Visiting Puttaparti, Andhra Pradesh
When you think to visit Puttaparti (Puttāparti, the last ‘t’ being soft), it is imperative that you are curious, attracted or looking to visit Sri Sathya Sai Baba (‘th’ again gives the sound of soft ‘t’). Puttaparti itself is a very small village but due to the transformation that Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has brought upon, it has grown into a spiritual hub where people of all the countries (around 200) visit and come to seek peace. The Ashram, a sprawling campus including residential facilities, is named as Prashanti Nilayam (‘t’ again is soft). The meaning of this name is “abode of highest peace”.
Out of curiosity or persuasion by a friend or a relative, people visit this place. However, the main motive of majority of people remains the spiritual insight and awakening that they look for, being tired of worldly glitter and dualism. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on what someone will get when he/she visits Prashanti Nilayam. Because Swami (Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, as lovingly called by his devotees) has always mentioned that no one should predict how and what one would get from me. It should be between me and the individual.
So, in this article, I would mention the places that are associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba, historically or constituting his monumental work for the alleviation of suffering, and at the same time, heightening the spirits of professions including medical sciences and education.
Sanathana Samskruti Museum
The Sanathana Samskruti Museum is located at the hill top near the Administrative Block of Sri Sathya Sai University. It is also known as the Eternal Heritage Museum and it showcases the cardinal teaching of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba–unity of all faiths. There are multiple storied buildings inside the museum and you will be taken on a journey covering all the major religions and faiths of the world through exhibits, replicas and idols. The architectural style of this museum is said to be the shikhara style of Jain temples in India. Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba inaugurated this museum on 19th November, 1990.
Chaitanya Jyoti Museum
Chaitanya Jyoti Museum was inaugurated on 18th November, 2000 by Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It was in dedication of commemorating the 75th year of the advent of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This museum is built in Chinese, Japanese and Indian architecture and it houses exhibitions on the Life and Mission of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, including multimedia presentations and fascinating exhibits arranged in seven phases. The museum is located along side the Sri Sathya Sai Hill View Stadium. ancient and the modern.
Planetarium–Sri Sathya Sai Space Centre
This is a very unique place to visit. A university having its own planetarium for research work! This made the institute the first one in the country to employ a planetarium for educaitonal purposes. The Sri Sathya Sai Space Theatre or Planetarium was inaugurated by Bhagawan on 22nd November, 1985. It has a seating capacity of 200 and there are shows organized for visitors every Thursday in two languages–English and Hindi. The planetarium is located on the main road, opposite to the Higher Secondary School Boys Hostel. Free passes are issued at the South Indian Canteen Coupon Counter every Wednesday from 10.00 a.m. onwards on first-come-first-serve basis. This is the only visiting place where you will need a pass!
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram (Super-Speciality Hospital)
One of pioneering and stand-out examples of medical services in the world where treatment is offered free of cost in a very unique manner. The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram or the super-speciality hospital was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India on 22nd November 1991 in the divine presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
The hospital is a 230-bed facility providing quality medical care at the tertiary level completely free of charge to all, irrespective of caste, creed, economic status, race or religion. The branches of medical sciences that are practiced in the hospital are: Cardiology/Cardio-Thoracic Vascular Surgery, Urology, and Ophthalmology. The hospital is located about 5 km from the Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram. When visitors come from the railway station to the Ashram, they can see the building from the road itself.
Sri Sathya Sai Hill View Stadium
One of the early initiatives by Swami towards the healthy and sporty outlook of his students–the stadium is the venue for the inaugural ceremony of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet. It is held on January 11th every year. At the same time, many of the events connected with Bhagawan’s birthday celebrations are also conducted here. The spectators’ gallery has a seating capacity of about 30,000.
The stadium is unique one as it is overlooked by hills where statues of great spiritual masters and Avatars like Krishna, Shirdi Sai Baba, Shiva, Buddha, Zoroaster and Jesus Christ are placed. At the peak of the hill is the 65 feet high statue of Lord Hanuman.
Birth Place of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was born on 23rd November, 1926 in a very small house at the corner of the street in Puttaparti village. At the birthplace, a temple of Lord Shiva was constructed at the command of Swami. Abhishekam (ceremonial bath) to the idols in the temple is performed on Mondays.
Samadhi (Sepulcher) of Bhagawan’s Parents
The Samadhi or the mausoleum where the mortal remains of Swami’s parents, Sri Pedda Venkama Raju and Smt. Easwaramma are interred is located outside the Ashram almost opposite to the main gate of Prashanti Nilayam. On May 6th every year, the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Easwaramma is commemorated as Easwaramma Day and Swami visit this place to pay homage to the Mother. It is significant to note that this practice is maintained to exemplify the gratitude that one has to pay to its mother.
This temple, as clear from the name itself, is dedicated to the worship of Lord Krishna. This temple is not a very big or spacious one, but its history is intricately associated with the village.
This temple is a very unique one because you will not find too many temples dedicated to one of the consorts of Lord Krishna, Sathyabhama. This temple is also called ‘Sathyamma Temple’. The temple was built by the paternal grandfather of Swami, Sri Ratnakaram Kondama Raju.
The Hanuman Temple is located in the village of Puttaparti at the northern end of the Gopuram road and has a very special place in the hearts of devotees who have read some literature on the life of Swami. This temple is associated with a remarkable incident that occurred during Bhagawan’s childhood days, when Lord Hanuman himself held Swami in order to stop him from circumambulating the sanctum sanctorum.
The meditation tree is a banyan tree planted by Bhagawan on 29th June 1959. It had a very significant ‘Yantra’ installed under it, which comprised a copper plate with mystic markings on it. While implanting this ‘Yantra’, Swami said that such plates, known as Yantras, are an aid to meditation as they help develop concentration of the mind and control of the senses. The tree is located at the road leading to the Administrative Block and the Eternal Heritage Museum.
Kalpatharu or KalapVriksha
Kalpatharu or Kalapvriksha, the Wish-Fulfilling Tree, is a tamarind tree that stands at the crest of a hill at the banks of Chitravati River. During childhood days, Swami used to take devotees atop this hill and would pluck out of the tree any fruit they wished for.
Sri Sathya Sai University
Sri Sathya Sai University is a rechristened name given to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. The University governs three campuses imparting education from primary level to the post-doctoral level. These three campuses are situated at Anantpur (For women), Whitefield Campus (For boys) and Prashanti Nilayam (For boys).
In Puttaparti, primary, secondary, and higher learning institutes are located. A musical college, Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College, is also associated to this university.
Due to timing constraints or multiplicity of these places, it takes around a week for visitors to go to all the places and enjoy their real essence. Almost all of them can be reached by walking except the Super Specialty Hospital.