On top of the world

On top of  the world

Am on the top of the world, Looking down on creation...

These lines from a famous Carpenters song comes to mind if you are on a visit to Kundadri. At 3,333 feet above sea-level and surrounded by dense evergreen forests, stands Kundadri, a huge monolithic rock formation which is also a pristine hill station near Agumbe at Teerthahalli taluk in Shimoga district.Though Kundadri is one of the holy places for Jains, lack of easy access to this hill has ensured that the place retains its original glory.
Steep curves and a 60-degree climb at some places makes it quite an arduous experience to finally reach the top of the hill. Once there, you’ll feel like you are on cloud nine. Far away from the jostling sounds of the vehicles and the urban bustle, you can hear the sounds of birds chirping and the gentle swaying of breeze.

Fields of paddy
As far as your eyes can see, you can only spot dense forest, paddy fields, the Arabian sea (if you are lucky, courtesy the clouds, of course) and the backwaters of the Varahi dam. In fact, it is no exaggeration if you feel that you are on top of the world.
If one is adventurous enough, then the paths leading to the mountains beckons, for there are many that are yet to be explored!
At the top of the hill stands a centuries-old Jain temple. The hill is named after a Jain monk called Kundakundacharya who is believed to have lived here and observed severe penance about 2,400 to 3,000 years ago (there is a footprint in the temple premises believed to be that of the seer Kundakundacharya).

Legends of Kundadri
However, the legend has it that a demon (rakshasa) started chasing Lord Krishna (in disguise) and he arrived at the top of Kundadri where seer Kundakundacharya (also known as Machagunda) was meditating. As soon as Lord Krishna spotted the seer, he put his Pitambar (jewellery) around the seer’s neck and he hid in the vicinity. The demon mistook the seer for Krishna and kicked him.
As the seer opened his eyes, the demon was reduced to ashes. Since then, the hill top is also called as the land where crows don’t squawk, informs Krishna, a localite. King Thailappa ruled this place centuries ago, he adds.
The only person atop the hill is Shanthinatha Jain who arrives at the temple before sunrise and returns to the foothill (where he stays) after sunset. “My grandfather Devaraja Indra performed rituals in the temple since 1926 and my father continued it after 1965. For the last 15 years, I have been performing rituals here,” he informs.
Lord Parshwanath, the 23rd teerthankara is the presiding deity in the temple. The temple also has idols of Chandraprabha (eighth teerthankara) and Sheethalnatha (tenth teerthankara). Every year, on the day of Makara Sankranti, a large number of Jain pilgrims gather on the top of the hill to celebrate the annual festival at Kundadri. Close to the temple are three ponds filled with chill water throughout the year.

The three ponds
Papanashini: It is about 65-feet deep. The speciality of this pond is that the water-level does not drop below 63 feet even if it does not rain for some years.
On the other hand, the water-level does not exceed 65 feet either, even if it rains cats and dogs continuously for some years, informs Shanthinath Jain and adds, “The pond was cleaned twice – in 1965 and in 1986. In fact, the damaged idols of Mahaveera teerthankara, Bahubali, Adinatha teerthankara and Padmavathi amma were found at the pond. They have been kept at the shrine premises at the hill. It is said that Tipu Sultan destroyed the idols during his regime.” Explaining the speciality of the pond, he said, “When the devotees, numbering about 100, cleaned the tank, each devotee dropped a lime and none of them floated.”

Nagakanye pond
Said to be about 14 to 20 feet deep, the myth surrounding this pond is that Nagakanyes (serpent goddess) take bath in the pond. “Even to this day, around 4 am, one can hear the sounds of anklets as if the goddesses are walking,” Shanthinath Jain adds.

Lotus pond
The third pond in the vicinity is called ‘Lotus pond’ which is about 10 to 12 feet deep and there are a number of lotuses in this pond.

Pothole-free road
Until 2005, there was no road to Kundadri. In the year 2005, a philanthropist from Mumbai, Anand Bhai, constructed a four-km road and an arch to give a facelift to the centuries-old temple, which has stood the test of time.

How to get there
Kundadri is 17 kms from Agumbe or 29 kms from Teerthahalli (60 kms from Shimoga, 310 kms from Bangalore, 128 kms from Mangalore)
Take a diversion at Guddekeri (eight kms on Agumbe-Teerthahalli road. After travelling about five kms, you’ll reach an arch to your left.
If you travel for about four kms, you will be at Kundadri.
However, there are no shops either on the way to the top of the hill, or at the summit. The nearest shop is either at Teerthahalli or Agumbe.

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