Archive | August 10, 2014

A timeline of Manchale

Every year, for three days in August, Mantralaya the small town in Andhra Pradesh becomes a beehive of activity. The three days witnesses a massive influx of pilgrims running into lakhs. People from all over the world flock to the holy town on the occasion of the Aradhane of Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru as he is fondly called.
It was 343 years ago and in the month of August that Raghavendra Swamy, the Madhwa saint, entered Brindavana. Then, Mantralaya was known as Manchale and it was s small hamlet that was part of the province of Siddi Masud Khan, an Abbysinian who was in service of the mighty Adil Shahis of Bijapur. Both Siddi Masud Khan and his father-in-law, Siddi Jauhar, had fought against Shivaji and they were rated as among the most reliable and resourceful generals of the Adil Shahi Kingdom. Siddi Jahaur had taken control of Kurnool province and he helped the Adil Shahis in their continuing battle against the Marathas and Mughals only after the Adil Shah recognised him as the ruler of Kurnool.
After Jahaur, the province went to his son-in-law, Siddi Masud. It was Siddi Masud who designated Venkanna or Venkanna Panth as the Dewan of the province. Venkanna, who was a devotee of Rayaru, was instrumental in ensuing that Siddi Masud handed over Manchale to Rayaru.
When Rayaru asked Siddi Masud for Manchale, Siddi Masud was in a fix as he had already granted the land to a Sufi saint, Venkanna prevailed upon Siddi Masud to persuade the Sufi saint to accept another piece of land in lieu of Manchale.
The Sufi saint graciously agreed and Rayaru was handed Manchale village where he decided to enter Brindavana. It was again Siddi Masud Khan and Venkanna who helped in the construction of the Brindavana of Rayaru. They both ensured that Rayaru had a beautiful Brindavana ready. But when Rayaru saw the Brindavana, he politely requested them to construct a much simpler Brindavana and with the stones he had pointed out in the village of Madhavaraam.
Rayaru told Masud Khan and Venkanna that the stones are invaluable and holy as Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta had sat on them during their vanavasa. He told them that a very worthy saint would occupy the Brindavana that they had so lovingly sculpted for him. (Several decades later, Vadeendra Theertha, the great grandson of Rayaru, entered that Brindavana). He asked for a simpler Brindavana which was constructed.
Rayaru entered Brindavana in 1671. The day he entered Brindavana was Thursday and it is celebrated as Madhyaradhana.
Even several decades after he entered Brindavana, the village was known as Manchale. When a small township came up around the Brindavana, the name changed to Mantralaya.
Even today, we can see the old village of Manchale. The village is just across the guest houses and housing complex for pilgrims. The village is noted for the temple of Venugopalaswamy. It is on the land on which the temple today stands that Rayaru stayed for more than 12 years. He also personally sculpted the idol of Venugopalaswamy. A small kalyani that existed just across the temple was believed to be the place where Rayaru took his ritual bath. The Kalyani fell victim to the ravages of time and to the caprice of human beings and it has been totally filled up. Now, it cannot be even seen but oldtimers of the village will show you its location.
Coming back to Siddi Masud Khan, he was compelled to accept Mughal rule in 1688. This was after the Mughals annexed the Adil Shahi kingdom in 1686 and Golconda two years later. Kurnool then passed into the hands of the Mughals and then the Peshwas. It was conquered by Tipu Sultan and subsequently came under British control after his death. By then, Manchale had come to be known as Mantralaya and for decades thereafter till Independence, it was part of Bellary area.
Mantralaya today is in Kurnool district and it is on the banks of the Tungabhadra. It is located on the Raichur-Adoni-Guntakal railway line. The nearest Railway station is Mantralaya road which is 16 kms away from Mantralaya. There are several roads to Mantralaya but the quickest and perhaps the shortest is via Penugonda, Anantapur which forms part of the Bangalore-Hyderabad road. Another route is from Bangalore-Chitradurga-Hospet and Bellary.
Mantralaya is about 53 km fron Adoni, 24 km from Yemmiganur,100 km from Kurnool and 250 km from Hyderabad. It is just 35 km from Raichur and 120 km from Bellary.
Rayaru has indicated that he will be present in the Brindavana for 700 years. Just across the Tungabhadra and on the opposite banks is the hamlet of Bichale. This hamlet is in Karnataka and it is at the house of Appanacharya here that Rayaru spent 12 years before he entered Brindavana. It is in Bichale that Rayaru wrote his work Parimala. It is from the banks of the Tungabhadra river in Bichale that Appanacharya composed the Poornabodha in honour of Rayaru.