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Friday, December 25, 2015

Belagavi Fort

The Fort Entrance 
The fort of Belgaum is an old fort built in the Chalukyan era which subsequently underwent modifications during the Bahmani rule. Though it seems like the fortification remains intact, the overgrown creepers and plants on the fort walls make it obscure. Sadly, most of the portions of the fort have least or no maintenance. There are many monuments inside the fort area such as the Kamal Basti, Old Jaina Temple, Shiva Temple, Military Durgadevi Temple, the Jamia Masjid and so on.
The Mighty Fort Wall 
The High Fort Wall
On the opposite side of the Kamal Basti is another ruined Jaina temple facing south. Based on the inscriptions, the temple can be dated to have been built roughly around the 10th century. While the garbagriha and sukhanasi have completely disappeared, the ruined temple now survives only with a navaranga and mukhamantapa. They are built on a low elevated Jagati (platform). The navaranga entrance door is intricately carved with various geometrical patterns and floral designs. The pillars of the navaranga are huge, unusually tall and mostly plain with varying cross-sectional shapes and beaded carvings on its circular portions. The mukhamantapa has a kakhshasana (stone bench) and four pillars in its front. The parapet of the kakhshasana (stone bench) in the mukhamantapa exhibits on its external side, rows of artistic geometrical motifs at the base and impressive statuettes of musicians, drummers and dancers at the top portions with bands of floral designs and miniature pillars in between them. It proves to be a great piece of art-work. The outer walls of the temple are plain having horizontal mouldings and projections with koshtas or niches on the eastern and western walls.
The grand Entrance of Mukhamantapa
Pillars of the Navaranga
Musicians, Drummers and Dancers at the Top Row
Artistic Motifs at the Parapet Base
Intricately Carved Door-Jamb
The fort area also houses a ruined Shiva temple facing east and built during the 12th century. Originally this temple is believed to have been built as a trikutachala with three garbagrihas.  Devoid of any shikaras, the only remains of the temple now is the navaranga with four doorways and four pillars. The pillars have engravings of floral designs and geometrical patterns. The entrance doorway is grand with multiple door jambs and fine carvings along with an image of Lord Ganapathy at the center of the lintel. The architrave on the doorway of the navaranga is adorned with sculptures of Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara in the accompaniment of drummers and musicians and other gods. They have pierced windows decorated with floral carvings.  The outer walls are plain with a few partly damaged sculptures of madanikas in various poses. A few meters away from the ruined Shiva temple is the Jamia Masjid which unfortunately looks completely abandoned.
Side-View of Old Jinalaya
Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara on the Architrave
Pierced Window with Floral Design
Outer Wall with Partly Damaged Madanikas

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Belagavi - Kamal Basadi

Belgaum also known as Belagavi, the largest district of Karnataka houses many monuments of historical importance. Amongst them, a few of  which have survived the tests of time and now included in the ASI’s protected monuments list  include the Kamal Basti/Kamala Basadi or Ratta Jinalaya, an old Jain temple inside the fort area of Belgaum. Built in the later Chalukyan style in 1204 A.D. by Bichana, a minister of Kartavirya IV of Ratta dynasty, Kamal Basti catches one’s eye for its neat geometrics that are meticulously executed.
Places to visit in Belgaum
The Grand Entrance
The Kamal Basti has a garbagriha, sukhanasi/antarala (vestibule/ante-chamber), navaranga and mukhamantapas. The garbagriha facing north is star shaped and houses an idol of Bhagwan Neminatha, the 22nd thirthankara, replacing the original image of Shanthinatha, is seated in the Dhyana (mediation) posture and carved in black stone. The prabhavali behind the idol is quite artistic with floral designs and makara toranas. The garbagriha entrance has intricate carvings on its door jambs.
The Majestic Door Frame
The antarala in front of the garbagriha has perforated window screens at its entrance with carvings of makaras and image of seated Jaina figure on its lintel.The lathe turned pillars of the navaranga have floral designs and geometrical engravings. Idols of a few thirthankaras can be seen inside and in the wall niches.The mukhamantapa has three entrances with stone benches on its periphery. The ceiling of the mukhamantapa is decorated with a profuse carving of a huge lotus, because of which over a period of time the Basti also came to be known as Kamal (lotus) Basti. On the ceiling can also be seen the projected idols of ashtadikpalakas in the eight cardinal directions (two seem missing) and comparatively smaller images of jaina thirthankaras in between them. The glossy lathe turned pillars of the mukhamantapa though mostly plain with minimal carvings are very skillfully executed.
The Beautiful Lathe Turned Pillars 
Beautiful Central Ceiling 
The lovely shikaras atop the garbagriha and mukhamantapa are of Kadambanagara style (stepped pyramidal type). The central ceiling of the mukhamantapa bears resemblance to Tarakeshwara temple of Hanagal (Haveri district). The external walls are plain with horizontal mouldings/bands and exhibit various patterns of geometry. It surely is a visual treat to the eyes and only intrigues us with the kind of techniques and methods used and the skill possessed by men of those times for such brilliant execution. This temple is maintained by the ASI with the help of local caretakers. Well maintained gardens around the temple only add to the temple’s beauty.
The Majestic Mukhamantapas 
Kamal Basadi, Belagavi
Kamal Basadi, Belagavi 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Places to Visit Around Bangalore/ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು/ Bengaluru Part -11

