There are nearly a hundred pilgrim and tourist places in and around Mantralaya. These places are located both in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Many of the places are connected with Vyasaraja, his next avatar Raghavendra swamy, and his devotees Appanacharya, Krishna Avadoota and the many Haridasas who flourished in Raichur district.
Mantralaya is approachable from both Bellary and Adoni side and both the routes have plenty of places to visit.
Here are some of them. I have mentioned only the important places and left out many for which you do not need to make separate plans. They can be combined during visits to Mantralaya and other places.
So here goes.
Mantralaya is in Andhra Pradesh and it is just across the border from Raichur district of Karnataka.
Mantralaya is 53 km from Adoni or Adwani, 24 km from Yemmiganur ,100 km from Kurnool, 250 km from Hyderabad, 35 km from Raichur and 120 km from Bellary.
Raichur is in Karnataka and it is just an hour’s drive from Mantralaya. There are several places associated with Raghavendra Swamy in Raichur district and in this post I would like to concentrate more on Raichur district and surroundings than Adoni and Penukonda which I shall wrote about in the next few posts.
Coming back to Raichur district, it was known as the Doab as it is sandwiched between the Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers. The Doab was the reason for several wars between the VijayanagarKingdom and the Bahamanis and later the Adil Shahis.
Krishna Deva Raya, the Vijayanagar Emperor, delivered perhaps the most crushing defeat to the Adil Shahis when he routed the Bijapur army headed by Ismail Adil Shah at Raichur.
Raichur today is better known as the rice bowl of India. It is also the only place producing gold after the closure of KGF in Kolar district of Karnataka. There are several small islands in the district formed by the Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers and you can enjoy them and many of the islands have a religious touch for example the Narada Gadde which has a temple dedicated to Narada.
Raichur can be very hot during summers. So avoid it from say March to July. It is also home to one of the biggest thermal power stations in India-the RTPS.
Some of the historical and religious places of interest in and around Raichur are:
Bichale or Bhikshalaya
This is the place on Tungabhadra river where Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru spent 13 years of his life with his disciple Appanacharya.
The Japada Katte in Bichale is where Rayaru and Appanacharya spent hours discussing philosophy and religion. There is an Ekashila Brindavana of Raghavendra Swamy which is the first outside Mantralaya.
The house of Appanacharya that Rayaru stayed has been rebuilt after the flood waters of Tungabhadra damaged it in 2009.
Sripdaraja has consecrated the idol of Ugra Narasimha here and Vyasa Raja, the previous avatar of Raghavendra, consecrated the idol of Hanuman.
Combine you visit to Bichale with PanchamukhiAnjaneyaTemple.
This is in Gandhal in Raichur district. It is 22 kms from Mantralaya. The route is through Madhavaram village from where the stone slabs for the Brindavana were used. Even today, a piece of the stone used to make the Brindavana, is left behind at Madhwwaram.
After Madhavaram, take a right turn and proceed till you reach Tungabhadra river. When you cross the river you enter Raichur district.
Take the road till you reach Chiksugur camp junction. The road to the right leads to PanchamukhiAnjaneyaTemple while the left leads you to Bichale.
The PanchamukhiAnjaneyaTemple is open for Darshan from 5 -30 a.,m to 1 p.m. It opens again in the evening and closes at 8 p.m. This Panchamukhi idol is closely associated with Rayaru as Hanuman gave him darshan in that avatar.
From here, Bichale is 18 kms.
The PanchamukhiTemple is about 31kms south of Raichur.
The temple is situated on a hillock and Raghavendra Swamy sat and prayed in a cave here.
During his stay at Manchale, Rayaru regularly visited holy places nearby. Two of these villages which he visited very frequently were Bichale and Gandhal.
Locals say Rayaru spent days in meditation here. The cave is in top of a hillock. Rayaru meditated only after finishing the pooje of Rama at the cave.
He has himself carved the figures of Venkateswara and Lakshmi on the rock. One day, Hanuman appeared before Raghavendra Swamy with five faces.
Rayaru saw the five faces as that of Hanuman, Hayagriva, Narasimha, Garuda and Varaha. It is this form as Panchamukhi he carved on the rock.
The rocks around the hillock are a sight to see. There are fifty steps that lead you to the cave. A narrow passage will lead you to the sanctum.
Nearby is the Yerakalamba temple. Hanuman had to take her permission to enter Patalaloka to rescue Rama and Lakshmana.
