Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Guest Post in My Yatra Dairy

Arti of My Yatra Diary gave us an opportunity of sharing space on her wonderful blog by writing a guest post. She is an avid spiritual traveler and blogger, who covers various pilgrim destinations of India in detail with loads of information and photographs. Kindly read through our  guest post on Chennakeshava temple of  C R Patna (Hassan).
Chennakeshava Temple

Places to Visit around Channarayapatna: Anekere

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Temples of Udayagiri, Nellore

After exploring the beautiful pillared Kalyana Mandapa, we moved on to explore another beautiful temple located few yards away from here. This temple is dedicated to Lord Balakrishna and was built by the Pallavas during 9th century. This temple consist of a garbagriha, an antrala, Sukanasi  and Navaranga with a missing Mukhamandapa.
Lord Balakrishna Temple, Udayagiri
Lord Balakrishna Temple, Udayagiri
9th Century Temple built by Pallavas
 Udayagiri was one of the most important cities of Medieval south India. It was ruled by Satavahanas, the Cholas, the Pallavas, the Telugu Chodas, Vijayanagara, Gajapathis, Golconda Nawabs and Finally Britishers. Udayagiri was captured by Vijayanagara King Virupanna II in early 15th Century (around 1402 AD) from Telugu Chodas and later went into hands of Gajapathis (Kings of Orissa) under the rule of King Purushottam around 1485 AD, who also captured the surrounding areas of Kondavidu and fortified these towns. In 1512 AD King Krishnadevaraya recaptured Udayagiri and its surrounding areas and moved forward towards Cuttack to capture the Gajapathis, who then offered a peace treaty by asking Krishnadevaraya to marry their Princess Jaganmohini(Bhadradevi), the daughter of Gajapathi king Prataprudra  . Though there is no documentation of this marriage in any form of Inscriptions (further reading on this). In response to this Krishnadevaraya returned back the territories earlier held by Gajapathis. In celebrations of this roaring victory over Gajapathis, Krishnadevaraya made lavish donations to many temples in his Kingdom, namely Vijaya Vithala temple (Hampi), lord Venkateshwara Temple (Tirupathi) and so on. Almost all the temples down south were provided with an imposing Rajagopuras, beside a many pillared mandapa or pavilion were added to the temple complexes. Most of the old temples in Hampi were renovated and lot of additional structures were erected. A complete temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in Hampi was built to mark his victory and where he installed the murti of Lord Balakrishna which was brought war trophy from the Lord Balakrishna temple in Udayagiri as per inscriptions found at this temple of 1513 AD.
Lord Balakrishna Temple
Decorative Door Frame with Dwarapalakas
Empty Garbhagriha
Note The Carvings of Various Animals
Lord Lakshminarasimha 
Lord Balakrishna
Lord Balakrishna and Butter Churning
Rear View of Shikara
Ananthashayana Sculpture on the Shikara

1.Book "Vijayanagar" edited by Vasundhara Filliozat
2.Book"Archaeology, Art and Religion, new perspectives on Vijayanagara" written by Anila Verghese.
3.Kannada Book "ಕನ್ನಡ ವಿಷಯ ವಿಶ್ವಕೋಶ - ಇತಿಹಾಸ ಮತ್ತು ಪುರಾತತ್ತ್ವ " -  University of Mysore.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Udayagiri Fort and Temples, Nellore