Continued from here..

Type: Hill, Fort, Temple Town 
Distance from Bangalore: 110 km
Trek Distance: 1.5 km (One Way)
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - Old Madras Road - Till Mulbagal 
About: Mulbagal forms the eastern gateway to Karnataka and is popular for its Anjaneya temple and Namkeens (Savories). The fort is supposed to have been built during the Vijayanagar period which later underwent renovations during Tippu's rule. There are 2 big boulders on the peak of the hill known as Mahadeva Gundu and Babaiah Gundu. More
Mulbagal
Mulbagal Fort 
57. Hulukudi 
Type: Hill, Fort, Temple Town 
Distance from Bangalore: 80 km
Trek Distance: 1.5 km (One Way)
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - Doddaballapura - Right turn towards Devanahalli -  Right turn after 6 km - about 4 km to reach the hill base
About: Hulukudi is an erstwhile town of the Cholas. There are many inscriptions here belonging to this period. There are also many temples on the hill and in the village - Veerabhadraswamy temple, Narashima temple, Mukaneshwara Temple, Anjaneya temple and others. There is no much history known about the fort . More
Hulukudi
Nandi Enclosure, Hulukudi Fort
58. Lepakshi 
Type: Temple Town 
Distance from Bangalore: 110 km
Directions from Bangalore: A) Bangalore - Doddaballapura - Gauribidnaur - Hindupur - Lepakshi
                                           B) Bangalore - Devanahalli - Chikkaballapura - Bagepalli - Lepakshi 
About: The Vijayanagar King Virupanna is known to have built the Veerabhadra temple here. Though it has passed through the hands of many kingdoms, the  contribution of the Vijayanagar Kings is vast. This place is also associated with the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The fresco paintings on the ceilings are remarkable, leaving one to only wonder about the immense skills people possessed during those times. The statue of Nandi situated at about 600 meters from the temple is another excellent piece of artwork of the Vijayanagar period. More
Lepakshi
Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, Lepakshi 

Type: Hoysala Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 120 km
Directions from Bangalore: A) Bangalore - NH 48 - Right turn at Nayakanahalli - Santhe Bachalli
About: The Mahalingeshwara Temple here serves as a very good example of Hoysala architecture that flourished during the 12th century. The temple interiors are beautifully executed. The Veeranarayana temple is supposed to have be built during the Vijayanagara period. More
Hoysala Temple
Mahalingeshwara Temple Santhe Bachalli
60. Kendatti Madivala 
Type: Prehistoric Site 
Distance from Bangalore: 50 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - NH 7 - Left turn at Kendatti - Kendatti Madivala
About: The standing stones/Menhirs here tell a wonderful story about the skills of these prehistoric people. This site is spread across a few acres and one can witness the various prehistoric burials. More 
Pre historic Site
Stone Circle, Kendatti Madival


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hampi Unseen Part 6 - Cave Paintings of Mosalayyana Gudda

