The great devotee Thirukkanna mangai Andaan at Dakshina Pushkarani


Thirukkannamangai  temple is  one amongst the   srivaishnava divya desam in Kumbakonam. This divine place is located in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu. Around 8 kms  from Tiruvarur amidst  a huge tank  Darsha Pushkarini this   temple  is located  near  Western banks  .  Azhwar  keeps comparing the Lordships  here to  the sugarcane and also refers to the village as the place where blue lotuses bloom. While those flowers may not be so visible now, the sweetness of the shrine cannot be denied.

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About 25 miles from Kumbakonam, the temple is among the Pancha Krishnaraya kshetrams– the others being , T mihirukannapuram, Thirukanankudi, Thirukannamangai and Thiru kapisthalam. This holy  place is also called as “Sapthamirtha Kshetram”.An unique darshanam for the devotees  at this temple is of Mahalakshmi thayar. This sannidhi where Abhishekavalli thayar is in a resident posture . ( Erundha thirukolam ).The sanctum  has an artha mandapam and maha mandapam too. In this artha mandapam, there are beehives in the rectangular windows on the south and north walls.

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The gopuram has four levels and the sub-shrines to the Goddess Abhisheka Valli and Andal have wagon-vaulted roofs to the pavilions fronting them.

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Peria Thiruvadi ( Garudalvar )  gives darshanam  in standing posture and is considered to be a very powerful giver of boons. He is not clad in the standard red bordered white dhoti but in a multi-coloured silk sari! And on his neck is placed a sweetmeat offering that is unique to Tirukkannamangai. It goes by the name of Amrita Kalasam and resembles a laddu.  Maha Abishekams are performed for Garudalwar  every Sunday.

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. It is believed that the four Vedas took the form of four pillars and the pavilion goes by the name of Veda Sagara.

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The Goddess is in a shrine to the left of the outer corridor. Abhisheka Valli derives her name from the legend that she was ceremonially bathed with the  holy waters of the tank before her marriage to  Maha Vishnu. A beehive is seen inside the temple  that waxes and wanes with the seasons .

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The bees shift home every six months, residing to the left of the Goddess during the Dakshinayanam (July to December) and to her right during Uttarayanam.( January to June).The 33 crore devas took on the form of these divine insects to witness the heavenly wedding of the Lord and  goddess  as per the legend.

The same was sung in one of the hymns of Thirumangai Azhwar”Kalivandaraiyum pozhilsoozh Kannamangaiyal kandhu kondene” It is believed that the bees are the Gods who came to attend the wedding and decided to stay on, being enchanted with  the holy place Tirukkannamangai .

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 On other side of a bigger mandapam , there are eight pillars .Each pillar features a painting of one each of the asthalakshmis.

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The presiding deity of this temple is Bhaktavatsala perumal who gives us darshanam in standing posture and thayar is glorified as Abhisekhavalli thayar .

A very important  divine pastime must be cherished .

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In  this Srivaishnava Divya desam there lived a great devotee by the name Thirukkanna mangai AndAn who was a disciple and nephew  of a great srivaishnava Acharyar  Swamy Nathamunigal and  the foremost disciple to learn Naalayira Divya Prabhandam from his Acharyar . He was performing daily services in the temple unconditionally  without any desires .He used to pluck the grown grass and make the pathway clean for the devotees  such that the devotees are taken care of  .He used to be always ready to do any menial service that was fit for the temple and the devotees who visited the temple

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One day, he saw two dogs fighting with each other. The sight of this fight drew the attention of the owners of these dogs . Each lost their cool protecting their dogs stance in barking  . The  quarrel extended to them and out of fury to protect their dog they beat each other to the extent they both got badly injured and one almost lost his life .

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Thirukkanna mangai AndAn witnessed this. He thought to himself, “if the owners of the dogs have so much affection and sense of ownership for their loyal dogs that they are ready to give up their lives, then why would not our LORD who owns this dog-     “Thirukkannamangai AndAn,”    

if dedicated to Him, not come to his protection?”

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Thinking this way, he served the LORD and entered the kOvil and rested on the floor in a small room near the entrance.

