One of the Ashta (Eight) Mathas (Hindu Monastery and centre of spiritual studies) established by the Dwaita philosopher Sri Madhwacharya has its headquarters at Sodhe/Sondhe/Sonda, a serene hamlet located in the lap of the Western Ghats at an altitude of about 2000 feet. The playful Shalmali River flows nearby and the math is surrounded by lush greenery. Sodhe is about 20 kilometres from Sirsi and the road to Sodhe is flanked on both sides by thick teak wood forests.
On the way to the math is a picturesque lake covered with white lilies and is named Hayagriva Samudra. The Rama-Trivikrama Temple stands on the highest point of the math property. The temple is shaped like a chariot with Lord Vishnu as Trivakrama riding it along with his consort Rama Devi. There is a lofty dwaja sthamba (flag staff) in front of the temple. There are some beautiful sculptures of the many forms of Vishnu on the pillars of the outer prakhara (pathway for circum-ambulation) of the temple.
To the north of this temple down a flight of stairs is the math and another flight of stairs downwards leads to the Dhavala Ganga Pushkarini (Tank). To the east of the pushkarini is the piece de resistance, the brindavana of Sri Vadirajathirtha, the 20th pontiff of the math. A shrine dedicated to the kshethrapala (protector), Sri Bhootharaja is in on one side of the brindavana. Pilgrims first visit this shrine and roll a coconut towards Bhootharaja and pray to him before proceeding to the brindavana. It is believed that Bhootharaja will destroy all difficulties and problems that the devotee places in front of him. There are many shrines around the math consecrated by Sri Vadirajathirtha who had a special place for Lord Hayagriva. He used to offer a special dish made of pulses and jaggery which was partaken by the lord in the form of a resplendent white horse. The dish has now come to be known as hayagriva and is made every day at the math and is served to the devotees as prasadam.
In the hamlet of Sodhe is a remote place in a forest called Tapovan where Sri Vadirajathritha is believed to have meditated. It is not accessible in the rainy season and is best visited during summer. There is a Jain Math nearby which houses a basadi of Sri Neminatha and Kushmandini Devi. A short distance away is a set of three basadis situated in front of a beautiful stepped tank. A quaint temple dedicated to Sankataharana Venkataramana is tucked away nearby. Though ignored by tourists, the temple, filled with rich sculpture is well maintained. The main idol is exquisitely carved. The outer wall of the temple is completely covered with sculpture is definitely worth a visit.
A few kilometres from Sodhe is Sahasralinga where one can find hundreds of lingas and nandis carved on rocks across the river Shalmala. It is a sight to behold and a lovely spot to spend the evening. There is a hanging bridge across the river which commands breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape.
Sodhe is the abode of tranquillity. The serene atmosphere, in the lap of nature is sure to rejuvenate any weary soul. Away from the tourist circuit, Sodhe and the nearby splendours of nature beckon the adventurous traveller.
There is accommodation available at Sodhe in the math premises but is subject to availability. The facilities are basic. There are good lodging and boarding options available at Sirsi.
Plan an off-beat weekend getaway from Bengaluru
Saturday: Bengaluru – Hanagal (Tarakeshwara Temple)- Sirsi (Marikamba Temple) – Sodhe – Sahasralinga (be there at sunset) -Sirsi
Sunday: Sirsi – Yana (Rock Formations) – Banavasi (Oldest Town in Karnataka, Madhukeshwara Temple)- Bengaluru
Read my articles on Yana, Hanagal, Banavasi