Showing posts with label Caves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caves. Show all posts

In Search of Adichunchungiri Peacock Sanctuary

                                                                                                                                              05 July 2009

As every Sunday gets more excited for us, this Sunday too, ended up being very special. Our pick for this weekend adventure was a Peacock Sanctuary very close to Bangalore. Though not much information was available either from the websites or blogs about the sanctuary itself, we went. ahead to explore this place. Both, I and my husband being nature lovers, were equally excited about sighting a beautiful peacock amidst lush green landscape during our visit. We decided to leave as early as possible since we knew early mornings and late  evenings were the best times to sight the pride of India! We packed our stuff and left around 6:30 am. We drove non-stop taking the NH48 and took a right towards the Adichunchungiri mutt arched entrance. Since we failed to get any kind of information from the web, we totally banked upon the locals for the route to the sanctuary. To our dismay, many of them, on inquiry replied to us in kannada, 'Navila' (a peacock?) 'Illi modhlu ithhu saar, ivaga enu illa, dhaama noo illa, naviloo illa'! (peacocks were seen here long time ago.Now there is nothing here, neither the sanctuary nor the peacocks). Another old man, who heard less, filled us with hope for a moment by saying 'idhe' (meaning it is there), until we realized he had actually misheard the ‘Navilu Dhaama’(peacock sanctuary) as ‘Ravi Dhaba ’!!!! It was kind of funny but it filled us with furt at that moment. A couple of auto drivers too replied  negatively.


Both of us felt disappointed and consoled each other saying it was okay. We still took chances and drove around in search oft it, inquiring people. One man pointed us towards a place that turned out to be a ‘Sasya Kashi’. The guard there made it clear to us about the non existence of any peacock sanctuary around. More disappointment encroached on us. And to be frank, I was really down on hearing such a thing. We went back to the Mutt, drove all around a few kms just to check if there were any sign boards leading to the sanctuary. But no luck. My husband suggested that since we’ve come this far, we should go visit the hill at least. With a heavy heart, I went along. The pain of not sighting a peacock still lingered. To our surprise, the mutt offered us more than we expected! After the dharshana of Lord Bhairaveswara, we followed the track to Gavi Siddeswara and Kathle Someshwara atop the hill. Since it was a religious place, we had to trek the hill bare foot. Initially there were huge granite steps to walk up the hill and then later on, it kind of got slippery as he steps were carved out of karikallu (black stone). We spotted a beautiful yellow crested Bulbul and three different lizards at the hill top. The only thing we were missing was our camera! Anyway, we decided to trek further towards ‘Kathle Someshwara’, supposedly a cave temple where Nandi god is worshipped. The little priest pointed us towards an exit which led to the 'sthamba' (pillar), our second destination. This was the most exciting of all. We experienced a bit of rock climbing and some hard trekking.
 On viewing the ground from hilltop, my husband spotted a route, that we thought could’ve been the one taken by jeeps for rounds in the sanctuary. We decided we would walk around that place and explore. Also, on asking  the little boy (who guided us), if he had spotted any peacocks around recently, he replied to us…‘irithve, bandegal kelagade malgirthave’(peacocks will be there, resting under rocks!). And he vaguely pointed out to the place from top. Our hopes became strong as this was the first positive response we heard. During our climb, we had asked another boy priest about he same and he answered, ‘now there are very few or no peacocks as there is quarrying work going around and the sound of the blasts keep the peacocks away from this place’. It was justified. But we kept our hopes alive. After we finished our trek, we drove towards the Kalyani and a pond filled with lotuses.
Water Tank
Pink Lotuses
     Now, we were hungry to death .We found a place just in front of the mutt and had Thatte Idli, some amazing Saagu (which my husband thought was not tasty!), chutney and bondas for lunch. A cup of hot coffee was perfect to end our afternoon meal.
With hope filled in us, we started the walk into a place just behind the mutt, which we thought could’ve been the non existent sanctuary! It was lush green everywhere, a perfect place for butterflies and birds! As soon as we started to walk, we met an old shepherd who told ‘navilgalu mosthaagive’(there are many peacocks here). We were happy now, since it filled in a lot of confidence of finding one! We explored the place, found lizards, insects and some colorful butterflies.

Lemon Pansy

Spiny Lizard

Crimson Rose
     We kept walking, until we heard the sound of an amazingly beautiful bird, the Peacock! Now, it was a sure thing that there was at least one peacock around! And all our efforts were put in, to sight one. We kept praying secretly that we get a glimpse of the peacock. We walked continuously until we were stopped by a granite slabbed compound, and thought it was best not to walk any further since it looked like the boundary wall of that place. We had read that the peacock sanctuary was less then 1 sq.km. of area. We rested for some time to look for any peacocks around, but in vain. Some people were shouting from the hill top which probably was a disturbance that kept the bird from coming out. We spotted more lizards and some beautiful green bee-eaters.
We walked a little further along the boundary, to a place full of rocks. A group of four birds of unknown identity just fluttered past my husband. For a moment, we thought it was a peacock but no! Keeping our hopes alive and telling each other we needed the luck factor too to sight a peacock, we started walking back towards the car. We heard the cries of a peacock, loud and clear, and tried tracing the peacock. Every now and then, we rested and kept silent. My husband walked keeping the handy cam on,  while I spotted an amazing swallow tailed butterfly that was waiting to be photographed! I was pretty happy to have photographed a butterfly so closely.

