The legend of the Golden Garland – Gandi Kshetram

Sri Anjaneya at Gandi Kshetra,Veera Anjaneya,golden flowers, Sir Thomas Munroe, Gandi, Cuddapah, Gandi Veera Anjaneya Devastanam, Mantralayam, Sri Raghavendraswamy, Kadapa, Mahanandi ,Allagadda, Ahobilam, Peapalli , Nandyala, Mahanandi,meen Peer Dargah - Kadapa, Badi Dargah, Pedda Dargah,Peerullah Hussaini, Arifullah Hussaini, Gandi Sri Veera Anjaneya Swamy temple, Gandi Kshetram, Idupulapaya, YSR, Rayachoti, Sri Veerabhadreshwara Swamy temple

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" Sri Anjaneya at Gandi Kshetra
… On the right bank is the temple of Veera Anjaneya situated in serine atmosphere presenting a picturesque scene. The legend of how the temple of Lord Anjaneya had come to being here is very interesting.

During the Ramayana period Sri Vayudeva was on mediation here. Sri Rama had passed through this place while going southwards in search of Sri Sitadevi. While Sri Vayudeva wanted Sri Rama to stay here as his host, Sri Rama had told that he will accept his hospitality on his way back to Ayodhya from Lanka.

On hearing of Sri Rama’s victory over Ravana in Lanka, Sri Vayudeva had prepared this place to welcome him and flung a wreath (garland) of golden flowers across the ravine through which the conqueror should pass on his way northwards to Ayodhya.

The golden flowers arranged in the thoranam form by Sri Vayudeva for welcoming the victorious Sri Rama are true and could be visible between the two hills. Even in this Kaliyuga it was visible for those who had faith on Lord. It is believed that those who had done their karma during this janma in full and truly are blessed to see the golden thoranam during their last days. It is also believed that for those who had the dharshan of this golden festoon are free from rebirth.

It is in record that Sir Thomas Munroe the District Collector of Cuddapah was one of the blessed to have seen the golden festoon (Bangaru thoranam) during his last visit to "Gandi". It has been recorded in the Madras District Gazetteer Cuddapah District Vol I – Chapter I – Page 3 & Chapter XV – Page 217 dated 01.10.1914."

Source: Gandi Veera Anjaneya Devastanam, Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh

This story of the legendary golden garland was one of the bedtime stories I had heard from my Grandparents. Over the years I have visited or driven through Kadapa umpteen number of times but a trip to Gandi never happened.

More recently, while browsing for information on the current status of Mantralayam (after the floods in Oct 2009), I came across an article with a mention of the same Sir Thomas Munroe.

"When Sir Thomas Munroe was the Collector of Bellary in 1800, the Madras Government ordered him to procure the entire income from the Math and Manthralaya village.

When the Revenue officials were unable to comply with this order, Sir Thomas Munroe visited the Math for investigation. He removed his hat and shoes and entered the sacred precincts. Sri Raghavendraswamy emerged from the Brindavan and conversed with him for sometime, about the resumption of endowment.

The Saint was visible and audible only to Munroe who received Manthraksha. The Collector went back and wrote an order in favour of the Math and the village.
This notification was published in the Madras Government Gazette in Chapter XI and page 213, with the caption “Manchali Adoni Taluka”. This order is still preserved in Fort St. George and Manthralayam.

Source: Story of Sri Raghavendra Swamy (Mantralaya)

This mention of Sir Munroe triggered some old memories about Gandi and the legend of the golden garland. Did a little more research and I came across a snippet from Sir Munroe’s biography, which also mentioned about Munroe’s sighting of the garland and his death soon after. Now, this was much too interesting to ignore… and a visit to Gandi was on my ‘to-do’ list for the next time I drove towards Kadapa.

The day after Shivaratri, we were planning to head out somewhere for the weekend with my parents. On a whim, we decided to do a trip towards Kadapa and visit a couple of places. Hmmm… this would be as good a time as any to do a trip to Gandi. The other places visited were Mahanandi, Kadapa, Idupulapaya & Rayachoti

Started from Bangalore at 7.15am on the 13th of Feb 2010 and returned back to base at around 9.30pm on the evening of the 14th of Feb 2010. Total distance covered on the trip meter was 909kms in two days.

