Oct 10, 2008

Temples in the Godavari Districts

Temple tourism is a great way to explore India and take a peek into the cultural mystique that is diverse yet permeates all of our country. In my third and final post of my Godavari  travelogue, I will now cover a few temples we visited. 

Antarvedi is a small temple village located close to the point where Godavari 
(it's Vasishta distributary) meets the sea. The temple is dedicated to Lord Nrisimha and is more than 500 years old. We reached the place around 8 am when the once-a-day abhishekham puja happens to the nija roopa vigramaham (the stone idol without any decorations). The poojari (priest) was friendly, methodical and impressive in his conduct and handling of the pilgrims. With the temple thing done, we next drove to the beach which is a popular place for the locals. The beach was pristine and definitely on par with the beaches at Vizag or even Goa. There is also an old light house nearby; from its tower gallery one can have panoramic views of the sea and the river meeting it. I recalled my trip to the same place more than eleven years ago when I had taken a ferry ride across the river, an auto rickshaw to the village and then rented a bicycle to go up to the beach. Now it was a cab ride all the way from our resort at Dindi!

Ryali is a unique temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu's Mohini form which is feminine. The idol is very unique, made out of single soft stone and appears to be in the Hoyasala style of Karnataka (very reminiscent of the exquisite sculptures in Beluru, Halebidu and Somnathpura). The temple charged five rupees as entrance fee into the sanctum sanctorum which appeared strange initially as most temples in India necessarily have a free darshan scheme. We soon realized we got our money's worth when the priest conducted a tour of the temple sanctum sanctorum and thoroughly explained each facet of the highly detailed sculpture. 

When our cab crossed to the west of National Highway 5 to get to Ryali, I immediately noticed a stark difference in the socio-economic landscape of the area. While the area on the east appeared prosperous with good roads and some signs of  affluence around, the one on the west appeared decrepit and had pot hole riddled roads. This difference was almost like West and East Germany! What was constant throughout though were the countless hoardings proclaiming support to Chiranjeevi's newly launched Praja Rajyam Party.

Draksharamam is a famous temple on the Shiva pilgrimage circuit of Asia. We visited this as a day trip out of Kakinada a port town on the east coast of India.  This temple is also one of the five major Shiva temples located in AP. While the temple is very special and steeped in history, it was a bit of a disappointment to see the priests there abusing their position to extract money from the pilgrims

Kotipalli is a temple just ten kms away from Draksharamam and hence we extended our drive further south. The temple hardly had any visitors but the local person was keen on charging a hefty parking fees for the only vehicle that came there. The temple was nice and the unique thing about this is the Shiva's lingam being submerged in water that oozes out of the ground. This lingam is actually housed a bit away from the main sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Just outside the temple, there is a large lake with a huge Shiva statue situated in the middle. 

There are other well known temples in the Godavari districts that I did not cover in this trip, but had a chance to visit many years ago. These include Annavaram, Palakollu, Bhimeswaram and few more. More about them in a later post after I revisit them.

1 comment:

Martin said...

The global economic meltdown has taken its toll on almost all the industries across the globe. Developing countries like India badly suffered in the wake of inflation and recession. Business, that was coming in from the developed countries particularly in the field of IT dropped down drastically triggering off a series of reactions in related industries. Along with business travelers, the number of leisure tourists also dwindled partly because of the sagging economy and partly because of the horrifying attacks of 26/11 in Mumbai. Places of cultural and historical importance like Vishakhapatnam that tourists used to frequent, saw a crucial drop in the number of leisure travelers recently and the occupancy rate of the hotels also went down. Even the start up hotels in Vishakhapatnam, in spite of lowering their rates are witnessing a low occupancy rate. The occupancy rate of the budget hotels in Vishakhapatnam as with the rest of the country has seen as high as a 30% fall in the occupancy rates. Known as the “Jewel of the East Coast” Vishakhapatnam is a very important industrial hub apart from being a tourist destination. In addition, it is very well connected to the capital of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad which is one of fastest growing IT hubs of the country. It is only natural therefore that there are quite a many top class business hotels in Vishakhapatnam. However, the current economic condition has changed the complete scenario and has affected the hospitality industry also.