Anegundi: Durga Betta and Vali Gufa! #TWC


Anegundi - The Land of the Vijayanagara Kings, the Kishkinda of yore, the land that becons me again and again to it. NavabrindavanamChintamani and Pampa Sarovar are places that I visit every time I get an opportunity to do so. Another noteworthy temple that one must visit while touring Anegundi is the famous Durga Temple up a small hillock, popularly known as Durga Betta. There is another Durga Betta near Udupi.
The Goddess Durga here has been the favourite deity of the Vijayanagara Kings, who did not fail to worship her before proceeding on an important activity or war. The festival of Dussehra was celebrated with great pomp and show, with an elephant coming up the hill to carry the Goddess, down to the town of Anegondi, where the Dussehra procession to celebrate the victory of the Goddess over the Asura was carried out through the city. Even today, this ritual continues.
Panting up to the entrance under the midday sun

Panting up to the entrance under the midday sun

Shallow steps lead up to the temple. From the picture, you can see that the temple is within a fortress, the remains of which can still be seen.

On entering the temple, there is a small shrine for Hanuman. The priest here, performs elaborate harathi and offers tender coconut water as prasad. The Hanuman is beautifully decorated and it is indeed unique to see a Hanuman shrine inside a Devi temple.

Dwara Hanuman

Dwara Hanuman

We then walk into the main temple complex. The ancient Durga shrine stands right in the middle as a single small structure. Extensions have been built on either side in modern times, to create an Artha Mandapa, Dining Hall and other living quarters for the Sadhus who stay and perform poojas to the Goddess.
One noteworthy feature at this temple, is the sincerity and devotion with which the Swamis perform Pujas. There are at any  point of time, a number of tourists who wait outside to get darshan of the Goddess, some of them noisy too. But, the priests are just not distracted. They continue to perform the Kumkumarchana or poojas with complete concentration, not even turning once to look at the crowd outside. Once the Pooja is complete, the people are allowed to go in one by one to collect the Kumkuma Prasad and flowers.
There is a huge tree in front of the Durga shrine which has a number of coconuts tied up in colourful clothes to it. These coconuts have been tied by devotees wanting to have their wishes granted by the Mother.


Coconuts tied to a tree in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum

Coconuts tied to a tree in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum



The vibration in this temple is simply awesome. When you stand in front of Her, you feel goosebumps rising. The idol is about four feet high, and one has to stoop to have a close and complete look of the Goddess. But the energy emanating from her, has to be experienced to be believed.

Goddess Durga in her regal splendor - Watch the Asura at her foot

Goddess Durga in her regal splendor – Watch the Asura at her foot


Just look at her – as she sits so majestically, holding Chakra (Discus) and Sanku (Conch) in her upper arms, and Trishula in her lower right hand. In her lower left hand, she hots the arm of the Asura, held in a convenient posture for Samhara. Look at him, twisted in a failing attempt to escape. Her eyes seem to look upwards towards the sky, but when you stand before her, you have a feeling she is looking directly at you! 
I cannot describe the emotions that went through me when I stood before her. It was as if she knew how I instantly fell in love with her, that the Swami turned and beckoned me to crouch down and receive the coconut, flowers and Kumkum as he tied a string (Raksha) around my right wrist. I was overwhelmed, and had tears in my eyes as I stepped out making way for those behind me to have darshan and prashad.
Murali, the young man at the shop who sells pooja items, books and CDs at the temple, is always smiling and willing to help. He speaks Hindi, Kannada and surprisingly, Tamil as well. He mentioned that the temple opened at 4.00 am in the morning and closed at 10.00 pm at night with no break in between. So one can have darshan of the Goddess at any time of the day. Abhishekam is performed every day at 4.00 am and Pujas at 7 am, 12 pm and 7 pm. Every day, Kumkumarchana is performed thrice and Lalitha Parayana thrice.
Murali also told us that this temple was built around 1336 AD by Harihara Raya I under the guidance of their  Guru Saint Vidyaranya. During the time of Harihara, the Vijayanagara capital was Anegondi and it was only during his brother and successor Bukkaraya’s regime, that the capital was moved to the other side of the river to Vijayanagara.
A decorated trolley at the temple

A decorated trolley at the temple

Our previous visits to the Durga Temple have been restricted only to the temple, but this time we decided to go up the fort. We asked Murali about the Krishnadevaraya Samadhi. Murali told us that there were a couple of Samadhis on the way to Vali Gufa (Vali Cave) but he did not know if any of them belonged to Krishnadevaraya.Vali Gufa? I needed to know more.One of the Sanyasis at the temple knew Tamil. (Phew!) He explained that Vali had ruled over Kishkinda with Pampa as his capital city. At that time, he and his brother Sugreeva were united. One day, an Asura named Mayavi, challenged Vali to a fight. Vali accepted the challenge and they started attacking each other with maces.

At one point, Mayavi lost his mace and unable to bear the blows of Vali, started running away. Vali followed him and they both landed up in a cave. They wrestled for several days, as an anxious Sugreeva kept watch outside. One day, blood started flowing out of the cave. Fearing that Mayavi had killed Vali, Sugreeva blocked the entrance of the cave with a huge stone and ran away. The truth was that Vali had killed Mayavi. When he tried to get out of the cave, he found that the entrance had been sealed by Sugreeva. Vali thought that Sugreeva had deliberately done so in order to usurp his kingdom from him and to leave him to die inside the cave. This misunderstanding created enmity in the mind of Vali, and Sugreeva had to run to Rishyamukha Parvatha to save himself from Vali losing his wife and kingdom in the process.

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