Deodurg is 34 miles west of Raichur. It has a fort. It was the stronghold of the Bidar chieftains. There is a hill here which contains talc from which powder is made.
This small town is 11 miles from Lingsugur. The Amareshwara temple is located amidst hillocks and rolling forests.
The deity is also known as Gurugunta Amareshwara which is a Shiva Linga.
There is a small well besides the idol called Gadagi Bhavi. Bhavi in Kannada means well. The water from the well enters the main temple and reaches the Linga and then forms into a pool. Devottes take the water as Theertha.
The annual fair of the temple is held in Phalguna and commences from the day of Holi, Kamana Hunnime or Pournami. The fair will continue for a month and several theatre groups pitch their tents here.
Devarsugur is on the Krishna river. It is famous for the Surugeshwara or Veerabhadra Temple.The annual jatra of this temple, held in the month of Margashira, attracts a large number of people.
Gabbur has many ancient temples and inscriptions. In ancient days, Gabbur was a major centre of education. It was then called Gopurugrama. There are many temples but some of the most important are those of Male Shankara, Hanuman, Bangara Basappa, Venkateshwara and Ishwara or Shiva.
Another fascinating monument is a gateway Chandigage. There is a temple on either side of the gate. The MaleShankataTemple is built of rough grey stone.
The VenkateshwaraTemple has three deities-two of Vishnu and another a Linga. There are seven cisterns called Sat Baoli.
The BangaraBasappaTemple houses a beautiful idol of Ganesha and two nandis.
Hutti, which is the only gold producing area of Karnataka today, is 17 kms from Lingsugur. You have to take prior permission from the authorities if you want to see the mines.
Jaladurga, in Lingsugur taluk, is an island fort surrounded by the Krishna.It is 13 kms from Lingsugur. The fort was held by the Adil Shahs of Bijapur.
Kadlur, in Raichur taluk, is a sacred place. It is here that Bhima joins the Krishna. The Vijayanagara Emperor Krishna Deva Raya visited this pilgrim center with his family and offered worship at the temple.
Kallur is in Manvi taluk, located 19 kms from Raichur. The village is surrounded on all sides by granite hills except the east. There are six temples of which the MarkendeshwaraTemple is famous. Look at the many wells here which are a thing of beauty.
The fort wall is in ruins.
There is a temple of Srinivasa and Padmavathi here. According to legend, couples who want a child come here and worship the deities.
Kalmala, 9 miles from Raichur, has the samadhi of a saint, Kariappa Tata.
Kavital is on the Raichur-Lingsugur road, about 64 miles from Raichur and 30 kms from Lingsugur. There is a hillock to the south-west of the village which has several natural caves. Several pre-historic implements and pieces of pottery were discovered along the slopes of the hill here.
There is an ash mound on the top of a hill where a temple has been built. The ash mound was the site of an old smelting factory. The Tryambakeshwara temple has three shrines, two of which are lingas. There are two Kannada inscriptions in the temple and a beautiful carving of Mahishasuramardini on the temple wall.
Korva or Naradagadde
Korva is in Raichur taluk. It is a small but beautiful island surrounded by the Krishna river. It is 30 kms north-east of Raichur. Narada performed penance here. Hence, the name Naradagadde. There is a temple dedicate to Narada.
There is also a Veerashaiva Matha, the samadhi of a saint called Channabasava Swamy who lived about four centuries ago and a temple of Basavanna.
A little away from Naradagadde is Koormagadde (Kurumakshetra or Kuravakala) which has a Dattatreya Peetha and the samadhi of Sripadavallabha Swamy. This place is said to be the original place of Dattatreya. It has a temple dedicated to him.
Kotekal is in Manvi taluk and it is situated on the Raichur-Lingsugur road. The village has two hillocks with each having a fort. The slopes along these hillocks have yielded artifacts, iron-slag and gold-crushers, belonging to the prehistoric period.
It is closely associated with Jagannatha Dasa. It has a fort and JagganathaSwamyTemple.
Maski is in Lingsugur taluk, situated 26 kms south-east of Lingsugur. It is archaeologically important as several artefacts have been found here.
It is a historical place. The Vijayanagars and Bijapur kingdoms fought over this city.
The Mudgal fort is on a hillock. The fort was initially built by the Kakatiyas. It was conquered by the Vijayanagars and Adil Shahis.
Mudval is in Lingsugur taluk is situated about 20 kms from Lingsugur.
Several pre-historic artefacts have been discovered here.
