Karnataka's Khajuraho - Bagali in Monochrome

 The "Kalleshwara Temple" in Bagali is considered to be one amongst the most unique temples of India. One of the rarities of this temple is the presence Rathi and Manmatha (Goddess and God of Love) as Dwarapalakas. This temple was built in the 10th Century AD by the Chalukyas and  later developed by the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagar Kings. There are 62 erotic sculptures on the outer wall of the temple and thus referred to as Karnataka's Khajuraho. Do enjoy the pictures in Monochrome and a short video about this temple (Courtesy TV9 via You tube).
Rathi and Manmatha 
The Kalleshwara Temple Complex
The Kalleshwara Temple
Kalyani and the Keerthistambha
Meticulously Carved Door Frame
Pillared Alley
Ceiling Carving
Lord Brahma , Eshwara and Vishnu (Top row) and Gajalakshmi (Bottom row)
Impressive Lintel Carving
Killing of King Hiranyakaship 
Erotica



Fort Bhairavadurga, Kuduru Betta

 Ever since we read about the existence of  Navadurgas (Nine Forts) around Bangalore, our hunt for these were on. It is rather surprising that information on the Navadurgas is limited along with the ambiguity about the nine forts and the basis of them being called as Navadurgas. We were confident about eight forts out of the nine namely Savanadurga, Kabbaladurga, Huthridurga, Devarayanadurga, Makalidurga, Channarayanadurga, Nandidurga and Huliyurdurga. The ninth one listed, Bandallidurga, did not sound convincing since its location ( M M hills) somehow seemed to be  far away from the Bangalore circuit. When we read about  Bhairavadurga , we thought that it fits this list perfectly, though not sure. Not much of history of this place is known except that it was built by Kempe Gowda II and later was conquered by Tippu Sultan and the British.
Bhairavadurga Hill
The Path
 Every now and then, we were haunted by our incomplete trek to Fort Bhairavadurga. On a early Sunday morning, we decided to conquer this fort second time around and set out towards exploring Bhairavadurga. Having chosen a wrong path along with a wrong time for climbing this hill last time, we ensured all was well during our ascent this time. We inquired about the right route to the hill top from locals . We began our climb slowly and steadily and after some time, we came across a fleet of steps which gave us some relief since the trek until then was quite tiresome.  The end of flight lead us to the first tier of the Fort. Hereon, we followed the trail up to the next tier and continued until  we reached a spot which looked tricky to climb without any support as it was very steep. There were remains of  iron rods embedded in the rock which probably served as a support system for climbing. After crossing this, it was a leisure walk to the top tier.  There is a water spring or Dhonne (in Kannada) in between two massive rocks on the hill top with well laid steps. The water in this spring never dries up even in the severest of the summers. There are big boulders and a few ruined structures on the top .The views from the hill top were outstanding.
Final Tier of the Fort
 Spring (or Dhonne in Kannada)
Balancing Act
Boulders and the Ruined Structure

Base of a Grinding Stone
Bird's eye view of Kudoor village
Glass/ Poly-House
Lord Anjaneya
There is a cave temple dedicated to lord Bhairaveshwara on the other side of the hill . The Antaragange temple in Kudoor village is considered to be more ancient than the Fort. Unfortunately, this temple was closed during our visit.
View of Shivagange
Crumbling Walls 
Panoramic View
Sun Basking
 Directions from Bangalore - NH 48 - Solur - Right Turn -Kudoor - Left Turn - Travel a kilometer, then take a Left Turn to find an Arch Entrance - Reach the Fort Base
 Distance from Bangalore - 55 km

