Hero Stones - Agrahara Bachahalli

Agrahara Bachahalli, famous for its Huniseshwara temple and the Garuda Lenka Kambhas is also known for a  massive Hero Stone or Veeragallu situated besides the temple. It is housed in a small temple like enclosure and offers protection to the herostone, signifying the importance of the hero. This particular hero stone is made of Soap stone, which is smooth and rarely used in making hero stones, as we have seen. Looking at the many hero stones inside the temple complex premises, it was quite evident that a great battle had been fought and many lives lost in order to save their kingdom. Hero stones are great sources of knowledge in understanding the history and culture of the people involved.  They were made by people closely associated to the Hero (Solider who sacrificed his life for the kingdom) in memory of his bravery and in order to spread a word about the same.
An enclosure with Hero-Stone
 Hero-stone ( material : soap stone)
Hero stones and Garuda Lenka Kambhas Collection
Ganesha idol and Naga Stones
Beautiful Work
Skillfully Done
 Homer, the Greek author of the Iliad, describes in his book about the Hero as a person possessing divine strength or a person blessed by God to have immense power and strength. But in due course, someone who did noble deeds was also considered a Hero. During olden days, in the Hindu culture, only two types of people were held in high regard. The one who attained knowledge through meditation (Bhakti Marga ) and the other who fought war for the kingdom with a lot of strength and valor (Shakti Marga). It was also believed that people falling in these two categories would attain Moksha (Salvation) and reside permanently in Swarga (Heaven). The same is depicted in the second  panel (or the third very rarely) from the top, of all Hero stones. It is generally shown as the Hero or Veera, seated on a palanquin and being carried away by Angels/Apsaras to the heaven.
The first panel from top depicts Prayers offered to the Lord
The second panel depicts the hero being carried away to the heaven by Angels
The third depicts war scenes (Soldier on the Horse)
Related Readings:
1 Team G Square
2 Wikipedia
3 Slide share
4 Book - ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ವೀರಗಲ್ಲುಗಳು (Karnatakada Veeragallugalu ) by Dr. R .Sheshashastri

Sunset at Jenukallu Gudda, Sirsi

Jenukallu Gudda, one amongst the best sunset viewing points of Karnataka, Agumbe being the most popular.
 To know more about this place kindly click here

Saalumarada Thimmakka and the Banyan Alley

     As we approached the village of Kudur (Magadi taluk), we came across a long stretch of road having Banyan trees on either side. Planted in straight lines and at regular intervals, the trees were tall and dense, forming a natural canopy. A long countryside road stretch and the Banyan alley, what a beautiful sight it was! (Reminded us of John Denver's "Take me Home, Country Roads"). At that point in time, it flashed to us that we had read about a lady who had planted around three hundred banyan trees in her village surroundings. Little did we know that  we were talking about and witnessing trees planted by the same lady, Thimmakka. 
    'Thimmakka', popularly known as 'Saalumarada Thimmakka' (Saalumara, in Kannada means trees planted in a line/row, Translation:Saalu-line/row;Mara-tree), is a name synonymous to Afforestation. She and her husband have played a vital role in planting and nurturing banyan trees, along the 4 km stretch of road, starting from the village of Hulikal up to Kudur. For them, the trees were, and will remain their children. A lot of love and care has been bestowed in nurturing these banyan trees. The beautiful stretch of road we see today can only be attributed to their endless love, effort and unselfish labor towards saving these trees and our environment. The trees are protected by the Govt.of Karnataka. Thimmakka has received a lot of appreciation and awards for her work and stands as an inspiration to all of us. In honor of Thimmaka, an environmental organization carrying her name has also been set up in California (USA) with a motto of saving environment. Kudos to the lady and her husband.
The Banyan Alley
The Green Canopy
Further Reading:

1. Wikipedia
2. Facebook
3. Godnewsindia

A Road Trip "Karnataka -One State Many Worlds"

  Karnataka 'One state.Many worlds'
ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ'ಒಂದು ರಾಜ್ಯ.ಹಲವಾರು ಜಗತ್ತು'

1) 1514 km, including 125 km of dirt track (4x4)

 2) 22 Stone Temples belonging to 11 temple towns
3) 4 Mighty Forts
4) 6 Wonderful Waterfalls

5) A Lovely Home Stay

6) A fair or Jatre, held once every three years, a natural Water Spring, an adventurous Theppa (Coracle) ride, Jungle Trail, Sunset view point  and a Tibetan Colony


Waterfalls of kolli hills -2

After thoroughly enjoying the Junior Falls, we thought  we could enjoy the Agaya Gangai Falls as well and very curiously drove towards it. Unfortunately, on reaching this place, we were informed that due to the heavy rains in the past few days, the entry to this waterfall was strictly prohibited. There was absolutely nothing we could do to even have a glimpse of it as we had to walk down to reach the falls from the ticket counter. The gates were locked and the guard made sure his order was strictly followed. We tried hard to gather details of an alternate route to the same but in vain.  We also inquired about another known falls, the name of which we were fully aware as  Masai Waterfalls, but the guard again gave us  the bad news that it had also been closed due to the bad weather conditions. We were very disappointed that we missed the chance of witnessing  these magnificent falls after making it this far. Wasting no further time, we visited the main temple of  Arapaleswarar (dedicated to Lord Shiva) and then on, we continued towards our final destination of Aruppukottai near Madurai.
Agaya Gangai Waterfalls
While returning from Agaya Gangai falls, we decided to drive through the longer route. After traveling a few kilometers, far away we spotted another waterfall. We had an amazing view of the deep valley and the cascading waterfalls. Identifying its name (if it had any) was a very difficult task for us! We went on to name it Kollimalai Falls. After enjoying this view, we drove further only to find out that the this falls came under the known category and probably has an identity since provision was made for bathing under the falls.
First Look
Kollimalai Waterfalls
Uppermost Tier of  kollimalai Waterfalls
Driving further, we found a small temple by the road side and stopped for offering prayers. On getting closer we found another monsoon waterfall close by. After clicking a few pictures, we moved on.
 The Temple 
Kovil Waterfalls

Waterfalls of Kolli Hills

'Kolli Hills ' is known for its waterfalls, a mixture of well known and lesser known falls. Thanks to the rains that added more beauty and charm to the nature.

