Monday, May 20, 2013

Pithapuram - Pilgrimage trip

Hi Readers,

I just completed one tour to Pithapuram and Kakinada. Just want to share my experience and pictures that could help someone planning to visit these two places. I was searching for a temple that performs Shraaddha or Pinda Pradanam ( last rights in memory of the deceased ) near Hyderabad as I did not had much leaves to visit Odisha again.

Since, Pithapuram is not a much developed town, we decided to travel to Kakinada which is just 21 kms from Pithapuram. Kakinada has a good number of hotels for accommodation. People here understand Hindi, even though they might not be comfortable speaking Hindi. This is a small town, with good food. We got good north Indian food at the hotel itself. We also got sleeper coach from Hyderabad to Kakinada. Our journey started at 9PM from Hyderabad and we reached Balaji Cheravu( the main private bus stand) Kakinada around 7:30 AM next day. With help of taxi got a decent 3 star hotel near 3 town police station. We took APSRTC bus from RTC complex bus stand to Pithapuram. It hardly took 30 mins to reach Kukuteswar Swamy temple.

I got to know that Pithapuram is one of the Trigaya Khetram ( Shiro gaya - Gaya Bihar, Navi gaya - Viraja Temple, Jajpur, Odisha and Pada gaya - Pithapuram, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh).Since, we had to do Pinda Pradanam of my father in-law, we choose this auspicious shrine. Before, I go further, I want to brief you about Gaya and the connection with Shraddha or Pinda Pradanam.


Gayasura is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. He worshiped Vishnu for a long time.Lord Vishnu appeared before him and asked to take the required boon. Gayasura asked to make his body so pious that every one who sees him will attain Mukti (salvation) immediately. Vishnu accepted it and disappeared.

Gayasura started to grow his body to an enormous size with the help of Yoga shakti. It was hundreds of k.m height. His wish is to show himself to all so that everybody on the earth attains Mukti. This made Indra (the king on deities) fearful. If everybody attains Mukti who will be there to be ruled by him? He prayed Trimurthis, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. He asked them to tell a solution. They laughed at Indra and disappeared.

They approached Gayasura in the form of three Brahmins. Gayasura welcomed them. They told Gayasura that they are going to do a very sacred Yajna and for that requested land from him. Gayasura happily accepted to give it. But, they questioned him where will he give the land? Each and every place on earth has bad incidents in it's history and so unfit for their sacred Yajna. Gayasura wondered. He asked them to tell the solution. They told that his body will be the best place. They supported their logic with the boon he got from Vishnu and his wish in giving salvation to everybody. And told that this can be considered as a challenge to him. He has to face the sins of all people before giving salvation. He has to face many Vighnas (obstacles) both physically and mentally to fulfill his desire. They told that the capabilities of Gayasura can be tested in helping to this Yajna.

Gayasura accepted. That Yajna will be conducted for seven days. He developed his body with his power and slept on the earth. His head was in Gaya of Bihar (Siro gaya), his Navel was in Viraja Temple, Jajpur of Odisha (Nabhi gaya) and his foot were in Pithapuram, East Godavari, AP. The Brahmins started doing Yajna.

Gayasura was bearing the fire on his body. He was counting the days with the help of crowing of cocks in the early morning. He is becoming frustrated day by day because of the fire but not moving his body for the word he gave. On the final day Lord Shiva took a form of the cock and crowed at midnight. Considering it as the sign of morning Gayasura woke up. The Yagna was destroyed. The Brahmins felt very sad. They asked him that if he couldn't control himself for just seven days how he is willing to bear the sins of entire humanity for unlimited time? Gayasura realized his mistake. He agreed his fault. Trimurthis appeared before him and told that his body will be present as it is and the entire land will become sacred because of him. Anyone performing Shraddha would get salavation for the deceased at these places. This is the story of Gayasura and Kukkuteswara swamy.

The three important places became Trigaya peethas, namely,
Vishnupada at Gaya
Biraja at Jajpur
Puruhoortika at Pithapuram

Gayasura is a great devotee of lord Vishnu. He was very good at heart. He just took an adventurous decision. The word Asura (demon) in his name is a misnomer. It just means opposite to Suras (deities ruled by Indra).

In some other mythological story, it is believed that Lord Vishnu forced Gayasura to live in Patala, and he will be fed by the devotees, who would do Shraaddha and Pinda Pradanam at these places and in return would get salvation for the deceased. The day when he will not be fed he will come back on earth. Thus, Pinda Pradanam at the Trigaya khetra is considered best for the deceased.

This story is beautifully depicted by the statue at the Pada Gaya Pond.This is the pond where Gayasura's  foot rested when he lie down for the Yajna to happen. Inside the temple premises, it has a small rock with foot prints Gaya Pada Vishnu Pada. The main temple inside the temple premises is at the middle with a huge Nandi (Bull) carved out of single stone. The Lord Shiva ( Kukuteswar ) is a swambhu linga ( self originated ) linga of  white marble in the shape of cocks head, thus the name Kukuteswar has originated. Goddess Rajarajaswari the consort of Kukuteswar Swamy is present beside the temple.



 The temple premises also has Sri Guru Datattreya temple.This is the only shrine with the idol of Sri Guru Dattatreya. There is a Audambara Vriksha (Banyan Tree) beside the shrine. It is also said that those who see, touch, do pradakshina or meditate near the Audumbara Vriksha will be the most fortunate of all. The Padukas (foot imprints) which are present beside the shrine is believed to be the real Padukas of Sri Sripada Vallabha Swamy.



This temple premises also has temple of Puruhoortika devi, which is considered one of the Shakti Peethas. Sati's left hand had fallen at this place, thus this is one of the important Shakti Peethas in India. Below, is a picture of Puruhoortika Devi that I got from net, taking pictures inside the temple premises is not allowed.



My Experience :- When we visited this temple, one of the Temple priest came to our help. Though he was not well versed in English, still he made us understand the Puja's and rituals that we need to do. With his help we got the Puja Samagri from near by stall and after entering the temple he asked us to sprinkle the water from the Pada Gaya pond. Taking dips in this water is considered auspicious and is believed to relieve one from of all sins of past. We performed the Abhishek of Sri Guru Dattatreya and did Kumkumarchana of Puruhoortika Devi. Next day, we did the Shraaddha or Pinda Pradanam of my father in-law. The ritual was very much similar to the one we do at Biraja temple. After the completion of ritual the Pinda was emerged in Pada gaya Pond.

We also visited the KuntiMadhav temple where Lord Krishna is worshiped in standing posture. This is one of the five (pancha pandab) Khetra which Lord Indra created do get rid of sin of killing Viddhasura.

We also visited the Kakinada beach. It was a cool beach, not too much crowded and got us relieved from the heat.






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