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

MP Diaries: Udayagiri caves Vidisha, The Valley of Gods

Our next destination for the day was Udaygiri/Udayagiri caves located near the city of Vidisha. A fifteen minute drive from Sanchi brought us to the caves of Udaygiri, one of the earliest Hindu cave temples in India, which are the finest example of Gupta art. Udaygiri caves were created between 4th and 5th Centuries AD by Chandragupta Vikramaditya after defeating the Shaks. This cave temple complex consists of twenty caves, of which two are dedicated to Jainism and the others to Hinduism. The proximity of the two sites of Sanchi and Udaygiri is proof to the peaceful coexistence of the three religions; Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism,  similar to other sites such as Ellora and Badami. There are many inscriptions found here that date from 401 AD to 1034 AD in various languages.
Udaygiri Caves
Udaygiri Caves 
We missed visiting Cave No.1 as it was located far away from the cluster of other caves.
Cave No.2 - This cave was empty.
Lord Ganesha
Cave No.3 - This cave is also known as Kumara Cave which consists of a  beautiful image of Lord Kartikeyan, the god of war.
Kumara Caves, Udaygiri Caves
Lord Kartikeyan
Cave No.4 - This cave is also known as Veena Cave, named so due to the presence of  a carving depicting two seated Veena players on its lintel. This cave also houses a very beautiful and rare idol of Ekamukhalinga (linga with one face) of  Lord Shiva.
Ekmukhalinga, Udaygiri Caves
 Ekamukhalinga form of Lord Shiva 
Cave No.5 - This cave is also known as Varaha Cave and contains one of the important sculptures of Udaygiri. A huge carving of Varaha (third incarnation of Lord Vishnu) is seen here, depicting the story of rescue of earth from the demon Hiranyaksha. The images of the three river goddesses of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi are also carved here which is widely accepted to be one of the earliest depictions of them.
Lord Varaha , Udaygiri Caves
Lord Varaha
Udaygiri Caves Vidisha
Cave No.5 
Cave No.6 - This cave is also known as Sanakanika Cave. Carvings of Lord Ganesha is seen on the left panel along with the dwarapala. On the right panel of the cave are seen sculptures of Lord Narasimha and Goddess Mahishasura Mardhini along with the Saptamathrikas. The two dwarapalas are also beautifully depicted .
Mahishasura mardhini
Cave No.6
Cave No.7 - This cave is also know as Tawa Cave due to the flattened shape of its roof. The cave is devoid of any images except for a few inscriptions belonging to the Chandragupta era.
Tawa Cave 
Cave Nos.8 and 9 are empty.
Cave No.10 - This cave contains a damaged  idol resembling some form of Vishnu.
Cave No.11 - This cave is also known as Vamana Cave and contains carvings representing the story of Vishnu's fifth incarnation of Vamana.
Vamana, Udaygiri Caves
Vamana Avatar
Cave No.12 - This cave is also known as Narasimha Cave and houses a carving of the Lord Narasimha with two dwarapalas on its rock face.
Lord Narasimha 
Cave No.13 - This cave is also known as Sheshashayi cave as it  houses a long and beautiful carving depicting Sheshashayi, one of the forms of Lord Vishnu, where he is seen reclining on the serpent with a lotus emerging from his navel and Lord Brahma seated on the lotus. An image probably of Chandragupta II, showing his devotion to Lord Vishnu is also carved.
Lord Sheshashayi
Cave Nos.14,15,16 and 17 are mostly empty with only a few inscriptions.
Cave No.18 - The walls of this cave contain carvings of images of Lord Ganesha on the left panel and Mahishasura Mardini (slaying of the buffalo demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga) on the right panel. Cave Nos.2 to 18 are situated  in a cluster.
Cave No. 18
Cave No. 19 - This cave  is also known as Amrita Cave owing to the depiction of Samudra Manthana, the great event of churning of the ocean of milk to obtain the nectar of immortality, on the lintel of its entrance. This cave is very big and spacious, with many inscriptions and is situated about 500 m from the cave cluster. It also had a mukhamantapa with four pillars which  sadly lies in ruins today.
Samudra Manthana on the Lintel of Cave No. 19
Sanskrit Inscriptions
Cave No. 20 - This cave is also known as the Jain Cave and supposedly houses a beautiful idol of Jaina along with other carvings. The entrance to this cave remained closed due to some interior structural damage. One must climb a steep flight of steps in order  to reach this cave. 
River Halali Viewed From Cave No. 20
Entrance fee: Entry is free.
Distance from nearby major town: 57 km from Bhopal and 5 km from Vidisha.
Accommodation: The only option  here for accommodation is the Jungle resort maintained by MPSTDC, though one can stay overnight at Bhopal and reach Udaygiri the next morning. 
Where to eat: Stop by at the Jungle resort for food, alternatively one can travel to Vidisha for better options. 
1. Information boards put up by Madhya Pradesh Tourism. 