After realizing the presence of a fort named Udayagiri at about 11 km from Duttalur, we went ahead to explore the place. Lovely winding roads leads us to Udayagiri, a hill fort, situated at 950 m above Main sea level.  Within minutes of our realizing that  it would take us more time to trek up to the fort, a few tall Rajagopuras in Udayagiri town caught our attention.
History of the Fort - The fort was built by Gajapathis during the14th Century. In the year 1512,  Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar Kingdom attacked this fort while the battle lasted for about 18 months. After Krishnadevaraya's army defeated the Gajapathis and captured the fort, the Gajapathis offered a peace treaty by asking Krishnadevaraya to marry their princess Jaganmohini (Badradevi) . Later, the Nawabs of Golconda occupied this fort. Today it is pile of ruins. One has to trek about 12 km to reach the fort.
Udayagiri Fort, Nellore
Udayagiri Fort
The Grand Royal Wedding - A grand Kalyana Mandapa/ Paruveta Mandapam was constructed in the Udayagiri  town at the orders of Krishnadevaraya. The place was decked up beautifully for the wedding of Krishnadevaraya and Princess Jaganmohini. A lovely Rajagopura welcomed us at the entrance,  while the pillared Kalyana Mantapa with intricate carvings is present inside the compound. There is a huge Kalyani in front of the Rajagopura.  The ASI and the Andhra Pradesh Govt. has done a decent job in restoring the place, though there is a lack of maintenance.
Pushkarni or Kalyani
Carvings on the Walls of the Rajagopura
  Lord Krishna
Paruveta Mandapam , Udayagiri
Pillared Mantapa
Pillared Kalyana Mandapa, Udayagiri
Another View of The Mantapa
Kalyana Mantapa
Carved pillars
Pillar Top and Lintel Carvings
   Udayagiri houses the ruins of more than 300 temples built during the reign of different kingdoms, though most of them were re-built or improved further by the Vijayanagar Kings.
Lord Balakrishna Temple, Udayagiri
Lord Balakrishna Temple 

Continued here...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Roadtrip to Orissa from Bangalore Day 1

Roadissi   Day One
Day Plan : Non-stop drive to Visakhapatnam
Travel Route : Bangalore- Hoskote (NH 4) - Chintamani (SH 82)- Madanapalle (NH 205)- Rayachoti (NH 40) - Kadapa (NH 40) - Badvel - Pamuru (AP SH61) - Kandukur (NH 5) - Ongole (NH 5) - Guntur (NH 5) - Rajamundry (NH 5) - Visakhapatnam (NH5)
Distance : About 1000 km
Estimated Travel Time : 12 hours excluding breaks
Landscape at  Karnataka - Andhra Border
Welcome to Andhra Pradesh
We started right on time on day one and as usual, after offering prayers at  Lord Hanuman's temple  for a safe and happy journey, continued our drive. We stopped by for some breakfast at Madanpalle. Driving further, we had to take a deviation from NH 205 towards Rayachoti. Though the initial stretch of the road was under construction, later on, the condition of roads only improved. All of a sudden, something huge appeared before our eyes and caught our attention! It was the beautiful hill fort of Gurramkonda. Now, we were in two minds about exploring this place. After a few minutes of analysis and coming to a conclusion that it would take us at least three hours to explore the fort, and  since we had set ourselves a time limit, without wasting any more time, we quickly took a shot of it and  promised to visit this place again.
Gurram-Konda Fort
View of NH 40 from Kadapa Ghat
Via Rayachoti, we proceeded further towards Kadapa (famous for its stone slabs, popularly called as Kadapa stone). A few kilometers before reaching Kadapa,  a  short stretch of ghat section welcomes us to view the natural beauty of Kadapa. Hereon, we reached Mydukur and after crossing Badvel, we visited the Lord Rama temple by the road side. At the first look,  the temple looked like it was built by the Vijayanagar Kings, though not sure. It seemed to have undergone some renovations. A small well existed near the temple, which was built using Kadapa stones. The water level in the well was quite high and the construction was neat.
The Tall & Lovely Raja Gopura of  Lord  Chennakeshava Temple
Lord Rama Temple at Badvel
 Mosaic Designs
Lord Rama
The Well
Water Level in the Well
Our  Dear Travel Partner !! 
Proceeding further towards our destination, we reached a place called Duttalur at around 12:30 pm and  on reading our map for route confirmation, we realised the presence of a fort around by this place. We had traveled around 450 km until now. We allotted ourselves about thirty minutes to explore the fort as we had to travel 550 km from now on and reach Vizag before 10:00 pm. The Fort had much more to offer than we thought.  

The dance shall continue .........

