Saturday, October 30, 2010

A rainy day

          We heard the mobile phone ring and realized it was our aunt  on the call. Hundreds of questions arose in our mind as to why she had called at this hour!! Hesitatingly, I picked the call and was bombarded with questions, one followed by another without any time given for answering!! I felt like I heard a  thousand voices at once asking where we were, have we heard that days news, or read the days newspaper and so on. Suddenly, the focus moved on to questions like were we crazy. After the so thought ever lasting  questionnaire ended, we heard that most of the places in North Karnataka were flooded due to heavy rains and since our aunt knew we were traveling towards Hampi, she fore warned us about the same. We were about 70 km away from Bangalore towards Hampi, via Chitradurga. This was during the last year's floods in the northern parts of Karnataka, which had created havoc, causing severe damage to mankind. As it was a long weekend ( the Gandhi Jayanthi  weekend), we planned to visit Hampi and booked Kishkinda resort for accommodation (3 km from Hampi) .
        We told our aunt that we would get back to her in a while. Meanwhile, we called one of our friends who was traveling from Bangalore to Sindhanur, to find out the situation. He answered that it was pretty bad and had been stuck over 4 hours for now and  the bus has not moved an inch. This gave us the feeling of having butterflies in the stomach. After a round of consultation, we decided to call off the trip and move on to another destination. We took  the U-turn towards Bangalore and were deciding to drive  towards Pondicherry and Gingee fort .
           We suddenly realized that we had to call the resort  manager for canceling our accommodation. The man who spoke to us told us there was no major problem except that it was raining cats and dogs. Since the accessibility through the shorter route was cut off due to the heavy rains, an alternate route to Kishkinda had increased  the distance from 3 km to 42 km. We made another U- turn and not looking back, drove towards Hampi. In a few hours, we reached our aunt's (not the one who had spoken to us that morning) place at Chitradurga. We rested for sometime, had breakfast and surfed through news channels to make sure we wouldn't be risking going to Kishkinda. All the channels covered news about Mantralaya, one of the many scared places being completely flooded. Well, we had to move on towards our  destination. So, we proceeded .
Initial Set Back 
           The distance from Chitradurga to Hospet (town near to Hampi) is about 130 km, and takes about  3 hours (max). We took more than 8 hours to reach Hospet. We felt like we were traveling by bullock cart. It rained through out our journey and there was water every where. We had to probably over take more than a thousand lorries that day, in order to reach our destination. Apart from listening to great music,  we passed our time checking out the number plates of the lorries and other vehicles. To our surprise, we had already counted more than 20 states. This exercise was quite interesting.
Water Water Everywhere!
Over Flowing Lake
 Raging Nature
Sorry! Not the Trucker's Fault
T B Dam
Land Slide

T B Dam's Back waters during the heavy rains
T B dam with no back waters during April 2010
  The above two photos represent the same spot taken during different times, giving an indication of the effect of floods.
      After overcoming many obstacles posed by the overflowing waters and the heavy Lorry traffic that day, we finally made it to the resort and heaved a sigh of relief. We eagerly waited to see the "Ruins amidst the Rains".

