by Vidhura before Pandavas set out on the journey after Kauravas invited their cousins to visit a fair held there and also to live in the house for some time. Vidura tactfully, in the presence of the Kauravas, warned the Pandavas about the imminent danger in coded language:
A weapon not made of steel or any other material element can be more than sharp to kill an enemy, and1 he who knows this is never killed.
Fire cannot extinguish the soul but can annihilate the material body. But one who protects the soul lives.
The conflagration that devastates a forest cannot hurt a rat which shelters itself in a hole or a porcupine which burrows in the earth. The wise man knows his bearings by looking at the stars.”
Vidura also had a miner assisting Pandavas to create a secret underground tunner with its one mouth in the centre of the palace-house and the other mouth close to Hill of Hidambhasura in Dandakaranya, which lies in the northern direction of the present Sri Venkataraman Swamy Temple. Pandavas lived for a full year in the house while the tunnel was being dug in secrecy and was completed in less than 6 months. The lakshagraha was to be burnt on an Amavasya night and when it was done, Pandavas escaped through the tunnel and emerged at the Hidambhasura Hills. While they were resting after the escape, Bhima stood guard for them while others fell fast asleep. Hidambasura who lived on the hills senses presence of Humans and orders his beautiful sister Hidambi to seek the humans, kill them and bring the flesh to him. Hidambi sees Bhima and was besotted to him. She forgot her brother’s orders and stood there forgetting herself and the time admiring Bhima. Hidambhasura worried about his sister not returning for a long time comes in search of her and finds well bodied Bhima there. He wanted to devour him but Hidami stops him and expresses her intention to marry Bhima. She pleads with him not to kill and consume Bhima which fell on deaf ears. Finally Bhima and Hidambhasura fights each other, at the end of which Bhima kills Hidambhasura. Roar during this fight wakes up Kunti and other Pandavas who see the gory sight. They also get Bhima married to Hidambi, to whom Ghatotkacha was born in this place. Thus came the name Gadidam (gradual morphing from Ghatotkacha). On the southern side of Gadidam hill the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple for Lord Venkataramana was built by Janamejaya.
Speciality of the Deity’s Murti
On the stone ornamental arch surrounding the Moola Murti (Main installed Idol), there are carvings of Lord Vishnu’s Dashavataras (10 manifestations). Sudharshana Chakra towards the head region of Moola Murti. Like in the rear of the ornamental arch, it is replicated in the front and the form of Lord Venkataramana Swamy is carved. This is the speciality of this pratishta.
Kshetra Mahime (Temple Glory)
Post Mahabharata period, this temple fell into disuse and the Murti got covered by anthill and it remained so for thousands of years. During the reign of Cholas, the king remained childless for a long time. They undertook penance, performed many worships and finally begot two daughters. Both were extremely beautiful, talented, intelligent and possessed all positive virtues. However both had Kantaka Dosha (Ill effects of Saturn transitions) in their horoscope. Their marriage was getting delayed which worried the King a lot. One night, Lord Venkataramana Swamy of Gadidam appears in the King’s dream and instructs the king thus – “On the banks of river Chitravati, besides the ridge of Gadidam Hills, there is a temple dedicated to Me. It has only me installed and worshipped. As a remedy for the worries, as a remedy for the Kantaka Dosha of your daughters, you have to install & consecrate the murtis of Sri Bhooneela and Sri Lakshmi besides me. It has to be done on Vishaka Nakshatra (star) on the Full moon Day, in the Vaishaka and conduct a Bramha Rathotsava (Chariot festival). The King thus sets out to renovate and restore the temple, does as instructed by the Lord in his dreams. He also organises a grand Chariot festival which is one of the biggest events of this temple even to this date.
Present Day Temple
In the 14th Century, Harihara and Bukka of Vijayanagar Empire, unable to bear the torture of the enemy King Turushkula of the neighbouring Kingdom in present day Maharashtra move towards Hampi in Hospet Taluk of Bellary’s District. They see Sage Vidyaranya Swamy in deep meditation and penance on the banks of river Tunga Bhadra in Anegundi village. They prostrate before the learned Saint who then briefs them about the speciality of the place. Under the guidance and with grace of Sage Vidyaranya they build a beautify new town and calls it Hampi Vijayanagara. With the guidance of Vidyaranya they begin ruling the Vijayanagara kingdom. During their tour of the Kingdom, they worshipped in Lepakshi, Penukonda temples and arrive at Sri Bhooneeladevi and Sri Lakshmi Venkataramana Swamy temple in Gadidam.
They found that the temple was too small and they construct a huge courtyard/atrium (prangana), establish 4 Dwaras (Entry/Exits), Dwaja stambha (Flag Mast) and the Gopuras (Towers). This fact has been established by the epigraphs in the precincts.
Near the Southern Dwara there is an ancient Banyan Tree that has serpent shaped roots which is fascinating sight and is a possible indication of the History of this temple.
On the street leading to Western dwara Vinta’s son Jarutanta stands in obeisance with folded hands in Namaskara praying to the Deity.
The Eastern Dwarna or Entrance is newly built and the Gopura is 108 Feet tall. There are intricate carvings on this and it is a sight to behold. In front of this door is a gigantic statute of almost life like Lord Hanuman facing towards the Main Deity
The huge temple complex also houses the murits of Saptamatrikas.
Gadidam Temple, known as the second Tirumala (Tirupati) is known for its remedy for those having Sarpa Dosha, Obstacles in getting married.
New Developments (as on 31/01/2019 when I went there)
A new Dwaja Stambha was being made and work was in progress. Expected to be completed and installed by the Bramhotsava time
Daily Opening and closing time of Gadidam Venkateswara Temple
6:00 AM to 1:00 PM
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Festivals and special ritual day timing
6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Ways to Reach
The nearest town to the temple is Bagepalli. It is around 3 km away.
Chikkaballapura Railway Station is 35 km away. Hindupura Railway Station in Andhra Pradesh is 50 km away.
Bengaluru Devanahalli Airport is around 50 kms away
Gadidam Shree Lakshmi Venkataramana Swamy Temple