The Saga of Hairpin Bends -Kolli Hills

   A chance to attend a friend's wedding at Madurai gave us yet another opportunity of exploring the state of Tamil Nadu. Since last time around, we had missed exploring the Namakkal fort, we wanted to do it this time and also as the time was very short (a day), we had to minimize the number of places we could visit.  As we started our journey on Saturday morning, we were welcomed by rain and as we continued, it showed no signs of stopping. Due to the receding north east monsoons, there were heavy rains and hence we thought it would be the best to visit waterfalls.  Our plan now was to explore the lovely  Kollimalai /Kolli Hills, the beautiful  Akashganga waterfall and a few temples around. We were fully aware that we had to cross the seventy hairpin bends to reach this amazing place courtesy our fellow bloggers - Shankara and Mitr
An initial View of the Kolli Hills and its Magnificent Waterfalls
      After inquiring at various places, we reached  the hill base. There is a forest check post where they collected from us a minimal entry fee along with our details. Hereon, the saga of the hair pin bends started and we began to enjoy the journey more, amidst the mist, the rains, the curvy roads and the lush greenery.
First Hair Pin Bend
  Don't know what it really says, though we were proud to be amidst Kolli hills!!!
Tourist Places of Kolli Hills
An Awesome Morning!!!!
Hair Pin Bend
Winding Roads
70th Hair Pin Bend
We crossed the 70 hair pin bends and wow, what a journey it was! There were still no signs of any waterfalls anywhere. We reached a place called Semmudu, the largest village of Kolli hills. There is another check post here and they collect a fee for further entry. On inquiring about the falls here, he gave us directions telling us it was about 19 km from the check post along with an alternative option of taking a short cut, which would save us about 10 km, the chances of losing way in the latter was much easier. We took the short cut and after traveling some distance, we reached an unknown village where we spotted some hot food being served and fed ourselves sumptuously with dosas, parsthas and omelettes. In no time, we reached the Arappuleshwara Temple. It was chilly weather and we were almost shivering due to the cold. We headed towards finding the way to falls  But, to our dismay , we realized that the entry to the waterfall was temporarily suspended for all, because of heavy rains. And they would open the gates only after the rains subsided until it would be safe for the public. Not being very disappointed, we inquired about  another falls called the Masai falls, near Masai Periswamy temple. The locals informed  us that, at this point in time, it would be difficult for us to go to the temple and the falls due to the heavy rains. From here,  we proceeded to the Arappuleshwara temple and after a quick darshan, we had some hot herbal soup that was prepared locally and tasted perfect. We wrapped up and started driving towards Madurai.
Lovely Tribal House
Water Everywhere
Misty and Cloudy
Raging Clouds
Misty Kolli Hills
Magical
   While returning, we took the longer route to make sure we don't miss anything worth watching and later realized that we had to drive through an additional 39 hairpin bends! All put together, we crossed more than 175 hair-pin bends of Kolli hills, which was a  wonderful experience. There are also a  few small resorts in the hills which offer accommodation. Since ours was a short trip, we didn't get chance to check out any of these  resorts. Kolli hills is an ideal weekend getaway from Bangalore. Like most of the hill stations, this place is also abused by irresponsible tourists who do very little for keeping our environment safe. A humble request to the tourists, from us and all who care for our surroundings and the environment  is, please do not  litter, use the waste bins for throwing garbage, which is present at most of the tourist places. Avoid use of plastic wherever possible. Nature is god's gift. Help in keeping it beautiful. 

Await for more hidden secrets of this place..........

Fort Kundana

     'Kundana Fort'  is one of the closest  forts to Bangalore, housed in the small village of Kundana (about15 km from Devanahalli).  A small hillock with  fortification is seen from the roadway.  A walk of about 10 minutes leads us to the first tier of the fort, most of which is in ruins today. Nothing much remains of the fort, except for it's three tiers, a doorway, two renovated temples, a kitchen room and foundations of a few buildings. While looking at the doorway, a wild guess can be made, that of a Palegar of Vijayanagar Kingdom having built the same.We did find a water pond near the temple, again a wonderful and skillful depiction of our ancestors wisdom in harvesting  the rain water. Unfortunately and sadly, today it only turns out to be a dump yard for people who visit the temple. Not a single soul was spotted on the hillock.
The Second Tier of the Fort
Crumbling Fort Walls
The Doorway
Chennakeshava Temple, Kitchen Room and the Water Pond
Garuda Kambha
Phantom Rock
Kundana Village - Bird's Eye View
Fort View Villa
Drying Wild Zinnia Flower
Overall this place is good for quick outing from Bangalore.

Places near by: Nandi Hills, Devanahalli Fort, Skandagiri, Ghati Subramanya and many more ...