Friday, October 29, 2010

Channarayana Durga Fort, Best Day Trekking Spot Near Bengaluru

Channarayana Durga Fort
First Look of the Fort of Channarayana Durga
This was our fourth attempt to reach Channarayana Durga and finally we made it. Every time we thought of exploring this place, we would find some other place intriguing. Hence, it would always be the first to be considered during our next trip. This happened thrice because of which we ended up discovering  Heggunda , Mahimapura and  a few places at Tumkur . Finally, when we arrived at this place, we were shocked to see such a magnificent structure on the hill top.
Place to Visit Around Bangalore Channarayana Durga fort
Channarayana Durga Fort
 "Channarayanadurga" is a small village situated in Koratagere Taluk , Tumkur. It's major attraction being the hill fort. The height of the hill is around 3700 ft above MSL . This fort was built by Madhugiri chief  Channappa Gauda during the 17th century and  then captured by  the Marathas. Some years later, they were able to recapture this fort . But, it did not last long. It was then captured by Komaraiyya,  the general of  the King of Mysore. Later, it was captured by Haider Ali and again , the Marathas, under Madhava Rao  took in charge of the fort .Later, it was the turn of Tippu Sultan to capture the fort .Finally, during the third Mysore war, British army surrounded the fort ,captured and then abandoned forever . There is an inscription on the entrance of the fort in Marathi speaking about the capture of  this fort by Sri Pant Pradhan and Madhava Rao  Ballal Pradhan .All this  happened within a duration of 60 years.
Entering the fort of Channarayana durga
First Entrance to the Fort of Channarayana Durga
Channarayana Durga Fort
Intact Fortifications
Shiva Temple, Channarayana Durga
Ruined Shiva Temple
 The initial climb was slippery because of the heavy rains that poured previous night .As we gained  height, it seemed to be an easy walk. It is a four tiered fort. Once we crossed the first tier, we came across a beautiful temple besides a  pond. This reminded us about the importance of Rain water harvesting which was one of the main features in most of the other hill forts.
Fortifications of Channarayana Durga
Upper Fortifications
Colony where soliders rested, Channarayana Durga
A Colony
Marathi Inscriptions, Channarayana Durga
Marathi Inscriptions at the Entrance to Channarayana Durga Fort
Musician at Channarayanadurga
A Bugle Player
Lord Anjaneya Swamy, Channarayana Durga
Lord Anjaneya Swamy
As we proceeded further, we came across a  few structures  that were probably used as horse stables. We reached another entrance in the same fortification which took us to the outside of the fort. This seemed like the main entrance since it had a big  Mandapa (Hall) with pillar, for people to rest after  the climb and also had steps leading to it from the bottom of the hill. 
Channarayana Durga
Birdseye View of Surroundings 
Rain, Sun and Hill, Channarayana Durga
Rain, Sun and Hills
Beautiful Setup of Village
Beautiful Setup of Channarayana Durga Village
After investigating the main entrance, we climbed further to reach the next tier. Here, we found a few structures that probably formed a small colony where soldiers and the king's  people  resided.Finally, we reached the last tier of the fort. The view from above was breath taking. One can spot the mighty Madhugiri hill which also has a fort and is the highest monolith in India.
Madhugiri Fort
The Mighty Madhugiri Fort
Channarayana Durga
The Fort Walls
During our descent, we came across a ruined temple. Behind the temple, were two granaries used for storage. Most of the structures were intact and its surroundings clean even without any kind of maintenance. there were no signs of ASI in this place.
Ruined Temple, Channarayana Durga
Ruined Temple
Channarayana Durga
Interiors of Ruined Temple
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - Dabspet (NH4)- right turn - Koratagere (SH3)  - proceed further - left turn towards Siddara  betta - right turn towards Channarayanadurga . Total distance : 95 kms .
Trip date: 26 Sept, 2010
Places to visit near by : Madhugiri , Koratagere , Devarayanadurga , Mahimapura , Heggunda , and so on ...  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hoysala: Mallikarjuna Temple Basaralu Mandya

