Sunday, December 1, 2013

In Search of Bhima's Gym- Tekal Hill Kolar

 We were completely dehydrated and hungry and to top it, time was running out and there was no mobile signal. If it got dark, if we don't find a way out, if nobody hears us when we shout for help!, many such weird thoughts crossed our minds. Our guides had also mentioned about the sightings of panthers and bears in and around after dark. My wife suggested we call the local police and inform them that we were trapped. I told her to relax for a while and think calmly of what could be done. After a few arguments between us, we decided to go back to that 12 feet rock and see if we could do something. No support, no ropes, only the pile of rock visible and very well knowing that it was the only way out for us now, we couldn't lose hope. Somehow, we don't know how, but we had to get to that pile.My wife took my support, climbed over me and got through. I, till today cannot believe I made it to the top, climbing that 12 ft rock.  It was nothing less than a miracle for us. God was on our side. It was the best experience we had. Our clothes were torn, we were dehydrated and hungry, but having no time to think of all that we quickly followed the pile of rocks and moved further.
  At times, the escape route between the rocks were so small, a heavily built person would surely get stuck in between. Now, it hit us why the men initially warned us about exploring the hill. But since we had made it, we could take the credit of going against their advice. The drama was not over yet. Though we missed a few piles in between, we were successful in finding the next that followed and by now gained the knack of moving ahead in the right direction. We were lost many times inside but we managed to get back on track. After all, our few years of experience in trekking and exploring had to favor us. It was around 4 pm and we were still following the pile of rocks. It seemed never ending. We knew we were in the right direction of descent as the temple down seemed to come closer by! A last step outward from the cave lead us to light. Yes, we were out of that scary rocky-terrain now. We had to surpass thorny shrubs and dense outgrowth to reach the temple. Looking back, we figured out the initial point of climb that the tiller had told us about. It would've been impossible for our to trace this point at the start of  climb. And that too, with nobody helping us to the start point, the thought of starting from there never arised. We thanked god for being with us. We almost looked like rag-pickers at the end of the evening. An another adventure that was to follow was to find fuel for our bike!
  Finally we found some food for all of us, including our bike. Thus, we ended our adventure turned misadventure, that taught us much which will be always helpful in all aspects of life and proving many old proverbs right. We also realised our potential and came to know we are no less than Jackie Chan ( a few of jumps across the rocks and crawls beneath the caves definitely matched his caliber).
View of Tekal Hill  
According to the legend, while the Pandavas were in exile, Bhima had chosen this cave as his shelter where he fulfilled his daily chores. One day, it so happened that Bhima on realizing the difficulty of the villagers in removing weeds from their fields,  approached them and promised to de-weed all their fields and in return got a cart full of paddy grains. The husk of these paddy grains can still be seen today at the cave. Unfortunately, we could not witness this place as it was  encroached by innumerous bats.
  Just while we were leaving, a local shop-keeper mentioned about another cave known  as  "Rokkada Gavi" or the 'cave of treasure' in the neighboring hill. So............

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Search of Bhima's Gym, Tekal Hill, Kolar

