Chandravalli Garden, Chitradurga

  Chandravalli Thota ( Garden) is a famous place in Chitradurga  .Last summer, we had been to Chitradurga to visit our Relatives . As it was summer, we restrained ourselves from going to the fort and decided to go to Chandravalli Thota which is located in the outskirts of the town  . Our only idea about the place was a garden with a lake . So we decided to explore . Little did we know what was in store for us .
The Chandravalli Lake
     The lake is huge and is surrounded by three hills . Swimming is prohibited in the lake . There are crocodiles in the lake . Proceeding further, a sign pointing towards right and reading " Ankali Math" on a bin caught our attention. We decided to go  and find out what was there .The first striking thing was the  cave temple with five lingas , known as Panchalingeshwar and the lingas are Dharmeshwar , Bhimeshwar , Arjuneshwar , Nakuleshwar and Sahadeshwar, which can be linked to the Pandavas of Mahabharata .

Panchalingeshwar Temple
  After visiting the temple, towards our right was a structure which had many entrances and kept us wondering what it could be. On further investigation, we found that one of the many entrances  had a  path leading us downwards. Since it was completely dark, there were no chances of going further without any source of light. Hence we moved on to explore the place from the other entrances. There were all interlinked forming a network of rooms. One of the rooms had a big opening through which we could see other structures similar to these.
Entrance to the Cave
The rear side 

View from the window
This place was full of interesting structures.A bed like platform , probably used by the sages as a  Peeta  for their prayers was found in the innermost room. We spent a lot of time in seeing   various  elements and were amazed at their brilliance in the field of architecture and construction. Most of the structures were a part of the rock which formed the cave.
 Natural light aiding visibility inside the cave
Entrance to the main hall
Windows
Peeta
On our way back, we were just curious to check about the place  we had left  unexplored. Luckily, we saw a  man sitting in front it with a torch. It was quite obvious he was the guide who would take us around  and give us some details of the same only if we payed him his charges of Rs.10 per head.We happily told him to proceed. On inquiring, he told us this place was named 'Ankali Math' or 'Paradesappa Gavi' . Findings inside the Math were rather very interesting .
The Main Entrance from outside
The Main Entrance from inside
The Peeta which was used by the sages (opposite to the linga)
The Linga
The bathing place of the sages
Decorative workmanship

Very artistic

The Resting Place of the Sages

Place to light lamps

Another entrance which has carvings of  peacock and swan on either sides

The guide explaining the significance of  the place

Vibhuti Kunda

Gods of the sages

Shivalinga 
   According to the Department of Tourism (Karnataka government), this place is a Pre-historic site . The excavations at this place has  revealed  connections with neolithic , megalithic and early historic ages . Coins , ornaments and other artifacts excavated suggest that  they maintained trade with Rome.This place can also be linked to various religions .
  We were absolutely thrilled after seeing and listening to its history. We found it hard to believe that such a structure was planned and constructed. The lowest point from the entrance is at a depth of about 140 feet. This place had continuous supply of water . The interlinked rooms were designed  such that ,a person inside in the main hall could see what's happening in the neighboring rooms . This place is just like a maze , where it is very easy to get lost . This place mainly served the purpose of meditation .It also had various paintings and sculptures on the wall which have stood for so many centuries . 
  Hopefully this place survives the vandalism of the people .We only wish that  people enjoy the place and leave it  just as it is. 

No entry fees .This place is maintained by the local trust
Timings : 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Distance from Bangalore : 205 kms 
Places to visit nearby : Chitradurga Fort , Jogi Matti , Himavat Kedara , Adu Malleshwara , Vani Vilas Sagar Dam.
Trip Date : 01 May, 2009 

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Kanakuppa Fort, Near Jagalur Karnataka

         This about lesser known place located in Jagalur Taluk of Davanagere District . This place is known  as "Kilah Kanakuppa" . This fort was built by Palegars of Chitradurga . Erstwhile town of  Jagalur was located inside the fort  .  Few decades back people moved out of the fort and three new villages were formed , namely Jagalur (current), Kilah Kanakuppa and Kanakuppa. Jagalur today is the Taluk Headquarter .  
        Kilah Kanakuppa is a largely fortified town . But it lacks the complexity of Chitradurga fort . The main fortification cover three small hillocks . The important aspect of the fort is  an area encompassed inside the fort walls .Another aspect is that, the fort has just one outer wall .The boundaries of  the fort by itself act as natural defense from enemies .
       Direction from Bangalore :  Bangalore- NH4- Chitradurga-NH13 till Jagalur Cross (30kms from Chitradurga) take left -SH45-Jagalur- SH45 Kanakuppa Cross (4kms from Jagalur)- take left -Kanakuppa. Total Distance from Bangalore - around 240 kms .
Kanakuppa Fort Davanagere
The Fort and the Hillocks
        Some time in April this year,  we were travelling from Hospet to Jagalur to meet our relatives . On  our way we saw this fort and wished to visit this next time whenever we get  an occasion  . After inquiring about the fort, we came to know the name of this fort as Kanakuppa Fort . It is believed that Sage Kanva did his penance here in a cave.It is also believed that there is also a secret passage from here that leads to Chitradurga fort .
       Villagers here are quite helpful and will eagerly show one the fort . But there are  a lot of Sloth bears in the area of fort according to them . But one can avoid such areas. Much of the fortification still remain . Most interesting point is that of  rain water harvesting system, which is so evident across the different regions of  the fort. Its just not here but many forts have developed or felt the necessity of rain water harvesting .
Direction to pond
The First of the many ponds
Second of the many ponds
The third one and so on!
       There are a few temples at the base of the hill and at the fort entrance . There are two entrances to the fort. The first is from the Kilah Kanakuppa side and other from Kanakuppa . Both entrances are huge .
Entrance from the Kilah Kanakuppa
Inside view of Entrance
The Kanakuppa entrance from inside
The Kanakuppa entrance from outside

Door Hinge
Viragals or Hero stones kept outside the temple 
Pair of Dusky Crag Martins
Ruined temple
        This temple was in a really bad shape whereas the temple besides it was in a fairly good shape and was also being used by locals for worshiping. Probably this temple was plundered during war or by local people in search of treasures. There are a lot of Viragals or Hero stones around and inside these temples .
Temple viewed from the top of the fort
Ruined structure
Top portion of fort on one hill
Top portion of the fort on another hill
Fort

Note the carvings on the right side pillar of the entrance
Highest point of the fort
Lord Hanuman
Final view of Fort
        This place is an ideal place for weekend outing  . Chitradurga is ideal place for accommodation . This  place is fairly  clean and tidy . Nice place for birdwatching too . But no sign of ASI ( Archeological survey of India ) .

Trip Date: 18 July 2010

Places near by : Chitradurga Fort , Chandravalli  gardens, Jogi matti , Uchchangipura fort , Uchchangidurga fort , Ujjini Temple , Ramdurga Fort , many more

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1. 125 Forts of Karnataka 
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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
Shivagange
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
References:
1.http://www.indiatraveltimes.com/travelogue/mahimapura.html
2.http://archive.deccanherald.com/Deccanherald/may062004/metro6.asp       

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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
Paintings
Devi
Linga

Corridor
Corridor
Devi
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