1. Falls 65
 Falls 65 is a road side multi tiered falls which is active only during monsoons.  Since the waterfall is located besides the hairpin bend number 65, and we are not aware of its name yet, here we call it as Falls 65. The roaring noise of the falls attracted us to it. It was a quite pleasant and wonderful weather. Nature was at its best that day!
Hairpin Bend No.65
Falls 65
Down Stream of Falls
2. Agaya Gangai / Akasha Gangai Jr Falls :
The Agaya Gangai Falls is the most famous of all the falls in Kolli hills and we were heading towards it. On our way, we found a beautiful flowering tree and wanted to capture its beauty. We stopped by to get some pictures of it. The weather was breezy with continuous drizzle and fog every now and then, which reduced the visibility conditions. While clicking the pictures of that tree, something huge that looked as if nature was pouring gallons of milk into someone's fields caught our eye and we moved further to have a look of what it was! And wow! What a sight! It is probably one of the best waterfalls we have ever witnessed. We are not even sure if this magical waterfall was only a result of the very recent monsoons (the receding northeast monsoons)  or whether it is a regular waterfall. Since we could not find out the name of this waterfall too, we chose to call it Agaya Gangai Junior. We were actually lucky enough  for having sighted this waterfall, thanks to the person at ticket counter who gave us directions of a short cut route to Akasha Gangai falls. Though we did not feel like parting away from this magic, we had to continue our drive towards Akasha Gangai.
The Hidden Falls
Agaya Gangai Jr Falls
Foggy , Misty and Milky

To be continued ...........

Our Guest Post in My Yatra Dairy

Arti of My Yatra Diary gave us an opportunity of sharing space on her wonderful blog by writing a guest post. She is an avid spiritual traveler and blogger, who covers various pilgrim destinations of India in detail with loads of information and photographs. Kindly read through our  guest post on Chennakeshava temple of  C R Patna (Hassan).
Chennakeshava Temple

Temples of Udayagiri, Nellore

After exploring the beautiful pillared Kalyana Mandapa, we moved on to explore another beautiful temple located few yards away from here. This temple is dedicated to Lord Balakrishna and was built by the Pallavas during 9th century. This temple consist of a garbagriha, an antrala, Sukanasi  and Navaranga with a missing Mukhamandapa.
Lord Balakrishna Temple, Udayagiri
Lord Balakrishna Temple, Udayagiri
9th Century Temple built by Pallavas
 Udayagiri was one of the most important cities of Medieval south India. It was ruled by Satavahanas, the Cholas, the Pallavas, the Telugu Chodas, Vijayanagara, Gajapathis, Golconda Nawabs and Finally Britishers. Udayagiri was captured by Vijayanagara King Virupanna II in early 15th Century (around 1402 AD) from Telugu Chodas and later went into hands of Gajapathis (Kings of Orissa) under the rule of King Purushottam around 1485 AD, who also captured the surrounding areas of Kondavidu and fortified these towns. In 1512 AD King Krishnadevaraya recaptured Udayagiri and its surrounding areas and moved forward towards Cuttack to capture the Gajapathis, who then offered a peace treaty by asking Krishnadevaraya to marry their Princess Jaganmohini(Bhadradevi), the daughter of Gajapathi king Prataprudra  . Though there is no documentation of this marriage in any form of Inscriptions (further reading on this). In response to this Krishnadevaraya returned back the territories earlier held by Gajapathis. In celebrations of this roaring victory over Gajapathis, Krishnadevaraya made lavish donations to many temples in his Kingdom, namely Vijaya Vithala temple (Hampi), lord Venkateshwara Temple (Tirupathi) and so on. Almost all the temples down south were provided with an imposing Rajagopuras, beside a many pillared mandapa or pavilion were added to the temple complexes. Most of the old temples in Hampi were renovated and lot of additional structures were erected. A complete temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in Hampi was built to mark his victory and where he installed the murti of Lord Balakrishna which was brought war trophy from the Lord Balakrishna temple in Udayagiri as per inscriptions found at this temple of 1513 AD.
Lord Balakrishna Temple
Decorative Door Frame with Dwarapalakas
Empty Garbhagriha
Note The Carvings of Various Animals
Lord Lakshminarasimha 
Lord Balakrishna
Lord Balakrishna and Butter Churning
Rear View of Shikara
Ananthashayana Sculpture on the Shikara

1.Book "Vijayanagar" edited by Vasundhara Filliozat
2.Book"Archaeology, Art and Religion, new perspectives on Vijayanagara" written by Anila Verghese.
3.Kannada Book "ಕನ್ನಡ ವಿಷಯ ವಿಶ್ವಕೋಶ - ಇತಿಹಾಸ ಮತ್ತು ಪುರಾತತ್ತ್ವ " -  University of Mysore.