"Galaganatha" - The Pyramidal Temple

     "Galaganatha", a small sleepy village on the banks of the river Tungabhadra of  Haveri district is well known for its 'Galaganatha' or the 'Galageshwara' Temple built by the Kalyana Chalukyas. The temple is situated at the holy confluence of rivers Varada and Tungabhadra. A notable and distinguishing feature of this temple is its heavy pyramidal base and the strong curtains walls built around the temple in order to protect the temple from river floods. One has to appreciate the architectural skill of the Chalukyas, since this temple has been standing in its place for almost more than a thousand years, whereas the entire village was washed out due to continuous floods. The new village came up a  little further from the temple.
The Galaganatha Temple
       There is another temple to the left of the Galageshwara temple known as the Malleshwara temple, built during the period of the Rashtrakutas. The main temple of Galaganatha is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of  a Linga. Inside the garbagriha is a pacha-linga idol symbolizing the confluence of the five rivers viz., the Tunga, Bhadra, Kumadvathi, Varada and Dharma. There are beautiful carvings of Lords Vishnu, Bhairava, Surya, Shiva, and of Goddesses Mahishasuramardini, Kali, etc., inside the temple.
The Malleshwara Temple
Galaganatha Linga
River Goddess
Pancha Lingas
Beautiful Carvings depicting War Scenes
 March Towards a War
Lovely Door Frame
Nicely Polished Pillars
 Skillfully Formed Pillar
        There is a ruined mantap inside the temple complex where some sculptures are kept. Its believed that there are about 101 Shiva Lingas around the temple and on the banks of river. 
The Ruined Mantap
Nandi Kambha
Some of the 101 Lingas
Hero Stone and A Linga
Rear View of the Pyramidal Temple
The temple priest is a kind gentleman and shared various stories related to this temple. According to him, the temple was built by the great legendary Sculptor Jakanachari, out of a single rock.  He continued to say that the linga here is a Sparsha Linga, which is underneath the present visible Linga and is considered very powerful. In the earlier days, when people kept iron near the Sparsha Linga and prayed to god, it turned into gold. As people started to misuse this power, the king decided to cover the same with a structure called 'Galaga'. Hence, the deity here came to be known as Galaganatha or Galageshwara and in due course the village too became popular for this temple and came to be known as Galaganatha .

Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore-NH4-Tumkur-Chitradurga-Davangere-Ranebennur- Right Turn towards Guttal-Right Turn towards Havana-Left Turn to reach Galaganatha
Distance from Bangalore: About 350 kms
Places to Visit Around: Choudayyadanapura, Kuruvatti, Haveri, Ranebennur, Harihara and many more

Garuda Lenka Kambhas , Agrahara Bachahalli

          'Agrahara Bachahalli', a village located in K R Pete Taluk of Mandya District  was one of  the most prosperous erstwhile towns of the Hoysalas. It is home to numerous temples built during the Hoysala period. The "Huniseshwara Temple" is the most prominent and well maintained temple in the village.  A priest who was passing by the place, on finding a Shiva Linga under a tamarind tree, built a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and thus the name Huniseshwara (Hunise in Kannada means Tamarind). The interiors of the temple has been completely renovated. The Shikara (Gopura) is heavily and intricately carved.
The Huniseshwara Temple
     A unique feature is the Garuda Lenka Kambhas, which is also found in the Malikarjuna  temple at Basaralu, Karnataka apart from the Huniseshwara temple. An interesting and strange fact is that, though the Garuda is associated with Lord Vishnu, both the temples having Garuda Lenka Kambhas are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The pillar at Basaralu has lost  most of its sculptures on the pillar-top unlike the pillars here that are complete and well preserved.
Garuda Lenka Kambhas
Lord Huniseshwara
Lord Ganapathi
Kala Bhairava
Lord Shanmukha
Central Ceiling
Natya Mantap
Lovely Pillar
Empty Devakosthas
The Huniseshwara Temple
       The caretaker of this place, an elderly person  in his early 80's lives in a small house near-by temple the temple complex . The temple was renovated with the help of Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatha Trust .

To be continued .....

The Mystical Charmadi Ghat

  "Charmadi Ghat" is one of the hot spots of Western Ghats and is home to innumerable waterfalls and hills. It also has a reputation of being a favorite trekking spot. The Ghat section, recently being upgraded to National Highway standards (NH234)  is in best of its conditions. The drive along the Charmadi stretch is an amazing experience, especially during the monsoons and the post-monsoon period.

