Very few people have had the lustre and magnetism that Raghavendra Swamy had or continues to have even today. The seer continues to pull in lakhs of devotees even three centuries after he entered Jeeva Samadhi or Brindavana in Mantralaya.
What sets apart Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru from other contemporaries of his and other seers is his inherent love for all human kind: the kindness and mercy that he is known for and the bountiful boons that he always seems to give to anyone or anybody who comes to him for guidance and succor.
Born in Bhuvanagiri in Tamil Nadu, Raghavendra who in Poorvashrama was known as Venkanna spent his early years in Kumbakonam and pother places in Tamil Nadu. He then set out to Karnataka and toured the State extensively and stayed at several places such as Srirangapatna, the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyars, Chitradurga, Hampi or Vijayanagar, Nava Brindavana, Anegundi, Raichur, Bijapur, Udupi.
He then toured Adoni and surrounding areas of Andhra Pradesh before zeroing in on his final resting place in Mantralaya which today is in Andhra Pradesh. Thus, Raghavendra Swamy is one of the rare seers whose presence is spread over many states-Tamil Nadu, where he was born, Karnataka where e undertook extensive sanchara and Andhra Pradesh where he entered Brindavana.
The places where he lived and visited still exists today and his home in Bhuvanagiri has been transformed into a Raghavendra Swamy Matha. Bhuvanagiri is near Chidambaram and it is just seven kilometers from the famous temple town. There are plenty of buses and taxis from Chidambaram to Bhuvanagiri.
Raghavendra Swamy spent his childhood here before leaving to Kumbakonam for higher studies.
Bhuvanagiri today is a small panchayat town in Cuddalore district. The RagavendraSwamyTemple is located at 4th Patti street and it is ten minutes walk from the Bhuvanagiri busstand. The Vellaru rivers flows close by.
The Vellaru is a West flowing river and it takes birth in Cervarayan hills in Salem and flows for 215 km through the districts of Tiruchirapalli and Cuddalore.
Young Venkatanatha often bathed in the Vallaru river at Bhuvanagiri before praying at the shrine of Anjeneya. Locals say the Anjeneya temple was consecrated by Raghavendra Swamy himself.
The temple opens in the morning and closes at around 11 a.m. It reopens around 4 p.m., and stays open till about 8 p.m.
Strangely, there is a granite stone which certifies the place as the birthplace of Raghavendra Swamy. The certificate also says that Raghavendra Swamy worshipped the Sanjeevaraya statue within.
The certificate is signed by then Revenue Officer, C, Packianathan and it is dated April 20, 1984.
The granite tablet says the Revenue divisional official of Chidambaram made enquiries and verified facts following a request by the sitting MLA of Bhuvanagiri, V.V. Swaminathan, before zeroing in on the birthplace of Raghavendra Swamy.
Bhuvanagiri is 225 kms from Chennai and 377 kms from Bangalore. The district headquarters of Cuddalore is 44 kms away from Bhuvanagiri.
There are plenty of buses and other forms of transport from Pondicherry, Cuddalore and Chidambaram to Bhuvanagiri. A little away from Bhuvanagiri is the historic town of Parangipettai or Porto Novo. It is here that the Vellaru and Buckingham canal carrying Cauvery meet and then flow into the Bay of Bengal. Parangipettai is about 17 kms from Bhuvanagiri.