Deeply engrossed in his realization to serve the LORD , the very next second, he attained the lotus feet of LORD .

Renouncing the intent of protecting himself, he subjected himself to the mercy and protection of LORD .

The Priests in the temple could see some unusual object gushing inside the temple sanctum  confirming the great devotees love to the LORD .

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As per legend it is told one who spends a night in the vicinity of the temple attains Moksha .( Also glorified as Dakshina Pushkarani .)

 Aani Sravanam is the appearance day of the great devotee Thirukkanna mangai AndAn.. )

 

Adiyen Ramanuja dasan

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Pics  \ Courtesy : Google images

Lotus feet !! tad-vishhNoH paramaM padaM, says the Upanishads meaning the Divine feet are the supreme..


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The absolute sense of surrender echoes the feeling that we have none other to protect us  other than our divine parents and seek their lotus feet .Our karmic parents , husband , wife friends even the demi gods will not be able to rescue us  and it is LORD SRIMAN NARAYANA alone who can take care of  us all the time .The divine feet constitute the ultimate solace for all sorrows.

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Peria Azwar expresses his musings about Lord Krishna’s  stay at Gokulam , Mathura and Vrindavan in his divine out pourings Naalayira Divya Prabhandam ( Appended link below about the divine pastimes )

https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/chinni-krishna-and-peria-azhwar/

The holy feet which walked on the ground had impressions they called it as  samrajya lakshanam .

All those divine marks on the soles of his lotus feet , those lovely impressions were visible on the ground in gokulam .

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Azhwars and Acharyas have expressed their divine thoughts about the lotus feet of Lord Krishna in several slokas . The holy feet is so tender that even when the goddess mahalakshmi the divine consort massages with love and tenderness the feet becomes red .

Jagath Acharyar Swamy Ramanuja surrendered to the lotus feet of  Lord Ranganatha

Swamy Desikar surrendered to the lotus feet of  Lord Varadarajar.

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 In the Holy Epic ,  Srimad Bhagavatam at one place the great devotee   Akrura comes to Vrindavana to meet Lord  Krishna.

  He  has the darshan of the the footprints of the Lord on the dust of Nanda-grama. 

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Immediately , with tears  he at once  jumps  on the  holy spot  of Vrindavana and rolls  about among those footprints  overjoyed and   expresses …

”  My fortune !!!!!  This is the dust from my master’s feet! How wonderful and blessed I am …

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All together,  around  eleven  distinguishing marks are decorated  on the soles of Lord’s  lotus feet.”  (  Few scholars conclude there are Nineteen ) …

 

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The  auspicious marks on the soles of Lords feet   bears the marks of a banner , a pot of ambrosia , an umbrella , a thunderbolt , a lotus , a  kalpavruksha , a conch  , the ankusa/spade, a fish , a rose apple   and  a disc  .

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Similar feelings were experienced by the  advance devotees of Lord , the gopis of Vrindavana seing Lord  Krishna’s footprints in the dust.

  The gopis became overwhelmed simply by seeing those marks  imprinted on the ground.  

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 When Krishna went away from Vrindavana the Gopis could not forget their Lord . On the land of Vrindavana are the impressions of His footprints, that are the residence of the goddess of fortune.  

Just by seeing Krishna’s all-attractive footprints, the gopis  remembered many  divine pastimes with  Krishna.

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The divine feet is the most important place for any devotee ….

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At several places Lord reveals this place pointing one of his lotus hands towards HIS feet hinting that is the place we need to seek salvation .

A sloka from Rig veda  glorifies …….

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Tad vishno: paramam padam sadaa pasyanti sooraya: | 

diveeva chakshuraatatam 

Tad vipraaso vipanyavo 

jaagruvaagum sassamindhatae

vishnor yat paramam padam

   Acharyas have expressed the auspicious qualities of the imprints , viz: 

the conch bestows knowledge to the devotees ,

the disc ensures the Lord shall destroy the enemies and get rid of our sins ,

the kalpavruksha  fullfills all our wishes ,

the banner captures the attention of the devotees , 

the umbrella  protects him with shield from material desires ,

as a fish cannot live without water a devotee cannot live without LORD’s association ,

the lotus lends fragrance to those who seek succor at HIS lotus feet ,

the spade controls the elephant mind and bestows boons to a sincere seeker in his up liftment ..

