Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year Wishes

May everyday of the new year glow with good cheer and happiness for you and your family.
 Happy new year 2015

Sunday, December 28, 2014

India's First Biodiversity Heritage Site - Nallur Tamarind Tree Sacred Grove

Road to Bliss 
"Nallur" is a the small village located off  the Devanahalli - Hoskote highway. We heard of this place first from a friend's tweet  and then Google revealed more information about it. It was quite surprising that such a wonderful site was not very well known to the outside world and a trip to this place was definitely on. On a holiday, we decided to explore the Tamarind Grove and headed towards Nallur. After a while, owing to the presence of good direction boards all along, we found ourselves right in front of this sacred grove. We could hardly believe our eyes while we witnessed the scenic beauty of the tamarind trees against the backdrop of the blue sky and white clouds.

 An information board at the entrance of the grove read, " This site covers around 53 acres and there are more than 300 tamarind trees. This site is believed to have had its origin during the period of the Chola Dynasty, who ruled this region during 12-13th Century AD. The oldest trees have been confirmed to be older than 410 years now while the others have been here around for 200 years. One can find 5 types of crown, 4 types of foliage, 3 types of inflorescence and 3 types of trunk".
Nallur Tamarind Grove

The Bark of the Oldest Tamarind Tree
There are many ancient temples in and around the grove. While the main temple dedicated to goddess Gangamma  has been renovated, the other temples are in ruins which stand tall and beautiful. The temple of Lord Gopalaswamy  has some magnificent carvings of  Lord Krishna. After exploring this place a little further, we found more ruined temples around and a big Banyan tree. The site has been maintained by the Karnataka Biodiversity Board, Dept. of Forest, Ecology and Environment. The National Biodiversity Authority (Government of India) has listed 5 such sites in India as of now, two of which are the Nallur Tamarind Grove and my college campus of GKVK, Bangalore. 
Lord Gopalaswamy Temple

Goddess Gangamma Temple 
Banyan Tree

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tadipatri - Sri Bugga Ramalingeshwara Temple

 Sometime back, while researching on the incomplete Raja Gopurams built by the Vijayanagar Kingdom, I stumbled upon Bugga Ramalingeshwara Temple of Tadipatri. The gopuram of this temple is one amongst the five such incomplete Raja Gopurams, the others being at Hampi, Melukote, Srirangam  and Mahabalipuram (last two being located in Tamil Nadu). Although these gopurams were initially planned to be completely built  in a day's time, they remained incomplete as the sculptors were cheated by a fake cock-a-doodle-doo (representing the emergence of a new day). The Raja Gopuram of  Bugga Ramalingeshwara at Tadipatri is supposedly the most beautiful and intricate of the five. The temple is situated on the bank of the river Pennar (which was dry during our visit in the peak monsoon season).
The Grand Entrance 
   The temple of Bugga Ramalingeshwara was built ten years earlier than Sri Chintala Narasimha Swamy temple.  Though the architecture of this temple is simpler compared to the later, its gopuram is undoubtedly the most remarkable. We were amazed by its beauty and spent a good time exploring the magnificent gopuram. It stands tall to tell stories of the glory of the Vijayanagar kingdom.
Sri Bugga Ramalingeshwara Temple - Tadipatri
The Incomplete Glory 
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and inside the garbagriha is the idol of Lord Shiva in the form of a linga at the pedestal of which is a continuous flow of water, considered to be holy.
Tadipatri is about 260 km from Bangalore and the roads from Bangalore to Tadipatri are in good condition.
The Incomplete Gopuram 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Rat Tail Falls - Kodaikanal

Rat Tail falls
Rat Tail Falls 

 The Rat tail falls or Thalaiyar falls  is the 9th highest waterfall in India and the highest in the state of Tamil Nadu. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tadipatri - Sri Chintala Venkata Ramana Swamy Temple