 Bhima's Gym or Bhimana Garadi is a very big cave where Bhima (one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata) practiced warfare.One Sunday early-morning, we decided to explore this hill, which is located about 17 km from Kolar. We spoke to one of our friends and collected some information about this place. We left to this place early morning so that we could come back early as this seemed a small hill to explore. This time, we chose to bike-ride (motor cycle) as it was close-by and it had been long since we went on a trip with out two-wheeler friend!. On reaching Tekal and inquiring a shop  keeper about the route to Bhima's Gym, he gave us directions and additionally advised us not to explore as he thought it was really difficult to reach there and even though we reached, the lady with  you  will  surely not make it.  For a second, I thought if I can definitely do it,  then my partner in crime can do it better! We came closer to hill and again inquired a person, who was surprised to hear that we wanted to go to Bhima's gym. After a pause, he gave us directions and told us to be cautious and advised us to take a local person along who would be well versed with the routes and the place whereabouts.
Mid-way View of Tekal Hill
Now that we reached the base, our only question was from where to start our trek!? It seemed like there was no said-route to the hill-top. A last and final query lead us to a temple, where we parked our bike (which  unfortunately ran out of fuel just as were riding towards the temple) and looked out for a reasonable starting point.  Last but not the least, another query was enough to lead us into confusion regarding the point of start of climb. We met a person who was tilling his land and told us to go back to the temple as the climb begins near the temple and follow directions based on a  pile of three stones kept  at regular intervals (an intriguing clue it was!)and to take a guide along. Basically, we were being tossed from here-to-there on a regular basis for about 2-3 times between the temple and the tiller's land!! and then Alas!!
 Since we failed badly in getting any guide, we decided to explore the hill on our own, which was partly a really stupid decision, which we realized only later. As it was a small rocky hill, we gauged the level of trek would be medium-difficult and we can make our own way to the cave. As we climbed slowly on the rocks and moved further, we found the rocky terrain quite difficult to trek. The terrain was as though huge boulders of rocks were just placed next to each other and above one another to create deep spaces between them, it was scary to even look down! As we proceeded, we went through the inside of caves, sometimes over the rocks, and as time passed we reached a point from where we could not find a route further.We were lost. As it was quite sunny that day, and the trek itself was tiring enough, we rested a while.  As we discussed how to go about now, we heard two boys chatting and inquired them about the route. Though they were initially not that confident, they decided to join us to the cave. It became a 4 member team exploration now! Jumping over and crawling beneath the rocks and caves, we reached a place full of trees, from where the two boys also were unaware of the route.
We climbed a tree that seemed not climbable at first and what an experience!.  We climbed and passed over the tree and besides, the boys were running out of time since they had go home to take their cattle for grazing. We insisted that they can take leave once we reached  Bhima's gym. They kindly responded and   agreed  and lead us to the cave. On reaching the entrance of the cave, we realized the it was a huge cave and one of boys innocently joked that a big joint family can live here happily (what a thought!). The cave had thousands of bats which proved a hinderance in exploring the cave to the fullest. We saw the marks made by  Bhima while practicing  warfare. Our camera too ran out of battery. As we were busy figuring out the way and following our express guides, our camera did not have much work to do and so we didn't miss it much.
Following our Express Guides
Since the boys were in a real hurry, they bade us good-bye and left without waiting for us! Fair enough, we thought. Also since we had reached that far, we thought the descent would be possible by us. Without any morning break-fast, we were hungry to the core now and had also finished drinking all the water we had carried.  The arrows at the cave directed out towards the exit and following those, we reached up till a certain point , from where we unable to find the way ahead.  We tried all possible paths but in vain. Atlast, somehow by chance, at some corner, we  spotted a pile of three rocks! It struck our minds all of sudden about what the tiller said. It gave a sigh of relief to know  we were somewhere close by to being on the right track. From here, we decided and followed the pile of rocks. We proceeded further and every now and then found the pile. Suddenly, for a long distance the pile seemed missing or we had missed the pile. We did not find the rock pile. We began to run in all directions to find the way out but all our attempts seemed futile.   Finally, we sighted a  pile on top of a rock that seemed impossible to climb (Place A). We tried to find the way to reach that pile of rock using different ways but of no use. We then decided to trace our way back to the gym as there was another route from main cave to reach to the base from the other side. After some time on our way back to the gym,  we stepped inside a cave and then blank! Lost, we were. Neither here, nor there.
Some Marks Inside the Cave Made by Bhima
Inside of the Cave
Bats! Bats!!  Up, Above and Everywhere!

Misadventure continues..................

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Smoking Rocks and Rainbow

Hogenakkal Falls
Rainbow and Smoking Rocks
Hogenakkal Falls 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Birth of A River - Kumudvathi Theertha, Hosanagar Shimoga

While we were in search of the Kumareshwara temple located near Humcha, Shimoga district, most of the the locals we inquired from, guided us to a place called Kumudvathi Theertha. Without having an idea about this place, we headed towards it. We stopped by at the entrance of the village where the temple of Bileshwara, dedicated to Lord Shiva was located. A board directing towards Kumudvathi Theertha (Spring/Pond)  was present by the side of the temple. We inquired at shop nearby the temple about the route to Kumudvathi Theertha, which is the birth place of river Kumudvathi, which from here flows across the district of Shimoga. We walked a few yards and sighted a pond and were happy that we found the place we were in search of. Further investigation of this pond  revealed that it was built during the year 1945! Thanks to the information stone laid nearby the pond. Now, the only question in our minds was whether this was  the same  place we were looking for!?
Kumudvathi Theertha 
Water Pond
Information Stone of 1945
 We decided to explore a little further just to confirm we didn't miss anything interesting. We were surprised and excited to see that our 'exploring a little ahead' formula had brought us to the actual Kumudvathi Theertha!. We initially thought of it  to be a rain harvesting pond, but while discussing with a nearby shopkeeper about it post-visit, we came to know of the existence of 3 water springs in the hills around,  through which the pond receives water through out the year and that over time, the water force had reduced owing to the closure/blockage in one of the water springs. After spending some time at the theertha, we proceeded towards the temple of Bileshwara.
Kumudvathi Theertha
Birth of A River 
   The main temple of Bileshwara looks completely renovated but the smaller temples and hero stones give us a clear picture of the antiquity of this temple, probably built by the Hoysalas. 
Bileshwara Temple Complex
Hero Stone
Lord Shiva Temple
Broken Hero Stones

