Places to visit around Bangalore / ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು/ Bengaluru part-7

33 Mahimapura          
         Type :Hillock,Temples
         Nearest Town: Dabspet
         Distance from Bangalore: 45 kms .
         Direction: Via NH4 towards Dabspet , one will get a left turn indicating towards Mahimapura . This crossing is about 15 kms from toll booth.
       About: A flight of around 250 steps takes us to the top of this small hillock. There is a simple yet beautiful temple at the top with various carvings on the pillars resembling Chola style of architecture. It is believed that Lord Garuda did penance here to get rid of the sin of eating the dead body of a demoness and after Lord Vishnu was pleased, he appeared before Garuda in the form of a mound of jaggery.  Various hills like Savandurga, Shivagange, and Nijagal betta are visible from the top. At the base of the hillock is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman who is carved out of a single stone and is 12ft tall.
Lord Ranganatha Swamy Temple
Lord Hanuman

34 Aladahalli
          Type: Hillock, Temple.
          Nearest Town: Dabspet.
          Distance from Bangalore: 50kms.
          Direction : Via NH4 towards Dabspet , Take left turn after crossing Mahimapura Crossing . Travel till the dead end then take a right turn . To reach the hill. Land mark near the NH4 is newly opened Tejkamal Pharmaceutical ltd.
          About : The main idol of the temple, in the form of a solid black granite pillar, is the only one of its kind in the entire State. The Lord is depicted in the form of artistically carved fish and tortoise incarnations (Matsya and Koorma avatars). All other Ranganatha Swamy temples have sleeping, sitting or standing idols of the lord in his human form. This is the only temple in which the lord has been depicted in the form of his earliest incarnations. Aladahalli was once upon a time known as Yajnavalka Ashrama.There is a cave temple dedicated to goddess Lakshmi at base of the hill . The climb is very easy but can be made interesting by doing some rock climbing . 
lord Ranganatha Swamy temple

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Places to visit around Bangalore / ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು / Bengaluru part-6

31 Heggunda
          Type :Hill,  Temples
          Nearest Town:  Dabspet.
          Distance from Bangalore: 50kms .
          Trek Distance: about 1.5kms (one way) .
          Trek level: Easy.
         Direction:  Via NH4 till Dabspet flyover, go under the flyover and take right turn towards Koratagere(SH3), travel for about 6 kms one will get right turn going towards Heggunda , then one need to take left turn after 1.5 kms so near Dr Ambedkar School.
         About: This is place has hill called Ramdevara Betta with a temple dedicated to Lord Rama on top and temple of Lord Hanuman at the base of hill.According to records found here, Heggunda (earlier called Pokkunda) was an important city during the Hoysala period (12th Century).The trail to the top commences with steps, which slowly becomes a gentle rock face till a ruined stone dolmen (mantapa), where a stone pond is located. From here on it is a long and ultra-steep flight of tiny rock-cut steps to the top. The iron railings installed all the way to the top provide adequate support. It is said that Rama's sacrificial horse was tied to this here by his sons Lava and Kusha. There is also a pair of footprints nearby which is believed to be that of Rama.There is one more interesting place on the other side of the hill . A villager told that the there are two small cave  temple, one of Nandi and other of Veerabhadreswara on the other side of the hill and also some inscriptions can be found in the temple. Even some Hero stones are found in this region. 
Ramdevara  Betta
Rock cut steps
Lord Rama's Temple
Way to cave temple
cave temple
32 Seebi/Sibi
          Type :Temples, Paintings
          Nearest Town:  Sira, Tumkur
          Distance from Bangalore: 100kms .
         Direction:Via NH4 . This place is located on  NH4 itself . About 20 kms from Tumkur .  From Tumkur the temple is on the right side of the NH.
        About: Seebi has a temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha Swamy. According to the legend by a local priest, about 1000 years ago, a businessman with two of his helpers were traveling on a business trip from Chitradurga to Tumkur. They halted at this place for having lunch.  While the businessman went to meet his relative, the helpers were involved in preparation of lunch.  When the businessman returned, he was shocked to find both of his helpers lying dead in a pool of blood. He sat sadly with his head down. Suddenly an elderly person appeared and informed him that the stone they used for the purpose of cooking was infact God Narasimha Swamy himself and advised the businessman to build a temple here in order to get rid of their sin. Following the elderly person’s words, the Businessman built a temple and got the "Puja" done by a priest from a nearby town, after which both his helpers sprung back to life. This temple was then renovated by the Mysore Wodeyars and Tippu Sultan. The main features of the temple are that the god here is in the form of a rock and the temples ceilings house various paintings depicting   stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. These paintings currently are in a bad shape and need restoration.  The temple architecture is simple and walls are filled with sculptures of various gods and goddesses made of terracotta and lime .They lay weather-beaten yet beautiful. The temple is under the process of renovation .Photography inside the temple is prohibited. There is also a Kalyani near the temple.
Rajagopuram, Seebi
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Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 4

