Day 72| 24 March 2015 | Mandya to Maddur | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

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Sri M and the padayatris left from Haripriya Hotel, thus bidding goodbye to the Sugar Town, Mandya. Today’s distance to be covered was whopping 28 kilometers. Having walked only 8 kilometers the previous day, it was as if they were making amends for it. Only that it was a touch difficult since the sun was sweltering and merciless. The destination point today was Maddur.

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After an hour of walking, the yatris had a short tea break and soon after, they reached Sashikirana Convention Hall at 7.45 am—their breakfast point.  Walking on after breakfast, they stopped again for a buttermilk break. Just before 10.00 am, Sri M and the yatris were received and greeted at a local leader’s house where they had a short break.  Unlike in Kerala, Sri M is not well known in the interior parts of Karnataka and he has not visited any of these places before either for a satsang or public meeting. Many of them have not even read Sri M’s autobiography. Just the fact that a ‘mahatma’ or a ‘swami’ is passing through their town is sufficient to make them come forward to contribute in their own way. So, most of the people who are hosting him are meeting him for the first time. The warmth and the affection of people from these small towns are indeed an experience worth savouring.  This actually makes the yatris see what Sri M means when he says at many a satsang that, in India, it is easier to feel the essence as it is just below the surface. Around 10.15 am, passing through a small village of Kudaregundi, Sri M was greeted by a group of 30 people from the local community and were joined by a school band consisting of small children. After a short break, when they enjoyed a short respite from the sun, the band led the procession for a distance after which they dispersed. They reached Maddur town at 11.25 am. Greeted by a group of about 250 college students, Sri M garlanded a statue of Gandhiji and interacted with the students for a short while. Maddur is a town on the banks of the river Shimsha. A small but important destination, Maddur, lying mid-way between Bangalore and Mysore, is a popular point for wayfarers. It is also home to Kokkarebellur - a bird sanctuary and, then, Kolirayanagudda, consisting of hills in exquisite lush natural surroundings and temples. Along the way, the padayatra passed Guthalu, Budanoor, Bandur, Hanakere, Gejjalagere and Kudaregundi before reaching Maddur. All these are but small dusty towns on the highway and as the walk proceeds onwards to Bangalore, settlements are also more frequent. With summer in full swing, the padayatris walked on the noisy highway in the sun with nary a tree to provide the much needed shade. One of the places the Walk of Hope stopped at was the Satyagraha Soudha of Maddur. This is a memorial built on the spot where citizens of this place and neighbouring towns and villages gathered and raised the Indian Flag in pre-independence era. At that time, the public display of the Indian flag was considered sedition under Mysore Kingdom laws and many people were arrested. Following this, Mahatma Gandhi entered into an agreement with the Mysore Kingdom administration for their release. This event was one of the pre-cursors to the independence struggle in these regions.The halting point for today was Maddur Tiffany’s which is a popular stop for travelers. Venkateshwara Lodge behind the eatery was the place of stay and rooms were assigned for the walkers—four people to a room in a fairly large space. The space was comfortable but the heat was quite unbearable. Maddur is well known for two things – MaddurVada and its tender coconut cultivation that has a big local market. Nearly 300 trucks of coconuts are daily sent to other states of India such as Punjab, Maharashtra, Kolkata, Goa, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, apart from surrounding towns and cities like Bangalore and Mysore. It is said to be Asia’s largest market place for tender coconuts and has been named as the tender coconut capital of India. Maddur Tiffany’s has an interesting history as the founder owner claims to hail from the family responsible for the Maddur Vada recipe.  Earlier localised to being sold on trains passing through Maddur, it is now sold all over this region due to the development of the highway. The family now runs three eateries along this route – a case of expediency and innovation of Indian business thought with no degree in business administration! The walkers were at leisure for the rest of the day as there was no public event or private satsang today. After having walked for over seven hours, this was some respite; however the satsang with Sri M was sorely missed.

The Public reception to Sri M at Gejjalagere

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