Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sonde-Sacred Place of Guru Shri Vadiraja Teertha

Hi! This is my second post in Punya Kshetra Series in which I plan to write about many important holy sites and shrines of India.
In this post I would like to give some detailed information on Sonde.My main intention in starting this series is to give a brief insight about the pilgrimage centres,facilities available in those places to make the pilgrims comfortable.
This December end ,we wound up 2011 by visiting Sonde, a beautiful place which is blessed with the Brindavana ( sacred tomb ) of Shri Vadiraja, a great Madhwa Saint of the period 1480 AD-1600 AD.

Sode,also known as Sonde/Sonda and Swadi is at about 2000 ft altitude, is surrounded by Shalmali river and is situated in the present Uttara Kannada district some 20 Kms from Sirsi town.
Sode Village, eventhough it was a capital of a province under Vijayanagar empire five centuries ago, today activities  revolve around  Shri Vadiraja mutt which was also known as Kumbhasi Mutt before Vadiraja Teertha.
The mutt is approached by road through beautiful ,thick forests, lovely hills,water bodies like lakes and a river.
Dvaja Sthamba in front of Trivikrama Temple
As one nears the Sode Mutt,first to be sighted is the lake known as Hayagrive Samudra.Towards the west of this lake,crossing an arch of the Temple Entrance, stands a Dvaja Sthamba in front of the Ramaa Trivikrama Temple.Hamsa and Garuda are depicted on the dvaja sthamba.
The Ramaa Thrivikrama Temple consists of three parts-the sanctum sanctorum with the lovely idol of Lord Trivikrama,the stone chariot used for transporting Lord's idol and the idol of Sri Lakshmi Devi in the chariot.
To the south of the temple stands a stone incription recording the grant of land to the temple by Arasappa Nayaka.
To the north of the temple and down some 24 steps is the Rajangana which also houses the mutt's offices.Here is the entrance to the mutt,the puja mandir(ananthaasana),stores and kitchen.
Further down a flight of 24 steps,is the' Dhavala Ganga' pushkarini along with a smaller 'Sheethala Ganga' tank nearby.The waters of these tanks are believed to be a confluence of all holy rivers of India.
Dhavala Ganga Pushkarini
Around the pushkarini are located several small temples consecrated by Sri Vadiraja Teertha-Shri Chandramouleeshwara on south,Sri Veera Anjaneya on the west ,Sri Venugopalaswamy on the north.
Towards the east of Pushkarini is situated the pancha vrindavans with the vrindavan (Sacred Tomb)of Sri Vadiraja Teerha situated  in the centre surrounded by four more vrindavans forming a perfect square.In front of vrindavans is the temple of Sri Vedavyasa.On the right (to the south) of vrindavans is the temple of Kshetrapala-Bhootha raja.To the north is nagavana.
Also situated near the pancha vrindavans are four moola vrindavans and five mruttika vrindavans.
Uniqueness of Sode mutt
Serene surroundings around the mutt
Sode mutt is unique in many ways.It is a non commercial pilgrimage centre, i.e., there are no unnecessary shopping area to distract devotees attention.There are 2 shops where they sell required puja materials to the devotees.No Thefts,No misbehaviour in that entire area.People there in sonde attribute this to the Kshetrapala BhoothaRaja who protects the pilgrims from all these mishaps.There is a serene peaceful atmosphere in the entire mutt area where you can see devotees performing sandhyavandanam,reading scriptures and  practising meditation without disturbing others.
No wonder that spiritual people get addicted there to such wonderful atmosphere where the air is filled with divinity and reverence.
How to reach Sonde
Sonde /Sode is accessible by well maintained roads.There are Buses plying from Bangalore,Pune etc.
Nearest Railway stations are Hubli,Talegoppa.
From Hubli ,Sonde can be reached via Khalgatgi,Yellapur,Sirsi.From Sirsi it is just 20 kms.Hubli-Sonde is 120 kms and can be covered in 2 hours by Road.
Accomodation and Food
There are many rooms built by Mutt Authorities in buildings like RAJADHAMA and they charge a nominal Rs.150/- per room with an attached Bathroom and Toilet(Indian).The room is 10 by 10 dimensions with a wooden cot and 2 mats are provided by the authorities for each room.No mattresses and blankets.So Pilgrims should carry their own Blankets.Toilets are clean and well maintained.Rooms are available on First come First served basis.
As far as food is concerned,there is no problem in Sonde.At 11 am in morning they serve superb lunch and at 7.30 pm,dinner is provided to the pilgrims.The main Prasad there is 'Hayagriva'(contains cooked Bengal gram,jaggery,coconut etc) which is named after Vadiraja's favourite deity Hayagriva who is a form of MahaVishnu.They don't charge anything for food.Pilgrims can offer Donations for Annadaan at office.Sincere volunteers serve the food to the pilgrims.People who want Breakfast /coffee etc can get them in a nearby small hotel.There are 1 or 2 houses which prepare food at request for pilgrims.
Place where Bhootharaja Bali Puja is performed 
Puja,Aarthis are all held with great rigid rituals and splendour in Sode mutt by the Achars present in the mutt.In the evening,Bhootharaja Bali Puja is also conducted in the evening.A coconut is rolled by the devotees in Bhutharaja Sannidhi for fulfillment of their wishes.
Dress code-Shirt and Banians for Men are not allowed inside the Mandir.
Sankalpa Seva
Sankalpa Seva is one of the common seva offered in many madhwa mutts like Mantralayam and Sonde.
At Sode, Sankalpa Seva is quite different from that of Mantralayam.
Devotees who undertake Sankalpa to do the pradakshina Seva are required to buy the Seva tickets the previous day and report to the Acharya in the mutt early morning with a coconut.
First,Take a dip in Dhaval Ganga Tank,Wear a madi vastra or new vastra and go to the Acharya in the mandir to take the sankalpa.After Sankalpa is taken,Acharya hands over the coconut to the respective devotees and from then on,the coconut should be handled with so much care that it doesn't touch the ground till the seva is completed.
Then,Start the 7 Pradakshinas with Wet Madi Vastra.The coconut should be tied tightly with a long towel on the right side around the waist.Before each pradakshina dip 7 times in DhavalaGanga  and  while doing pradakshina 12 namaskaras have to be done to each small mandirs in the route of Pradakshina which covers Tulsi,Veera Anjaneya,Venugopalaswamy,Nagavana,Vadiraja,Bhootharaja , Brindavans and Chandramouleeshwara.After completing each pradakshina and after dipping 7 times in pushkarini,ladies should apply haldi,kumkum and gents should apply Gopi chandan on their foreheads.After completing the 7 big pradakshinas ,climb 50 steps to reach Trivikrama Temple and perform 7 Pradakshinas there.This entire seva takes 50 minutes to 1 hour.Come back to Dhaval Ganga ,Tie the cloth carrying coconut near Veera Anjaneya Temple.Change to dry Madi Vastra (Special changing compartments are there for Ladies) and  perform 108 Pradakshinas around the Pancha Brindavan in Mandir with 2 Namaskars per Pradakshina,one for Vadiraja and one for Bhootharaja.Time taken for 108 pradakshinas is around 3 and a half to 4 hours.While doing seva,chant simple mantras like "Vadirajaya Pahimaam,Bhootharajaya Rakshamaam".It adds to the divinity of the entire process,Seva is performed for 3 or more days.Once Seva is completed,on last day Krishnarpanam is performed by Acharya where he hands over the coconut to the devotee.
Rules to be followed during Seva

