Monday, August 26, 2013

Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple, Horakere Devapura, Chitradurga

    According to our source, the temple in Horakere (Kolar DT) houses a very beautiful idol of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha and all our efforts put in to find out the location of this temple went in vain.  Nor were the internet search engines of any help this time. It so happened that once, while listing the places to visit in Chitradurga, I noted down a place called Horakere Devapura which had a temple dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narasimha. This made me think about the temple we were searching for, in Kolar and a thought crossed my mind about the chances of the location being misspelled in our source (which is a very rare event). During one of our trips, while returning from Chitradurga, we decided to check this place, and see whether it was the same temple we were on the lookout for but in a wrong place! The temple was about 28 Km from the National highway and our journey was a pleasant one. We drove through narrow   roads decked with hills that housed windmills atop.  After confirmation about the route at a few places, we reached the village of Horakere Devapura, which was busy because of the Saturday Sandy.
Wind Mills
Rajagopura and Garuda Khamba
   A unique, magnificent and huge Rajagopura (an entrance gateway) built of stone welcomed us into the temple. By far, it is the most beautiful stone entrance gateway we have witnessed. As it had some structural resemblance to the gateways of Hampi and Chitradurga, a thought struck in our minds that this could be a handiwork of the Vijayanagara kings. This temple has been constantly renovated time to time under various dynasties. We could see some minor contributions of our generation too. The idol was very beautiful and so we had read, thus confirming us about the temple. The temple complex is vast with many of the structures belonging to the Vijayanagara period, except for the basic temple (Garbhagriha) and the beautiful idol which with no doubt, belongs to the Hoysalas.
Temple Complex
Anjaneya Pillar
Shri Lakshmi Narshima swamy Temple
Huge pillars
Kalyan Mantapa
Ceiling of Kalyan Mantapa
Lord Hanuman
Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy
  According to the legend, this place was formerly called Nanjundarajapattanam as it ruled by a cruel king named Nanjundaraja. He had a bad reputation of being demonic, ill treated people who visited other pilgrimages and was against people worshipping god. One day, Lord Venkateshwara (Vishnu) being aware of all the happenings decides to teach this king a lesson and free the people of his town from his evil deeds. On reaching the town, the lord decides to be seated atop a hillock named Krishnachala Betta in order to protect the people. He   destroys the king and his palace within no time. The people of the village then performed Puja to this hill and requested the Lord to stay back in their village. He decides to stay back, though in his other form of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha just outside the village nearby a lake, and hence the Horakere Devapura (Hora-outside; kere-lake; Deva-god; pura-village). There are many more stories from this place.
 On Saturdays, there is special annadana (meals) program for all the devotees.   
Majestic Gateways

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pillow Lava-World’s Oldest Rocks – Mardihalli, Chitradurga

 ‘Mardihalli’ is one among the 26 National Geological Monuments of India (GMI), and is being maintained by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). Though we were aware of the existence of this place and have traveled many a times through this route, we had never made an effort to visit this place. This time around, we made a conscious effort to explore this place and drove towards the village of Mardihalli in Chitradurga. We reached the village without any difficulty. A couple of enquiries lead us to a small rocky hillock near the village.  The catch now was to sight, or rather spot the old rocks.  
Welcome To Mardihalli
Pillow Lava
Pillow Lava

Rock Piles
        Though we were directed rightly towards the rocky hillock, there was none who gave us proper directions to the old rocks and we assumed that the rocks we were seeing were the ones we had come in search of, until we found a few sign boards belonging to the GSI confirming the same. The information board reads, “This is one of the best preserved Pillow Lava surviving in the world. The Pillow Lava rocks are formed when hot molten lava erupts under water and solidifies in the form of roughly spherical or rounded pillow-shape. The Lava gets chilled so suddenly that, part of the flow separates into discrete rounded bodies a few feet or less in size. This Pillow Lava has been dated 2500 million years”. The shepherd we met on the hillock also said that occasionally people   visit this rock from foreign countries in order to study it. This being one of the 4 GMI sites in Karnataka, the others are located at Lalbagh (Bangalore), St Mary’s Island (Udupi) and Peddahalli (Kolar).
Pillow Lava Rock
GSI Board
Information Board

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mulbagal Fort

    Mulbagal/Muluvayi/Moodalabagilu/Mudalabagalu is the eastern gateway of Karnataka. This town is quite popular for its Hanuman temple and Namkeens (Savories, Mulbagal Mixture). This place also boasts of a fort on the hillock, which is difficult to miss if one is travelling towards Tirupathi from Bangalore. A long time pending visit to this place finally materialized one Sunday. This place is only 35 Km from Kolar and is situated on the NH 4. A drive on this road has always been a pleasure. Being a Taluka and a developing town, this place is busy and always crowded. Without much trouble we reached the base of the hill and with no path visible, we had to make our own way to the top. Walking across the rocks and through the shrubs was quite an experience. After a few minutes of climb, we reached the first tier of the fort. 

