Channarayana Durga Fort, Best Day Trekking Spot Near Bengaluru

Channarayana Durga Fort
First Look of the Fort of Channarayana Durga
This was our fourth attempt to reach Channarayana Durga and finally we made it. Every time we thought of exploring this place, we would find some other place intriguing. Hence, it would always be the first to be considered during our next trip. This happened thrice because of which we ended up discovering  Heggunda , Mahimapura and  a few places at Tumkur . Finally, when we arrived at this place, we were shocked to see such a magnificent structure on the hill top.
Place to Visit Around Bangalore Channarayana Durga fort
Channarayana Durga Fort
 "Channarayanadurga" is a small village situated in Koratagere Taluk , Tumkur. It's major attraction being the hill fort. The height of the hill is around 3700 ft above MSL . This fort was built by Madhugiri chief  Channappa Gauda during the 17th century and  then captured by  the Marathas. Some years later, they were able to recapture this fort . But, it did not last long. It was then captured by Komaraiyya,  the general of  the King of Mysore. Later, it was captured by Haider Ali and again , the Marathas, under Madhava Rao  took in charge of the fort .Later, it was the turn of Tippu Sultan to capture the fort .Finally, during the third Mysore war, British army surrounded the fort ,captured and then abandoned forever . There is an inscription on the entrance of the fort in Marathi speaking about the capture of  this fort by Sri Pant Pradhan and Madhava Rao  Ballal Pradhan .All this  happened within a duration of 60 years.
Entering the fort of Channarayana durga
First Entrance to the Fort of Channarayana Durga
Channarayana Durga Fort
Intact Fortifications
Shiva Temple, Channarayana Durga
Ruined Shiva Temple
 The initial climb was slippery because of the heavy rains that poured previous night .As we gained  height, it seemed to be an easy walk. It is a four tiered fort. Once we crossed the first tier, we came across a beautiful temple besides a  pond. This reminded us about the importance of Rain water harvesting which was one of the main features in most of the other hill forts.
Fortifications of Channarayana Durga
Upper Fortifications
Colony where soliders rested, Channarayana Durga
A Colony
Marathi Inscriptions, Channarayana Durga
Marathi Inscriptions at the Entrance to Channarayana Durga Fort
Musician at Channarayanadurga
A Bugle Player
Lord Anjaneya Swamy, Channarayana Durga
Lord Anjaneya Swamy
As we proceeded further, we came across a  few structures  that were probably used as horse stables. We reached another entrance in the same fortification which took us to the outside of the fort. This seemed like the main entrance since it had a big  Mandapa (Hall) with pillar, for people to rest after  the climb and also had steps leading to it from the bottom of the hill. 
Channarayana Durga
Birdseye View of Surroundings 
Rain, Sun and Hill, Channarayana Durga
Rain, Sun and Hills
Beautiful Setup of Village
Beautiful Setup of Channarayana Durga Village
After investigating the main entrance, we climbed further to reach the next tier. Here, we found a few structures that probably formed a small colony where soldiers and the king's  people  resided.Finally, we reached the last tier of the fort. The view from above was breath taking. One can spot the mighty Madhugiri hill which also has a fort and is the highest monolith in India.
Madhugiri Fort
The Mighty Madhugiri Fort
Channarayana Durga
The Fort Walls
During our descent, we came across a ruined temple. Behind the temple, were two granaries used for storage. Most of the structures were intact and its surroundings clean even without any kind of maintenance. there were no signs of ASI in this place.
Ruined Temple, Channarayana Durga
Ruined Temple
Channarayana Durga
Interiors of Ruined Temple
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - Dabspet (NH4)- right turn - Koratagere (SH3)  - proceed further - left turn towards Siddara  betta - right turn towards Channarayanadurga . Total distance : 95 kms .
Trip date: 26 Sept, 2010
Places to visit near by : Madhugiri , Koratagere , Devarayanadurga , Mahimapura , Heggunda , and so on ...  

