Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Daida Cave Temple and Guttikonda Bilam

We planned to visit Daida Cave Temple on 14-4-2008, which is in Guntur District. In the early morning, 3 of us Gopi, Ramdas and I on two bikes hit the road toward Guntur. One of my friends, along with his family went here some time ago. He told it was barely around 80 km. So we ventured it on bikes. I was told to reach Gurajala first and then some driving directions.
We passed Guntur and Perecharla on Guntur-Hyderabad State Highway and so on. Our trip meter already passed 90km, but there was no sign of our destination, even Piduguralla Village where we have to take a diversion from State Highway. At last we reached Piduguralla, packed puris to break our fast after visiting Daida Temple. Diverted on to Piduguralla-Karampudi road to reach Gurajala. Just before entering Gurajala Village there was an arch on the right side of the road. It was Daida village's welcome arch. From Gurajala it was a single BT road. That road was still going somewhere after crossing Daida village. We took a diversion on to a gravel road toward River Krishna to reach the Temple.

We first went in to the river. The way was a sloppy one. Asked some body there about the Temple history. This was the story.

Herdsmen from Daida Village leave their cattle in the forest beside their village. Among them, one lost his cattle. He searched all day and at dusk he put his efforts aside and took rest on the bank of River Krishna. At night he listened some people performing bhajans. He searched for the place where those sounds were coming from. At last he found the cave.

In the morning he went into the village and told villagers about the thing he saw. Villagers decided to pay a visit to the cave at night. He showed them to the cave. There were Sages performing puja to Shivalingam and some were chanting. Upon seeing this populace they stopped all and decided to leave the place and never came back. All this happened centuries ago. Thenceforth people from many places visiting this temple.

There was small hole to the bank of the river. That is the opening of the cave. We entered in.Due to power cut there was no electricity. In that dark we just were passing through the way by sensing it with the help of our hands. We raised one hand to know the height. So that where ever necessary we can bend our selves to avoid collision with the top. At one point we bent so much, literally we were sitting and moving forward for 2 to 3 meters. After that path was not that much low. Right from the beginning path was mud filled, some times we stepped in puddles. After a short advancement we saw light from a short distance. Deepams around Shivalingam were emitting that light. We preformed puja. We came out of the cave from the other end. So,that is a continuous one, no need to go back to come out. Up on coming up we noticed Pujari came from Daida Village. He invited us another time into the cave. This time we were having electricity and pujari performed puja for us. But we felt, after coming out, our first darshan without electricity gave more spiritual joy. Because of lights this time we noticed the cave is branched at some places. We ventured into one of them.

