Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, Bandipur

  "Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta"(Wiki), one of the most favorite spots of Bangaloreans is situated  inside the Bandipur National Park of Chamrajnagar district.The word Himavad means Misty.  Lately, the hill range is being governed by  the forest Dept. with strict rules and regulations owing to the illegal activities that are carried out here. Amongst the many legends associated with this place, an interesting one relating to one of the lakes, the 'Papanasini' (meaning washing away all the sins), as told by the priest is as follows: It is said that, in the hill ranges of Gopalaswamy betta, no crows are found now. The crows that existed took a dip in the Papanasini and on attaining moksha, turned into Hamsa (Swan) birds and reached heaven. We could not sight a crow either. There is a good chance of sighting wild life, especially the spotted deer, gaur and elephants.
 Journey of Life
Smiling Sunflowers
Hovering Dark Clouds
Curving Roads
Misty Gopalaswamy Temple
Gopalaswamy Betta
Wow! What a View
Go Green
Fern Spores
One of the 77 lakes
Crumbling Fort Wall
 An Experience of Nature's Reality
From the start of the Forest Check Post, the duration allotted to visit the temple and return  is only an hour and thirty minutes. A nominal fee is collected at the check post. Overall, a beautiful and serene place.

Twin Hoysala Temple,Sindaghatta

     Sindaghatta houses another Hoysala temple apart from the Lakshminarayana Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is the "Sangameshwara - Jangameshwara Temple". This temple is different from the dwikuta structure, usually found facing each other. Here, the two structures are adjacent to each other, similar to the Harihareshwara Temple of Hariharapura.
Sangameshwara - Jangameshwara Temple
   The temple is east facing and built on a raised platform. It has two separate entrances, two separate Garbhagrihas, two separate antaralas and a common Navaranga. The door frames are heavily carved. Though the external features of the temple look simple, its internal features are intricate and heavily decorated.
Dual Entrance
 The Lovely  Pillar
Decorative Entrance
Carved Ceiling
Dual Nandi
Part of the  Door Frame having miniature carvings of  the Music Troupe
Hoysala Emblem
The Hoysala Emblem depicts a man killing a tiger, and apparently the tiger was an emblem of their rivals, the Cholas at that time. May be they were code words as in the current military operations and may be the word  Hoysala/ Poysala probably meant 'Destroy the Cholas'. The priest of this temple was a very kind and knowledgeable man. He quoted a few lesser known facts and stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He also enlightened us about Dwarka, the capital city of Lord Krishna found under water near the coast of Gujarat.
The Priest
The temple has been renovated by the Government with the help of Shri Manjunatha Trust of Dhramasthala and the locals, though it definitely requires further maintenance.

Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - Mysore road  - B.R.Koppal - Right turn - Pandavapura - K R Pete - Right Turn  - After 7 kms turn Left  - Sindaghatta.
Distance from Bangalore: 145 kms
Places to visit near by: Hariharapura, Akkihebbalu, Varahanatha Kalahalli, Kikkeri, Govindanahalli, Hosaholalu, Sheelanere and many more.


Garuda lenka Kambhas (Pillars)

      Hoysalas, the true masters of Architecture are known for their magnificent and intricate carvings. They have always managed to include an  unique feature in their temple architecture. A quite intriguing and striking feature seen at one of their temples is the "Garuda Lenka" pillar.  Three in number and rising up to about 15 feet, these pillars were erected during the reign of  the Hoysala Kings, Ballala-I and Narashima-III during the 11th century AD. This was done in memory of the heroes who voluntarily sacrificed their lives for the well being of the kings and prosperity and fortune of the Hoysala kingdom.
The Magnificent Garuda-Lenka Pillars
       Garuda, a large mythical bird resembling an eagle ( and Lord Vishnu's vahana or vehicle ) also represents an ardent devotee or a servant who was ever ready  to sacrifice his life in order to defend the king. Lenka is a word synonymous to Garuda while Lenkiti is the female counterpart. 
 Significant Sculptures at the Pillar Top
Garuda, the King, Queen, Lenka and Lenkiti's - I
Garuda, the King and the Queen
Garuda, the King, Queen, Lenka and Lenkiti's - II
The Splendid Three!
             The  pillars seem to depict the king and queen traveling along with their devotees (lenka -lenkiti) on an elephant. The garuda is shown to be kneeling on the elephant's head and facing the king while his hand is clasped firmly with the king's, a gesture that probably denotes the respect commanded by the king and the king's desire of achieving the supreme quality of Garuda while the tightly gripped hands could be a token of appreciation by the king for the willingness to sacrifice their lives. Our guess is that the central pillar depicts the king and queen along with the Garuda while the others include the Lenka and Lenkiti's, though we are unsure of the order of men seated so. 
     The name of the temple is deliberately not mentioned in this post since we have a continuation to this and till then, the game of guessing is on :-) 

