Sitting pretty amid the mist-laden verdant ranges of Western Ghats, Horanadu is just 100 km south-west of Chikkamagaluru in Karnataka. The famed Goddess Annapoorneshwari Temple, nestled in the bowl-shaped valley with dense forests, attracts devotees and tourists from far and wide.
In this tiny hamlet of enchanting natural scenery, anyone who visits this temple is provided with food and shelter. People are also served tea and coffee in the evenings. Devotees come with offerings of rice and other items as it is considered auspicious to perform annadaan seeking the blessings of the Goddess.
The early morning pooja is the best time to visit. For the past 400 years, priests from the Jois family have been serving and preserving the temple. They have not only reconstructed the temple and revived its rituals but have also been successful in carrying out the annadaan tradition without a break.
The meaning of Annapoorna is very profound: Anna meaning rice grains or food and Poorna meaning perfect and complete. Annapoorneshwari is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Parvati and it is said her idol was installed by Adi Shankaracharya in this temple.
The Goddess in this typical Malnad style temple can be seen in a standing pose on a pitha. The idol is completely encased in gold and the prevailing belief is that whosoever visits Devi Anapoorna will never go without food in their lives. After the darshan, one can have food in the Annadaana dining hall where every devotee is requested not to waste food. The food includes awalaki (puffed rice) and khara bhaat for breakfast; rice, rasam, sambar, tamarind rice, kheer for lunch and dinner.
Before entering, male devotees have to remove their shirts and cover their shoulders with an angavastra, while women have to wear traditional Indian wear. If anybody is keen to purchase the locally grown spices, one can do it in the shops located within the complex. The eight-hour drive from Bengaluru to Horandu also covers nearby pilgrimage sites such as Sringeri, Dharmasthala, Kukke Subramanya and Udupi.