Way thru theTunnel

Hero Stone and Small Temple

Rama Thirtha
Laxman Thirtha
   We crossed the first tier of the fort, walked a little further and found no way to the next tier. We found a   small tunnel like structure which we thought would lead us to the next tier of the fort. Without thinking much, we entered the tunnel that opened into a cave that was being used by the shepherds as a shelter from rains and the hot sun. The cave was big enough to accommodate a herd of about 30 animals. At the entrance of the cave was a ruined temple containing a hero stone? Proceeding further we found two big water ponds named Rama Thirtha and Laxman Thirtha. A few locals were enjoying a summer bath here. Walking further, we went on to explore the fort wall that was intact.  We were only left with conquering the hill. The route to the peak of the hill was quite interesting and began from a cave. We found a beautiful carving of Lord Hanuman inside the cave.
Fort Wall
Fort Wall and Ruined Structures
Lord Hanuman Carvings
Way to Mahadeva Gundu
Lord Shiva Temple on Mahadeva Gundu
Colorful Mulbagal Town
        There are 2 big boulders on the peak of this hill called Mahadeva Gundu (as it houses a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at its top) and the second one is Babaiah Gundu, on which a Muslim saint regularly read his holy prayers (Namaz). We first reached the Mahadeva Gundu. Though nothing much remained inside the temple, the view from the top was simply out of this world. We descended down and looked out for a way to reach the Babaiah Gundu but of no avail, until a local present at that spot came to our help. Climbing the steep rock cut steps without any kind of the support was enthralling and awesome. At the top of Babaiah Gundu, we found two hand marks of the saint, and can only imagine how divine it would have been for someone to offer prayers at this height. We also found an Arabic inscription just at the base the Babaiah Gundu. Our descent was quick and a normal one.
Way to Babaiah Gundu
Arabic Inscriptions
Left Hand etchings of the Muslim Saint 
Photogenic Me
My Partner in Crime

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Malnad Monsoon Magic -V , T Abbi Waterfalls

    After a sumptuous lunch at a small hotel in a remote area, we enquired about the places to visit around, especially of any waterfalls since it was raining cats and dogs and what a wonder it would be to see a waterfall at this time. The hotelier was more than happy to give us details about a few places to visit around. We collected the necessary information and were ready to explore them, one by one. The closest was the T A falls, a small non-descript falls. In no time we were at the entry point, from where a trek downwards leads us to the falls. The initial stretch had a jeep track route thru the tall woods and a few trees on either side had at least about ten varieties of birds that gave us a good company and kept us busy for some time and we never felt like moving an inch from this spot!  But we had to move on and head towards the falls. We had no idea about this falls and only thought of it to be a small falls. As we trekked further, the path turned narrower and with a few fallen trees obstructing the path, we had to jump over them quite often, and doing so we reached a Y fork intersection soon. We had to walk quickly without thinking much about which route to take, since our friends (leeches) had already started their trek on us! We just could not stop by even to get rid of them as the floor was totally covered with leaves and leeches hidden in them. We quickly took to the right side of the fork and within a few minutes reached the stream of water and realized we were on the top of waterfalls and had no chance of getting closer to falls in order to view it from the top. We   headed back to the Y fork and now took to the left side of the fork and sighted a very narrow foot-route which took us closer to the waterfalls. Following the path of the water flow, we descended downwards slowly and safely, crossing a few slippery rocks. We reached a point from where the view was almost complete. The waterfall was magnificent and fell ferociously from a height of about 50 ft in two tiers. The gushing force of the water was such a pleasure to watch and we spent a good amount of time admiring the waterfall. 

In the Woods
Getting Denser

Up Stream

Over the Waterfalls
T Abbi Falls

Top Tier
Second Tier
Down Stream

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Roadissi - Varahi Temple, Chaurasi, Orissa Odisha

Chaurasi is an offbeat destination strategically located between Konark and Bhubaneshwar. One needs to take a deviation midway after crossing Pipli, towards Konark to reach this sleepy village. We inquired about the route to Varahi temple at many places but in vain. Finally a person came to our rescue and told us to proceed further on the same road and then take a left turn. It is normal for the locals here and probably most of the East Indian people to pronounce V as B and this, we realized only after meeting the last person who saved us from the trial of searching for Barahi!  As we drove, we spotted the board at a crossing that directed us towards the temple. Varahi/Barahi temple stood there silently, witnessing its great past, the silent present and an uncertain future. This temple holds a very unique place, since it is extremely rare to find a temple dedicated solely to the Goddess Varahi (one among the seven mother goddesses), though many temples are found having the Saptamatrikas (the seven mother goddesses) and the goddess Chamundi. This temple was built during the 10th century A.D. 
The Information Board
Varahi Temple

        The temple is built on a platform devoid of decorations, though the outer walls have elaborate carvings. The shrine is unusually rectangular (most Orissan temples are square) in shape and the Shikara is a form in the evolution of Kharkhara deul, wherein a semi-cylindrical ridge crowns it. A beautiful statue of Lord Surya is installed in the niche. It has a two tiered hipped roof and has 2 latticed windows on either sides of the Jagamohan (Navaranga). There are varieties of sculptures on the walls depicting various divinities and other aspects of daily life. The idol of Varahi is indeed very beautiful.
The Deul or Shikara
Latticed Window
Naga Pillar
Walking Ganapathy
Lord Surya and his Horses

We Visited this place during our road trip to Odisha.