 It was Sunday morning , and around 6:30 am . We freshened up and walked towards KanyaKumari Temple.
About Kanyakumari  temple:  It is said to be a 3000 year old temple and is dedicated to  Kumari Amman or the Virgin goddess (KanyaKumari). The temple is situated at the southern most tip (also known as Cape Comorin), which is also the confluence of the three great water bodies, the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. One has to enter the temple from the northern gate, since the eastern gate is opened only on a few occasions. Devi KanyaKumari is seen standing  as a charming young girl in her penance , with a  garland of roses in her right hand .There is a story behind why she remained a virgin goddess. The nose ring of Devi Kanyakumari  is believed to be set with rubies  and shines so brightly that it could be seen from far at night .As we look at the ring, it shines so brightly that it is not surprising to believe stories of ships being wrecked mistaking the radiance of the nose ring for light from the light house! No Photography is allowed inside the temple.
Kanyakumari temple
Other places of interest in KanyaKumari: Vivekanandapuram, Guhanadeeswara Temple, Baywatch, Wandering Monk, Murugan Kundram, etc.

We moved  towards our final destination, Madurai. The Madurai temple is also commonly known as " the mother of all Temples in India", while Madurai itself is known as the "Athens of the East". 
History of Madurai: Founded by Pandyan King Kulasekhara in the 6th century . Improved further till 14th century, during this time Malik Kafur invaded it . After 70 years of Muslim rule , The Pandyan re-established themselves and built many structures . Madurai Meenakshi temple dominates the old city . Located at the heart of the city , the temple is a superb example of Dravidian architecture and sculpture. It has for long been the greatest attraction for the tourists as well as one of the most important places of pilgrimage. The temple has two shrines, one dedicated to Shiva as Sundareshwara, and the other to his consort Meenakshi .There are no words to express the beauty and elegance of this temple. Grand, exotic,  an excellent piece of art and one great place to visit are few words I have. Photography is allowed  in the outer limits of the temple at a charge of Rs.50/-.
One of  those big Gopuras
Guess ?
Zodiac Signs on the ceiling

Official Photographer of TGS
As all good things come to an end (for the beginning of better ones of course!), this trip too ended, the only part remaining  was the long drive back to Bengaluru .We had about 450 kms to drive . It took us about 7 hours to reach Bangalore .
First of all, thanks to the NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) and the GOI (government of India) for upgrading the NH . NH 7 was a pleasure to drive, since it was a 4 lane road  all along up to KanyaKumari.

It was a very comfortable journey . Our connection with Tamil Nadu has just begun . Hoping this only gets better over time and Tamil Nadu feels happier with the number of people visiting it keeps increasing .

Overall Travel Route: Bangalore-Salem-Dindigul-Madurai-Srivilliputtur-Tenkasi-Courtallam-Papanasanam -Kanyakumari-Suchindrum-Nagercoil-Mathur-Kanyakumari- Tirunelveli-Madurai-Salem-Bangalore

Total Kms- just over 1700 kms
Duration - 4 days
Date: April 29,30, May 1,2, 2010

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 3

Today, we had Kanya Kumari on our list.So, in the Cape, at last the feeling was very different . We have been craving to see this place since long. The only thing remaining in our mind was to get up early and catch the lovely sunrise . With all efforts, we woke up at 5:30 am and headed towards the beach to see the sunrise. Trust us , it was worth all the efforts we had taken to wake up early that morning!.
Wake up India

The early morning  view was worth more than the 700 kms drive that brought us here. It was a beautiful one and thousands of people had gathered to watch the sunrise, one of the things KanyaKumari is very famous for. After watching the sunrise, we went back for some rest and breakfast. Later, we wanted to visit the Vivekananda memorial which is situated amidst the beach .Since the queue for the ferry was very long,  we did not waste any time waiting and headed towards an old Dutch Port named Vattakottai, about 7 kms from KanyaKumari .

Entrance to the Fort 

Inside the Fort
From here, we drove towards Nagercoil . On our way ,we came to know about a very famous temple in Suchindrum . The main attractions here, are the renowned shrine dedicated to Lord Sthanu-Mal-Ayan (Shiva Vishnu Brahma) and a huge statue of Lord Hanuman depicting his Viswarupa Dharsan, given to Sita at the Asoka forest .This statue is 18 feet high. Lord Hanuman was as mighty as he always is! No photography is allowed inside the temple .
Imposing Gopuras

After visiting one more beautiful Kovil (Temple), we moved ahead, appreciating the skill  possessed by people of olden times and wondering how much  pain and effort was undergone in constructing such marvelous and mighty  structures those days, with little or no technology  and know how's . I doubt the possibility of re-creating structures like these or even closer to it, in a fast moving technological world with  new inventions happening every second and anything and everything being made available to man. What we lack majorly is probably the skill , patience and time, the people of olden times possessed. It was a pleasure seeing and feeling these places.