"Such a place does not exist here, I have been working here for the past thirty years and never have I heard of a hill named Mosalayyana Gudda", these were the words of a lady in response to the query of the whereabouts of Mosalayyana Gudda (Gudda-Hill)! These words were totally out of sync with  the book I was referring to with regards to Mosalayyana Gudda. My friend  gave me a puzzled look after which we decided to continue towards the much known Vijaya Vittala temple. Surprisingly, the information board put up opposite the temple entrance gave us the exact location of the hill we were in search of! Wasting no time, we walked curiously towards the hill and reached its base.
Cave Paintings Hampi
Mosalayyana Gudda
While we were anxious about finding the cave paintings, a local shepherd boy came to our rescue and confirmed about the presence of paintings on a few rocks. After further discussion with him, we realized we were close to the site of cave paintings. The boy was bound to his duty of taking care of sheep and hence was unable to guide us to the caves personally. We thanked him and as we climbed the hill, we began to examine every rock that we came across for paintings. We looked around for quite sometime, yet there were no signs of any paintings. Walking along, we reached a reasonably plain stretch of land  surrounded by heaps of rock, making it difficult to find the cave paintings.
Hampi Cave painting
Pile of Rocks which housed the Paintings
Musical Rock Hampi
Musical Rock 
After a small break, our hunt continued. While we checked every rock carefully, a red color paint on the rock caught our eye and we reached that pile of rock straight away and eureka! We had found it. There they were! We had to climb a big boulder to have a closer look at the paintings. We were so thrilled and my friend admitted that he had never seen anything like this before. We carefully examined the cave paintings and spent a good time admiring the skills of the pre-historic people.
Cave Paintings Karnataka
First Look @ Cave Paintings
Line Paintings of Humans
Bull Painted 
Bull Rock Carving 
I revisited this site with my wife and four of my best friends. Everybody was equally excited to witness these pre-historic paintings. Further climb led us to the peak of the hill from where the views were amazing, giving us a chance to click some great shots.
Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi
Vijaya Vittala Temple
Related Posts:
1. Rock art at Usgalimal

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Lord Garuda Temple, Koladevi, Mulabagal Kolar

  Witnessing a temple dedicated to Garuda is quite intriguing and fascinating, since not many temples are dedicated to Garuda as the principal deity. While travelling to Kurudumale (Mulbagal taluk, Kolar district), we noticed a board that read " Way to world's only temple dedicated to Lord Garuda". Without a second thought, we followed the directions and reached this temple. Koladevi is one of the few temples dedicated to Lord Garuda, the vahana (mount/vehicle) of Lord Vishnu. At first glance though it seems to be a modern temple, the murti of the main deity Lord Garuda is ancient having legends associated with the epic Ramayana.
Lord Garuda Temple, Koladevi
The Lord Garuda Temple, Koladevi 
Garuda, the king of birds is generally associated with Lord Vishnu but very rarely seen as being worshiped as a principal deity. The beautiful Garuda murti of this temple caught our attention at once as we entered the temple. It became obvious that the murti was sculpted during the Vijayanagar period. Simple in its outlook, Lord Garuda is seen kneeling on one knee while carrying Lord Vishnu and his consort Goddess Lakshmi in his right and left hands respectively. A close observation of the murti shows Lakshmi Devi seated at a higher position than Lord Vishnu, thus signifying prosperity. 
Lord Garuda Koladevi, Mulabagal, Kolar
The Lord Garuda 
Lord Garuda Temple
Decked Up for Puja 


One of the Puranas (ancient hindu texts) is also dedicated to Garuda, by the name Garuda Purana which speaks about his genesis and propagation and also enlists the various punishments given, specific to the type of sin committed.
Garuda Purana
There is another murti here dedicated to Lord Anjaneya (Hanuman), an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, known for his strength and valor. The murti is carved and positioned in such a way that the eyes of Garuda and Hanuman are in perfect alignment, as if staring into each other.
Lord Anjaneya Swamy Mulabagal
Lord Anjaneya Swamy 
Though not known much to the outside world, this temple of Garuda is vastly popular among the locals who strongly believe in and worship the deity regularly. There are also people coming from far off places who learnt about its popularity by word of mouth to witness the miracles of Lord Garuda.
The Hero 
We had a chance to witness one such instance of a family who paid visit to the temple for offering a prayer of thanks.  They were facing difficulty in finding a match in marriage for their daughter and decided to pay a visit and pray to Garudaswamy, a few days after-which she found a suitable match and hence their belief grew stronger. The temple priest also quoted a few instances of such kind and mentioned about how powerful the god here is.