"Tadipatri" (Tadpatri), located in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh, was once a very important part of the Vijayanagar Kingdom and has two magnificent ancient temples dedicated to Lords Ramalingeshwara and Venkataramana Swamy. The town of Tadipatri is situated on the banks of the river Pennar and derives its name from a grove of palm trees present in the area (Tati-Palm; Patri-Leaf). The temples here undoubtedly stand out and are the most prominent among the temples built by the Vijayanagar Kings. The town is also an important granite production center housing around 400 granite industries and innumerable polishing centers.
Keeping Track of the Devotees
    The first temple we visited was  Sri Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Venkataramana Swamy and  is believed to have been  built by Timma Naidu, son of Ramalinga Naidu. Ramalinga Naidu was the Feudal head of the Vijayanagar Kingdom, controlling this part of Andhra Pradesh. It was built during the same time as the Vittala Temple of Hampi, in a similar manner. Most of the features of these two temples bear close resemblance to each other,  being built on a similar ground plan. While the stone chariot here is compact and small in size when compared to the famous stone chariot at Hampi, it is equally beautifully detailed.
 Raja Gopuram
Sri Chintala Venkata Ramana Swamy Temple
Bhakthi Shakthi
The Stone Chariot
   The outer walls of the temple are elaborately decorated with carvings depicting stories of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and other forms of Lord Vishnu. The Mukhamantapa of the temple has forty beautifully carved pillars varying in design. The idol of Lord Venkataramana Swamy is very beautiful and is a classical master piece of  the Vijayanagar Kingdom. There are two other temples inside the complex, one dedicated to  Lord Vishnu's consort and  and the other to Lord Anjaneya. An intriguing feature of this temple is the presence of a secret underground passage (king's passage) leading to the Gooty fort. Currently, the tunnel's entrance from the temple has been closed for good by the ASI. The Raja Gopuram is majestic. There is a pillar that stands tall in the garden maintained right opposite the temple. There is also a Thulabharam pillar (weigh scale), a typical trademark of the Vijayanagar Kingdom in the garden. 
Heavily Decorated Pillars
Epic Ramayana Depicted
Lord Govardhan
Story of  Lord Hanuman
Lord Ananthashayana with his Consorts
Lord Rama Killing the Demoness Tataka 
Baby Krishna Killing Putana (Demoness)
Vamana depicted as 'Trivikrama' with 3 legs, One on  Earth, Second Raised in the Heavens and Third on  King Bali's Head
Ornate Outer Wall
Weigh Scale and Pillar

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dual Fort Adventure - Madakasira

In continuation with our quest for exploring the forts of Madhugiri region, we stopped by Madakasira. That Sunday, we decided to explore two other forts of Madhugiri, that of Madakasira and Gudibanda. First on our list was the fort of Madakasira, located in the Madakasira taluk of Ananthpura District (Andhra Pradesh). This  fort was built by the Vijayanagar Kings during the 15th century. There is also an 8th century Shiva temple inside the fort which was built by the Nolambas. The town is named after this temple deity as Madakashiva which in due course became Madakasira.
Here He Comes

Fort Entrance
Power Of Life
Way To Bliss
    We had left quite early so that we get enough time to explore both the forts. On reaching Madakasira, we  parked our vehicle at the fort base and in no time reached the entrance of the fort. Well laid steps give access to most of the portions of the fort. Though until the top tier of the fort there is no much fortification, the intact fortification at the top tier gives us glimpses of the rare quality of building skills that our ancestors possessed.
Third Entrance
 Entrance To Top Most Tier
The Mahal
Natural Water Pond
Way To the Highest Point

Madakasira Fort
Top Tier of the Fort 
Hereon, we trekked further up to reach the top most point of the hill to get an amazing view of the fort. This probably was one amongst the very few forts that offered such an amazing view. The strong monsoon breeze gave us a wonderful feel atop the hill. We spent some time here and then moved on to visit our next  fort for the day, the fort of Gudibanda.
Panoramic View 
The Burj 
Madakasira Town