Wishing all of you a very Happy Deepavali!!!(Festival of Lights) Have a safe and soundless Diwali!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hampi Unseen -4 Vijaya Vitthala Temple

  The most famous temple in the world heritage site of Hampi is the Vijaya Vitthala Temple . This temple is rightfully considered as the best example of Vijayanagara art and architecture. There is a massive enclosure to the temple with entrance gates at north, south and east directions, surmounted by lofty gopuras. The well known stone chariot of Hampi is located in this complex. The unique feature of this temple is the set of musical pillars. 
Vijaya Vitthala Temple Hampi
Aerial View of Vijaya Vitthala Temple 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Smoking Rocks

Hogenakkal Waterfalls
Smoking Rocks and My Partner 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Malnad Monsoon Magic IX Mullayanagiri, Bababudangiri

Karnataka's Highest Peak Mullayanagiri
Mullayanagiri Peak (Karnataka Highest Peak)
Narrow Ridge 
Bababudangiri Range 
Bababudangiri Range
Panoramic View 
Bababudangiri Peak
A Water Pond
  Enticed by the lush green hills and valleys of Mullayanagiri, a desire arose to explore Karnataka's highest peak by foot. The call seemed hard to resist. What was initially planned to be a road trip turned out to be one that was completely off the road! A two hour trek lead us to the misty and mighty Mullayanagiri, which seemed to show off once in a while, most of the time being hidden from view amidst the mist. On realizing there was a 15 km trek route further leading to Bababudanagiri, a holy place of worship, we were doubly excited. The mountain ranges and the picturesque landscapes were magical.  They seemed to possess some kind of magnetic charm that lured us into trekking further towards Bababudangiri. Without wasting any time, we started our second part of the trek, this time a much longer one with a higher level of difficulty.   
  Thus, we were in for a surprise 12 hr trek from Sarpadhari Arch to Bababudangiri (split into two treks-short trek-2 hr followed by a long trek-10 hr, after a night's halt atop Mullayanagiri). What was more exciting was that the trek was totally unplanned for, with least preparation.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Winged Jewel - Common Hoopoe

Common Hoopoe
In a Heated Conversation 
I don't Care About You 
Upupa epops
Leave Me Alone
Previous post on this bird 

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Photo Report on Bengaluru Seed Festival, September 28-29, 2013

Imagining life without seeds is practically impossible. Thus, it is very important to study and know about seeds in depth and save the seed diversity. The seed forms the basic input/ lifeline of the Agriculture.  As the world progressed, population increased enormously, due to which there has been a constant pressure on  developing high yielding, productive and efficient seeds. The continuous usage of such hybrid variety seeds has resulted in rapid erosion of bio-diversity of our country. Fortunately, a small fraternity of farmers  have preserved and re-used their diverse indigenous seed varieties over generations. Kudos to these farming communities for having contributed in maintaining and developing our agricultural heritage and diversity.  Not many of us are aware that India has one of the richest germplasm collections in the world.  India can also boast of being home to more than 60,000 rice accessions of the 425,000 accessions of the world.
Bangalore Seed Festival
Welcome To Seed Festival 
Celebrating the Rich Heritage of Traditional Seed Diversity
 In this regard, Sahaja Samrudha, in collaboration with Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) had organized the Bengaluru Seed Festival during the last weekend at Veterinary College, Hebbal, Bengaluru to “celebrate the rich heritage of traditional seed diversity”. Many seed saver groups from various parts of the country, working for on-farm conservation and promotion of seed diversity participated actively. There were more than 1000 varieties of different crop seeds on display along with relevant literature. All the stalls were quite informative. A few stalls stood apart by displaying unique products. Bio-diversity Management of Edavaka grama of Wayanad, Kerala displayed about 30 varieties of tubers (that grow underground), Vagadhara of Rajasthan displayed a variety of medicinal  shoots and tubers while another stall displayed rich varieties of forest tree seeds.
Paddy Varieties
Different Rice Varieties of Karnataka
Black Rice 
Wild Wheat
Wild Wheat 