Lizards

   Lizards (wiki) are the most common of all reptiles. They are characterized with well developed limbs and eye lids. Among the reptile species, 50% of the species belong to the group of lizards. The lizards, along with snakes fall under the Order "Squamata "(scaled reptiles). The other orders of reptiles include "Crocodilia "(Caimans, Alligators Gharials) and " Testudines" (Turtles and Tortoises).
   Lizards are mainly insectivorous though some are carnivores and some are herbivores. Their body is covered scales at least on  some portion of the body, if not fully. They are found in all kinds of terrestrial biomes (wiki) like the deserts, forests, hilly regions, etc,. Most of the lizards are oviparous, expect a few. Lizards are further divided into many families depending upon the their common characteristics. Common lizard families include the Geckos (Gekkonidae), Agamas (Agamidae), Chameleons (Chamaeleonidae),Skinks (Scincidae), Monitors (Varnidae) and the Iguana (Iguanadiae).
 Agama
Geckos: These are the most commonly and easily found lizards. They may be arboreal, ground or rock dwellers. Some are commensal with man . Most of the geckos are nocturnal. The tail of geckos regenerates and does not attain the original color and shape. Geckos are non poisonous.
Northern House Gecko
Chameleons: They are arboreal lizards. Only one species is found in India. Chameleons are unique in the possession of an extensible tongue, independently movable eyes and have parrot toes that are characterized by modification of the toes into two sets of opposed clasping organs. They have a compressed body and prehensile tail .  They posses to a remarkable degree, the ability to change color.
Chamaeleon zeylanicus
Skinks: Their bodies are covered with smooth or keeled shiny scales ,imbricately arranged . There is typically little or no neck region. Body is elongated and flattened. These are majorly ground dwellers. Some limbless forms are also found.
 Skink
Snake Skink (Juv)
Agama: The most easily found family of lizards, especially in rocky regions. They have well developed teeth, which are divided into incisors, canines and molars. They can be found in all types of biomes. The head, which is held off the ground on a distinct neck, has small scales and lacks shield. Eyes and ears are well developed.
Spiny Agama
Rock Agama
Peninsular Rock Agama
Monitor Lizards: They have a long and flattened body, long tail, long neck, and extremely elongated and slender forked tongue (similar to snakes). Komodo dragon, the largest existing lizards belongs to this family. Some are found in aquatic biomes also. These are endangered by trade in reptile skins.
Common Indian Monitor
Iguana: They are large herbivorous lizards native to central America and Caribbean Islands. They re usually found in zoos and national parks.
Iguana
Reference: The book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians by J.C. Daniel

Muktesvara Temple, Chaudayyadanapura -II

"Muktesvara temple" is a dwikuta temple and is a masterpiece portraying the style, culture and architecture of the Chalukyan era. It is considered to have been built in the Jakkanacharyan style of Architecture. There are two entrances to the temple, one from the south and other from the east. Both entrances have beautiful porches. The door frames are decorative and classic, representing true Kalyani Chalukyan Architecture. There is also a carving of Lord Mahesvara on the main door lintels.
Muktesvara Temple
Lovely Door Frame
Lord Mahesvara on the Lintel
Decorative Carvings
Carving of Animals on the Door Frame
Door Frame of the East Entrance
      There is a small Shiva Linga inside the Garbhagriha and the door frame of the Sukanasi is skillfully executed. There is a Mantapa on the front side of the east entrance . The exterior walls of the temple carry  carvings of Lord Shiva in his various forms, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Saraswathi, Lord Krishna, Lord Surya and other gods. The artistic work on the outer wall is commendable.
Sukanasi Door Frame
Lintel of Sukanasi Door Frame
Sapthamathrikas
Outer Ceiling
Inner Ceiling 
Mantapa
Carvings of Dance Troupe on the  Front Porch
Lord Ganesha
Intricate Carvings on Temple Walls
Empty Devakosthas
Wonderful Floral Depictions
Pattikas
Miniature Shikaras
Temple Shikara
     It is definitely one amongst the well maintained temples of Karnataka. The temple remains open throughout the day irrespective of  the priest's presence.
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore-NH4-Tumkur-Chitradurga-Davangere-Ranebennur-Right Turn towards Guttal-Right Turn towards Choudayyadanapura (Be sure not to miss this turn as there are no sign boards indicating the same, The right turn to be taken is about 6 km before Guttal)
Distance from Bangalore: About 330 km
Places to Visit Around: Galaganatha, Kuruvatti, Haveri, Ranebennur, Devaragudda, Harihara and many more

Reference Used:
The Temple of Muktesvara at Caudadanapura: A Little-Known 12Th-13th Century Temple in Dharwar District, Karnataka (Kalasamalocana)