Archive for March 9, 2009

Big Banyan Tree

Posted: March 9, 2009 in Travel
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The 400-year-old sprawling Dodd Aladamara (big banyan tree) covers about 3 acres. The main tree has over the years spread out widely with several aerial roots and though is a single tree, it looks like many different trees now.

The entire tree is fenced, and the enclosed area has marked pathways, where we walked under the tree’s canopy, enjoying the banyan shade. There are good seating arrangements, dustbins and also security to guard the place.

Vij at Dodda Aladamara

Vij at Dodda Aladamara

This is the fourth largest banyan tree in India:
1) World’s biggest banyan tree at Thimmamma Marimanu near Gooty in Andhra Pradesh.
2) The banyan tree at Botanical Gardens in Kolkata.
3) Adyar banyan tree in Chennai.

There is a small Lord Muneshwara (Lord Shiva) temple in the enclosure. There are many monkeys and we saw a few of them sharing watermelon with the visitors.

It was really sad to see the acts of vandalism on the trunk, branches, and roots, literally it was etched graffiti!

There were no swanky restaurants, but a few country shops offer tea and snacks.

Away from the maddening rush of the city, we enjoyed the greenery on the way and various flower nurseries.

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When Vij returned from his native after taking some ayurvedic medicine for his kidney stones, he told me that a tantri has asked him to do noorum palum puja at a Naga temple to wards of evil effects. SO he was on a search of Naga temple in and around Bangalore to perform the puja on Ashlesha Day, which fell on 9th this month. I just forgot about it and he was more than angry for not helping him out to find a temple.

Then, I started googling and got to know about Mukti Naga temple near Ramohalli. Yeah, the same place which has the Big Banyan tree. Got the phone number and called to confirm if there would be any puja on Monday and details about booking for a puja. The woman who picked the call confirmed about the puja and told that we were supposed to reach the temple by 9 am and men were supposed to wear a mundu and shalya.

We left home at 8 am and reached the temple at 9 am. It took nearly one hour, as the traffic was too heavy and the road connecting the temple from Ramohalli was very bad with no proper asphaltation. It was literally a bumpy ride on a bumpy metal road. The construction work of the temple is yet to complete.

Proposed temple complex

Proposed temple complex

We asked the pujari if they would do noorum palum puja and he said that they were conducting an Ashlesha puja on that day and it is done to ward off evil effects and seek the blessings of Lord Nagaraja, the snake deity. We paid Rs 1,100 for the Ashlesha Puja, which started at 9.50 am and lasted for three hours.

Price list

Price list

Before sitting for the puja, we visited the Karya Siddhi Vinayaka Temple and Mukti Naga temple.

Karya Siddhi Vinayaka Temple

Karya Siddhi Vinayaka Temple

The temple has the biggest Naga idol in Karnataka and is 16 ft tall!

Side view of Mukti Naga Temple

Side view of Mukti Naga Temple

Then, we went to another small temple where there was a small Naga idol and an anthill smeared with vermilion and kumkum. The temple was locked and devotees were praying from outside. Just near that, there were few Naga idols which were installed by devotees to ward off evil effects and seeking good blessings from the Snake Lord.

To our amusement, a few devotees were piling up small stones in front of the temple and when we enquired one of them said that those who have wished for a house build a stone block in front of the temple and ask the Lord to bless them with a house. Need not say that we too built a small house in front of the house seeking the blessings of the Lord…

Mukti Naga Temple

Mukti Naga Temple

The puja began at 9.50 am and there were seven people, including us for the puja. Men sat for the main puja and the families sat behind them. They performed Naga puja, Ashlesha Bali and Ganapati Homa to invoke the blessings of the serpent god. The room was filled with Sanskrit shlokas and chantings of mantras, reminding us of rishis and ashrams. Through out Vij had a difficult time, as he was not used to sit in Padmasan position and pujaris kept translating few things to him in English, like take a deep breath, wash your hand, offer flowers, offer prayers to your family deity and others.

After the puja there was lunch, which I liked and of course, Vij didn’t like. They gave us two coconuts kept for the puja and asked to prepare any sweet dish on five days except on Tuesday and Friday.

We were dead tired and still headed towards Big Banyan tree, as Vij had not seen it. He was curious to see the tree, as he had heard much about it.