Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Brahmagiri and Ashoka Siddapura

 After having an adventurous time at Jating Rameshwara we went in search of the Ashokan edicts of Ashoka Siddapura. The locals here on inquiring directed us towards another site of the same kind at Brahmagiri, which was supposedly much easier to locate than Ashoka Siddapura. (The edicts of Ashoka Siddapura  is situated in the interiors, far away the village and is not very popular as the Brahmagiri among locals). At Brahmagiri, we were greeted by the ASI care taker who volunteered cheerfully to be our guide for the afternoon. First, we visited the edicts of Brahmagiri, one amongst the best preserved and maintained Ashokan edicts in Karnataka. The symbols of the script are quite clear. He then showed us the translated meaning with the message it carried. The edict here generally speaks about peace and kindness to be shown towards all living beings.
Sign Board 
Enclosure Built To protect the Edict
Ashoka's Message of Peace
Kannada Translation of the Edict
  After carefully examining the edict, our guide took us to an ancient grave yard. Here we were able to witness a huge number of Dolmens belonging to the 2nd century BC, attributed to the Mauryan Empire. The ASI has built a compound in order to conserve these structures, few of which are intact. Though, beyond the compound limits, there are many such dolmens waiting to be preserved. Hereon, we were privileged to visit a place where accidentally, the ASI team discovered an URN burial (which is believed to be the grave of small children) as the ground had been washed away during monsoons.This discovery was accidental  and intriguing.
Dolmen with missing top slab
Intact Dolmens
Burial site outside the ASI enclosure
URN burial
We next moved on to find the edicts of Ashoka Siddapura. Our guide was kind enough to join us along  as he was much aware of its location. We had to walk about ten minutes though the fields to locate a cluster of boulders named as "Emme Thammana Gudda" on which the edicts are etched. Unfortunately, the edicts here are equally in a disturbed state as in Jating Rameshwara. They too spread the message of  peace and kindness, though the size of was comparatively smaller to Brahmagiri. Without our guide, reaching this place would have been impossible. He gave us information about the recent findings of Hindi inscriptions just behind these boulders, which probably hints us of the existence/beginning of Jainism during that period. The presence of a Jain temple in this environ also enhances this feel.
Edict of Ashoka Siddapura
Enclosure built to Protect the Edicts
View of Brahmagiri Hill from Emme Thammana Gudda
Hindi Inscriptions
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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Chalukyan Temples, Sedam Gulbarga

  Sedam is a taluk located in Gulbarga district. On a quest to explore northern Karnataka, I reached Sedam   in search of  historical temples. Sedam was earlier called as Sedimbapura.It houses many temples and Jinalayas. I stopped by a bakery to keep my backpack and inquired about the directions to the various temples. The first temple I visited was the "Kottala Basaveshwara" temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, which  has been completed renovated. A small Jain temple is also located in this temple complex. Being disappointed after seeing a completely renovated temple, I went in search of  Bananti Kambha (Pregnant Lady's Pillar).
Bananti Kambha
Manikeshvara Temple
    Bananti Kambha is a huge tall stone pillar, but I could not find out why and what is story behind this pillar being called so. This pillar is located  in the Manikeshvara temple complex. This temple is again being renovated but its nice to see that original look of the temple is being maintained. My next stop was a small tea shop where I met the care taker of the Panchalingeshwara Temple, who more than eager to show me the temple , a short walk from the tea shop we reached the most beautiful temple of the town. Two beautiful dwarapalas (door keeper) welcomed me into this temple complex, since I had no idea about this temple was surprised to see such beautiful temple, exceptional stone work of Rastrakutas and Chalukayas. This temple complex house five Shiva linga in five Grabhagrihas, out of which two where housed in the main temple, rest three housed in single celled temples in the complex.

Welcome to Panchalingeshwara Temple
Life Size Dwarapalas
Hair Do of Lady Dwarapala
Hair Do of Lady Dwarapala
Lord Tandeshvara on the Lintel
Gajalakshmi on Lintel
   The most striking features of this temple complex were the live sized Shaiva Dwarapalas and the two lady dwarapalas, though sadly one of them has been vandalized. I could only imagine how wonderful it looked originally. The ceilings mostly resembled the Rashtrakuta style.

Shiva Linga
Main Shiva Linga
Lord Tandeshvara in the Center of the Ceiling
Typical Rashtrakuta Ceiling
Lord Ganesha
    Though the caretaker had no much information about the temple, he definitely fulfilled his job of maintaining the temple. Thus ending my quest for historical temples of Sedam, which only left me wondering of how many such temples were/are there in India. The North Karnataka Quest continues in search of many such wonderful places.

