Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pampa Sarovar, Anegundi

Beautiful View of Pampa Sarovar covered with lotus 
With every trip to Anegundi, comes the desire to visit Anjanadri Hill, the birthplace of Sri Anjaneya Swamy. This time, when we decided to go to Manthralayam from the 15th to 17th of March 2011, we had made a firm commitment that we were going to climb Anjanadri come what may, little realising that nothing happens till the divine will destines so. The first day was spent in Mantralayam, enjoying our time with in the divine company of Sri Raghavendra Swamy, witnessing the Rathotsavas and the Mahamangalaharathi. On day 2, we had decided to visit Navabrindavan and other places around Anegundi, particularly Anjanadri. We instructed our driver to reach the room by 3.45 am so that we could leave by 4. Those of us, who are regular visitors, were really excited that we were going to visit Anjanadri finally, and our excitement was rubbing off the first time visitors in the group as well.

It was 3.45 and there was no sight of our car. Several phone calls later, we found that the driver had overslept and would be able to reach only by 4.30. By the time, he actually reached it was well past 5 a.m, and we knew that Anjanadri did not seem a certainty as it did before. We reached Anegundi by about 9 am and had breakfast at the Vaibava Guest House, our regular destination. Mrs and Mr. Mallappa take pleasure in serving delicious home made food personally to the visitors and we did enjoy a sumptuous meal. After breakfast I gingerly brought up the topic of Anjanadri with Mrs. Malappa. She just echoed my thoughts - it would be extremely difficult for the senior members of the group to climb the 700 odd steep steps, as it was geting really hot. She immediately said - Next time, you come and stay overnight, so that you are able to climb up at the crack of dawn.