After reaching Nagercoil ,we decided not visit the temple and moved towards the Thirparappu falls . Its about 15 kms from Nagercoil and is located at the end of  the Western Ghats .The river Kodayar falls as Thirparappu.
The falls
As usual, the falls has a provision of bathing under it . There are facilities for boating in the backwaters.
From here, we headed to see the hanging bridge known as Mathur Aqueduct .
The Bridge and the walk way

There are many places nearby like Udayagiri Forts ,Padmanabhapuram Palace, and so on. These places were closed as it was 1st of May. We just got a glimpse of these places from outside.
Udayagiri Fort entrance
We went back to the lodge and the feeling of sadness sunk in ,as tomorrow, we had to head back to Bengaluru. We decided that we would  see the Kanyakumari Temple and head to Madurai , then to Bengaluru (720 kms drive).

Final part .To follow soon.

Overall drive : 170 kms 
To be capped ................

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 2

Direction to Tenkasi from Dindigul: Proceed on NH 7 till you reach Thirumangala ,continue on the bypass of Thirumangala on NH 7 till you get a crossing for NH 208, take  a right turn.Continue on NH208 till you reach Tenkasi . On the way, one will get Srivilliputtur .The primary landmark of Srivilliputtur is a11-tiered tower structure dedicated to the Lord of Srivilliputtur, known as Vatapatrasayee. The tower of this temple rises 192 feet high (64 meters) and is the official symbol of the Government of  Tamil Nadu.

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About Tenkasi : It is located at the foothills of  the Western Ghats.Tenkasi is also know as 'Varanasi of she South'. It is home to the very famous Courtallam Falls  and Shiva temple dedicated to Kasi Viswanathar. The temple tower was built by king Parakirama Pandian in 1456  and the temple tower ,originally was172 feet tall . It was damaged in 1924  and rebuilt to a height of 163 feet . It has beautiful sculptures and also houses musical stone pillars, that emit notes of different pitch when tapped with fingers. The entrance is really grand, with heavy steps and unique pillars . Photography is prohibited . 
The Sahyadris
Tenkasi travel guide
The Grand Entrance and heavy steps

Then we  headed  towards to the Courtallam falls . This was the second important place to visit  in our itinerary after the cape. This place is also known as 'The Spa of  the South '. It has many falls.
7 falls
On the way to falls, there is a ticket counter .The ticket collector advised is to go to another place, the Papanasam falls since Courtallam and its neighbors actually did not have any water falling!! But ,we insisted on going and checking it out anyway.
Mud puddling (common emigrants butterfly)
And so, there it was! Or may be wasn't!!  The best season  to visit most of the falls is during monsoon or just after it. In South India, it is any time between July and December. Since we had nothing much to see here,we followed the route to Papanasam. 

About Papanasam : It is a holy place situated on the western ghats of Pothigai hills, about 42 kms from Tirunelveli. The natural beauty of this place is enhanced by the Water falls due to the river Tamparani (Thamiraparani).This place is located inside the Mundanthurai  Sanctuary. River Tamparani cascades into two waterfalls namely, the Panatheertham and Agasthiyar falls. Agasthiyar Hill Karaiyar Dam (Thamiraparani Dam) is the dam built across the river Tamparani .
Not to miss: The Falls, dam with boating facilities  and  the wildlife sanctuary with great chances of sighting  a Nilgiri Langur.
Agasthiyar Falls

Stone inscriptions near the temple
Soothing and healthy drink (nice and natural way to beat the heat)
Nilgiri Langurs
View of Western Ghats
The Road
Back Waters, the Route to Pannatheertham
Initial view of the Panatheertham Falls 
The Boat Ride

Panatheertham falls
Magical Rains
Pirates of the Panatheertham
In and Around
Invariably, to our notice or may be it is so, all falls in Tamil Nadu have a provision for bathing under the falls. This place took away all the disappointment of Courtallam falls . We had the reward for our patience. Panatheertham was indeed magical to us. The boat ride across the river was the most beautiful experience. It started to drizzle mid way during the boat ride and the picture looked perfect. There was nothing more we could ask for. Here on, we decided to head towards the Cape to catch the sunset. But we were late and so missed it. Back to the lodge, we rested, had our dinner and slept early to catch the sunrise.

Day 2 : Total kms : 204 . 
To be capped ..........................................