Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Manthani: A small village in Andhra, India

Now that I am back from a month long vacation, it’s about time I share with you all a few pictures I had taken while there. Actually I had taken many pictures, but I will post one location at a time.

I am starting with a small village in Andhra, Manthani.

Manthani is located about 65 km South of Kharimnagar on the banks of river Godavari. We visited this place because, one: its old, two: ancient temples all over the place, 3: years ago, as a little girl I used to go swimming in river Godavari in this village.

The picture above is the first thing you come across as soon as you enter one of the temples, Lord Shiva’s. Right now it’s hard to tell to which God this temple was originally built for because half of the temple is empty and is in ruins. It is unclear as to which year this was built, but is widely accepted (according to the temple priest) that this was built in early 15th century.

As you climb up a few stairs (made of rocks of course), we came across this another ancient master piece, not exactly sure who this is.
Manthani is filled with temples. Even though mainly it is an agricultural village (now), its name comes from Sanskrit, Mantra Kutam (House of Vedas). We were told by the temple priest that at one point, 100’s of years ago, Manthani housed one thousand Brahmin families/scholars and hence this name. No wonder the village is filled with temples.

This one of the many empty….place’s (not sure of the right word) where there should have been some God’s statue but there is none as of now.
This is Lord Shiva’s place. All these make me wonder, had it been anywhere else, this would have been made maintained well, publicized and made it into some museum/tourist place.
This must have been a big temple once up on a time. Every where we go we came across small temple type of structures. Perhaps it’s not a temple after all; this could have been a part of the village, just like a tree/well etc.
I found this below scene very interesting. A tree growing right through the rocks! I can’t believe that Manthani is not popular for all these amazing things to see around.
Another stone structure in ruins.
Below is the picture of river Godavari (now just sand) just a couple of minutes walk from the temple. Apparently the water from Godavari was the primary source of water for 100’s of years. Yeah, I know, there is no water as of now. You can actually see people walking right through the sand!
This place is special to me because, about 20 years ago my parents brought me and my sister here for picnic. I still have the pictures where my family was having a day out near this river.

On our way back home, we slowed down to see the cow-selling-place. Apparently, every week this happens. I had never been to a cow-selling-market, so took this picture. Don’t miss to notice how Milkshake is spell 

And yes…wait for pictures for another place! Will post soon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Look within- 4

I am sorry about the delay in posting this. I was on a vacation in India and like every vacation in India; it was fun filled and wonderful. Here is the final part of look within. Wait for interesting pictures from India!

So, after what seemed like forever trying to get a glimpse of the Lord, before you even get a chance to completely register Him, you get pushed out of the mandir. You really don’t have to do anything, just stand there and the crowd will take you out. But even a few split seconds of that darshan is enough to keep you going until see Him again. You get a different kind of satisfaction which you usually do not experience on a daily basis.
Perhaps this is why Lord Balaji has a special place in hearts of so many millions of people.
I used to feel exhilarated, I felt lightheaded too when I came out of the temple. And Lord Balaji became my favorite deity whom I religiously worship.

We were planning a trip to India in late November last year. Part of the trips plan was to spend a few days (3 days) in Tirupati with my husband and family. But unfortunately we realized that because of the tight schedule we will not be able to spend more than a day; which means that if we go to Tirupati, we will have time just for the darshan and nothing else. No train journey (we need to fly), no eating bread omelet and no walking up the hill.

I had a choice; either to visit the temple for a few hours or go to my parents place to spend the extra day. I chose to spend that extra day with my parents, COMPLETELY surprising myself. All these years I had believed that I loved Lord Balaji and loved going to Tirupati.
Now I realize my love for Balaji has got nothing to do with Tirupati. I loved Tirupati because of all the memories I held with it, like the train journey, standing in line for accommodation, Darshan tickets, standing in the queue for hours, the wish stone, Prashaad, Hundi and all the 9 yards which go hand in hand with Tirupati.

When this realization dawned on me, a blanket had been lifted off my eyes. All these years I felt that I am close to God when I am in a temple. But never did I know that it’s our immature minds which associate God with temples. Only and only when something profound happens we start experiencing the same serene feeling every walk of our lives! Perhaps this is what every Holy Scripture has been trying to tell us for generations now! Lucky am I that I had this first hand experience. Now every morning in my Pooja shelf I visit Tirupati 