Showing posts with label Cholas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cholas. Show all posts

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 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
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
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

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.

India's First Biodiversity Heritage Site - Nallur Tamarind Tree Sacred Grove

Road to Bliss 
"Nallur" is a the small village located off  the Devanahalli - Hoskote highway. We heard of this place first from a friend's tweet  and then Google revealed more information about it. It was quite surprising that such a wonderful site was not very well known to the outside world and a trip to this place was definitely on. On a holiday, we decided to explore the Tamarind Grove and headed towards Nallur. After a while, owing to the presence of good direction boards all along, we found ourselves right in front of this sacred grove. We could hardly believe our eyes while we witnessed the scenic beauty of the tamarind trees against the backdrop of the blue sky and white clouds.

 An information board at the entrance of the grove read, " This site covers around 53 acres and there are more than 300 tamarind trees. This site is believed to have had its origin during the period of the Chola Dynasty, who ruled this region during 12-13th Century AD. The oldest trees have been confirmed to be older than 410 years now while the others have been here around for 200 years. One can find 5 types of crown, 4 types of foliage, 3 types of inflorescence and 3 types of trunk".
Nallur Tamarind Grove

The Bark of the Oldest Tamarind Tree
There are many ancient temples in and around the grove. While the main temple dedicated to goddess Gangamma  has been renovated, the other temples are in ruins which stand tall and beautiful. The temple of Lord Gopalaswamy  has some magnificent carvings of  Lord Krishna. After exploring this place a little further, we found more ruined temples around and a big Banyan tree. The site has been maintained by the Karnataka Biodiversity Board, Dept. of Forest, Ecology and Environment. The National Biodiversity Authority (Government of India) has listed 5 such sites in India as of now, two of which are the Nallur Tamarind Grove and my college campus of GKVK, Bangalore. 
Lord Gopalaswamy Temple

Goddess Gangamma Temple 
Banyan Tree

A road trip to Lepakshi from Bangalore

The 'Natya Mantapa' or the Dancing Hall consists of seventy beautifully carved pillars of which, twelve pillars situated at the center form the dancing hall. The twelve pillars carry carvings including that of the legendary Dancing Queen Ramhba and the audience watching her dance. The audience include Lord Dattatreya, Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Surya, Tumbara, Riteshwara, Brahma, Nataraja, Chandra and other scholars, some of whom are seen holding musical instruments.The ceiling comprises of a hundred petaled lotus carved out of twelve stones, also called as Shathapatra Kamala in Kannada, meaning hundred petaled lotus). On one of the Pillars, we find the sculpture of the Dancing Guru Brungeshwara, having three legs in the form of hoofs and eyes of a horse with plaited hair, and danced on a par with Rambha. The others pillars of the hall carry miniature carvings of various figurines, floral patterns, and designs.
The Natya Mantapa
Pillars with carvings of the Audience at Dance
Other Side of the Audience

Dancing Queen Rambha

Goddess Parvati
Dancing Guru Brungeshwara

Other Pillars of the Mantapa
Right behind the carving of Bringeshwara is a carving that describes the story of Bhikshatana, in which Lord Eshwara appears in the form of a man, disguised as a beggar, in order to test Goddess Parvati's devotion.  Shiva appears as a in human form as a beggar in front of Parvati's house and calls out 'Bhavathi Bhikshandehi'  for seeking alms. Parvati, who hears the call while bathing, immediately wraps a cloth around her waist and brings rice to partly fill the begging bowl of Lord Shiva. While she goes in to bring milk and ghee, Shiva fills the bowl full with rice. Without losing concentration, and with great devotion, Parvati starts to pour in the milk and ghee. Goddess Parvati is therefore also known as Annapoorneshwari. Lord Shiva, whose main intention was to test her degree of devotion, tries to distract her by making the wrapped cloth slip down her waist (This can be seen clearly in the picture below on the right side). Parvati fails to notice this and continues her offering, proving that she is a staunch devotee. Shiva being impressed by her devotion and commitment, appears in his true from as seen in the picture below.

Shiva in Real Form, As a Beggar and Goddess Parvati
Goddess Parvati Completely  Lost in Devotion
  To the north east corner of the Natya Mantapa stands tall an 8 feet Pillar, known as the Gravity Pillar. It is also called as the Antarikhsha Sthamba or Moola Kannada. It is said that during the British rule, in 1902, an Engineer named Lord Hamilton visited the tempe for inspection purposes, at the time of which he pushed the pillar with an iron rod. The outcome was that apart from the gravity pillar being displaced by a small amount, all the other pillars were also displaced by a short distance, after which, they feared to touch the pillars further. Hence the name Moola Sthamba or the Main Pillar. The pillar is in contact with the ground for a small portion only, whiile the rest is about half an inch above ground.
Moola Sthamba
Closer Look at the Gravity Pillar
As we enter the second prakara, we see a huge sculpture of a Seven Headed Serpent coiled in three layers, at the center of which is seated an idol of Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Linga. The story behind this sculpture is as follows. The kitchen situated right opposite to the serpent sculpture belonged to the sculptors, who prepared their lunch there. One day, it so happened that when the sculptors came to the kitchen for having lunch, it was told by the mother of the main sculptor that it would take some more time in order to make the lunch ready. Now, knowing that it would take time and not wanting to waste any time, the sculptors decided to sculpt on the huge rock lying in font of their kitchen, and the result of this was the Seven Headed Serpent. It is believed that, when their mother walked out of the kitchen and saw this piece of beautiful work, she was shocked and surprised at what they had ended up doing  in such a short span of time. She cast her eyes ( ('Dhrishti' in Kannada)) on the sculpture and the effect was to such an extent that the sculpture cracked at three places.
The Seven Headed Serpent