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Roadissi" Dancing on the Roads of Orissa

      "Roadissi" is the chronicle of our road trip to the beautiful state of Orissa/Odisha.  After reading a newspaper article about the famous temple of India "The Sun Temple of Konarak" being in danger, we decided to visit this marvelous  temple. Though our initial plan was only a 2 to 3 days trip covering Puri - Konark- Lake Chilika - Bhubaneshwar, on researching for places in Orissa, we realised 2 to 3 days were insufficient!!! A good 10 to 15 days would give us a good chance of covering most of the places and since we were driving so far, it made sense to make the best use of our time! Rule number one was to complete all our official works so we could take leave without any hindrances. Finally, we managed to get a good  two weeks leave and here on started our adventurous and unforgettable road trip to Orissa.
       Orissa is blessed  with immense natural, cultural and religious heritage. James Fergusson (author of the book " History of Indian and Eastern Architecture") declares in his book that " there are more temples now in Orissa than in all the rest of Hindustan put together". W W Hunter stated that "From end to end, it is one region of pilgrimage". Orissa, rightly called as the land of temples, is home to the most beautiful masterpieces of architecture. 
Our Itinerary
1) Pilgrimage - Puri Jaganath, Puri  and the Lingaraja  Temple, Bhubaneshwar
2) Architectural, Hindu - Konark, Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack, Banks of  the River Mahanadi
3) Architectural, Buddhism/Jainism - Dhaulagiri, Udayagiri (2), Ratnagiri, Lalitagiri and Khandagiri
4) Natural wonders - Atri and Taptapani Hot Water Springs
5) Wildlife - Simlipal Tiger Reserve, Bhitarkanika and Gahirmatha, Chilika and Satkosia
6) Beaches - Gahirmatha, Chilika, Puri, and Chandrabagh
7) Forts - Sisupalgarh and Cuttack
8) Art - Pipli, the Art Village
9) Asokan Edicts - Dhaulagiri and Behrampur
 Unfortunately, the Simlipal Tiger Reserve remained closed due to Naxal activities in the region, thus ruining our opportunity of visiting the reserve as well as India's second highest waterfall - the Barehipani waterfall (1300 ft), which falls inside the reserve limits. Also, visits to Satkosia, Taptapani, Cuttack and Behrampur  failed to materialize due to various reasons. Apart from these, as it was road trip, we got to explore a lot of hidden treasures of both states, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Road trips always are an added advantage as we have no time limits and free to explore any place we feel like!

Places to visit in Orissa
Roadissi - Dancing on the roads of Orissa
  Our companions of the trip
1) Information Center -  "Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent " by Takeo Kamiya, India - Eyewitness Travel of DK, Incredible India of IMS, Wildlife Holidays in India of Outlook Traveller, Konark - By Thomas Donaldson, Temple Cities of Orissa - By Balaram Mishra and few details collected from various websites
2) Clicking partners - Canon Power shot G3 (5 GB) and Canon EOS 450 D (16 GB)
3) GPS -  Eicher Road Atlas (wonderful road atlas) and IMS India Road Atlas
4) Music partner - Our good old pen drive with 4 GB capacity, full of songs (old and new Kannada and Hindi songs, dropped the latest ones as some of them have no meaning at all!!)
5) Telecom partners - BSNL, Airtel and Vodafone - had three for safety as we were unsure of the connectivity (though it turned out to be far better than we expected). Very important to keep in touch with our loved ones
6) A travel diary for writing  down  details of places visited, etc., including expenditure

Our Travel Oath
1) Not to exceed a speed limit of 100 kmph (Result:Never exceeded 100 kmph)
2) No night driving beyond 10 pm . (Result:Oath broken on last day while returning back, by celebrating New Year's during the drive)
3) Calling home everyday (Result:Did not dare to break this one!) 
The only package trip we opted for, during our trip : 2 days at the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. Halted at the Sand Pebbles Resort, very close by to the sanctuary limits

Total Cost : Under Rs 60,000/- per couple, including the Bhitarkanika package (16k) and diesel expense (14k), which are the major contributors

Road Conditions : 95 % of the roads were excellent, rest were manageable except  for a kilometer stretch that leads to the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary
Total km : 4438
Number of Days : 14, 19 December 2010 5:15 am to 01 Jan 2011 2:30 pm
Total No of photos taken : 14 GB, 7352 clicks
The Beginning
Morning Hues
First Sunrise of our Trip
Smooth Road Connecting Chintamani and Madanpalle
A P State Highway  61
Traffic Pile Up on the River Godavari Bridge
Traffic Jam at Vizag Steel Junction
Awesome Road Connecting Puri and Konark
Wow ! What a Sight - The Sun Temple, Konarak
Muddy  Road Leading to the Wild Bhitarkanika
Last Sunset of our  trip  (Visakhapatnam)
 The End and Beginning of a New Journey

The dance shall continue ......