Peacock on Rock

It started to drizzle and looked like it would get heavier. My husband advised we reach back to the car as quickly as possible. We walked together talking about the peacock and gosh! What an amazing moment it was, for the both of us….we witnessed the presence of the most beautiful bird in the world, the Peacock! It was a mighty one. At that moment, we couldn’t believe what we’d seen. It looked like as if the peacock came out and showed off just for our sake!!! It was so colorful that one can hardly miss it amidst the background of rocks. We actually got to see a peacock. And a mere glimpse of it had filled our hearts with joy. It made our day and we secretly felt we were lucky. At least lucky enough! I would’ve waited there all evening to watch that beautiful bird. Since we had little time left, we had to hurry back. We climbed up to the place where we had sighted the bird, but found nothing, since the bird had escaped to another place. I could see something big fly away from us. We at least had the mercy of god and the peacock, that we could sight one. It was enough for the day. Just while we were getting down a small hill, we saw a peahen fly over us. We had almost reached the end of where we had started the walk and looking back, we witnessed another amazing moment.
Yes, it was another beautiful peacock. This time, far away and high above, it stood atop the hill as if to say good-bye to us and, revealed its beautiful feathers, showing off its colors and left a message of being happy to have seen us around and to come back again!!! We waited for sometime appreciating its beauty, while it flew to a tree close by. My husband could spot the peacock very distinctly though its bluish green color made it difficult for me to spot it amidst the greenery of the tree. It sat there waiting for us to leave.
  This is our first travel story written long before the inception of this blog . Entire credit of this post goes to my wife.
    



An Unknown Plateau of Flowers - Masai Pathar, Kolhapur, Maharashtra

The Plateau of Flowers - Masai Pathar/Masai Pattar/Masai Plateau

'Masai Pathar/Masai Pattar'/'Massai Plateau' is one among the many plateaus of Maharashtra. While researching the places to visit around Kolhapur, we stumbled upon Masai Pathar and ensured we visit here. Though unaware of what this place had to offer, post our visit to the lovely fort of Panhala we made sure to stop by and explore. Not knowing what was in store made our visit more exciting and what we witnessed was simply unbelievable!  It was nothing less than Heaven on Earth!  A paradise less explored, much beautiful and filled with color. We were at a place second only to Khas or rather equally beautiful. The vast expanse of the colorful flower blooms in all directions made it seem like the abode of god.
Masai Pathar
Smithia hirsuta - Yellow Flowers
Masai Devi Mandir
Masai Pathar is one of the bigger plateaus in Maharashtra, located about 8 km from Panhala. As our guide at Panhala gave us directions to Masai, we reached here without any difficulty. The drive to this location was extremely scenic and thanks to the incessant rains that it was lush green all around. We had to cross the village of Masai to reach the pathar. We parked our car right at the start of the plateau and decided to explore by foot. At first, we only saw small pockets of flower blooms spread across the plain land. As we walked further, we found blooms of various colors.
Blue Pimpernel - Anagallis monelli
Button Grass - Eriocaulon carsonii 
Neanotis lancifolia
Exacum lawai
Competitive World
Senecio grahamii
Utricularia arcuata
 A paradise unexplored was in front of us and we decided to trek further. We spotted a small temple with a lake in its background. We met the guardian of the temple, who was also a local shepherd and had come to graze his cattle. He patiently answered to all our questions, though he only spoke the language of Marathi. He informed us that a further trek of about 3 km (one way) will lead us to the main temple of Masai Devi. We were in two minds about this trek as it was late afternoon, we were  extremely hungry and the weather was not in favor due to the frequent rains. We finally made up our minds to trek in the rains! With all our rain gears out, we proceeded without looking back. It was the best decision ever! As we trekked ahead, we were greeted by flowers, more flowers and more and more flowers! The blooms from the small temple were as intact as possible. The carpet of flowers all through was a treat to the eyes. It was simply remarkable!
Historical Buddhist Cave
A Lark waiting for its Prey
The next place we visited were the historical Buddhist caves which we had sighted during our ascent and wished to explore while returning. After walking along this plateau of flowers and admiring every bit of color around, we reached the Masai Devi temple. The plateau gets its name due to the presence of this temple. As per the legend, "the villagers prayed to the goddess Masai to protect them from a demon named 'Matsyadaitya'. The goddess appeared in this place and killed the demon by pushing him down from the cliff and settled here only in order to protect the locals. A fair is conducted every year during the Dasara festival. It is also believed that Shivaji Maharaja prayed here while escaping from Panhala to Vishalgad during Jouhar's siege.
Masai Devi Mandir, Masai Pathar
Pathar Ke Phool
Beautiful Masai Pathar
'Pandavleni' is a series of ancient caves located close by to the temple. Since it was raining and it was late in the evening, the locals advised us not to venture there. Hence we abandoned our idea of visiting the caves. As we trekked back, it rained all the way until we reached our vehicle. It was one hell of an experience! The beauty and color of this plateau cannot be described in words. Hope this place retains its charm always.
Enjoy Responsibly
The Guardian of Masai

Also remember to "Enjoy Responsibly".