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In this manner, the Lord’s lotus-feet destroy all the inauspicious qualities of His devotee and confer  him  with supreme bliss.

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Lord Srinivasa graces through   His lotus  Feet to  the devotees  by pointing His right Hand down and asks them to surrender for their redemption. Nammazhwar in his divine out pourings expresses  his  ineligibility ,  helplessness and having no one else to save and protect him.  Having no qualifications, disability to pursue any other means  be it Jnyana Yoga , Karma Yoga , Bhakthi Yoga  and  realizing the eternal nature of being His servant  only always- seek HIS lotus Feet.

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The lotus feet of the Divine are ageless and faultless, they eradicate all our misdeeds –

so goes one Vedic mantra …

caraNaM pavitraM vitataM purANaM yena pUtas-tarati dushhkRtAni. 

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The steps that the Divine Feet took  are so great that LORD  is glorified  as ‘the Great Lord who measured  the whole Universe’  ulagalanda-perumAL (in tamil) details mentioned in the below  link …

https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/the-lord-who-measured-the-worlds-brahma-kadigina-padhamu/

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Adiyen Ramanuja dasan

Sant Namadeva feeds a dog with ghee ….Bhajey Pandurangam


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The great  devotee of Lord Vittala , Namadeva  used  to go to a  nearby village Gopalapur  to pen  his  emotional filled   divine abhangs on Lord without any disturbance.  

One day ,  it was  getting delayed and he did not turn home for lunch.

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Namadev’s  wife who was concerned  for the delay ,  walked along with the  lunch to Gopalapur.  She requested her husband  Namadeva that he should have his lunch as it was getting late . But Namadevar was in a different mood completely .His thoughts were filled with Lord Vittala .

He advised her to leave the lunch in the basket and  carry on with her daily works

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Rajayi his wife   with respect   kept  Namadeva’s lunch in a bag near him and left the place .   A dog  quickly  got hold of the chapathis  in the lunch bag and ran away with the food .  Namadeva  who was filled with thoughts of Lord Vittala watched the animal . He   immediately took  some ghee  and sugar along with  milk  got up and ran behind the dog. This surprised the passerby’s .
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The dog unexpected this and hence  ran as fast as it could.

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Namadeva  too chased it as fast as he could  by calling

…Vittala ..Vittala …..

and finally succeeded in trapping the dog near a bush with caution .

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 He  offered obeisances to the Lord he  saw  in the  animal  .He fondly took him  on his lap  and  attempted to feed  him  with sugar and ghee and later some milk . He  brushed him with affection  and said

“Panduranga! My Lord !!!  This  raw  chapathi will make your throat dry. Please have ghee, sugar and milk  along with this .” Saying this , he opened  opened the animal’s  mouth to feed him.

That very instant,  a wonderful thing happened .He could have darshan of  Lord Panduranga there itself !

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With tears he said  ‘Oh!  Vittala !!! My Father !!!   Why should you take this  form ”and make this old man run …..

Lord Panduranga replied, ” Namadeva, I am free  enough to take any form I desire. But,  what is surprising and  amazing  me is  that, you are able to  recognise  me  irrespective of the form that I take.”

 Another great saint ,  Sant Jnaneshwar  was ridiculed by the villagers and the pundits for his  plain devotion when  he requested a  buffalo   to recite Sama veda to prove the omnipresence of Lord ….

Watch the below clip recorded at Paithan where the incident took place few hundred years back..

 

 

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The buffalo began to recite vedas  and this place is  located at  Naag ghat near  Paithan in Maharashtra .

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 Another   revered saint Sant  Tukaram  saw  Lord Vittala  in all  the creatures. Out of divine will once he was asked to guard a corn field. He enjoyed  this job as it did not hinder with his daily routine of chanting Lord’s holy names .  Earlier ,the birds would see human presence  in the field and  fly away without eating the corns. But as  Sant Tukaram got immersed in his  emotional out pourings abhangs, the birds started to feed on the corns. Seeing   Lord Vittala  in all the birds, he, instead of scaring the birds away, fed the birds with more corns from the field that he was supposed to guard, thus gaining the wrath of the owner which later made the owner realise the saint was not a very ordinary human.

