Showing posts with label Karnataka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Karnataka. Show all posts

Friday, July 1, 2022

Rehmangarh/Kaivara Fort

Though we were aware of the presence of two mighty forts between Kaiwara and Chintamani, there was always an uncertainty of the sheer existence of these forts as very little or no information was available   on the internet. This made us more curious to explore and one Sunday, it was time to do the same.  We headed towards Kaivara in search of these forts.
Update:- Now this trek is under Karnataka Eco tourism managed by Karnataka Forest Department and can be booked from their website and is charged Rupees 250 per head. 
Rehmangarh Fort , Chintamani
Rehmangarh Fort
Our first stop was a small tiffin centre at the entrance of Kaivara. After having a sumptuous breakfast, we inquired the owner of the hotel about the fort. He had absolutely no idea about any fort around. When we later pointed towards the hill on which the fortification was vaguely visible, he smiled sarcastically saying that the route to the fort was no longer accessible and nobody goes there now-a-days and is completely abandoned. Additionally, he mentioned that we would not make it there. On asking him why he said so, he replied that though there is a route to reach the fort, no one including the locals dares to do that.  His concern towards us was understandable. But, we would never give up! Once we know there was a route, we were determined to trek up and reach the fort.  . He then challenged us saying that we will not be able to climb that hill and suppose we did, then he would offer us free lunch in his hotel!  This was a real bonus, an exciting adventure plus free meals. It was a challenge to us now to capture the fort! And so we headed quickly towards the hill following his directions. 
Kaivara National Park
The Path thru Forest
Kaiwara Fort, Chintamani
The Fort Wall
Fort Gateway, Kaivara
The Gateway
Tippu drop
Tippu Drop
The View from Tippu Drop
We reached the entrance of a mini-zoo-park maintained by the Karnataka Forest Department. The forest guard there was quite surprised by us when we inquired about the directions to the fort, and advised us not to venture there and if we wished to do so, we could at our own risk. He was not too convinced with our decision to move ahead since the route was not safe and difficult to climb and showed his concern for us.  After a brief chat, he agreed and told us to return by 3 pm. We paid the nominal fee for entering the park and proceeded further. From here began our search for the first fort.  Fortunately or unfortunately, he gave u no directions while we proceeded as though we knew the route to the fort! We made our own way until we reached a path that looked like a shepherd’s route.  The ascent hereon was quite easy and pleasant. Within no time we reached the top of the first hill from where the fort was at a striking distance. We found a way towards the fort and started walking. The rest of the climb was simple and plain.
Forts near Bangalore
Ruined Structure and Water pond

Lord Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, Kaivara
Lord Veerabhadra Swamy Temple
Forts of Karnataka
The Fort Ruins
Lone Microwave Station
The fort was built by local Palegars and later improved by the Tippu Sultan. This conspicuous hill fort rises to a height of 4200 feet above sea level. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Veerabhadra Swamy and a small pond of water besides.  A point on the edge of the hill was served as a place to kill the sinner by Tippu, who dropped them from that high point. It reminded us of Tippu drop of Nandi Hills. Not many structures remain on the fort apart from a few ruined ones.  The strong and lonely fort walls have many stories buried within them. The different views from atop the hill were mesmerizing but for us, the most striking one was that of a hill higher than this with a fort like structure.   After resting a while, we started our descent and reached the park that housed a small zoo having nothing more than rabbits, swans and peacocks.  Though the premises have been fairly maintained, we felt a little extra care needs to be put in by the concerned.  The guard became friendlier once we returned and spoke to us calmly.  Very surprisingly, he was not aware of the exact name the hill carried and quoted names like Kaivara fort, Anegundi fort, Tippu drop, Permachanahalli fort, etc. We headed directly to the shop situated right opposite to the park and quenched our thirst drinking some refreshing mango juice.  The lady at the shop was shocked and said most of the people who get in to climb up the hill return after trekking half way.  Now the time had come to redeem our reward of a free meal and reached the hotel.  The challenger had a broad smile on his face and was not ready to believe we had actually done it. We had to convince him by showing a few clicks of the fort as proof.  Very kindly, he offered us lunch while we thanked him and moved on.
The View
Bird's Eye View of B C Road
At the Tippu Drop
 How to reach Kaiwara/Kaivara: Bangalore - NH75 - Hoskote - SH 82 - H Cross Continue further till Kaivara cross - Left turn - Kaivara towards Kaivara zoo (Fort is inside this Zoo). About 70 Km from Bangalore.
The hunt for the second fort begins…..
Chintamani Fort
Quite Inviting
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Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Lost Chalukyan Town of Ambali, Bellary