Different Varieties of Bajra and Maize 
Hot and Spicy from Meghalaya
Varieties of Millets 
Medicinal Tubers and Shoots from Rajasthan
Varieties of Tubers from Kerala 
Collection of Forest Tree Seeds 
Why is such an effort significant and how will it influence the future? A classical example of saving indigenous seed varieties and developing better ones in the same line is that of Late Mr. Lakshmanaiah, popularly known as “Ragi Lakshmanaiah/ Ragi Brahma”. As a student, I was fortunate enough for having studied and learned about this great man, who single handedly worked and developed the best and the highest yielding variety of Ragi (Finger Millet) named INDAF series, using various indigenous varieties of Ragi. Indaf series, unlike today’s Hybrid and GM varieties, is one of those rare varieties, which possesses all the properties of indigenous ones, apart from having the advantage of being very high yielding and reusable. During 1950s, Mr.Lakshmanaiah quit the coveted job of a clerk in the Indian railways in order to pursue his passion for agriculture. The rest is history though unknown to the outside world. Today, Indaf is the most popular Ragi variety grown across the driest regions of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where Ragi is the staple food. Many such varieties have been developed but have lost the race with time against today’s Hybrid and GM varieties, leading to a total imbalance in the eco-system by appreciating indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Accessories made out of Seeds
Our Field, Our Seed, Our Right  
Effects of  Organic and Chemical Farming 
The exhibition aimed at educating people, especially those linked with or involved in the field of agriculture, towards bigger steps of using, reusing and preserving the indigenous seed varieties. The seed exhibition in total was an educative one and managed to attract a heterogeneous crowd.

1.       Sahaja Organics;, Ph: 080-26612315, 7483088144, 080-26661420
2.       Sahaja Samrudha; Web:  Ph: 8050743047,9880862058
3.       Sri Masanasiddeshwar Savayava Krishikar Sangh, Munnahalli, Gulbarga Ph: 9972157413
4.       Desi Krishikar Balaga, Haveri, Ph: 9845890411, 9980679824
5.       Hasiru Consultants and Mkt Pvt Ltd.,  Ph: 9591984709
6.       Desi Uthana; Web:,  Ph: 9341415399, 7760596275
7.       Bio-Diversity Management Committee , Edavaka, Wayanad, Kerala
8.       Agricultural Training Centre, Fulia, Nadia, West Bengal
9.       Vanastree; Web:
10.   Organic farming society, Auroville, Pondicherry; Web:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Malnad Monsoon Magic -VIII On The Top

Peak Western Ghats
Photographer at Work 
Malnad Monsoon
My Partner in Crime 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hoysala: Viranarayana Temple, Belavadi, Chikmagalur -II

 Though millions of visitors throng Belur and Halebidu (Mecca of Medieval Indian Temple Architecture) every year, very few curiously visit the other Hoysala temples in its surroundings. Truly speaking, the surrounding temples prove better places to study as well as enjoy the Hoysala Architecture. According to Gerard Foekema, who has carried out extensive research on Hoysala temples, “There are many small yet complete Hoysala temples which give a clear picture of Hoysala Architecture than Belur and Halebidu”.  Without any doubt, though Belur and Halebidu are the finest surviving masterpieces of Indian art and architecture, there is more about Hoysala architecture. After having explored Belavadi (just 10 km from Halebidu) , we personally felt that the temple of Viranayana reveals a lot more about the Hoysala architecture, as this temple is an amalgamation of two different stages of Hoysala style of temple construction. The temple also shows the influence of the Badami Chalukyan Architecture, thus proving that Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal were the learning centers for South Indian Temple Architecture. It is believed that many sculptors visited Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal often, to get inspiration for building beautiful temples in order to impress their kings. The Viranarayana Temple of Belavadi is probably the only Hoysala temple that houses three different plans for cells in a single temple.
Hoysala Temple Belavadi
The Temple Complex Belavadi
The interiors of this temple are excellently executed, with each of the 54 lathe turned pillars of the Mahamandapa  and the other 27 pillars of the Sabhamandapa (Viranarayana Temple) being unique in its design. The Mahamandapa, built with a provision for seating, resembles a Natyamandapa (dancing floor). There are 96 elephant carvings below the seating provided, indicating that the entire Mantapa is being carried on the elephants backs. There are 23 unique ceilings in the Mahamandapa and Sabhamandapa, out which a few are classical examples of the influence of Badami Chalukyas. The skill and perfection exhibited in constructing these temples can be even witnessed even today if one visits any of these during sunrise. The temples are constructed in a manner that the first rays of the sun fall on the main idol, even though the idol is placed about 150 meters inside the temple.
Entrance to The Viranarayana Temple 
Pillared Alley of Mahamandapa
Heavily Carved Pillar
Ceiling No.1 
Ceiling No.2
Ceiling No.3
Ceiling No.4
Ceiling No.5
Viranarayana Temple 
Lord Venugopala on the Ceiling 
Elephant Carvings 
    Long ago (pre- TGS period), like many travelers, we too were unaware of any Hoysala temples other than Belur, Halebidu, Shravana Belagola, Somanathapura and Melukote. It was a visit to the temples at Hosaholalu, Basaralu and Kambadahalli that changed our mindset for the better, making us research more on the surviving Hoysala temples, live, renovated or ruined. Ever since, our list of Hoysala temples has been growing just like the tail of Lord Hanuman. This is the 125th Hoysala temple we have explored in our pursuit of rediscovering the lost Hoysala temples. 
Lord Venugopala Ceiling  inspired by the Ceiling of Badami  Cave Temple