The saints  believed that God is within all living beings .An important spiritual practice followed by them  was the chanting of Lord’s holy names . Remembering Lord and repeating his Holy Name  was most important . Another  ingredient for the spiritual life was kirtana or bhajans, the singing of hymns of praise of the Lord . All these spiritual practices helps in  transforming  the body, emotions, thoughts, and one’s very existence into expressions of the soul, our true identity and spiritual essence. This makes it  easier to have enough peace of mind and  enter the world of the supreme soul  seeking bliss .

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 More information about the advanced saints of Maharashtra is available in the appended blog post

 

https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/pandharpur-yatra-bhajey-pandurangam-a-pilgrims-diary/

Adiyen Ramanuja dasan

Credits :  The black and white pics have been borrowed from the paintings of Painter – Mr  Raghuveer Mulgaonkar

 

 

THE OCEAN OF COMPASSION.. LORD SRI RAMA


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Lord Sriman Narayana  incarnated as Lord  SRI RAMAR to personally demonstrate  the world the teachings of Vedas  and adhere to the path of DHARMA in all circumstances.    Azhwars, acharyars, and innumerable saints and advanced  devotees like Tyagarajar, Bhakta Ramadas,  Kabirdas,  Tulsidas, Kambar  and countless  worshipped Lord Rama who personally blessed them  all. Our elders suggest us to read Srimad Ramayanam, especially the first sargam in Sundara kaandam  for  self realisation .

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 Nammazhwar in  his emotional out pourings “Thiruvaimozhi 7-5  reveals  “kaRpaar Ramapiraanai allaal maRRum kaRparO?…”

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Sri Rama ruled the  entire world from Ayodhya for 11,000 years and when he was reminded by Brahma through Dharmaraja to return to Sri Vaikuntam,

Lord Rama shed all the royal robes and walking barefoot from the royal palace, clad in  pure white holding dharbha reached the banks of Sarayu  to ascend to Sri Vaikuntam.

The Lord  took everything (the Grass, the creeping ant, the living and non-living, everyone and everything, – both animate and inanimate- all that was born or created by Brahma- all that existed in His Ayodhya to the supreme  position (moksham).

That was Lord SriRama  so merciful and compassionate that He took ALL (irrespective of their jnanam, bhakti, knowledge, scholarship, or even an inclination to think of moksham) out of His own  unlimited compassion  .

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Kulasekhara Azhwar confirms this in Peria Thirumozhi “ Andru Saraasarangalai Vaikunthathuku Yetri….”.

 Lord took the entire living and non-living thing to Sri Vaikuntam. Once again Mother Andal glorifies Lord  Rama as “Manathukku Iniyaan”-the one who is dear to heart.

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 One is reminded with the divine incident when Sage Valmiki  requests Narada  to name a person who is known for having all the sixteen opulent qualities. Narada  unhesitatingly replies that  Lord Sri Rama, the Emperor  of Ayodhya is the embodiment of all the sixteen qualities.  

Among  the sixteen great  qualities Goodness Honesty Sweetness Simplicity
Compassion , Strength , Humility , Bravery , Valour,  Talent , Prowess,  Success , Memory , Trustworthiness , Heroism,  Genuinity we humans  get attracted to the quality of Daya(compassion) as it is only due to Lords mercy  , our  pile of sins are forgiven and  thus  redeemed from the cycle of birth and death.

  Lord Rama exhibited this quality of dhaaya to  many of the humans  . Ayodhya vaasis, Kakasuran, the rakshasa who attacked him in Panchavati  , Kaikeyi   and most of the characters in the Ramayana ….

 

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 It is said Once , Parvati devi questions ParamaShiva as to on whom he contemplates while meditating. ParamaShiva replied that he always keep chanting the most sacred naama of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.- the  sweetest name RAAMA .