Accommodation/Food: Panhala is the best and closest option for accommodation.

MP Diaries - Badoh-Pathari, The Ruined Twin Towns

The care taker at Maladevi Temple, Gyaraspur informed us about the places of Badoh-Pathari and Udaypur which were located close by. Driving as per the given directions with a few additional inquiries here and there, we reached Pathari and were now in the central part of Madhya Pradesh. 'Pathari' is a true representation of rural Madhya Pradesh with lush greenery everywhere. 'Badoh' and 'Pathari' are two beautiful villages bifurcated by a lake and are rich in architectural heritage. The Guptas ruled here during the 6th century AD followed by the Pratiharas from 8th-10th century AD and then the Rashtrakutas. The presence of a fort built during the medieval period and a few small Cenotaphs belonging to the late 19th century suggests that this place was continuously occupied and played a prominent role in the history of central India.
Gadarmal Temple, Badoh - Pathari
Gadarmal Temple, Pathari
We stopped by a sign board put by Madhya Pradesh tourism, following which we were led to a cave temple dedicated to Saptamathrikas. This temple might have been destroyed with only the cave as remains. On the wall face of the cave is a beautiful carving of the seven mother goddesses, the Saptamathrikas along with Lord Veerabhadra. This is a 6th century structure associated with later Gupta period. The next place we visited here was a group of Jain temples located in the village of Badoh. Though at the first look we were quite happy to see that restoration work was in full swing, we were equally stunned at the same time due to the shoddy restoration work. The temple walls looked more like unsolved jigsaw puzzles. This group of temples were built between  9th-13th century AD and were hindu in origin, but later converted to Jain temples. There are many shrines inside the temple complex along with a ruined Baoli or stepped well. 
Saptamathrikas Cave Temple, Badoh Pathari
Saptamathrikas at the Cave Temple, Badoh
Cave Temple
Entrance to the Group of Jain Temples, Badoh
Jigsaw Puzzle
Baoli or Stepped Well
Jain temple Complex Badoh Pathari
Jain Temple Complex
Jain Tirthankaras
Elaborately Carved Door Jambs
Next on our list was Gadarmal Temple, the most beautiful temple around this town. We were mesmerized to see this grand structure coming out of nowhere. This temple has the unique distinction of being an eight shrined temple, wherein temples have been added to a panchayatana (five shrined) temple. The ruined Torana (gateway) in front of this temple originally would have been a very grand structure which is evident from its remains. There are 8 pillars in front of the temple entrance with elephant capitals. The door jambs are classical pieces of artwork and carved to perfection. The Shikara is grand with various carvings of apsaras and deities on it, though it seems to be a later addition to the temple. This temple was built in the 9th century and can be assigned to Pratihara kings. Hereon, we went in search of Bheemgaja, driving through the narrow lanes of Badoh village. We came across a beautiful lake on the other bank of which lay remains of a beautiful fort. We were running out of time and as the sun went down, we began contemplating about spending time near the fort as we also had another place to cover. We decided not to explore the fort environs and proceeded towards Bheemgaja. 'Bheemgaja' is a huge pillar with inscriptions erected by the minister of a Rashtrakuta king in the 9th century. There are two sati stones close by the pillar with Sanskrit inscriptions. The other places to visit around are the Varaha temple (houses a huge unfinished sculpture of Lord Varaha), Shiva temple, Koteshwar temple and Solah Khamba. We missed visiting these to due to paucity of time.
Remains of a Grand Torana
Pillared Porch 
Shikara of Gadarmal Temple 
Remains of a Small Temple 
Bheemgaja
Sati Stones with Inscriptions 
Fort Overlooking the Lake 
Sunset 
Entrance fee: Entry is free. 
Distance from  nearby major town: 75 km from Vidisha via Gyaraspur and about 30 km from Ganj Basoda.
Accommodation: There are no lodges in Badoh or Pathari, however, the closest and a better choice would be Gateway Retreat at Sanchi maintained by MPSTDC. There are a few small lodges in Ganj Basoda. 
Where to eat: There are a few small roadside eateries here.  
References: 
1. Puratattva 
2. Architecture of the Indian Sub-continent by Takeo Kamiya 

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