Well, we were definitely disappointed. For several years now, Anjanadri has been an elusive dream. But then,Key Sara Sara....whatever will be, will be. So we set off to Navabrindavan. After a delightful swim in the Tungabadra, we went to the shrines and prayed peacefully. The temple was gearing up for the Sudeendra Theertha and Vyasaraja Aradhane, and had put up makeshift pandals to help devotees circumambulate in the hot sun. We took the boat back to Anegundi. Where to next? Since there were first time visitors with us, we thought we could go to Chintamani nearby. I became the unofficial guide as I had visited Chintamani several times before. It was delight to go back to the cave where Rama met Sugreeva and Hanuman for the first time ,and to see the place from where he shot and killed Vali.
 How did Rama go and meet Sugreeva and ask for help?The question prompted us to go to Pampa Sarovar.
Pampa Sarovar is one among the five holy Sarovars installed by Brahma where Shiva and Parvati are worshipped. The others being Manasarovar ( In Tibet), Bindu Sarovar and Narayan Sarovar in Gujarat and Pushkar Sarovar in Rajasthan. The Pond is surrounded by rocky mountains and completed covered with lotus bloom. The picture you see at the top the page was taken in early 2010. This time, I was disappointed to find the pond devoid of the lotus blooms. It seemed dirty and a little uncared for which was very sad to find. In fact, several monuments in Anegundi are protected by the ASI, but Pampa Sarovar despite its spiritual and historic importance does not seem to be part of it.
A view of the Pampa Sarovar as it is now
That was just the beginning of my disappointments. The entire complex, which houses the holy Sarovar, the cave where Sabari, the old woman who was an ardent devotee of Rama, waited and prayed for several years to meet her Lord, the temple of Lord Shiva and Goddess Vijayalakshmi are all managed by individuals. A Baba is said to have stayed and prayed at the Shiva temple and his disciples are now maintaining the temple. The Sabari cave is being cleaned and maintained by tribal families staying outside the cave.
The Tribal women wearing beautiful costumes
 and jewellery take care of Sabari's Cave
The cave is small, clean and extremely serene. One can immediately visualise the old lady, staying there for several years, waiting for her Lord, believing her Guru Matunga Maharishi's words, that definitely one day Lord Rama would come there and she would be blessed enough to meet him. Finally, Rama comes there, in search of Sita who had been abducted by Ravana. He is tired and hungry and decides to stop by the Holy Pampa Sarovar. Sabari, has been waiting for very many years, for this exact moment. She is so delighted that her Lord is finally there. She plucks the best fruits from the nearby trees and offers them to the brothers, but not before tasting them herself, to be sure that they taste as sweet and as delicious as she would prefer, for her Lord. Rama accepts the bitten fruits, understanding the devotion and true love of his devotee. Sabari hears about Sita and advices Rama to take help from Sugreeva, the brother of Vali, King of Kishkinda. Rama takes her good advice and goes to Chintamani to meet Sugreeva.
Footsteps of Lord Rama can be seen at the place where Sabari seated him and washed his tired legs with water from the Sarovar and decorated them with flowers. There is also a Homa Kund inside the cave where Sabari had peformed puja for several years.
The cave is cool despite the scorching heat outside. There is a tunnel on one side of the cave. The young boys who were following us, giving us titbits of information, told us that the tunnel led to Hampi. One of them jumped in and prompted me to follow.
The tunnel inside the cave
Much that I would have loved to follow the trail, my size and my friends waiting for me made me decide against it. The boys mentioned that Sabari used to bathe in the Pampa Sarovar every day and gather choice flowers to worship Lord Rama. Once the Rishis saw her doing so and drove her away saying that she had no right to bathe in such a holy Pond. The next morning, the Rishis came down to have their bath, and found that the Sarovar was extremely dirty and unfit for bathing. Perplexed, they did not know what to do. At that time,they heard a voice from the sky, tell them that the Sarovar was only as pure as the people who bathed in it. The sages  realised their mistake, and sought forgiveness from Sabari. They requested her to bathe in the pond and continue her holy rituals.Once Sabari stepped into the water, the Sarovar turned clean and pure again. I wished she could just step back again into the water which definitely needed some cleaning and purification!
Right next to the Sabari cave, is the temple of Vijayalakshmi as well as the Shiva and Pampa Devi (Parvati) temple. The Vijayalakshmi has been installed by a Baba (sorry could not get the name due to language problem) who had stayed there for a long while. The things that were used by him are still maintained well.
Things used by Babaji
The temple has a goddess (Vijayalakshmi) with several Salagramas placed before her. The sanctum Sanctorum is flanked by statues of Ganesha and Hanuman respectively.
Idol of Ganesha to the left of the Goddess
Idol of Hanuman to the right
Goddess Vijayalakshmi
Right next door to the Vijayalakshmi temple is the Shiva temple. There is a small passage linking both the temples. The Shiva temple is really ancient and I would need help from the experts who visit the blog in identifying the time period to which the temple belongs. The most horrifying factor here is that in the name of renovation the whole temple has been turned into a modern bathroom - as Mr.Chandra, of REACH foundation likes to put it. Marble tiles have hidden valuable inscriptions, and whitewashed pillars have disfigured icons. 
I almost had tears in my eyes looking at the magnificient Shiva in the temple, who has been a silent spectator to this thoughtless deed.
Dwarapalakis amidst the marble tiles
Goddess Pampa Devi...not to miss the marble around!
One of the Dwarapalakas - Can you see the tiles plastered
around him?
Look at this!
Whitewashed Pillars hiding a lot of detail
I felt angered and helpless looking at all this.....that too at a place which is well known for its history and mythology. What does one do as we watch such ageless, timeless beauties being eroded under the name of modernization?
The others had already gone out, ready to board the vehicle. I slowly walked out of the doorway and looked out into the open....the beautiful pond, with the rocky terrain behind it, the trees that swayed in the wind, the noise of the children playing below and the serenity of the temple....was a divine concoction in itself. Wish someone would do something....I thought like every other commoner and joined my friends who were waiting below. I remembered reading some time ago that the Royal descendants of Krishnadevaraya still resided at Anegundi, and the temples there were still under their maintenance and control. I hope the current Krishnadevaraya is not happy with this so-called modernization!
Nandi locked in marble
As we drove away from the temple, I looked up at Anjanadri. It seemed Anjaneyaswamy was telling me that I had to wait for my time. I asked Sambasiva,our driver if we were going back to the guest house for lunch. The time was close to 1 pm and it was really hot. Sambasiva told us we could visit Durga Betta, a temple nearby, if we were interested. Now that was a temple I had not seen during any of my previous visits.
Well....all about that in another post :)

