Navabrundavana is a sacred place for Madhwacharya’s followers, it is located near the ancient town of Hampi, Karnataka. While the heritage town of Hampi is filled with tourists across the year for its rich sand stone temples and glorious sculptures that stand tall in spite of those ruining invasions, Navabrundavana is a quiet and calm abode of the 9 holy saints of Dwaita Siddantha who meditated here in this pristine and picturesque rocky island amidst the Tunga river.
Madhwacharya was a Vedanta philosopher who was a proponent of philosophy of reality_’Tattvavada’.
People refer to this place as the ‘Jeeva Brundavanas’, as a Brundavana is a fortification around the revered saints when they entered penance when alive. It is unlike the concept of a tomb hence the word Samadhi is avoided.
Navabrundavana has two routes, one is from Anagundi which is a long drive of 30kms from Hampi and the other one from Hospet is a shorter (6kms from Malligi hotel) one near the banks of the Tunga River which is not a popular route.
We took the shorter one and reached a dead end near the river bank, we had to take a ferry to reach the island temple but could not find a single soul. Some faded graffiti on the wall slab beside the waters, revealed a mobile number. Upon calling the number we were asked to call out loudly and look for one Ramzan Bi, who would probably be asleep somewhere in the surrounding farms. So chances were that if Ramzan Bi was in a deep slumber then we would miss seeing the place however we cried out as best as we could and finally Ramzan Bi turned up from across the other side, speedily rowing a large caracole.
This is Ramzan Bi at 60+years she has a family of 7 members and makes a living by rowing Hindu pilgrims to their sacred place, this is real India! As she rows amidst the scenic splendor of nature surrounded by rocky dunes and lush green Jowar farms against the gleaming Tunga waters in the hot Sun, she tells us about the peak seasons and good days to visit it here.
After this brief ride amidst nature, we had to walk some 200meters in between tall blades of grass and rocky enclaves to reach the temple.
Navabrundavana is an absolutely quiet place without any elaborate architecture, it is for the spiritually inclined with only the sounds of nature and few religious chantings. It is perhaps because of such calmness and serenity that the sages chose to meditate here.
After the darshan, we headed to the Virupaaksha temple, had lunch at Mango tree which is now shifted behind the market area in the Virupaksha temple vicinity.
Then we walked up the Rathna Beedhi(Street of gems), the pillared avenues where diamonds, pearls, rubies and emeralds were once sold like vegetables in open trays, such was the Vijayanagar economic splendor and architectural vibrancy that in spite of sabotage and loot these monuments stand tall attracting lakhs of tourists across the year. In spite of the beheaded and broken sculptures I refuse to call it ruins! You can view my earlier Hampi post here.
We walked by the Tunga rivers that is picketed by rocky boulders, an early morning or early evening walk here is the best thing to do, the rocky paths leads to Kodandarama temple and Yantrodharaka temple(Hanuman temple) which is said to be consecrated by Vyasa Raja, the Raja Guru of the Vijayanagar empire, who set up 732 Hanuman temples, he was the teacher of Purandara dasa.
The story goes like this “Vyasa Raja usually took bath in Chakratheertha, the TungaRiver banks where Kodandarama temple is located. As he meditated and prayed on the rocky hills of Chakratheertha, the Charcoal image he had drawn, symbolic of Lord Hanuman would disappear into the rock. The incident occurred several times, Vyasa then composed the Yanthrodharaka Hanuman Sthothra and encircled the image with Shatkona yantra (Hexagonal star) or the Vaayu Yantra, thereafter the image of the lord stayed. It is also believed that it was here in this ancient town of Kishkinda that Rama met Hanuman in during his search for Sita. Hampi is full of footprints from our Ramayana epic as it is the oldest town in the civilization as per scientist who have carbon dated some rocks here.
As luck would have it, the Mandir was closed(this is the second time I tried to visit) so we just sat down for a while, enjoying the picturesque view of the Tunga River from the mountain top.
This was the end of our Navabrundavan trip, we then resumed our journey to Badami in the evening.
Do read my upcoming post on Aihole and Badami.