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ParamaShiva emphasizes the importance of the innumerable names of the Lord composed by Bheesmacharyar known  as Vishnu Sahasranama stotram.

Parvati devi out of motherly compassion questions Parama Shiva as to what is the alternative if a person is not able to chant the  entire thousand names of the Lord.

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ParamaShiva answers that uttering the holy name of SRI RAMA  will  bestow the benefit of reciting the  entire thousand names of  Lord Sri Hari. 

                               Such is the power of RAAMA NAAMAM.

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In Varanasi,  ParamaShiva personally utters the Tharaka mantram in the ears of the person leaving this mortal body and ensures that the jiva atma  attains moksham. When Bharata along with raja maatas and entire retinue met Sri rama in Chitrakoot, Bharata abuses his mother for her sinful action and seeks pardon from Lord . 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Rama chastises Bharata for accusing Mother Kaikeyi and remained untainted with her behaviour.  He showed the same respect to her. Indra’s son Jayantan was captivated by  Mother Sita’s looks .

Sri Ramar sannidhi at Gupthar Ghat,Ayodhya

He took the form of a crow and while Lord Rama and Sitadevi were resting in Chitrakoot, he inflicted injury on Sita maata by perching her .

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Lord  Rama who was lying on Sitadevi’s lap was fast asleep, Mother Sita endured the pain without disturbing  the Lord .  But the evil Kakasuran took it as an advantage and continued with his evil act until Lord Rama got up. 

 

 

 

 

Lord Rama was furious with Kakasuran and as he did not have Kodhandam with HIM at that time, HE took a grass, uttered Brahmastram and aimed at Kakasuran which chased him until he  fell down on the same rock where Sita and Rama were resting.

Swami quoting Nammazhwars pasuram about the greatness of guptar ghat

Mother Sita out of compassion slowly turned him towards Lord Rama’s holy feet and made him seek refuge.

  The most compassionate Lord, who is  spared his life by  defacing  his eye.

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Lord Rama’s daya gunam was exhibited.  Spatik shila in Chitrakoot is the place where this incident took place. While in Panchavati, when 14000 rakshasas headed by Kara and Dhooshana attacked , Lord Rama  killed everyone but spared one rakshasa as he donned a saree and escaped. 

 

 

 

 

Lord Rama’s dhaya gunam was so much that even though he knew him to be an enemy, he spared him because he was in woman’s attire! Lord Rama performed the final rites to Jataayu, the eagle king who fought valiantly with Ravana and tried to rescue Sita .

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Lord Rama

Lord Rama affectionately took the ailing Jatayu in HIS arms and  conferred moksha .

  The holy place where Lord Rama completed his incarnation  is  glorified  as Gupthar Ghat located in Faizabad about 15 kms from Ayodhya. Driving past the military areas in Faizabad roads really grand , we reached Gupthar Ghat in half an hour’s time from Ayodhya few years ago as a part of our Sri Rama Anu Yatra .

 

 

 

 

 

River Saruyu also known as River Gargha considered as Sage Vasishta’s daughter was  very calm. The bathing ghats at River Saruyu are meaningfully constructed and are well maintained. After purifying ourselves in the sacred waters and offering morning oblations, Adiyen was engaged in routine morning rituals when a group of devotees headed by Sri Gomadam Swami of Sri Rangam reached the banks of Sarayu .

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Looking at us near the ghat, they chose to have bath in the same place.  When we approached Swami to pay our respects,  the revered swamin  was delighted to know about our trip and blessed us. He said that it was due to the divine will of the Lord that we drove all the way from Ayodhya to have holy bath in Saruyu at this place because usually devotees have bath in Ayodhya itself .

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Swami mentioned about the greatness of Gupthar Ghat and appreciated us for having chosen this place for purifying ourselves.

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Guptar Ghat

More details of this holy place at this appended link :

https://kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/piligrim-diary-to-sri-rama-holy-abodes/

Adiyen Ramanuja dasan

Videos courtesy :  Sri Balakrishna Prasad garu/ Sri Naveen kumar

Pics : Few from social media and  Google images

( Thanks to all the devotees who have uploaded them )