Though we did think of visiting Ahobilam on the way back from Mahanandi (We drove through Allagadda, which is just 24kms from Ahobilam), we decided to give it a skip since the place would have been heavily crowded. Also, Ahobilam is best done as a separate two day trip, covering all the 9 Narasimha temples, which will require a good amount of trekking. So Ahobilam needs to be done some other time.

Our original plan was to cover the places in the reverse order and drive back to Blr in a continuous stretch from Mahanandi, which is why we went via Kadapa, else I would have probably taken NH7 (Hyderabad route) till somewhere close to Peapalli and turned towards Nandyala from there… anyway, the Kadapa route was not bad, so no regrets.

Overall the trip was good, though it was probably quite tiring for my parents; it was still acceptable since we are just about going into the summer temperatures. Anyway, we were running with the AC on for the entire trip.

Only one small hiccup during the trip – on the morning of the 14th, when we were about to start off for the day from Kadapa, I noticed that the rear-left tyre was almost flat. Instead of changing the tyre, I just pumped in air with the foot-pump and we headed out with an idea of getting the puncture fixed. But most of the puncture shops we came across along the way were either shut (Sunday morning) or did not know how to work on a Tubeless tyre.

Not wanting to waste time we just continued ahead and covered Gandi and Idupulapaya…on the way back we stopped at Vempalli and found a puncture shop where I got the tyre taken out and we found quite a big nail stuck right in the middle. Since I was carrying a tube-less puncture kit, I could guide the puncture shop guy to fix it up. Thank God for tubeless tyres!

Mahanandi is a village located east of the Nallamala Hills in Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is a picturesque village surrounded by thick forests. Within 15 km of Mahanandi, there are nine Nandi shrines known as Nava Nandis. Mahanandi is one of the Nava Nandis.The Mahanandiswara Swamy Temple, an important shrine, is located here.
This ancient temple dates back over 1,500 years. The inscriptions of 10th century tablets speak of the temple being repaired and rebuilt several times.

Ameen Peer Dargah – Kadapa
Ameen Peer Dargah (Asthana-e-Magdoom Ilahi Dargah complex) (Badi Dargah, Pedda Dargah) in Kadapa (Cuddapah) is an example of the communal harmony preached by great saints and sages in ancient days. Come Thursday and Friday, scores of pilgrims cutting across religious faiths, throng the 300-year-old shrine seeking blessings of saints Peerullah Hussaini and Arifullah Hussaini II who lie buried here.

Followers of the dargah believe that any wish that one makes at the shrine is always fulfilled. A large number of Hindus, Muslims and people of different faiths are disciples of the shrine. The family’s descendants identify themselves with a saffron dress and the disciples wear a saffron cap.

Gandi – Sri Veera Anjaneya Swamy temple.
Gandi is a small village located in Veerannagattupalle village, amidst the beautiful surroundings, on the banks of Papaghni river near Vempalle in Kadapa District. This is a valley like place formed by the Palakonda hills and is called as Gandi, which in Telugu means ‘a narrow valley with running river’. This small place is popularly known as Gandi Kshetram (region) and is famous for the temple of Lord Hanuman.

It is said that Sri Ramakrishna Anandha Swami of Boomanandha Ashram had given the name Gandi Kshetram to this place. The temple of Lord Veera Anjaneya or Hanuman was said to be built by Swami Vasanthaacharyalu, a follower of Sri Madwa cult.

This is a sort of an oasis in the middle of nowhere, around 6kms from Gandi; the late YSR’s estate is located here and the area has seen a lot of development in the form of the Rajiv Gandhi Knowledge Valley – IIIT complex etc.