Hoysala: Mallikarjuna Temple Basaralu Mandya

               Basaralu  is a village of Mandya district, famous for the Mailkarjuna  temple  and viragals (hero stones) .We inquired about the temple and did not get any positive response . It was quite surprising to know that most of the locals were unaware of the existence of such a temple. Finally ,one person asked  us if we were looking out for the Shiva temple and directed us towards the same.We reached a temple named Kala Bhairava Temple (which was not the one we were looking for)  which had  viragals on one of its sides and a Peepal tree, surrounded by hero stones. 
Kala bhairava temple
   The specialty of this temple is the festival of fire crossing, called "Bhairava Konda", held on a Monday prior to Ugadi Festival (mostly in March). One more attraction during this festival is " Kiccha Masti "  ritual performed in memory of Masti . There are 7 viragals found near  the Peepal tree and 2 viragals opposite to the tree .
Ashes of  the fire crossing
Old entrance
Peepal tree
      We tried to get  information on Malikarjuna Temple . Luckily, we got directions to this temple from an old man who was confident about this place.We imagined this temple to be just like the temple we visited. But, this place offered us something we had never imagined about . It is sad but true, that places like these are much less talked about and appreciated . Places like these are a pride to our state . It is a true representation of our rich culture and heritage  and a fine example of architecture of  the olden days . The skill and patience involved in building such masterpieces is just unimaginable . We were blown away by its beauty . The sculptures were created with great finesse and technique . The figures are close to perfection with every little detail being highlighted .
Malikarjuna Temple
   This temple was built by Harihara nayaka. He was Dandanayaka (in charge of armies) under the Hoysala  King Imadi Narashima . The temple was built in the year 1235 AD for deity  in the  name of his father "Malikarjuna"  and a kalyani (Tank) in the name of his mother "Gujjave". 
Gujjave Kere and Mantap
          The temple has beautiful Dravidian Shikhara on its main garbhagriha, which houses a "Balahari Shivalinga"  and a beautiful lotus on the ceiling . The two small garbhagrihas facing each other, housed a "Naga Nagini"  sculpture in one  and the "Surya Deva" (Sun god) in the other. The vestibule has the symbol of Hoysala , Sala killing a lion .
Shikhara and Hoysala Emblem
           There is a Bhairava sculpture in the garbhagriha of Chandikeshwara temple in the other corner of the temple complex . There is a twenty feet tall pillar opposite to  the temple. The base of the temple has pattikas in the ascending order of elephants , horses with riders , Hoysala emblem , sculptures of Puranic episodes ,crocodiles and swans which is very similar to most of the Hoysala temples . 
Chandikeshwara temple
Bhairava Sculpture
Base of the temple
     On the walls, one can see  sculptures of  Samudra Manthana  (Churning of sea ) , Shanmuga , Kalinga Mardana ,Keshav , Shiva-Parvathi  riding Nandi , Ugranarashima killing Hiranyakashipu ,Hayagreva (god with horse head)  , Dancing Lakshminarashima , Yoganarashima ,Abhayanarashima ,Lakshminaryana ,Surya Dev , Shiva wearing elephant skin , Harihara , Vishnu , Vamana , Bali Chakravarthi , Ganesha , Durgi with 18 arms , Nataraja , Bhairava , Vishnu riding Garuda ,Rati-Manmatha,Lord Brahma with his consort , 22 armed Shiva killing Andakasura , and many more, which were beyond our skill of identification .All these sculptures are beautiful , they are smaller and simpler than those found in other famous Hoysala temple ,but often not less in Sculptural quality .
Kalinga Mardana and Keshav
Lord Shiva Paravathi riding Nandi
Ugranarashima Killing Hiranyakashipu
Lakshmi Narayana 
16 hand Durgi
Lord Brahma  with his consort
16 armed Shiva Killing Andakasura
     Actually the first thing one notice after entering the Ardha Mantap is its Ceiling . Beautifully carved with Ashtadikpalas ( 8 deities protecting the eight quarters/directions of world ). East is represented by Indira on Airavata (White Elephant ) , South East by Agni on Mesha (Male Goat), South by Yama on Mahisha (Male buffalo) , South West by Nirurti on Nara (Man), West by Varuna on Makara (the Crocodile),North west by Vayu on Mruga (Deer) , North by Kubera on Ashwa (Horse) and North east by Ishana on Vrishbha (Bull).
Ashtadikpalas on the ceiling
The information board
    Direction from Bangalore : Bangalore - Mandya (SH17)95 kms- right turn towards Chikka  Mandya (7kms )-left turn toward Basaralu (23 kms) . Total Distance : about  130 kms .