Dandeli- Resting in the Lap of Nature

  At last, it was the turn of our much awaited trip to Dandeli. Dandeli is a town located in the Uttara Kannada district and is a part of the Western Ghats, which is one of the bio-diversity hotspots in the world. Dandeli is home to some of the finest forests and rarest species of flora and fauna. Dandeli's major tourism activities include the very popular water sports of white water rafting in the Kali rapids, Kayaking, Coracle Ride, Rappelling, Jacuzzi Bath, Angling, Nature Walks, Trekking, Jungle Safari, and Bird Watching. Dandeli proves to be one of the best getaways for nature lovers and adventurers.
The Sun Rise
Road to Destiny

  Our journey started  as we watched a  few playful river terns by a lake near Haliyal, thus guaranteeing a great bird watching ahead.  The list of birds sighted only grew with our journey. Due to lack of time, we chose bird-watching over white water rafting and enjoyed the hours we walked through the jungle and spotted birds.  My wife was doubly excited as we went on to spot the Thrush and Hornbill with the help of our guide and a great bird spotter, Hanumanthu.
Playful River Tern
Indian Magpie Robin

Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Black Lored Tit
Dense Forest

   The list of birds sighted is as follows- Scarlet Minivet (pair), White Throated Thrush, Greater Racket Tailed Drongo, Common Iora, Marshall's Iora, Greater Flame Back, Common Flame Back, Wood Swallow, Crested Serpent Eagle, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Blue Winged Leafbird, Golden Fronted Leafbird, White Rumped Shama, Great Tit, Black Lored Tit, Barn Swallow, Ashy Drongo, Black Drongo, White Throated Fan Tail, Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Streak Throated Woodpecker, Hill Myna, Sun Bird, Magpie Robin, Fly Catcher.
Malabar Pied Hornbill
Camouflaged Gecko

 Our trip was arranged by is a first official travel website on Dandeli, launched to help travelers visiting Dandeli. In response to the incoming requests and inquiries about Dandeli, and with increasing popularity of the website, a thought of starting a resort arose and the result was, Dandeli Jungle Camp. DJC is located at Pradhani, a village situated on the Dandeli-Karwar Road and is professionally and jointly run by Mr.Sanjay and Mr.Ramnath.  DJC being nestled in deep wooded surroundings overshadows the feeling of being in a resort. The resort being so close to nature, has been designed with the sole purpose of providing the best facilities at affordable prices, without stealing away from mother nature. For further details, contact Ramnath-9900547763, Sanjay-9448797270 or e-mail at:

Tents pitched in the Resort
   The staff at the resort are most hospitable, humble and helpful. Accommodation is comfortable with the basic facilities being made available. The food was simple and tasty. The place is quite rustic and is perfect for people who wish to be with nature. Overall, our stay was pleasant and we surely wish to visit Dandeli again and again! Our first time experience at Dandeli will always remain close to our hearts and by far is the most enjoyed bird watching trips ever.
Malabar Giant Squirrel
 Why Dandeli : Dandeli is amongst the most densest of  forests in India with a thick canopy of evergreen trees, making it difficult for light to pass through. River Kali, the life line of Dandeli provides ample opportunities for water adventure sports and  is internationally acclaimed for White Water Rafting. Dandeli is one of the very few places in India where black panthers roam and are sighted regularly. The bird life here is so diverse that we were spellbound at the varieties of birds we spotted in just a few hours. During our visit, we met two bird- watchers from Maharashtra who also acknowledged the same. Dandeli Jungle camp, located amidst the forests gives one an opportunity to explore nature closely. Places worth exploring around Dandeli  include Syntheri Rocks, Kavala Caves, Ulavi caves, Supa Backwaters, and Ganesh Gudi.
Indian Wild Bison
Syntheri Rocks
Ulavi Caves

  Heartfelt thanks to Rajesh, Sanjay, Ramnath, Dharmesh, Hanumanthu, Mahesh and all involved in making our trip memorable.Though this was our first visit to Dandeli, our enchanting experiences here crossed the limit of our expectations by a great margin. It was quite thrilling and much refreshing.We'd like to believe there are many places in Dandeli that are waiting to be explored. Dandeli promises much more than just the water sports and adventure activities. It is a treasure trove of nature with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
Panoramic View of Supa Backwaters
Suggested Readings:
1 Huchchara Santhe
2 A Wandering Mind
3 Travel with Neelima
4 Be on the road with Sankara