Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mangalagiri- A mélange of colors

Offering something for everyone, Mangalagiri near Vijayawada has numerous charms in its folds. Rediscover the many charms of a village famous for its saris and temples…

At a distance of 18 kms from Vijayawada, Mangalagiri a place as famous for its temples as for the colorful bouquet of weaves it produces. Time spent in this sleepy village simply flies by, with its quaint streets, friendly villagers and numerous stores selling the famous Mangalari saris. You can visit the temple for a quick darshan, shop at the many stores, simply soak in the clean village air and walk around the countryside and farms.

Things to do in Mangalagiri

-          Panakala Narasimhaswamy temple perched atop the Mangalagiri hills was built in 1650 AD by Raja Vasireddy Venkadri Naidu, the ruler of the town. A splendid gate leads you to the main temple and the entrance is flanked a gigantic chariot or ratham.

Upon inquiry regarding the origins of the name of the temple an interesting story was told to us. The temple got its name from panakam (water mixed with jaggery) served as an offering to the deity. The region was prone to volcanic eruptions in the past due to the abundance of sulphur found in the region. The eruptions were attributed as the angry outbursts of Lord Narasimhaswamy and panakam was poured into the idol’s mouth to placate him. Till date every visitor offers jaggery water to the deity. The temple closes by 4 in the afternoon. 

-          Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple is located at the bottom of the hill and is the first thing you notice the minute you drive into the town with its arresting gopuram which towers over the town. Built in the 16th century by Krishnadevaraya, the temple is beautiful and the intricate carvings on the gopuram speak volumes about the quality of artisans in the past. Walking around the temple transports you to the past with its fallen pillars, stone walls and vast spaces exuding heritage from every corner. 

-          Shopping for handlooms is a major draw. The temple town offers some of the finest cotton saris and fabric to the country and the town is full of stores where you can shop to your heart’s content. For those interested in knowing how the saris are made, a visit to the weavers loom is a must, the weavers are friendly and share interesting anecdotes. It takes about two days to complete a sari and the commonly seen motifs are mango, leaves, flowers and geometric designs. Fab India sources its fabric from here and the most arresting features of Mangalagiri fabric is its mélange of colors- reds, oranges, greens and yellow make the sari as vibrant as a rainbow. Bargaining is tough here as the storekeepers refuse to give in to any tactics employed by even the most seasoned shoppers.
Part of my first ever travel piece!