The Mary Matha Shrine at Gunadala
Redefined Spirituality on the hilltop in Vijayawada
It is believed that Mother Mary appeared on this hill, in the town of Vijayawada, in 1858 and post that this shrine was constructed. Since then, it has been deemed as a place of pilgrimage for all the Christians visiting the city. The cross in the above picture stands as the rare distinction in the entire shrine. One needs to hike on the hill for approximately 45 minutes from the base of the hilltop to reach this point. On the way, one will pass by small chambers which depict a pictorial story of how Jesus Christ was crucified and later buried.
There’s not much on the way to drink or munch on except for a couple of peddlers selling of local home-made ice-cream sticks.
The way uphill is rather a steep climb and can turn to be exhausting, if hiked in humid temperature. The positive side to this though is that the hike, all the way, gives you a beautiful sight of that part of the city facing the hill. One can get a glimpse of the railway trains running amidst the fields into the city.
Spirituality, here, is redefined and way beyond your imagination
Here, people come up with umpteen hopes and do unbelievable things with a simple strong hope of making amends and getting their wishes fulfilled. You might often spot a person climbing a final couple of dozens of steps on their knees to reach the cross at the summit. I happened to witness this (lady in the pic), where a devotee is climbing the steps on her knee.
At the base of the hill, from where the hike starts, is a huge church, of Mother Mary, where all the Mass prayers take place every day. There are special prayers on Fridays and weekends. As one starts to hike from the base of the hill towards the top of the hill, there is another point where a prayer hall of Mother Mary is positioned. One can also get a nice view of the city from this point. The top of the hill, where the cross is located, is another 20-minute hike from this prayer hall point.
However, the best time to visit the shrine would be around the second week of February, when there is a fest and a lot of devotees come together for worshipping and offering their prayers.