  • Follow simple lifestyle like sleeping on mats,don't wear footwear,don't shave or use cosmetics.
  • No Physical Intimacy between Couple on Seva days.
  • Food offered in mutt should only be consumed.Avoid Coffee,Tea.
  • In the evening Mutt authorities provide simple food like Upma,Flattened Rice to devotees performing seva.
  • Devotees are expected to spend their leisure time in Spiritual matters rather spending time in Gossiping.
  • In case of Nature's call amidst Seva time,devotees have to change to their normal dress,attend the call,after that take bath in Dhaval Ganga and change to Madi vastra and continue the Seva .       


It was a wonderful and fulfilling experience in Sonde for all of us.The entire place is full of Positive Vibrations ,rejuvenating and is peaceful.
I would like to end this post with Sri Vadiraja Mantra
Kamadenuh yatha purvam sarvaabheesta palapradaa
Thathakalau Vadirajah sripadobheeshtah sathaam
Srinamo Vadirajaaya deerghadaaridrya ghatine
Rajabhogapradathrecha namostu jayadayine

[Meaning:- Very much like the Kamadenu of the past yugas granting all our wishes,in this kaliyuga,Sri Vadiraja grants fulfillment of all our wishes.
Salutations to you Sri Vadiraja who destroys all our deep seated poverty and bestows upon all riches and leading us to victory in all our endeavours.]

Sri Vadiraja Teertha Sri Sode Vadiraja Mutt-A Brief Perspective by Gowdagere Vijaya Kumar Acharya.