Rayachoti – Sri Veerabhadreshwara Swamy temple
Rayachoti has a long history dating back 1000-years. The Sri Veerabhadreshwara Swamy temple itself is 1000-years old. It is said that the great King Krishnadevaraya used to camp at Rayachoti whenever he visited Srivari temple at Tirupati. Rayachoti draws thousands of devotees as the Lord Veerabhadreshwara is very popular among the Lingayat community in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Started off at 7.15am from Blr and it was a smooth drive out of the city, other than the normal bottle-necks on old-Madras road and near Hoskote. The Karnataka stretch of the road has fresh tarmac.

We have driven past this hill quite a few times in the past; the peak of which is supposed to resemble a ‘Nandi’ from a certain angle…

We were in Madanapalle by around 9.15am. Stopped for a quick breakfast and headed towards Kadapa. Somewhere along the way we changed our plan and decided to drive through without stopping Kadapa and see Mahanandi first.

Came across lots of Egrets in the rice paddies alongside the road…

And also this interesting sight of the Egrets combing through the paddies in a systematic line…

This was the 13th of Feb, just the day after Shivaratri… though the crowds had reduced significantly, Mahanandi was still filled with lots and lots of pilgrims! Since most of the crowd would also be visiting the nearby Ahobilam temples, we decided to skip them for this trip.

Normally the temple is not too crowded and you can wander around exploring the place, but this time the temple was barricaded up for the Shivaratri crowd and bathing in the inner pool was not allowed.

The crystal clear waters of the inner pool, where you can see coins at the bottom of the Kalyani…

Bathing was being allowed in the two outer pools and they were quite crowded. This one for gents and the other pool for the ladies…

The huge Nandi. A very recent construction, this is a hollow concrete structure. Supposed to be the ‘biggest’ Nandi in the world…

A robotic fortune teller 🙂 Thought of giving it a try, but the ear-phones were absolutely filthy… so I chose to remain ignorant of my fortunes.

The route from Nandyala to Mahanandi is lined with brick kilns…

We reached Kadapa quite late in the evening and stayed back overnight at my uncle’s place. After a light dinner, we bedded down for the night.

Next morning we started out for the day at around 9.00am. Our first stop was the Ameen Peer dargah in the center of the town. Preparations were underway for the ‘Urs’ which was starting from the next day, i.e. the 15th of Feb.

A number of celebrities & politicians were expected to visit the place over the next few days… and someone mentioned that the highlight was going to be a musical evening by A.R.Rahman.

Next we headed out on the Pulivendala road towards Vempalle and then to Gandi. There is a highway almost all the way till Gandi, and the road continues till Idupulapaya. Lined on both the sides by Sunflower fields…

The Papagni river, which is quite seasonal, had completely dried up by this time.

Not much of a crowd at the temple. We could quickly finish darshan and head back to Kadapa for lunch.

The legendary golden garland is supposed to exist somewhere across these two cliffs… thankfully I could not see anything! (Those who see the garland are destined to pass away soon after…)

Next, we took the turn towards Idupulapaya, which has a 4 lane highway leading to it…

The road which leads to the IIIT campus…

This is part of the same hill range that continues to Tirupati…

After Idupulapaya we headed back to Kadapa for lunch and a brief rest stop before heading back to Bangalore. We reached Kadapa by around 1.30pm and had lunch.

While Sangeetha and my parents were relaxing for a while, I was busy cleaning up the air-filter since we had driven through some extremely dusty roads recently.

Just a random flower pic from the trip 🙂

Started from Kadapa at around 3.15pm and reached Rayachoti. Stopping here was not on our original plans, but given the fact that we would be passing just a couple of Kms from the temple, we might as well stop over for a few minutes.

This temple is frequented by a lot of pilgrims from Karnataka. So, all the instructions and other writings in the temple are both in Telugu, as well as Kannada.

Some pics from the temple…

Silhouettes of the distant hills in the evening mist. Pic clicked somewhere close to Rayachoti.

From Rayachoti, it was a almost non-stop drive all the way to Bangalore, stopping only for a couple of bio-breaks. Reached Blr by around 9.30pm, a quick dinner and by around 11.00pm it was lights out!


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