Mahadeva Temple - Kurdi (Curti), Goa

       As we were heading towards the site of "Usgalimal Rock carvings" in Goa, we saw a Dept.of Tourism Board directing us towards a 1000 year old temple of  Mahadeva in "Kurdi". We tried locating this place on our map but in vain. After a long search, we found a name 'Curti' on the map and guessed it could be a name given to Kurdi by the locals. Since previous day we had a similar confusion about the names of Forts Alorna and Aldona,  and thought them to be the same ( which we found later to be two different forts) and applying the same logic here,  realised this could be our destination! and  decided to give it a shot. After a few inquiries, we reached this place . Lucky we .
Mahadeva Temple
   It turned out be an unique temple built with laterite stone. The ASI has done a good job in restoring and maintaining this temple. At  the entrance is a board giving details about the temple and its history.  As per the information given by the ASI, it is known to have been moved from its original location to the current one. The  temple was originally located about 17 km from its current position, in Kurdi Angod on the banks of the river Salaulem.
ASI Information Board
       The board further says that " The construction of  a dam across the river had threatened the submergence of the Temple and hence it was systematically dismantled and reconstructed at this place providing similar topographical setting. This temple consisted of a square garbhagriha and porch in the front and the main idol is presently under worship in Someswara temple at Kurdi Angod."
Rear View of  the Temple
Door Frame
Lord Ganesha
Gorgeous Pillars
Front Porch
River Salaulem
  This temple was built by the Kadambas during the 10th Century.  We could not find a single soul around the temple, though we spotted a small house inside the temple compound which probably belonged to the care taker of this place.

 Distance from Panajim : About  70 km

Places to Visit around: Rivona, Usgalimal, Surla, Canacona, Margao and many more.

Kemmannugundi, A perfect Hill station in Chikmagalur

       "Kemmannugundi", also known as Kemmanagundi is a hill station located in Tarikere Taluk of Chikkamagaluru District. It is located at a height of about 1500 mts above mean sea level. The name 'Kemmannugundi' is a combination of three Kannada words Kempu (Red), Mannu (Soil) and Gundi (Pit) and is attributed to the nature of soil available locally. The place is pristine and the monsoon rain only added to the beauty of this place. Kemmannugundi is an ideal weekend getaway from Bangalore . This was summer retreat for Mysore Wodeyar Kings .
Misty  Kemmannugundi
One of the peaks of Kemmannugundi
The Tall Vegetation of Kalhatti

   Places to visit:
1. Z-Point
2. Hebbe Falls
3. Kalhatti Falls
4. Shanti Falls - Falls encountered en route to Z-Point
Shanti Falls
An uniquely grown tree

5. Raj Bhavan - A guest house and gardens maintained by the department of Horticulture (Government of Karnataka).

Places to visit nearby : Mullayangiri, Dattapeetha (Bababudangiri), Mankihyadhara Falls, Chikkamagalaru, Amruthapura, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Hulikere, and many more.
Land of Tigers
Places of Interest in Chikkamagalaru

Directions from Bangalore:  Bangalore - NH4 - Tumkur - NH206 -Gubbi - Arsikere - Birur - Left Turn  - SH 57 - Lingadahalli - Ballavara - Kemmannugundi.

Curvy  Roads

 Distance from Bangalore: 240 km

   Stay/Accommodation :  There are a few home stays at Ballavara. Kemmannugundi is about 13 km from here on. There are two guest houses maintained by the Horticulture Dept. at Kemmannugundi and Kalhattigiri, currently being renovated. It is supposedly very difficult to get an accommodation during the peak season.  We are aware of one such, the Denton Home stay (Village in a Valley ) located close by to the Ballavara village. It comprises of a cottage, which can accommodate about 12-16 people. Hence, they rent out the cottage to one family/group at a time. Full privacy is ensured.  The  place is clean and well maintained. Price varies with season and also depends on the number of people.
Denton Home Stay
Guest House at  Kalhattigiri
Places to Eat:  Mostly, the home stays provide food on request and prior notice or is included in the package.  It is very rare to find a  hotel in Kemmannugundi. Cafe Coffee County is one of the few eat outs present in Ballavara. 
Cafe Coffee County
Peak Season: Last week of September - First week of January,  Last week of March - Second week of June, though our personal feeling  is to visit the place during monsoon.
Post Card From Kemmannugundi