Updated on 5.4.11

When I shared information about this post on a Yahoo group I belong to , there was some interesting feedback and ensuing conversation which I am happy to share with the readers of this blog for their  reference and understanding.
"Hi Priya,
Nice post, would like to bring a local tradition to your notice, might be helpful in your study. Many places in India are associated to Ramayana or Mahabharata by local people. As you wrote in your article that Rama met Shabari here, there is a local story in Chattisgarh state where a place with name Shabarinarayan is associated to Rama and Shabari. It is believed that Shabari was the daughter if King Shabar who was the king of that place.
It would be a good study to understand the geography of the place as described in Ramayana and try to see which of these two places resemble more closely to that geography. Just a suggestion from my side."

My reply:

At the outset, I want to thank you for raising an interesting point. I am with you on the fact that regarding several locations in India there are local beliefs about certain incidents having happened there, and there could be multiple locations for the same event.

But as far as the incident of Rama meeting Shabari is concerned, there seems to be pretty strong literary and historic evidence that the location was Pampa Sarovar, where Shabari waited for several years as per guidance from her Guru Matanga Muni.

Shabari was born in the Bhil Tribal community of Chattisgarh, which is probably why there is a place there that should ideally be her Janmsthaan there.

You will see clearly in that article that Shabari met Rama and Lakshmana at the ashram at Rishyamukha which is the current Anegundi region and the ancient Kishkinda. Remember, Vali could not set foot on Rishyamukha due to a curse!

This is not all. I have drawn reference from "Chakravarthy Thirumagan" written by Chakravarthy Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji. Rajaji has written Ramayana in simple prose form, referring to both Valmiki and Kamba Ramayana and drawing their essence and also making comparisons. This was written in Kalki in the earlier 1950s and later on published as a book in 1956. It is a well accepted widely reviewed book which finds its place in many a household. 

In Chakravarthy Tirumagan, Page 359, Rajaji narrates the abduction of Sita by Ravana as follows: 
பல மலைகளையும் ஆறுகளையும் தாண்டி செல்லும் போது வழியில் ஒரு மலை மீது யாரோ நிற்பதை கண்டாள் சீதை. அப்போது மேலுதிரியத்தை எடுத்து தன ஆபரணங்களை அதில் முடித்து கீழே போட்டாள்.......அழுது கொண்டிருந்த அவளை கீழே மலை மேல் இருந்த வானரங்களும் பார்த்தன.பம்பையை தாண்டி பிறகு கடலையும் ராவணன் கடந்து லங்காபுரி பிரவேசித்தான். 
This roughly translates into - after crossing several hills and rivers, on the way Sita saw someone standing on a hill. She took her upper garment, tied her ornaments into a bunch and dropped them. The monkeys on top of the hill saw her crying. Ravana crossed Pampa and then the sea and went into Lanka. This gives clear evidence that the jewels were dropped here and there is a place called Chintamani here where Rama met Sugreeva for the first time and handed over Sita's ornaments to him. I have written about it in an earlier post (http://aalayamkanden.blogspot.com/2010/12/chintamani-temple-anegundi.html).(Also refer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anegundi ) Chintamani is also the place where Rama shot and killed Vali and his bones are still said to be found at a place called Nimmapuram nearby.

There is specific reference to the meeting between Sabari and Rama at Pampa Sarovar in Page 386 of Chakravarthy Tirumagan:
பிறகு ராமனும் லக்ஷ்மணனும் பம்பையை நோக்கி சென்றனர். அந்த அழகிய பிரவேசத்தில் மதங்க ரிஷியின் சிஷ்யையான சபரி என்கிற விருத்த சன்யாசியம்மையை கண்டு அவளுடைய உபசாரத்தை பெற்றனர். .......சபரியை கண்டு பம்பசரஸில் ஸ்நானம் செய்த பிறகு ராமலக்ஷ்மணர்கள் தைரியம்  அடைந்தார்கள். .......Contd on Pg 388.......ராமன் ரிஷ்யமுக வனம் வந்து இங்குமங்கும் வில் பிடித்து திரிவதை பார்த்து சுக்ரீவனுக்கும் அவன் கூடத்துக்கும் பெரும் பயம் பிடித்து கொண்டது. 
This again translates into " Then Rama and Lakshmana went towards Pampa. In this beautiful location, they met an old Sanyasi disciple of Matanga Rishi, named Sabari and accepted her hospitality. ........After the meeting with Sabari, they bathed in Pampa Sarovar and felt reassured. ...............Contd on Pg 388.......Sugreeva and his men were worried that Rama was in Rishyamukha vana and roaming around with  his bow. For further reference, please check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kishkindha as well.