      'Ambali', a small village in Hagaribommanahalli taluk of Bellary district that seemed unusually busy with the harvesting of onions, is home to a very beautiful Chalukyan temple dedicated to Lord Kalleswara (Shiva, Ishvara) built during the 10th century. Ambali is located off the Kottur - Hadagali main road, about 10 km from Kottur towards Hadagali. After travelling a few kilometers from Kottur, we decided to inquire about the directions and realized we were heading away from our destination and had traveled quite far. Hereon, following the right directions we reached Ambali in quite some time. 
The Harvest
Cheerful Posers
       The Kalleswara temple belonging to the Chalukyan era is beautiful and stands tall with pride. The temple is simple in its appearance with fine interiors. The temple facing east consists of a garbagriha, antarala, natya-mantapa and mukha-mantapas on the north, south and east directions respectively.
Kalleshwara Temple Ambali
The Kalleshwara Temple 
Natya-Mantapa
  The garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum) houses a Shivalinga and has an ornate pancha (five) shaka (jamb) door frame decorated with lozenges, creepers, musicians, dancers, birds, lions and elephants. The door jambs have dwarapalakas attended by Rati and Manmatha. The lintel of the garbagriha has a well sculpted Gajalakshmi with elephants on either side. The threshold of the door in front has a decorated moon-stone or semi-circular stone slab (chandrashila).
Lord Kalleshwara 
Garbagriha Door Frame
Lintel Carvings
Decorated Moon-stone
       The antarala door way is intriguing with lozenge flower decorated perforated screens. The door jambs have sculptures of dwarapalakas. The lintel of the antarala (sukhanasi/vestibule) has a beautiful carving of Nataraja (dancing shiva) who is watched by goddess Parvati and attendants who include Lords Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi along with Lord Brahma and Goddess Saraswati, and the ashtadikpalakas (guardians of the eight cardinal directions) mounted on their respective vahanas (vehicles/mounts) on either sides. This depiction ends with stylized makaras (crocodile with florid tail) at the ends of the lintel. The exterior walls of the sanctum houses mouldings or friezes consisting of a miniature lions (simha), elephants and makaras with strings of pearl tassels in combination. There are three finely carved miniature shikaras on the three walls of the Garbagriha. The moulded adisthana (basement or plinth) has indentations up to the walls which resolve into manch-bandha pattern whose projections carry niches. These are treated with dravida turrets raised on slender pilasters. The turrets (vertical projecting towers) are crowned with kirtimukha (glory-faced) makara torana. The shikaras above garbagriha is comparatively plain and of Dravidian style.
Makara Frieze 


 The natya-mantapa situated at the center has four lathe pillars with sculpted bases similar to the ones in many other Chalukyan temples. The mukha-mantapas have a Jagati (platform/stone bench) on which are present a set of pillars circular in shape and are lathe turned while the others set on ground along its periphery have dissimilar distinct shapes and are skillfully executed. The ceiling of the mantapa has a lotus motif.
The Dravidian Shikara 
Miniature Shikara
Pillars of Mukha-Mantapa

This temple comes alive and is very well maintained. There is a lady care taker appointed by the ASI who does her job wholeheartedly and it definitely shows off. The garden surrounding this temple gives an increased aesthetic value of the environs. The locals take pride in the beauty and history of this temple.     
ASI Information Board 


References :
1. ASI
2. Temples of Karnataka - Book by KM Suresh 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Ramadevara Betta Kote, Fort Ramanagara

The Fort at Ramadevara Betta is a large one with 7 tiers. Much of the fortification still remains intact and one can get a clear picture of the mighty fort that once stood here. The lower fortification extended up till the river Arkavathi and had enclosed the erstwhile town of Ramagiri. However today, the town has disappeared, with a few mango groves and farms taking its place. The lower fortification on the river bank is still intact at a few places. Except for the fortification and temples around, most of the other structures are lost. There are at least 5 water ponds  present at various levels of fortification, apart from the river which has served as a source of drinking water.  

