Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi


"Wishing you happiness as big as Lord Ganesha's appetite, life as long as his trunk, troubles small as his mouse and moments as sweet as his laddus"

    Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

As per the Mudgalapurana, there are eight incarnations of Lord Ganesha and appear in the following order:
Lord Ganesha in his first incarnation as Vakratunda (twisting trunk), used lion as his mount and made the demon Matsarasura (jealously) surrender to him.
Lord Ganesha in his second incarnation as Ekadunta (single tusk), used mouse as his mount and made the demon Madasura (arrogance) surrender to him.
Lord Ganesha in his third incarnation as Mahodara (big belly), used mouse as his mount and made the demon Mohasura (delusion) surrender to him.
Lord Ganesha in his fourth incarnation as  Gajanana (elephant face), used mouse as his mount and made the demon Lobhasura (greed) surrender to him.
Lord Ganesha in his fifth incarnation as  Lambodhara (pendulous belly), used mouse as his mount and made the demon   Krodhasura (anger) surrender to him.
Lord Ganesha in his sixth incarnation as Vikata (unusual form), used peacock as his mount and made the demon Kamasura (lust) surrender to him.
Lord Ganesha in his seventh incarnation as  Vighnaraja (king of obstacles), used serpent as his mount and made the demon  Mamasura (possessiveness) surrender to him.
Lord Ganesha in his eighth incarnation as  Dhoomaravarna (grey color), used mouse as his mount and made the demon Ahamkasura (pride) surrender to him.

 References: Wikipedia, Lord Ganesha (Book by Manoj Publications)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Gorge Fort - Gandikota

      'Gandikota' is an ancient fort surmounting the Penna gorge in Jammalamadugu taluk of Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh. The river Penna flows through the Erramalai hill range, forming a gorge at Gandikota. The steep rocky walls of the gorge run for a length of about 1.5km and rise above 90m height on either sides. Gandikota village was founded by a king named Kapa, hailing from the nearby village of Bommanapalle in the 11th century and the fort at Gandikota is believed to have been built by him. This gorge, popularly known as 'India's Grand Canyon' is very popular among  travelers and proves a prefect weekend gateway for tourists from Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. The AP tourism department has provision for accommodation with basic amenities for tourists wanting to stay overnight. We hadn't booked any as we were unsure about the time required to explore this place. But, on reaching the fort, we realized we may need more time to explore and hence decided to book a room here. Though the accommodation was full for that evening, luckily a group that was supposed to be there that night canceled their reservation giving us an opportunity for overnight stay. We quickly latched upon this opportunity as the manager later informed us about the rareness of such non availability owing to a very unusual case of full booking  by a  biker community.
Gopuram of Madhavaswami  Temple
         It was around 3pm by the time we settled down and  the temperature was too high to step out and start our exploration. At 4pm, we decided not to waste any more time and drove our vehicle towards the fort, found a comfortable place to park and started our exploration by foot. The fort built over the right bank of river Penna covers a wide expanse of land and houses many ancient structures. The lofty tower (Gopuram) of Madhavaswami temple was quite inviting, so we decided to visit this temple at once. The temple at the outset gave us the feeling of Vijayanagar architecture. The story of the temple dates back to the 13th century. Once, Lord Madhavaswami appeared in the dreams of King Harihara Bukkaraya and instructed him to construct a temple in the forest where he was hunting. Thus, this majestic temple was built to honor the lord. Though the temple is partly ruined, the remaining structure  is well maintained.
Rear View Of Madhavaswami Temple
       After witnessing the grandeur of Lord Madhavaswami Temple,  we visited the Royal Tank, the Jail and the Charminar which lie in close proximity to one another. We later moved on towards the grand looking Jumma Masjid, built by the Nawabs of Golconda. The masjid sets a perfect example of the Indo-Islamic Architecture. Right opposite to the Mosque complex is a big tank, which even today serves as a source of water to the residents. A big granary (storehouse for grains) is present besides the mosque. Next to the granary is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Ranganathaswami built by the Vijayanagar kings.
Jumma Masjid
Unity in Diversity
Inscriptions Found inside Ranganatha Temple
Lord Ranganatha Temple
       It was time now to witness the magnificent and strikingly picturesque 'Penna Gorge' or 'India's Grand Canyon'.  The view of the gorge was simply spectacular. One can easily run out of words to describe its beauty. Spellbound by its mesmerizing beauty, we wanted to explore more than just have a view of the gorge. As the sun was setting, we had to retire for the day and wait until sunrise to continue our explorations.
Penna Gorge

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dual Fort Adventure - Ratnagiri Fort

It was time now for us to move towards Ratnagiri to explore the second fort for the day. Since the fort of Ratnagiri was about 10 km from Bhasmangi, we could reach in just about 20 minutes driving across the rural roads. Ratnagiri is surrounded by three hills with intact fortifications. We inquired the route to the base of the hills and decided to explore the main hill. A shepherd at the starting point of the trek informed us about Ratnagiri being a seven tiered fort and spread across three hills, which sounded quite interesting. There are many Kalyanis or stepped tanks at the bottom of the hills  which probably served as the main source of drinking water for the erstwhile residents of the fort.
Fort Ratnagiri
Dung Beetle
   We were unable trace much of the history related to this place, though we were sure that the fort had connections with the Vijayanagar kings and Tippu Sultan. Unfortunately, this fort was plundered by our generations in search of fortunes assumed to have been left by Krishna Deva Raya's kingdom, after the news of finding fortunes in Sree Padmanabam Temple in Thiruvananthapuram Kerala broke out. Sadly, many forts in Andhra Pradesh have been vandalized by people in search of fortunes owing to the misconception regarding the treasures left behind by the kingdom.
Last Tier
Water Pond
The ascent up till the first tier was difficult due to the absence of a particular trek route. Once we crossed  the first tier, the climb was comparatively easier as there were steps laid all along. We came across numerous water collecting ponds inside the fort. At the sixth tier, was a beautiful temple that stood to tell the act of vandalism. The rock cut steps leading us to the last tier reminded us of the Fort Midigeshi . The last tier comprised of an amazing two storeyed gateway and enclosed many ruins.After resting a while due to our tiresome ascent, we started our descent which was equally tiresome.
Rock Cut Steps
Vandalised Temple
Stepped Well
Mating Beetle
Green Bee Eater