Paparajanahalli Fort, Antharagange Kolar

Though the fort of Paparajanahalli was within a striking distance from the hill range of Antharagange, we missed exploring it every time we were around Antharagange. Thus one day, I finally decided to explore this place and started early in the morning. A vague estimate of distance to this place would be around 8 km from home, which would make it a 16 km trek on completion.  The initial walk from home was across the national highway which then merged with narrow winding roads leading to Antharagange. A kilometer's walk hereon took me to a hiking trail to this hill and I promptly took a deviation towards this route and continued my climb. After an ascent of around 15 minutes, I reached the Therahalli temple, a very beautiful temple indeed which we had visited earlier during one of our journeys around this place.
Antharagange, Kolar
Elvis Stone
Mahagopuram, Therahalli
Lord Shiva Temple, Therahalli
Lord Shiva Temple Complex, Therahalli 
Without spending much time here, I headed towards Paparajanahalli, still following the hiking trail and reached a place from where the route seemed to vanish. Fortunately, a shepherd who passed by informed me about the Pandava caves located close by and gave directions to reach Paparajanahalli. After paying visit to the Pandava caves, I got down and started walking along the roadway to reach Paparajanahalli. On inquiring about the fort at Paparajanahalli, a joyous lady directed me towards the fort. The real trek had just begun. As I gradually gained elevation, portions of the fortification became visible.
Interesting War Sculptures with Elephant and Horses
Green Locust 
Probably the Fort Entrance
Fort Walls 
Ruined Rampart
On my way to the hill top, I met a shepherd who engaged me in a conversation and found me stupid as I had come all the way and all alone to this place. I smiled and moved on. Though not much of  the fortification remains, it is quite evident that a big and grand fort once existed here. After a thorough exploration covering all parts of the hill, I rested for a while at a nice spot and satisfied my hunger with the food I carried in one go. The views from atop the hill  were enchanting. I had to get back home as the weather got warmer. The whole experience was worthwhile.
Skillfully Executed Stone Umbrella 
A Water Pond Atop of the Hill 
Hills of Antharagange Hills 
Bird's Eye View of Kolar 
Click here for location 
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Northern House Gecko

Northern House Gecko (Hemidactylus flaviviridis Rupell), a not so common gecko/lizard in the south of India was spotted inside the Lord Ramalingeshwara cave temple. We spotted three geckos, out of which the one closest to us was captured on camera. He was a lazy one and did not move an inch since the time we spotted him!
Northern House Gecko
Northern House Gecko

Apsarakonda Falls and Caves

 Nestled on the edge of a hill and lined by a beautiful beach, this serene waterfall lies hidden amidst thick vegetation in Honnavar taluk of Uttara Kannada district. As we had halted in Honnavar one night, we decided to visit Apsarakonda the next morning. We left early in the morning thinking that the place may get crowded with people and also since early mornings are a good time to sight birds. 'Apsarakonda' means 'Pond of an Angel'.
Ready To Fall
After parking our vehicle, we walked up to reach the park entrance. There were no directions to the waterfall anywhere initially at the park and also since there was nobody to give us any information, we just walked ahead hoping to sight a sign board somewhere along. There were steps that lead us to a beautifully developed park though there were no signs of any waterfall yet. Luckily, the birds at the park kept us busy for quite sometime as the day started to get warmer.  Finding a way out of the park, we reached a point from where there was a way down and another way up! While my partner chose to rest at that point, I decided to go down and check the way out. A few minutes down, I reached a temple from where I could also hear the sound of the waterfall. Excited! I was. Walking a little further , I saw a few steps that led to the waterfall. Quickly backtracking,  I called for my partner who joined me mid-way and both of us reached the waterfall. Equally amazed on seeing such a beauty, we eagerly jumped into the waters and enjoyed the touch of those waters. It was calm and cool with just the nature and us. 
Seat Decorated With Sea Shells 
Steps To Bliss
Pond of  An Angel
Apsarakonda Falls
Hereon, we went on to explore the Pandava caves. We found two such caves, small in size, and guessed there would be many more.
Pandava Caves
Apsarakonda Beach
Paddy Fields
Monsoon Blossom 

Break Fast Time

Hirebenakal - The land of the dead

            Hirebenekal is a small village located in Koppal district, off the Gangavathi - Gadag Highway. The hills of Hirebenekal are considered to be the most significant amongst the pre-historic sites in India. I was much excited to explore this place. One early morning, I left my room in Bellary and boarded a bus to Gangavathi town. Gangavathi at that time was decked with paddy fields, getting ready for harvest. As there were no direct buses to Hirebenekal, I took the bus that dropped me off closest to Hirebenekal and further hired a passenger auto to Hirebenekal. The village of Hirebenekal is located about a kilometer away from the highway. It is surrounded by a hill range that stands as a testimony to the pre-historic period.
Hirebenakal Information Broad
            My first task was to look out for a guide / local person who would help me go around this site and give the necessary information.  I found out about the care taker of this site but unfortunately could not get him. I was directed to the hill base to find him but in vain. Luckily, I was greeted by informative boards giving details about this place and its pre-historic culture.  I was glad to see the direction boards to the site.
About Megalithic Culture
Crocodile Painting
Rugged Terrain
  Moving as per the directions, somehow I lost track and climbed the wrong hill. After climbing and not finding any directions thereon, I decided to get down this hill from the opposite direction. During my descent, my eyes fell on one of the boulders that looked like it carried paintings.  A closer look confirmed the same and I was amazed to witness crocodile paintings on the boulder.  I was also quite surprised as this place is located away from any kind of water bodies. I continued my descent only to realize I’d lost my way again! Upon investigation the surroundings, a direction board caught my eye and I only wondered how one could miss this. Within no time I reached a big boulder with paintings, amongst which the paintings of people standing in a row and dancing was quite interesting. I spent quite some time here admiring the technology of creating paints that have survived tens of thousands of years of sun and rain, whereas paints of today may only manage to survive a few..
Rock Art 
People in Line
Dancing People

Cave painting
Dolmen Site 

            As time was ticking and the day getting warmer, I had to hurriedly reach the cluster of boulders upon which was the Kettle's Drum, another wonder of the pre-historic times. The boulder when tapped emits a sound made by the drum. Here on, I reached a pre-historic grave yard, which housed dolmens of various types, sizes, and shapes. It took me a lot of time to explore this area in depth. Lastly, I moved on to the site of the quarry and a pond.  It was time was to return and complete the quest for the day only to begin a more exciting one the next day!
Quarry and Pond

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