Complete View of  Serpent and the Adjacent Rock
On the rock adjacent to the carving of Lord Ganapthi can be seen carvings of a Spider (Jedara Hula in Kannada), Bedara Kannappa, a Snake and an Elephant, all f whom are seen worshiping the Shiva linga. It is therefore believed that Shri Kalahastii existed long before Lepakshi was built.
Carvings of Spider, Bedara Kannappa, Elephant & Snake
After entering the second prakara, wee see an idol of Ganesha carved on a rock which is about six feet tall.It is a custom that before worshiping Lord Veerabadhraswamy, the devotees have to take the darshana of Lord Ganapathi. Hence, this place is visited before worshiping Veerabadhraswamy.
Lord Ganapathi - Vigneshwara
About 200m away and in line and opposite to the Seven Headed Serpent that houses a Shiva Linga is a big and beautiful idol of Nandi, the guardian of Lord Shiva. The idol is about 27 feet in length and 15 feet high. The body of Nandi  is decorated with carvings of bells and anklets.

Nandi - Front View
Read the previous posts here and here

A Fort and A Lost City - Hulukudi

Fort Hulukudi  had more in store than our expectations. The priest informed us that the steps we climbed to reach the temple were only recently laid by the temple trust and was not the original route to reach this temple. The actual route to reach the temple was from the opposite side of the route we had taken for ascent. He advised us to take the route behind, which currently is not in use and look out for the big bull statue (Nandi) and a huge stone resembling a butter ball. He also told us that the fort here was built by a local king. We thanked the priest and moved on in search of the Nandi. On our way we met a local who volunteered to walk down with us and share information about this place. He told us about a long forgotten town at the hill base, named Mahdeshwara. Here on, we started out descent along with him and decided to explore the Fort first.
Watch Tower
Steps leading to the Watch Tower
Crumbled Fort Wall
Village Mahdeshwara
Another Watch tower
Fort wall stones scrambled all over
Fort Wall
Rock Cut Steps
A long flight of rock cut steps led us to a small temple that housed the Nandi. The Nandi statue was huge and quite impressive. It is supposedly carved out of a single stone. From here, we went in search of the butter ball stone. This is very much similar to the boulder named Krishna's butter ball in Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu). After this, we reached a stone arch which marked the hill base (This arch is the original entrance to the temple).
The Nandi Temple
Veerabhadra Swamy's Butter Ball
Entrance Stone Arch
 After a small walk through the village fields, we reached the forgotten town of Mahdeshwara. At the entrance of this village was a ruined temple of Lord Shiva and looked quite grand. Our guide left us to ourselves to enjoy exploring the temple and also mentioned about a small cave besides the temple. Meanwhile he went to arrange some lunch for us. This temple was simply beautiful and kudos to our guide and his family who are actually taking care of this temple inspite of not receiving help from anyone. The Shiva Linga is a large one and resembles Chola architecture. There is also a Tamil inscription on a stone by the side of the temple.
Mukaneshwara Temple
Decorative Door Frame
Interior Decorative Frame Work
Art work on the Ceiling
Lord Mukaneshwara
Tamil Inscription
Entrance to the Cave besides the Temple
The next temple we visited was dedicated to Lord NarashimaSwamy. This temple currently has been renovated to give it a modern look. The spacious place all around this temple served as a dinning hall for us where we were accompanied by two other little friends for a sumptuous and tasty  lunch comprising of  Bisi Bele Bath (Dal and Rice  with Vegetables) and Kosambari  (Dal and Coconut Salad). After this heavy and much needed lunch, we rested for a while and walked towards a mantap that housed another huge Nandi. A little further, we were amazed to see an open air temple of Lord Hanuman. The image of Hanuman carved on a big rock was magnificent and looked like it had been painted recently.
Our Sumptuous Lunch
Nandi Mantapa
Beautiful Nandi
Lord Hanuman
Way to Mahdeshwara
Our journey came to an end here and we walked through the fields towards our vehicle. We chatted for a while with our guide and then came the time to say goodbye to him, thus ending one of those journeys, which initially looked unworthy but later turned out be one of  the most exciting and interesting trips of ours. We wholeheartedly thank our guide for taking us around this place and sharing everything he knew and dedicate this to him and his family.
Hulukudi Veerabhadra Swami

References :
1 Travel blog .
2 Wikimapia