I hope this clarifies. I will be happy to hear if there is any historic or literary evidence about this having happened in Chattisgarh. 

With your permission, I wish to include our corversation in my blog to justify the contents of the same. 

Thanks so much - I thoroughly enjoyed your recommendation,"

I can say with authority based on Valmiki Ramayana that Priya's story is correct. Ram and Lakshmana were descending from Janasthanam (Deccan plateau) and were advised to meet Sugreeva in Kishkinda . It was also told to them that they should go to Pampa lake and meet Sabari who was doing penance there and was about to leave her mortal coils to go to the Heavens. She was just awaiiting the Darshan of Lord Rama. She was a Bhil woman(hunter type). With all these detail given by Valmiki there is no way to make a mistake. They were clearly very much down south already. Thank you.


If Im not wrong, kishkinta is present Humpi...........


  1. Your blog is really good. I am also one who writes about temples in Tamil. This new year I visited Navabrindavan, Anegundi and Mantralayam and am planning to put my experience in my blog if you would give permission I will use many of your photos and the significance of these places in my blog. My blogs are http://kailashi.blogspot.com, http://natarajar.blogspot.com,

    Hope you will give permission.

  2. Dear Sir,

    I am happy to share the pictures/content with you as long as they are acknowledged that they have been used from my blog. I can share an example of how another website www.navabrindavanam.com is using content from my blog with due credits http://navabrindavanam.com/index.php/navabrindavanam/inside-navabrindavanam
    May be you can do the same.

  3. Dear Ms. Priya
    Thank you very much for having started this blog. It is excellent & very informative.Like you I am also a temple going character. I think you will be covering the temples in Kumbakonam in your future blogs. One temple which is beyond words to explain is Sri Lalithambigai temple at Thirumaichur near Mayavaram. Lalitha Sahasranamam is supposed to have been orginated here. Amballe innekellam parthunde irukkalam. You will not have the mind to come out of Her vision. Pl write on this temple. Of course there are lot many many temples in & around Kumbakonam with my favorite deity Oopiliappan perumal at the center.

  4. Dear Mr Ram,

    Thank you so much for your sincere feedback. I have been planning for a very long time to come to Kumbakonam and have developed a list of temples too that I must write about. As rightly mentioned,
    Sri Lalithambigai temple is definitely on the list. Ambaal koopta odane vandhuduven!


  5. Dear Ms. Priya,
    Definita, Ambaalum kooptuva, Oopliappanum kooptuvar.
    By the way I am from Chennai, KKNagar.

  6. It is wonderful information thanks a lot

  7. Hi Priya,
    I have read your Nava Brindavan Blog.
    I think it's situated in the middle of Tungabadra.

    How to reach there During Rainy Season?
    How about the Accomadation at Anegondi? and the food? Is they give three times/day or any other restrictions?

  8. Dear Mr. Thirumalaivasan,

    As mentioned in my Navabrindavan post, there is no approach route to Navabrindavan during rainy season. One can visit only during summer and upto the time when the water does not rise in Tungabadra. Accomodation is available at Anegundi- you could contact Mr.Mallappa of Vaibhav Guest House at 09449432520. Food is also available here as well as at the Raghavendra Mutt at Anegundi. One can visit Navabrindavan as long as the ferry plies and not after sunset.
    Regards Priya

  9. A very detailed post. I don't understand when will the bloody indifferent Govt. will act on this. Aye Zindagi!

  10. fantastic and informative

  11. Good write up!! Thanks for sharing..

  12. Hi Suma nice blog indeed. Durga betta has an exquisite durga who is said to be the family deity of Krishnadeva Raya! I could not get a lot of information due to language barrier but long to visit again soon. Thanks Priya

  13. Nice information and thanks a lot for the help at Anegondi trip.