Rama Devara Betta
Old Steps With Fortification

From the entrance to the fort, a tier of fortification with old steps is visible to us. Currently, there are well laid steps leading us to the temple dedicated to Lord Pattabhirama.  There are two routes from the temple site, one towards the lower fortification which takes us through 3 tiers of fortification up till the river and the second takes us to the upper fortification. First time during our visit, we chose the route towards the river. At the 5th gateway near the temple is a beautiful carving of Lord Krishna accompanied by Lords Garuda and Anjaneya. Going further down the steps, we reached the spot of Kote Anjaneya Swamy which is believed to have been installed 700 years ago located close to the 4th gateway. While we offered our prayers to the lord here, we came to know from the priest about the presence of a carving of Lord Rama's feet further down for which we had to cross two more gateways to reach. 

Rama Devara Betta
Locally Known as 'Ramana Gundu'

Rama Devara Betta
Bird's Eye View From Top of Rama Devara Betta

On one of the rocks on our way down is a carving of Lord Ganesha and a little further lies a water pond. After exploring around, we walked further down to reach the spot of the carving of Lord Rama's Feet. We met an elderly person who upon inquiry went on to explain the story about Sri Kempegowda taking refuge near the place of the carving and also getting a dream of building a fort here. He also narrated that Sri Kempegowda found some treasure here from which he was able to build Bengaluru. There is a small temple built recently that houses a carving of Lord Anjaneya along with other sculptures. We were also informed that a walk of about 10 mins from will lead us to the first tier of fortification near the river. As we had other plans, we could not explore that side of the fortification and it was also too late to trek towards the upper fortification. 

Rama Devara Betta
5th Gateway of Ramagiridurgam

Rama Devara Betta
Lord Ganesha Carved On a Rock

During our next visit, we explored the upper fortification wherein the 6th and 7th gateways remain completely destroyed. The route towards the top is easy to climb except for the last stretch. This last stretch is known as the Honna Kumbhi Betta. A a security guard appointed by the forest department always remains stationed at this point to control the crowd movement. This place is so named since it is believed that Sri Kempegowda found a  treasure here, thus the name honna (gold) and the shape of the hill when seen from the Bengaluru side is conical and thus the name kumbhi. Right at the start of this stretch is the famed carving of the Vanara King Sugriva. A set of rock cut steep steps lead us to the top. The top most part of the fort is a big plateau region with one big water pond and ruins of fortification  spread here and there. The views from the top is simply astounding and mesmerizing. We spent some time here after which we got down to have the darshan of Lord Pattabhirama. Anna prasadam was also served at the temple (served on weekends and special days). 

Rama Devara Betta
Climb Up to Honna Kumbi Betta

Rama Devara Betta
Water Pond

 The Fort  is believed to have been built/strengthened by the Nadaprabhu Kempegowda's Family. Later, it was captured by the Mysore Wodeyars, after which it came under the control of Hyder Ali and  finally was captured in 1791 by the British under the captaincy of Welch. The people who lived here slowly moved out and settled in Closepet (erstwhile name of Ramanagara). Buchchanan says that "The place is dreadfully infested by tigers, especially the fort, which occupies a large rocky hill, capable of a very tedious defense, even without any assistance from art". During Buchanan's visit here, this place was inhabited by the Eriligaru/ Iruligas (a local hill tribe). 

