Bichale or Bhikshalaya is one of the most holiest places associated with Raghavendra Swamy. This can be called the third Mantralaya. The credit for being called the second Mantralaya goes to Honalli.
Coming back to Bhikshalaya, this is very the place where our beloved Rayaru spent 12 years of his life, staying in the house of Appanacharya, an educationist and religious teacher of the 17th century.
Raghavendra Swamy had heard about Bichale and Appanacharya and so he came down here from Adoni. He was given a warm and affectionate welcome by Appancaharya. The bond between the two men was so great that Rayaru consented to stay on here.
Appancharya, though two years elder to Rayaru, spent the next 12 years in service of Rayaru. He lovingly fed Rayaru and ground the Kadale Kale on the grinding stone himself.
He sat with Rayaru on the Japada Katte here and both of them spent hours, days and months discussing a variety of issues related to the Shastras, Puranas, Upanishats.
Till 2009, one could see the old house where Rayaru spent his days. The place where he slept, the place where he did Moola Rama pooje were all marked. The Hutta or anthill where the snake resided was also marked.
However, the devastating floods of 2009 wiped away many of these places. Indeed, it completely brought down the house.
Today, the outer walls of the house have been rebuilt. The inner portion is expected to be completed shortly, says the sixth generation descendent of Appancahcrya.
The two-room house is now in shambles and a row of aarti cups demote the place where Rayaru used to sleep.
The house is significant for several reasons.
The first is or rather was because of its heritage value. The structure belonged to the 17th century and it had not undergone many alterations or changes. This would give us an insight on how people lived in those days.
Secondly, Rayaru, came to Bichale, sometime in 1658-59 and stayed on here till 1671. This is a simple two-room house, typical of structures in north Karnataka.
The house was near the Tungabhadra and Rayaru and Appanacharya walked from there to the Japada Katte where they spent hours discussing religion, theology and philosophy. It is in this house that Rayaru formulated his ideas about Chandrika and wrote them on the Japada Katte. This work called Tatparya Chandrika was the last work of Raghavendr Swamy. Incidnetally, the original work of Chandrika was by Vyasa Raja, the previous avatar of Raghavendra Swamy.
Thus Bichale is holy in many ways. It is from here that Rayaru decided to enter Brindavana. His last work came to be written here. More than anything else, many of the hymns to Raghavendra including “Poojyaya Raghavendraiah …..””came to be formulate here by Appanacharya.