Sodhe or Sonda is a beautiful village in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. Sodhe fondly known as Sonda is famous for having the Sri Vadiraja Mutt (Dvaita saint), located amidst the scenic views and the beautiful landscape. Sonda is at a distance of 422 km from Bangalore, and it takes about 6 h and 22 min by road to reach this heavenly abode via NH48.
The Mutt was established by the famous Dvaita saint Sri Vadiraja, also known as Bhavi Sameera. The saint is said to have entered his Samadhi (Brundavana) alive, in a meditative position, after 120 years of his life on earth.
There are five Brundavanas in the Sonda Vadiraja Mutt, and the one in the middle belongs to Sri Vadiraja. The other four Brundavanas represent the presence of Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and Vayu, respectively. It is this saint who introduced the Paryaya system in the Udupi Krishna Temple, in order to maintain the discipline among the Ashta Mutts that belong to the Udupi Temple.
Legend says that Bhoota Raja is the protector of this land, and even to this day, devotees are not allowed inside the temple premises beyond a certain time. Here, you would get to see devotees offering coconuts to Bhoota Raja at his shrine before their visit to the main Vadiraja Mutt.
This is one of the most beautiful temples that is dedicated to Lord Vishnu along with goddess Lakshmi known as Rama Trivikrama. The temple has a giant pillar in front of it with the statues of a beautiful swan and a mighty eagle on top of it, depicting the vehicles of the presiding deities inside the temple. The temple also has inscriptions on the land being donated by Arasappa Nayaka, a local ruler.
These are the holy tanks that are inside the temple complex, and the water here is considered to be very holy. A dip in this tank is believed to cure a lot of ailments and free the devotees off their sins. The water in these tanks is said to be the confluence of all the holy rivers in India. You would get to see a lot of devotees taking a holy dip in the early morning hours, before offering prayers at the Mutt.
Being considered as the sacred tank, Dhavalaganga has three corners, out of which only two corners are allowed for public access. The third corner is said to be used by Bhoota Raja and nobody is allowed to go to that corner of the tank, which is a very unique thing that can be noticed here.
There are temples of Sri Chandramouleshwara, Hanuman temple and Venugopala Swamy temple to the South, West and North of the Dhavalaganga tank, which was installed by Sri Vadiraja himself. To the East is the Pancha Brundavana and a small temple dedicated to Sri Veda Vyas. There is a separate place for the serpent gods within the temple complex known as Nagavana.
Just about 5 km away from the Mutt is the serene Tapovana, situated on the banks of the river Shalmala. This is the place where Sri Vadiraja spent most of his time meditating during his stay in Sonda.
Legends say that the saint cooked a sweet delicacy made of Chana dal known as "Hayagreeva" as an oblation to Lord Vishnu and placed it on his head and after his meditation, the Lord would appear in the form of a horse and bless the saint every day.
The tranquility of the place is such that it can leave you totally spellbound. You can hire jeeps to visit Tapovana. This place is closed to the devotees during the monsoon season, as the water levels in the river would be high and the place would be filled with leeches.
Another attraction that has to be visited while you're on your trip to Sonda is the Swarnavalli Mutt, which is famous for its Advaita Philosophy. The Mutt is surrounded by a lush greenery and is situated on the banks of the Shalmala river.
How To Reach Sonda?
There are a lot of buses available from Bangalore to Sonda, else you may travel by car or any other private vehicle at your convenience.
Accommodations At Sonda
There are enough rooms that are built for the devotees that you could find in the Mutt; however, if you are looking for home-stays, Sirsi is the best option to halt.
Things To Remember
- Since this is a place of religious significance, devotees are expected to follow the traditional dress code.
- The temple complex has to be entered without footwear.
- Tea and snacks are available at the shops nearby at a very low price; however, you may have to place the order beforehand.
- Since this is a non-commercial area, you wouldn't find many souvenirs to shop here. However, you can choose to pick up bags popularly called the Sodhe bags, made out of fabric, that come in various floral prints and colours.