Place maintained by ASI .Temple and surrounding are extreme well maintained.Keys with the neighboring house. No photography allowed inside the temple .
Trip date : 23 Oct 2010 . 
Places to visit near by : Nagamangala ,Adichunchanagiri,Melukote, Mandya, Shravanabelagola , Chikka Mandya and so on .
References used : 
1 Publications of Government of Karnataka on Mandya .
2  About Ashtadikpalas from Hindu blog

Karinjeshwara Temple, Karinja Parvatha, Bantwal

  Mt Karinja (Karinjeshwara Temple) is situated in Bantwal taluk, South Canara . This place was  known to us from our Father and  on inquiring further, he suggested various places near and around our hometown Bantwal. We could only make it to this place since it was a day trip to Bantwal . After taking blessings from Lord Venkataraman in town, we decided to explore Mt Karinja .
Map of Mt Karinja
 There are a few temples , caves and ponds on this hill. The top most temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva (Karinjeshwara). The temple mid way is dedicated to Goddess Parvathi  and the lower most temple to the elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvathi, Lord Ganesha .
Goddess Paravathi  Temple Midway
   The sign board directed us towards a pond at the bottom of the hill  known as "Gadha Theertha" . On  further inquiry, the priest narrated the story of the place stating  links from the great epics Mahabharata and Ramayana . According to the priest ,  the Gadha Theertha was carved out when Bhima knelt  down and threw his mace(Gadha)  down.
Gadha Theertha

Gadha Theertha and the way up
  There are three ponds namely , Handi (Pig) Theertha , Ungushta (Toe) Theertha and Jaanu (Knee) Theertha . Later, two ponds were formed when Bhima knelt down to throw his mace , according to the priest . The holy waters of the ponds are believed to contain special powers in the curing various diseases .

Jaanu Theertha

The Gateway
 There is a  line which is visible while climbing towards the Lord Shiva temple . As per the priest, this  was caused  by the arrow of the Great Archer Arjuna . 
Arrow Mark
  The most important aspect of this place are the monkeys. They are believed to be descendants of Lord Hanuman . The leader of the monkeys is called as Karinje Dhadda . These monkeys are fed  daily by the temple authorities after the pooja in the noon with the prasadam  . There is also an echo stone .
The dining table
Direction from Bantwal : Bantwal is located off NH 48 .This place is about 12 kms from Bantwal  and about 35 kms from Mangalore .

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Steps are laid till the top . This place is being maintained by the temple trust .
Trip Date : 27 Dec , 2008
Places to visit nearby : Bantwal, Mangalore, Dharmastala , Moodabidri, Narahari parvatha , and so on .....

Arvalem Caves and Waterfalls, Offbeat Places to Visit in Goa

   We were  heading back from our  short Goa trip  during which we had visited mostly the places it is famous for, the beaches and the forts obviously. Along our way back, we happened to see a  Dept.of Tourism Board , Goa , directing us towards Arvalem Falls and  a Rock Cut Temple . Definitely, we were curious to know about these places and proceeded further.

    Arvalem is a small village located in Valpoi Taluk, North Goa District.  It is about 60 kms from Panaji . The major attractions of this place are the rock cut caves and  the Arvalem Falls. While one of the rock cut caves is a major attraction, there are few more around this place.

    The rock cut cave is known as " The Pandavas Cave". It is believed that, the Pandavas of Mahabharata (epic) sought shelter in these caves after being exiled . The existence of the cave has been traced to the 7th century AD. The cave has five compartments with one Shiva  linga in each  compartment . 
The Arvalem Caves
Shiva Linga

Shiv Linga
 Here on, moving  further about a kilometer took us to  the small village of Arvalem . There is a  Rudreshwar temple here, which most likely was recently renovated. The main deity  worshiped here is Shiva in the form of a Linga. A small walk ahead will lead us to the Arvalem Falls, cascading from a height of about 60 ft . The sound of the falls was by itself very refreshing. There is a platform from where one can freshen up from the waters of Arvalem.

There were also remains of a previously working micro hydel  generation project here dedicated to Smt. Indira Gandhi . 
Arvalem Waterfalls
Micro Hydel Generation Project

Directions from Panaji :

View Larger Map
    Two kms from Sanquelim . No entrance fee .

Trip Date : 09 Dec, 2008  .
Places to visit nearby : Ponda, Old Goa ,The Many Many Beaches Around , Fort   Aguada , Chapora Fort , Alorna Fort, and many more!