               Basaralu  is a village of Mandya district, famous for the Mailkarjuna  temple  and viragals (hero stones) .We inquired about the temple and did not get any positive response . It was quite surprising to know that most of the locals were unaware of the existence of such a temple. Finally ,one person asked  us if we were looking out for the Shiva temple and directed us towards the same.We reached a temple named Kala Bhairava Temple (which was not the one we were looking for)  which had  viragals on one of its sides and a Peepal tree, surrounded by hero stones. 
Kala bhairava temple
   The specialty of this temple is the festival of fire crossing, called "Bhairava Konda", held on a Monday prior to Ugadi Festival (mostly in March). One more attraction during this festival is " Kiccha Masti "  ritual performed in memory of Masti . There are 7 viragals found near  the Peepal tree and 2 viragals opposite to the tree .
Ashes of  the fire crossing
Old entrance
Peepal tree
      We tried to get  information on Malikarjuna Temple . Luckily, we got directions to this temple from an old man who was confident about this place.We imagined this temple to be just like the temple we visited. But, this place offered us something we had never imagined about . It is sad but true, that places like these are much less talked about and appreciated . Places like these are a pride to our state . It is a true representation of our rich culture and heritage  and a fine example of architecture of  the olden days . The skill and patience involved in building such masterpieces is just unimaginable . We were blown away by its beauty . The sculptures were created with great finesse and technique . The figures are close to perfection with every little detail being highlighted .
Malikarjuna Temple
   This temple was built by Harihara nayaka. He was Dandanayaka (in charge of armies) under the Hoysala  King Imadi Narashima . The temple was built in the year 1235 AD for deity  in the  name of his father "Malikarjuna"  and a kalyani (Tank) in the name of his mother "Gujjave". 
Gujjave Kere and Mantap
          The temple has beautiful Dravidian Shikhara on its main garbhagriha, which houses a "Balahari Shivalinga"  and a beautiful lotus on the ceiling . The two small garbhagrihas facing each other, housed a "Naga Nagini"  sculpture in one  and the "Surya Deva" (Sun god) in the other. The vestibule has the symbol of Hoysala , Sala killing a lion .
Shikhara and Hoysala Emblem
           There is a Bhairava sculpture in the garbhagriha of Chandikeshwara temple in the other corner of the temple complex . There is a twenty feet tall pillar opposite to  the temple. The base of the temple has pattikas in the ascending order of elephants , horses with riders , Hoysala emblem , sculptures of Puranic episodes ,crocodiles and swans which is very similar to most of the Hoysala temples . 
Chandikeshwara temple
Bhairava Sculpture
Base of the temple
     On the walls, one can see  sculptures of  Samudra Manthana  (Churning of sea ) , Shanmuga , Kalinga Mardana ,Keshav , Shiva-Parvathi  riding Nandi , Ugranarashima killing Hiranyakashipu ,Hayagreva (god with horse head)  , Dancing Lakshminarashima , Yoganarashima ,Abhayanarashima ,Lakshminaryana ,Surya Dev , Shiva wearing elephant skin , Harihara , Vishnu , Vamana , Bali Chakravarthi , Ganesha , Durgi with 18 arms , Nataraja , Bhairava , Vishnu riding Garuda ,Rati-Manmatha,Lord Brahma with his consort , 22 armed Shiva killing Andakasura , and many more, which were beyond our skill of identification .All these sculptures are beautiful , they are smaller and simpler than those found in other famous Hoysala temple ,but often not less in Sculptural quality .
Kalinga Mardana and Keshav
Lord Shiva Paravathi riding Nandi
Ugranarashima Killing Hiranyakashipu
Lakshmi Narayana 
16 hand Durgi
Lord Brahma  with his consort
16 armed Shiva Killing Andakasura
     Actually the first thing one notice after entering the Ardha Mantap is its Ceiling . Beautifully carved with Ashtadikpalas ( 8 deities protecting the eight quarters/directions of world ). East is represented by Indira on Airavata (White Elephant ) , South East by Agni on Mesha (Male Goat), South by Yama on Mahisha (Male buffalo) , South West by Nirurti on Nara (Man), West by Varuna on Makara (the Crocodile),North west by Vayu on Mruga (Deer) , North by Kubera on Ashwa (Horse) and North east by Ishana on Vrishbha (Bull).
Ashtadikpalas on the ceiling
The information board
    Direction from Bangalore : Bangalore - Mandya (SH17)95 kms- right turn towards Chikka  Mandya (7kms )-left turn toward Basaralu (23 kms) . Total Distance : about  130 kms .

Place maintained by ASI .Temple and surrounding are extreme well maintained.Keys with the neighboring house. No photography allowed inside the temple .
Trip date : 23 Oct 2010 . 
Places to visit near by : Nagamangala, Adichunchanagiri, Melukote, Mandya,Shravanabelagola , Chikka Mandya and so on .
References used : 
1 Publications of Government of Karnataka on Mandya .
2  About Ashtadikpalas from Hindu blog