Showing posts with label Nayaks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nayaks. Show all posts

A Monsoon Trek in the Western Ghats, Kavaledurga Kote, Shimoga/Shivamogga


On inquiring about the route to the fort of Kavaledurga to a local, he replied saying, "Are you guys crazy to venture out there during these rains!? The path will be very slippery. Go straight, walk along the field bund and you should reach the base of Kavaledurga".
Brightly Colored Mushroom Welcoming us to the Fort 
We nodded our heads and thanked him for the information and concern shown by him. We walked as per his directions and reached the end of the fields from where the path laid to the fort was visible. It was only when we laid our first steps did we realize we were in for something! As we started our trek uphill on a very slippery slope, we noticed our steps almost matched that of a disco! We surely would have proved to be a tough competition to Micheal Jackson or Prabhu Deva. Even carefully laid steps with caution were slippery, and after slipping and trekking uphill for a good 40 minutes or so, we reached the second gateway of the fort from where the climb seemed easy and the views from here were mesmerizing.
Walk along the Field Bund 
Kavaledurga Hill fort
At the Base of the Kavaledurga Hill 
Kavaledurga Kote
First Look of Kavaledurga Kote
Entering the Fort 
The history of Kavaledurga Kote (Fort) goes this way, "This place was also called as Bhuvanagiridurga owing its name to the temple of Goddess Bhuvaneshwari, which is located in the village and is of considerable antiquity. The fort was a stronghold of the Nayakas of Keladi, who fortified this hill post their liberation from the Vijayanagar kingdom. The credit of building this forest fort goes to King Venkatappa Nayaka, who also built a palace and village inside the fort walls. The fort is three tiered and surrounded by thick forests, which proves to be a perfect defense structure. Out of the many temples built inside this fort area, the three that have survived the test of time are the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Shikhareshwara temple and Lakshmi Narasimha temple.
Lajja Gowri, Lord Hanuman and Elephants on the Wall at the Fort Entrance
Slippery 
 The Kashi Vishwanath temple is a beautiful structure and a unique one due to the presence of 2 dwajastambhas or stone pillars in front of the temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a linga and is built in typical Keladi style of architecture. Besides the temple lie remains of another structure with only pillar bases. A small rock with a temple of Lakshmi Narasimha at its top is seen right opposite to this temple. A little further from this temple is the ruins of a huge palace where King Venkatappa Nayaka lived. These ruins are a feast to the eyes and a sight difficult to forget. Besides this is a small yet charming queen’s bath. Further from here is the topmost point of the hill, with the temple of Shikhareshwara. We did not trek to this spot as the rains intensified and the weather looked threatening.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Kavaledurga
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Kavaledurga 
The Palace, Kavaledurga
The Palace, Kavaledurga 
 There are many water ponds which were full owing to the incessant rains and were a sight to see. The descent also was too slippery with fresh rains and drizzle every now and then. The only saving grace was that we did not have any fall or injury. Though the trails were too slippery, we enjoyed the trek thoroughly and will always remember the enchanting views Kavaledurga offered .Overall, the trek was exciting and adventurous.
The Queens Bath 
One Among the Many Water Ponds Here
Other Places to Visit Nearby: Thirthahalli, Agumbe, Hulikal, Kolluru, Kodachadri, Nagara Fort and many more. 
How to reach Kavaledurga Kote: Drive on Thirthahalli - Agumbe highway; Take right at about 7 km from Thirthahalli and travel for about 10 Km to Kavaledurga village. The village is located about 18 km from Thirthahalli and 350 km from Bangalore. 
Accommodation: There are no accommodation facilities inside the village, though one can pitch their own tents inside the fort area or in the village premises with prior permission of the villagers. However, the closest and a better option would be to stay at Thirthahalli which offers good accommodation choices. 
Where to eat: There are no eateries in Kavaledurga; Thirthahalli is the closest and a better option. 

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In Search of Kanakagiri's Ashokan Edicts - 3

Following the guide's directions, we reached the base of the Lakshmi Narasimha hill. From hereon we started our climb to the top, where the edicts were supposed  to be present. We had to cross the path laid through dry thorny shrubs. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the top of this hill after which our guide took us towards the shelter. We were shocked to see that the entire area was vandalized  and there was no signs of any inscription as mentioned by  the guide. He too was surprised to see the entire area in this condition as he was sure of the presence of some  inscriptions on a  slab here, which  now was not be seen. We decided to explore the entire area with a hope to find some thing interesting.
Climb to Lakshmi Narasimha Hill 
Surviving the Thorny Shrubs 
Bird's Eye View of Lakshmi Narasimha Temple 
Carving of Vishnu's Feet 
Vandalised Mandapa 
But there was no luck in finding any edicts or clues regarding the same. We chose a different path to descend but the thorny shrubs and the warm sun added more pain during our descent. Our guide also mentioned about a ruined Venkateshwara temple situated close by. We decided to check it out and on reaching here, we realised that the temple has completely been vandalized owing to communal tensions during the 1970's. What ever remains today gives us a glimpse of the  grand temple that once stood here . The architecture resembled that of the Kanakachalapathi temple, also built here.  There are 2 beautiful small stone chariots here giving us the flavor of Vijayanagara Architecture. 
Stone Chariot of Kanakagiri 
Venkateshwara Temple
The last spot that we wanted to visit in Kanakagiri was the Venkatappana Baavi, a royal bath built by Venkatappa Nayaka. This royal bath has been artistically designed and is a feast for the eyes. We spent quite a good time exploring this well and admiring the architectural skills possessed by our forefathers. The sad part is that this well is in state of neglect and needs immediate attention. There is a popular local saying in this area that, "people with eyes must see Kanakagiri and those with with legs must see Hampi", implying that Kanakagiri temples are a delight to the eyes and one needs to walk about tirelessly to see the vast expanse of the ruined Hampi. Meanwhile, a friend of ours accompanied by his friend who is a local of Kanakagiri reached Venkatappana Baavi. The local person confirmed that he checked with a few others who are well versed with the history of Kanakagiri and confirmed to us that no such edicts as the ones we were in search of, exist here. Thus concluding our search of Kanakagiri's Ashokan Edicts, which still remains elusive. We spent sometime near a huge tank which was completely dry and finally bade a good bye to our friends and proceeded towards Bangalore. 
Venkatappana Baavi, Kanakagiri
Venkatappana Baavi, Kanakagiri
Dry Tank 
Sri Kanakachalapathi Temple 
Kanakagiri Fort Walls 
 The previous posts related to Kanakagiri's Ashokan edicts can be read here and here