It is a small village located 32 kms from Sindhanur. There is an old fort on top of a hill. There is an old temple of Murari, built of stone. A small island in Tungabhadra has the dargah of Gaddikhader Wali, a saint.
Raichur is the headquarters of the district. It was ruled by the Khiljis, Vijayanagars, Bahmani, Bijapur, Mughal and Asaf Jahi kings.
The hill fort of Raichur, which was of great importance in the past, is surrounded on three sides by a double row of massive but low circuit walls. The inner wall of the fort was constructed by placing huge blocks of well-dressed and nicely fitted stones on top of each other, without the using any cementing material. The oldest inscription of the inner fort is dated 1294 AD. The inner fort wall was built by the Hindu kings.
The outer wall was built by he Muslim Kings. It contains five gateways: Mecca Darwaza on the west, Naurangi Darwaza on the north, Kati Darwaza on the east, Khandak Darwaza on the south and the Doddi Darwaza on the south-east.
The inner wall has two gateways: Sailani Darwaza on the west and the Sikandari Darwaza on the east.
The Mecca Darwaza and the adjoining walls were built by Mallu Khan in 1470 during the reign of the Bahmani king Muhammad Shah III.
There are some marvelous drawings near this gate. A little away is a large depression known as Banda Baoli.
There is a tomb of a Muslim saint, Pir Sailani Shah built in the Adil Shah style. There is also small mosque called the Kali Masjid.
The Jami Masjid is a beautiful building having two entrances, one in the south and the other in the east.
The cemetery here contains the graves of some members of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Opposite the Jami Masjid are the remains of an ancient Hindu palace. The structure is in ruins now, except for the old walled enclosure and the big entrance by the side of the present jail.
The Ek-Minar-ki_Masjid was constructed by Amber.
It has only one minaret which is 65 feett high and 13 ft. in diameter. The minaret has two storeys, each furnished with windows and surrounded by projecting galleries.
The Bala Hisar or the citadel is situated on the middle and the loftiest of the hills in the south-west corner of the fort. It is approached first by a flight of steps. There is agun placed on a circular platform.
The Panch Bibi Dargah or the Dargah of five lady saints is located here. A Nandi or bull carved in granite is found here.
Roudkunda, in Sindhanur taluk, is situated about 6 miles to the east of Gorebal, on the Sindhanur-Gangavati road. There are two hills with forts here.
Somalpur, in Sindhanur taluk, is 14 miles from Sindhanur. The Amba Devi temple, situated at the foot of a hill, is well-known.
Venkatapur, in Lingsugur taluk, is about 3 miles due north of Maski. To the south of this village are two hills, along the skirts of which 45 cairns or man made stacks of stones were found. Some of them are in pairs.
The NarasimhaTemple here is 200 years old. It is easily approachable from Mantralaya which is 25 kilometers away. Brigu Muni consecrated the Narasimha here.
Also known as Kowthalam, it is the native of Jagannatha Dasa, the famous Haridasa. The temple is being renovated and a Harikathamruthasara mandira is being build by K Appannachar a desendent ofSri Guru Jagannatha Dasaru. This place is about 30 kilometers from Mantralayam off the Adoni Road.
The Narasimha Tample here has been recently renovated. It is 30 kilometers from Mantrlaya off the Adoni Road.
It has is a temple of Mukhya Prana consecrated by Vyasaraja.
This is the birth place of Jagannatha Dasa, an ardent devotee of Raghavendra Teertha, and considered to be an amsha sambhuta of Appannacharya.
Jagannatha Dasa installed a Mukhya Prana idol here and regularly worshipped it.
Gopala Dasa consecrated and worshipped a Mukkhya Prana idol here.
Vyasaraja installed a Mukya Prana idol here. It is known as palikedevudu which in Telugu means God who talks.
This village is home to the Mrithika Brindavana of Vijayeendra Teertha (Kumbhakonam) and Shri Raghavendra Teertha.
This is a small village where Raghavendra Swamy consecrated one of the two Hanuman temples.
A Madhwa scholar, Narasimhacharya popularly known as Aralikatti Narasimhacharya, lived here. He is considered to be an amsha-sambhuta of Karna. He is adyatma Guru of Raghuprema Teertha of Kudli Akshoba Theertha Matha.
The Brindavana of of Aralikatte Narasimhacharya and his disciple Bilvapathre Acharya can be seen here.
This is a small village and it is just a few miles from Mantralaya. There is a Samadhi of Ibharampura Appa, a renowned devotee of Raghavendra Swamy.