The LTV monthly cultural visit was held on 10th January 2020 with Mr.Venkatesh, Victoria, Miriam, Agale and Korean work camp volunteers who work on the Sea Turtle Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture projects at FSL-India’s Centre for Experiential Living, Kundapur.
One of the programmes at FSL-India is a cultural visit, where we take our regular volunteers to any cultural and historical places which are located in or around Kundapur.
All our volunteers gathered at FSL India’s Centre for Experiential Living (CEL), at Shetrakatte and Dinesh, Chief Coordinator of FSL India explained the day’s plan to them, the history and customs of the temple.
Around 09:00 am they took the bus from Shetrakatte to Keradi. It took them 55 minutes to reach Keradi village. First, they went trekking for 4.5 kms to Moodugallu Cave Temple through thick forest, and it was like a small trek to reach that village.
The Keshavanatheswara temple is in the water cave, in the midst of a thick forest, on top of the mountain. There is no history of when this temple was built, but the Keradi village people developed some construction work and a pathway to the temple. The Brahmin family performs pooja every day and feeds the fish with white rice, which is donated by pilgrims and locals. Once a year, during New Moon Day (Poornima) in January, there is a big festival which is called Yellamavasya Fair in the local language. Thousands of people gather to celebrate the festival, and many religious programs are conducted there.
In the forest, our volunteers saw some monkeys, hornbills and beautiful landscape. FSL India’s Sr Programme Manager, Mr.Venkatesh explained about the many types of trees in the forest. This was much appreciated by the volunteers. Midway, they rested and had some snacks and fruits.
After a 11/2 walk, they reached the temple priest’s house and they welcomed the group with masala chai and bananas. The volunteers introduced themselves and after that, one of the guests, Mr Raghavendra Bhat took us to the Cave Temple of the main god, Keshavanatheswara.
The FSL India group had to walk in the cave for 40 metres, through 2 feet of water full of catfish, which were nibbling their feet. Then they went to the main shrine and took “Darshana” of god Keshavanatheswara. After Darshana, they fed the catfish with rice flakes which they brought from Kundapura, but it was very little for thousands of catfish, so the priest gave a lot of white rice to volunteers to feed the catfish.
It was a lot of fun for our volunteers to feed the catfish by putting the rice directly on their hands, keeping them underwater and the catfish coming onto their hands and eating all the rice fearlessly. Afterwards, they came out of the cave and sat down for 1 hour to relax and refresh their minds from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Next, they went to a Brahmin house for lunch. The lady of the house, Mrs.Manjula prepared many varieties of vegetarian dishes and fruits. They served food on banana leaves and it was nice. Our volunteers had an interesting interaction with the family about their life in the forest, the marriage system and the Brahmin’s way of life. It was surprising to learn that they still don’t have electricity and mobile connections.
Next, they talked about the wild life found here. During the night, many animals like the tiger, king cobra, bison, wild boar, deer, fox, and leopard enter their farm in summer (March to May) because in the cave, there is enough water all through the year. So, this made all the volunteers interested to come again another time, stay over there and watch the animals.
The volunteers took photographs with the family and on the way to Keradi, we saw many cows and fed our fruits to the cows. Finally, we thanked the Brahmin family who provided good hospitality and service to all of us. The FSL India group returned to Keradi again on foot, with lots of sweet memories.
Miriam, Germany: On Friday, we went for the cultural visit. We were trekking to the temple. On our way, we learned about some local plants that are used for cooking. When we arrived, the family greeted us and we went to see the cave. I enjoyed to feed the fish with rice and to participate in the pooja, for which we waded through the water to the Shiva statue. The family invited us to have a tasty lunch with them and then we started our walk back. Overall, we had a nice day in the beautiful nature of India.
Victoria Busck, Sweden: Information was fine, both before visit and interesting stories during temple visit. Trekking was nice and easy. Also bus ride was nice, to see some more landscape. Nice interaction with temple hosts. All in all, good day!
Agale, France: This day was my first cultural event and, I have not been disappointed. The little hiking over the forest was beautiful. The highlight of the show was the ceremony in the temple. We were in the water with fishies and almost in darkness. At the same time we said some prayers. It was really peaceful and a little magical. I appreciated so much this moment. The lunch was also really nice, we shared it with the temple’s family, we talked a lot together about our different countries. Finally, I really enjoyed this day. It was a timeless moment, I would surely come back. Thank you, Dinesh for this day.