As I sat there  amidst the stacks of prayer stones erected all over that particular hill at Talacauveri, I could feel the potent energy, the sanctity of the prayers said by various unknown people over the period of time. Those prayer mounds or the stacks of stones stood like folded hands raised in silent prayers towards the sky over head. Slowly moving rhythmic wind like a fairy with soft dainty steps halted besides the stacks and the stones whispered the prayers entrusted to them in her ever attentive ears. She in turn passed it on to fluffy clouds floating endlessly on the blue expanse of sky and clouds, the eternal carriers ensured that the prayers spread across the entire universe binding all of us in one thread of sacred brotherhood. What a blissful feeling it was, to be one with the moment and the entire world.

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I looked at those prayer stones and could imagine hands carefully choosing  and picking the stones that touched their soul, communicated to their hearts. Picking the stones for prayer stacks in itself  is an exercise of total mindfulness, of getting merged with the moment. Then placing stone upon stone with total concentration, balancing them one upon other with utmost care ensuring that the stack remained intact that in itself is akin to meditation. During the entire process one gets totally merged with the prayer and that complete surrender imparts the potent energy to the prayers .
One can also add pebbles to already existing stacks. when one carefully places a stone to an existing stack, our prayers and our thoughts merge with those of others who placed those stones earlier to us and thus the impact of prayers intensifies, each energizing other. What an enriching feeling this belief gives. Unknown we might be for one another yet we stand tied with that ethereal bond.

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Rocks and stones have been used as an expression of our spiritual urge from times immemorial. Be it rock cut temples, images of Gods and Goddesses carved out of rocks or a stone kept under sacred trees and worshiped with all rituals, all these are manifestations of our sacred thoughts but these stacks of prayer stones are perhaps the earliest expressions of our spirituality.
Those mounds or stacks of prayer stones dotting the entire hill stood there under the open sky bearing the rains, the wind and other vagaries of weather. They as if represented firm beliefs withstanding all the tests of time and life.

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All pictures by Sunder Iyer

Talacauveri is said to be the origin of mighty river Cauveri. It is around 48 Km from Madikeri. The source of the river does not look like as one would have imagined, a gurgling, foaming stream gushing down the hills . At the place there is this spring originating from Brahmagiri hills. An enclosure is built around it and same is connected to a small pond where pilgrims take the holy dip. The pond is surrounded by concrete steps and wide platforms from all sides.The spring runs underground from here and becomes visible after a few kilometers to flow as a river. Green hills from three sides stand there in silent reverence.

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A view of the temple premises from hilltop
There is a shrine dedicated to Kaveriamma just in front of the pond. Ascending few more steps one reaches a wide open courtyard encircled by covered verandahs from three sides. In the courtyard are two temples, one of Lord Shiva, and another of Lord Ganesha. Lord Shiva here is known as Agastyeshwara. Ganesha, Muni Agastya and Cauveri…..that made me remember a mythological tale related to these three. If I remember correctly Agastya Muni brought waters from Shiva’s abode Himalaya on Brahma’s advice to make it flow as a river in Southern India to end the water woes of that part of our country. He was carrying  it in his kamandal and Ganesha in the form of a crow toppled the kamandal and the river Cauveri flowed. Or was it that in anger Agastya muni had arrested Cauveri river in his kamandal and then Ganesha in the form of crow toppled it to let the river flow.

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The Temple premises
Talacauveri is a holy place for the people of Kodagu. It was told to us that on Tulasankranti day that is the first day of the tula masa, which usually falls on mid of october, water from spring gushes up at a predetermined moment. Thousands of pilgrims flock here on the day to witness the fountain head rising . This sudden spurt of water is known as Thirthodbhava and the belief is that Goddess Parvati emerges as Thirthodbhava. Pilgrims carry this holy water back to their homes. People observe the sacred tula snanam on the banks of Cauvery on this particular day. People of Kodagu believe that on this day Cauveri reaches every water body of the region be it well, pond or lake. Those who can’t reach the banks of Cauveri carry water from the nearby water body to their home.
This place of origin of the river is about 1300 meter above the sea level. from here beautiful view of the distant blue hills and green valley can be enjoyed but the view from the hill top after ascending  near about 400 stairs is heavenly.
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The blue canvas
The place is very well maintained. As the steps leading to the hill top can be reached only after crossing the temple courtyard, we have to walk bare footed but who cares for that when one feels like floating in paradise.
While climbing the steps I stopped in between and glanced all around . With every few steps  the view became more ethereal. And once on the top…Ah.. I could have spent my entire life there standing and imbibing the beauty, the feel, the solitude.
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The Verandah of clouds
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White fluffy clouds rolled all over the hills, pushing, nudging one another, somersaulting on velvety emerald expanse. Somewhere from womb of valley rose tall columns of clouds. The Master painter was at His work spilling pure white clouds on bright blue canvas overhead. Swiftly changing shapes of clouds created mesmerizing patterns.
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Deep down in valley a tiny water body sparkled like a gem between grove of green trees. A solitary hut tucked midst greenery, a lone cart walking languorously on ribbon like road, hushed silence pervading the surrounding, filled my heart with a sense of gratitude.
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This was a glorious moment, a moment to celebrate being a part of this magnificent world, a moment to be thankful for experiencing the pure joy and contentment of just being.
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 Feeling Blessed
In every walk with nature one recieves far more than he seeks.
-John Muir
All pictures by Sunder Iyer