Best Place to Visit around Bengaluru
Ramadevara Betta Viewed From Arkavathi River Bank

Sri Kalleshwara Temple, Bethuru, Davanagere

Sri Kalleshwara Swamy Temple, Bethuru, Davanagere
Sri Kalleshwara Swamy Temple, Bethuru
Having read about a beautiful Kalleshwara temple probably built by the Cholas in the district of Davanagere, it was always in the back of our minds to visit this interesting temple. There are quite a few temples in this region and Northern Karnataka built by the Cholas in the post Badami Chalukyan era. Earlier this year, we got a chance to visit Sri Basaveshwara temple at Hallur of Bagalkot district, also built by the Cholas around 8th century. Thus, it was quite intriguing to explore more Chola temples in the heartland of Karnataka, which otherwise is dominated by the Art and Architecture of the Hoysalas and Chalukyas. Bethuru is a small village lost in oblivion, and the was evident as many of my local friends were totally ignorant and uninformed of its location and whereabouts. Though this village popped up on the google map, we were surprised that the locals were unaware of its existence owing to its close proximity to Davanagere.
Places to visit near to Davangere
Sri Kalleshwara Swamy Temple
Places to visit around Davanagere
Chola temple, Davanagere
Front View of the Temple

We reached the village of Bethuru which is located at a distance of about 4 km without much difficulty and found the temple quite easily. However, we were displeased to witness such a beautiful temple in a sheer state of neglect, without any care or maintenance. While we were moving around, a person came by and introduced himself as the caretaker of Sri Kalleshwara temple, though an unofficial one. He visits the temple daily to do the necessary cleaning of the temple and decks up the god here with the flowers he collects. Though there are no daily pujas/rituals being performed here, he tries his best to keep the temple alive by lighting deepas (lamps) everyday. He shares his personal experience about how doctors gave up hope on his survival due to his chronic diabetic condition and that he would survive only for a few days. But ever since he started visiting this temple daily, he has only felt better, without facing any major health issues. He went on to explain that nobody in the village is interested in the upbringing of the temple and its maintenance, and whatever little money was raised to restore the temple was taken off by a few greedy people who ran away from the village and never returned. A lot of snakes happen to visit this temple regularly and embrace the Shiva Linga here, with one such incident having occurred recently during the Dasara festival. He showed us the remains of the shed skin of a snake inside the temple as a proof. He has carefully preserved it and shows it off to visitors with pride.
Snake Skin
Lord Kalleshwara
Murti of Goddess Saraswathi
Goddess Saraswathi

This temple was built either by Rashtrakutas or Nolambas between the 8th and 9th centuries. Later between 11th -13th  century, this temple under went a few additions/renovation under the Kalyana Chalukyas/ Uchangi Pandyas/ Hoysalas. Many hero-stones found here which are now kept near the temple belong to these dynasties. The most pleasing sight here is that of a beautiful carving on the ceiling panel of 'Gajasura Samara/ Gajasurasamhara' (depiction of Lord Shiva slaying the elephant demon Gajasura) in the central portion, surrounded by the Ashtadikapalas. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga, with murtis of goddesses Saraswathi and Sapthamatrikas and Lord Subramanya kept in the Navaranga of the temple. The Shikara of the temple is a perfect example of early Cholan architecture. This temple definitely needs and deserves more care and maintenance in order to be preserved for future generations.
Lord Gajasurasamhara Murti
Lord Gajasurasamhara Murti
Guardian of Directions - Asthadikpalas
 Lord Ishana and Parvathi Riding on Bull  (the Guardian of the North East Direction)
Veeragallus
Hero-Stones
The Typical Rashtrakuta Shikara
How to reach Bethuru: From Davanagere, take the road to Jagalur and travel for about 4 km to reach Bethuru.
Accommodation: Owing to its close proximity to Davanagere, accommodation is not very difficult, with one having a wide range of options suiting all budgets. Our preferred place for stay here was Hotel Anand Residency, situated besides the KSRTC bus stand.
Places to visit nearby: Anekonda, Harihara, Bagali, Unchangidurga, Unchangipura, Kanakuppa, Bankapura, Haveri, Ranebennur and many such.

References:
1. Puratattva

Related Posts:
1. Top 100 Lesser Known Temples of Karnataka
2. Chola Temples of Vagata
3. Chola Temples of Binnamangala