The land of legends

TRAVEL

B V Prakash journeys to Dakshina Kannada district’s Pajaka Kshetra, a temple town of great beauty and the birthplace of saint Madhwacharya.

Udupi, the temple town in Dakshina Kannada district, its Krishna shrine and the eight mutts is very well known. But hardly 15 km from here, is an obscure hamlet by the name of Pajaka, which is not as popular yet. This little village nestled in the lap of nature, amidst gentle rocky hills and a rich forest, has quite a few things to boast about. The quiet salubrious atmosphere that encompasses the locale is one such thing while the religious significance associated with a saint is another. Pajaka attracts the devout as well as those seeking solace from the urban buzz.  

Pajaka is a land of legends. It is the birthplace of saint Madhwacharya of the 13th century. According to holy scriptures, the saint is believed to be the third incarnation of Mukhyaprana, the god of life, after Hanuman and Bheema. Madhyageha and Vedavathi were blessed with a child on Vijayadashami day in the year 1238 AD. This child was called Vasudeva. He was extremely intelligent and displayed miraculous powers. Signs of power

The tell-tale signs of the miracles he performed can still be seen in Pajaka. The two-storeyed house he was born in, is now a temple of Ananthapadmanabha. Vasudeva’s childhood stories are depicted here. Some examples are the Aksharabhyasa stone, the slab on which Vasudeva was taught the alphabet by his father or the rock with an imprint of his toe, which according to legend, was created when he defeated a demon serpent. The rock has been enshrined with symbolic images of the boy-saint and the serpent. He is said to have performed other miracles like making a stick grow into a tree . Pajaka is also associated with Lord Parashurama, who had created the four teerthas or springs in four directions. These were Parashu Teertha in the east, Bana Teertha in the north, Gadha Teertha in the west and Dhanush Teertha in the south. 

Vasudeva bathed in all four as it was considered sacred, but when his mother became worried about his jaunts into the forest, he is said to have created a spring in the backyard with water from all four springs. This spring is called Vasudeva Teertha and a dip in it symbolises bathing in all four teerthas. Once he was initiated into the monastic life at the age of 11, Vasudeva became Madhwacharya. The Dwaita philosophy propounded by him took the religious world by storm and his reform movement to seek truth without superstitions made him one of the venerated saints.

Scenic beauty

Pajaka is not just a religious spot, it also has a profound natural beauty. The Kunjarugiri is a moderately high hill, rocky on one side and with a blanket of lush greenery on the other. A simple shrine of goddess Durga consecrated by Parashurama stands atop it.

There is a facility for those who want to stay for extended periods of time. The views from the hill are pleasing and panoramic. To the west of Kunjarugiri is another hill rising from a forested valley. The temple on its summit is dedicated to Parashurama himself. At the bottom of it lies one of the springs from where a neat path goes up to the top. A visit to Pajaka Kshetra can be an enchanting combination of piety and relaxation.

Getting there

Pajaka can be reached from Udupi (about 400 km from Bangalore) by driving southward till Katapadi where the left fork of the road leads to Subhashnagar (10 km). Here the road to the left under the arch goes on for three km to Pajaka. Buses and autorickshaws are available from Udupi/Katapadi.

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