Lovely Lavender Flowers bedeck the Lush-Green Hills
Charmadi Ghat 

The Mysterious Pre-Historic Stone Cricles, Varlakonda

        It happened by chance that, while reading a book on Megaliths, we found the names of  familiar places viz Perisandra, Gudibande (Chikkaballapur District) and their surroundings, which interestingly were mentioned in the list of Megalithic sites. We could relate these unusual structures to the ones we found in Varlakonda as the description in the book closely matched our observations then. Varlakonda is a small village situated on the NH 7 (National Highway) and is equidistant  from both Perisandra and Gudibande (about 8 kms). We always wondered of what those unusual structures we found at the base of the fort meant. We were absolutely thrilled when we realised it could be one of the megalithic sites.
         The term Megalith is derived from two Greek words 'Mega' meaning big and 'Lithos' meaning stone. It describes a monument or structure made of large stones. 'Megalithic Culture' is an intriguing subject of study  in the Archeological field. Many Megalithic sites are found across Europe, Asia and Africa, the best known being the Stone Henge, present in Wiltshire of the United Kingdom. Though the dates of beginning of this culture is not exactly known, excavations have revealed the type of activities and purposes of this culture. Their conclusions though, are not completely sure.
Megalithic Site, Varlakonda

        As we read the book, we could instantly identify a few of the structures to be similar to Stone Circles, which are basically stones arranged in the form of a circle. Apart from these, were two cists (box-like structures), which essentially housed a covering on top in the form of a stone slab/s. They are two of the many types of megalithic structures, classified based on their appearance. We were astonished that  people actually lived here.
Stone Circle and Cist
Side View of the Cist
The Cist
Stone Circles and Cist
      Are these really stone circles is a big question. If  yes, then what could be the reason that these structures were built and why did the people who occupied the place (Varlakonda Fort) later on, not disturb or dismantle the same. Surely, a mystery lies behind these amazing structures.

For Directions and Distance: Click here

        Reference : The Megalithic Culture in South India - B K Gururaja Rao ( With due respect, we would like to mention that the Author studied the subject of Megaliths as a part of his doctoral research and  has made a commendable effort to produce the details of megalithic sites and its culture in South India.)

Related Posts:
1. Rock art at Usgalimal 

Pandava Caves Rivona Goa - 2

                After exploring the Pandava caves, we walked back to our guide's house in order to thank them for their generosity in accompanying us  to the caves. On exchanging information about our places visited, they revealed the presence of  another Pandava cave in this place and  gave us directions for the same. We thanked them and proceeded further to explore the next cave. We reached the Lord Shiva temple,  parked our vehicle and  inquired with an elderly person sitting inside the temple. He told us we had reached the right place and directed  us to the cave. 
Entrance to the Pandava Caves
           At the first look, we thought it could be ruined house, though we were wrong. The presence of  a "Havan Kund" (havan - a sacred ritual performed using fire; kund - pit) outside the cave indicated  that  Rishis or Monks may have lived here and performed 'Havan' or 'Homa' as a part of their daily chores. As we entered  the cave, a flight  of rock cut steps lead us to the central portion of the cave which had a  wonderful ceiling and an opening at its center for the entrance of light. There are two perennial springs originating from inside the cave which served as the main water sources  for the Rishis/Monks. The water currently is being used for irrigation  by the Local farmers. We found a  small carving of Lord Hanuman inside the cave.Though the historians associate this cave with the Buddhist Monks, the locals believe that the Pandavas resided here for sometime during their exile.
Cave Entry
 Rock Cut Steps
Natural Water Spring
Cave Ceiling
  Cave Interior
Lord Hanuman Carving
Natural Water Spring
Pandava Cave Complex
Altogether, it was a wonderful experience exploring the caves. 

Direction from Panajim: Panajim - NH17 - Margao - Take left turn - Quepem - Tilamol - Right turn - Rivona
Distance from Panajim: 65 km
Places to Visit Around: Usgalimal, Kurdi,  Surla, Canacona, Margao and many more.

Pandava Caves - Rivona, Goa - 1

          Our next destination after Kurdi was Rivona, which served as a home to the Pandavas during their exile. We imagined the Rivona Pandava caves to be similar to the Arvalem Pandava caves. Though we reached Rivona with least difficulty, it was rather tricky to locate the Pandava caves. We inquired about the same to a few locals and got mixed answers which helped us the least and confused us more. Finally, we picked a house and on asking them, we found that they were familiar to the place and requested them to guide us to the cave. We had the company of two kids who lead us to our destination.
Pandava Cave
          The cave is believed to have been associated with the Pandavas of  Mahabharata (epic), though the historians date the cave back to the 6th century and believe it could be of Buddhist origin. The cave is simple with only a Peeta (Seat) like structure inside. It is said that the Buddhist gurus sat on this Peeta, meditated  and preached  principles of Buddhism to their disciples .There are steps by the side of the cave leading to a water pond.
Cave Entrance
Natural Cave

Cave... First Look
Rock cut Steps
Water Pond 
    To be continued ................