A place with divine ambience

A place with divine ambience

Pajaka village in Udupi district is surrounded by temples of antiquity and is steeped in history and myth, observes Kushal V R...

Pajaka would have remained a nondescript village, but for the fact that it is the birthplace of the saint Madhvacharya, who was born around 1200 AD.

The ancestral home of the saint is still well-preserved and well-maintained albeit with a few additions and renovations. Entering in, one is instantly drawn to the simplicity of the structure. Though renovated and sporting fresh paint, the antiquity of the interiors has been kept intact in conformance with its heritage.

The main door opens into a spacious hall that houses some offices and a place for resting. Moving further in, one is led through a tiny door into the actual old structure that was once the saint’s home.

Looking around, one cannot help but be reminded of the resemblance the house with any typical rural house. The tile covered slant roof adds to the old world charmSituated in the courtyard, is a small shrine dedicated to Lord Ananthapadmanabha. .The deity is said to have been worshipped by the saint’s ancestors. In addition to the main deity, miniature idols of several other deities are also worshipped in the sanctum sanctorum.

The first thing that catches one’s eye is the tulsi plant located to the left of the shrine. It has a stone slab  said to have been used by Madhvacharya during his childhood when he was tutored be his father Narayana Bhatta.

History revisitedThere are many stories woven around the childhood of the saint. One such story has it that when Vasudeva’s mother Vedavathi had to go out, she instructed her son to safeguard the milk and curd pots from the house cat.

Heeding to her instruction, a watchful Vasudeva kept a vigilant eye on the pots till his friends asked him to join them in playing. Not wanting to disappoint his mother, he used two huge stone slabs to cover the pots and ensured that they were kept safe before going out.

This was just a simple example of the  strength bestowed upon him. The two stones that were used are still present in the house.

The compound also houses a small pond, Vasudeva thirtha, built by Vasudeva himself. With its pristine, sparkling water, it contributes to the serene atmosphere surrounding the house.

Situated adjacent to the house is the Manmadhwa mandira, a small temple dedicated to the saint. A unique feature of this temple is a stone slab bearing his footprints. These are said to have been created when a young Vasudeva, who when praying on the hill nearby was called by his mother for lunch. Not wanting his parents to wait for him, he flew all the way down from the hill and landed on the slab.

Situated close to Madhvacharya’s house is the Kunjarugiri Hill that houses atop it, the Durga Parameshwari Temple, a shrine with a history that predates Madhvacharya himself.

Said to have been built by sage Parashurama for worship during his stay in this region, this temple is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in Udupi. Though renovated and given a modern architectural outlook, the original main structure has been retained. The sanctum sanctorum houses the idol of main deity Durga Parameshwari, installed by the sage.

Carved in black stone and ornately decorated by the priests, the small idol is strikingly beautiful. One cannot help but be mesmerised by her immaculate charm. Known to be a Shakti Devi, the Goddess is said to be all powerful and thus attracts devotees from all over Udupi who flock the temple during the festival season. The saint Madhvacharya is also said to have visited the temple daily to offer prayers.

Looking around the temple, one can easily recognise the Nandikur thermal power plant with its cooling towers releasing spent steam.

Moving forward, one can also identify the clear coastline of the Malpe and Kapu or Kaup beaches in the far distance with the lighthouse on the latter being prominently visible. The sight of the distant waves crashing on to the beach and rocks leaves one spellbound.

Completing the circumambulation, one is captivated by the trees and the lush greenery dotting the surrounding landscapes.

In addition to the temple, one also has the opportunity to see a cave that is said to have been used by the sage and four thirthas. You can either take the road or the steps to reach the top of the hill.

Located right opposite to Kunjarugiri is the Parashurama Betta. Known to have been inhabited by sage Parashurama himself, this hillock has a shrine dedicated to him. Incidentally, the sage is held in high regard in coastal Karnataka as he is said to have reclaimed this portion of land from the sea.

Also called as Parashurama kshetra, this region of coastal Karnataka is worth a visit.

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