Shree Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple, Hosagudda Nayakanahatti

The priest was late as his vehicle was under repair and he had reached the cave temple by foot. We were glad that he made it just in time. We followed him to the cave temple and while he unlocked the door of the temple, he briefed us about this hill being called as Hosagudda (new hill) or Ramadurga hill. The Shiva linga here is believed to have been installed by Lord Rama during his journey from Ayodha to Lanka and hence the god is known as Shree Ramalingeshwara. Later, the Nayakas ruled this place and built the fort in order to protect this temple. Until recently, priest belonging to the royal family performed rituals and with his death the popularity of the temple declined.
The Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple
The Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple 
The current priest seemed genuinely concerned about his successor as this place no longer attracts people and hence maintenance of this temple may not be a viable option. While he got busy with the cleaning of  temple premises and preparing for the daily prayer rituals, we looked at the temple interiors and as usual were wonder-struck by the exquisite work on the ceiling of the cave temple about 12 feet above the ground. There are 6 sections of the ceiling with each being uniquely carved. The cave has a garbhagruha which houses Lord Shiva in the form of linga and a front porch. Inside the garbhagruha is a carving of Shiva linga with seven hooded serpent sheltering it.
Gajalakshmi
Explicit Carvings
Lord Hanuman
Pillar Head 
Kalinga Mardhana
 The front porch of the cave temple has 4 pillars which are carved to perfection. The ceiling sections carried some of the most beautiful carvings. The bird Garuda (a mythical bird also the carrier/vehicle of Lord Vishnu and his consort) is beautifully carved and is depicted holding a cobra in its beak and two young ones of the snake  by its feet. The opposite side of the same section carries a carving of another mystical bird with a unique beak which looks more like a merger of a lion face with an elephant trunk.The red ochre painting on these carvings gives it an extra rich look. We would have definitely missed out had the priest not made it before we left. We thanked the priest and continued our journey...
Garbhagriha Entrance 
Lord Ramalingeshwara
Ceiling Carving
Most Interesting Carving of Bird Garuda
Bird Garuda with its Catch
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Ramadurga Fort, Nayakanahatti

The Nayakanahatti fort was on our radar since the time we had visited Kanakuppa, but somehow we never managed to visit this fort. However, our recent Dussehra Festival vacation permitted us to visit this place in leisure. That Sunday morning, we started our 45 minute drive from Chitradurga to Nayakanahatti. It was a nice morning drive and cruising our way through the picturesque rural landscapes, we reached Nayakanahatti. There were no signs of any fort here but on inquiring with the locals, we were told about the presence of a  fort about 4 km from here. Following the given directions, we reached the village of Ramadurga and a fort was visible in the distance on a small hillock.
Fort Ramadurga, Nayakanahatti
Fort Ramadurga, Nayakanahatti 
As we drove closer to the fort site, we realized that most of the fortification remained intact. We started our ascent towards the fort and sighted 2 tiers of fortification, which is quite unusual with regards to the Nayakas style of architecture. Most of the forts built by them exhibit  3 or 7 tiers of fortification. This fort also lacks the complexity of the Nayakas style of architecture. The fort walls are built with neatly dressed stones arranged in layers. We reached a cave temple dedicated to Lord Ramalingeshwara (Shiva) which remained closed. Nandi (the Bull), the guard or protector of Lord Shiva is seen outside the cave. The idol of Nandi is very beautiful though the face appears to be damaged. A peep inside the cave temple seemed to have many surprises in store which made us feel bad about the temple being locked.
Road To Bliss
Crumbling Fort Walls
Neatly Dressed Up
 We entered the second tier of the fort and sighted two natural water ponds filled with clean and clear   water. The ponds together are known as Akka-Thangi honda. A little further are two artificial pits which were probably used for water storage. Although the fort did not have any additional structures, we found a big number of balancing stones belonging to the modern era. These stones are placed by the local people with a popular belief that the wish or desire of building their own house will be fulfilled if the stones remained intact in a balanced condition. We started our descent and while walking towards our vehicle met a shepherd who informed us that the priest opens the cave temple everyday by 9am and looked surprised as he hadn't turned up yet. Just as we were nearing our vehicle, an elderly person introduced himself as the priest of Ramalingeshwara temple.
Balancing Rocks 
Artificial Pond
Akka Thangi Honda 
Cave Temple
 PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.