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The hardest part of this reminiscence is trying to find a place to start from, but seeing as it is from my point of view I will start from the ancient temple on the granite mountain. The Devi has had a most fantastic view over the land of Parasurama for centuries. The best time to visit is after the monsoon when the countryside is lush and green.
Visiting the Devi is not such an easy task as the Ambassador can only drive half way up and then you have to walk. The beauty of all this exercise is that when you finally reach the top you look out over the fabulous land of Parashuraama.
The temple itself is of the traditional DK style, made of granite and is of a substantial size. When I was living in Udupi the only people I ever met in this temple were the priests. Not once did I ever see another visitor. Because of the absence of pilgrims, a visit here was one of profound silence, peacefulness and calmness. The Devi presides over the land of Pajaka with calm majesty.
There are fabulous tales of this granite mountain and the Devi. From the wall which surrounds the temple grounds you can look down on the cleft in the granite far below where the one of the arrows shot by Sri Parashurama gouged out a hollow in the solid granite. This hollow in the solid rock is full of water and has never been known to run dry. At one time there were a particular class of people whose duty it was to carry water from here up the hill to the temple every day. Because of the type of work they were engaged in, these men were tall, extremely well built and incredibly strong.
Once a road wound its way around the mountain from the valley up to the temple, but this has long fallen into disrepair and is no longer in use. Many years ago each of the eight maths in Udupi had an elephant, but in this day and age the cost is too prohibitive. At that time an annual festival was held for the Devi and all these elephants would come in procession from Udupi accompanied by thousands of pilgrims. They would slowly wind their way around the mountain up to the temple. I used to lean out over the wall and try to imagine just what a sight this would have been. I am sure there were times when I actually saw the crowd slowly wending their way along!
I was told that Sri Admar Swamiji once began to sink a well into the side of the mountain so that the water for the temple could be obtained in a much easier fashion. The work was going along nicely but then came to a halt. The workers just could not dig any deeper. Stronger methods were employed but the instrument being used suddenly became covered in blood and the work was hurriedly cancelled. I was told that the personality of the mountain did not want this well dug and when excessive force was used, began to bleed because of the injuries inflicted.
Around the temple is a very nice green lawn and in one of the godowns there is festival car built along the lines of the Brahma rath in Udupi, although on a much smaller scale. Apparently it was taken out in procession around the temple at one time. I never saw the car out of the godown and never heard of the festival when it would have been used. I was told that there is a particular day each year when a special festival for women is held. I was told they come dressed in their finest saris and wearing all their gold jewellery and it is a magnificent sight.
The whole feeling up there on top of the mountain was one of a peaceful solitude waiting to be broken by devotees coming in their thousands to worship the Devi.
In 1986 when I was last there, this feeling of peacefulness had started to change. Across the valley was another granite hill which was slowly being levelled to the ground by a small army of quarry workers working non stop all day. When looking across at all this hectic activity it was like looking at Kaliyuga personified slowly preparing to devour all auspicious things.
This section is a reminiscence by Raymond Crawford.
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Created October 4, 1996; last updated August 10, 2001.