We were now having a torch light (Thanks to Mr.Ramdas). It went deep inside and became narrow. There were rock formations and bats also. Floor was sandy and water current marks were there. Can't go through those narrow passages, so we ended up our mission.
Had our breakfast in one of the mandapams. Time was just 10.30 a.m. We thought initially this trip as a glittering one. But it was not. Then Mr.Ramdas came up with an idea. "If you guys agree we will visit Guttikonda Bilam. We had lot of time.We can continue our journey to Vijayawada right from that place via Narasaraopet. No need to come back." We instantly assented.
We reached Gurajala. We now took right from here to continue our journey toward Karampudi. As soon as we entered on the road some people stopped us to have Panakam. That day was Srirama Navami. Usually every village in the state performs Sitarama kalyanam on that day.I also should be in my native village Ravivaripalem. The Sun was angry upon us today. So we had a lot of Paanakam (this is made of water, jaggery, black pepper and cardamom) there. Reached Guttikonda Village after crossing NSP Canal, and turned our vehicles toward hills. We came to a halt when NSP (Nagarjuna Sagar Project) Canal prevented us to go further. We parked our vehicles on its bank, crossed the canal on a bridge and hiked up to the hill on a well laid road. Even buses also come there up to the hill, if they take NSP Canal right bank road from the State Highway just after Guttikonda village toward Gurajala. The place was surrounded by hills with good greenery. At one point road diverted to right at the base of the hill.
There was a temple after a brief ascend.We inquired about Bilam there. Pujaris here were very helpful. One of the Pujaris agreed to accompany us. They inquired about our lunch. As we told we didn't, they told they will prepare for us also. We walked past the temple and entered a small opening of the hill, descending few steps. We didn't even believe what we saw there. There was a very huge hall inside, carved out of that hill. 500-600 people can easily sit on the floor. An elevated area at right hand corner was bearing a Shivalingam. So many bats were hanging from the ceiling. Air was filled with the smell of their excreta. Electric bulbs were glowing, so that we were able see the place without much effort. There were tunnels going inside. At the end of each tunnel there was a pool. The first one is directly in front of the hall opening. A pond was visible from the middle of the hall on right hand side. Second tunnel's path starts beside Shivalingam, down slope toward the pond. These two tunnels branched into so many while they go in and each one ends with a pool. You can swim in any of these ponds. It is believed there are 108 ponds like that in this marvelous, unimaginable piece of land, Pujari told.
One can easily recognise first tunnel. If you go along electric bulbs hanging from the ceiling, you will reach a tiny pond. Just before the pond tunnel branches(Electric bulbs also) left and takes you to a big pool. We had a nice time there. Water was very cool. It refreshed us a lot. A farmer from nearby field came to cool off his senses. Time was running out. But our bodies were not giving assent to go out of water. At last refusing our body's intentions to be in the water for some more time we moved out. Had a dip in tiny pond also. Came into hall and had a dip in the pool which was beside the hall. Brahma Naidu after Palnadu Battle came here and went into this pond and vanished in, Pujari said. We proceeded to second tunnel. We decided to put our cloths somewhere in the hall. We were feeling some discomfort in keeping our clothes along with us while venturing into water. During my revisit we changed into bathers as soon as we reached temple area.
Second tunnel was a very narrow one. One has to incline forward, keep a hand up to know the tunnel's top surface, and move forward. Right from the beginning of this tunnel we bent forward and moved on. Unlike first tunnel its width also was very narrow. Only one can go at a time. If we moved our body a little bit side ways we sensed the walls rubbing our shoulders. We already had some experience in Daida, so we were moving cautiously. Pujari brought a torch. So we were moving comfortably. We reached the pond. Pujari turned off light. Then we experienced absolute darkness. Usually we have to close our eyes to feel darkness. Here you can do that with our wide opened eyes. Pitch black, because no light was peeping in. Pujari said so many people come here for meditation. Atmosphere here takes them into deep meditative mood immediately. This tunnel branched somewhere and we took bath in that pond also.
So we had dipped in five ponds. What about the rest 103? Pujari told they are believed to be there. No one saw all those. But all those ponds are interconnected and some paths were believed to be under water. Brahma Naidu went inside through one of them. So many enthusiasts lost their way who ventured in, to discover new ponds. So Pujaris, ages ago, closed the routes by putting boulders to their openings. Normally same water levels were noticed in all the ponds you saw, he added. In summer level may recede a bit. Excess water oozes out somewhere and it is used for cultivation purposes.
We came out of Bilam, dried our selves, and had darshan of Lord Shiva.
Pujari invited us into the kitchen for lunch. It was one of the delicious meal I ever had in my entire life. Usually they can arrange food for 3 to 4 people depending on groceries they are having. If visiting people provide them with necessary groceries, they cook for them. They didn't charge for our meal, even asked any thing. We inquired about this with Pujari. He told they won't ask. But if we offer anything for food, they accept. Had a wonderful time there, at the place which is considered as one of the geographical wonders in the state, and with generous people. Here there are two dormitories serving devotees, who want to spend more time there.
Moved our bodies and vehicles this time to Gundlapalli, Nakarikallu (Not Nakirekal on N.H9) Narasaraopet, Guntur and Vijayawada. Trip meter read 340 km.


Satya said...

I am from Guttikonda Village. Thanks for the nice article.


ఆత్రేయ said...

Nice one. Useful to people like me who are inquisitive of exploring new places

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