References:
1. Navadurgas 
2. Deccan Herald
3. Fortmapper

Vagata, the village of Chola temples

  "Vagata", a village located about  6 km from Hoskote was a very prosperous town under the Cholas. Ever since we read about the historical significance of  this place, we were curious to explore but lack of information and details of its location, kept us away. We tried to track the location by inquiring a few friends of ours who hailed from Hoskote, but to no avail. Finally, a friend returned our call for giving us the exact location of this place. Vouching on his information, one Saturday evening, we headed towards exploring this place.We had no trouble in reaching this place, thanks to the detailed information given by our friend.
Tamil Inscriptions
Vagata was known by several names such as Ovattam, Varadaraja-Chaturvedi-Mangalam, Ogata, Bhagirathipura, Yogapuri and so on,  under the reign of various kings. The earliest inscription found here has a mention of  Raja Rajendra Chola who ruled during the 10th Century. There are many old temples in this village, courtesy  the Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. Most important amongst them are the Varadaraja Temple, Anjaneya temple, Chandramouleshwara temple and the Chowdeshwari temple. The Varadaraja temple is built in Dravidian style and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Though the temple is completely renovated, the idol of Lord Vishnu, the four pillars of  the Mukha Mantapa and the Garudagamba have survived all odds and maintained originality of the Chola architecture. There is a Tamil inscription nearby the temple.
Varadaraja Temple
Carved Pillar
Garudagamba
The Anjaneya temple was built by the Vijayanagar Kings. The sculpture of  Lord Anjaneya is huge and beautiful. The Chandramouleshwara temple is situated besides a lake and  is completely renovated, with no signs of ancient origin.  Hereon, we visited the Chowdeshwari temple located on the other side of the lake. This temple is one amongst the very few temples dedicated to the Sapthamatrikas and may have been  built during the same time as the  Kolaramma temple in Kolar (which is also dedicated to the Sapthamatrikas). 'Sapthamatrikas' is a set of seven mothers, representing the motherly aspects of the great goddesses (Devi's) and constitute the female counterparts of the gods Brahma (Brahmani), Maheshvara (Mahesvari), Kaumara (Kaumari), Vishnu (Vaisnavi) , Varaha (Varahi), Indra (Indrani) and Yama (Chamundi). Apart from these, there are scultpures of Bethala, Veerabhadra, Shiva, Chowdeshwari and  the Royal priest of Cholas, inside the temple, which are quite interesting.
Chandramouleshwara Temple
Chowdeshwari Temple and Sinking Pillar
Half Buried Thoranagamba
Bethala
Veerabhadra Swamy
Chowdeshwari
Royal Priest of the Cholas
Sapthamatrikas
Dwarapalakas
    According to the legend, people feared to visit this temple as it was engulfed by dense forests. It was then, that a widow named Chikkamma, decided to take up the renovation work of  this temple. She approached the king of Mysore and requested him to help the villagers. When the king turned down her request, she returned  to her village and found her own way for saving the temple. She sold her Mangalasutra (the sacred thread, made of Gold and other precious stones, tied by the husband to his wife sanctifying marriage) and gathered money. Meanwhile, the king who had refused to help her faced   various problems, and on consultation and advice of the Royal Priest, decides to visit Chowdeshwari temple and perform  rituals in order to get rid of all his problems. There is a beautiful Thoranagamba just opposite to the temple entrance which lies half buried and pillar that sinks a few inches every year. As per the priest's description, the pillar is sinking ever since Chikkamma renovated the temple and from the time he remembers, it has sunk by almost a foot.
Moonlit Evening
While the priest, common to Varadaraja and the Anjaneya temple lives inside the premises of the Anjaneya temple, the priest, common to the the temples of Chandramouleshwara and Chowdeshwari resides near the Chandramouleshwara temple. Both the priests are quiet friendly and helpful. Annual Jatra is held during the month of April.

Twin Hoysala Temples , Mosale Hassan

  "Mosale" is a sleepy village off the Hassan-Mysore State Highway (SH 67). A huge sign board at the  village entrance welcomes us to this beautiful place blessed with twin Hoysala temples. These are amongst the very few Hoysala temples that have remained intact in all aspects, giving us a chance to admire, experience  and  appreciate the Hoysala architectural grandeur to its best. The temples together form a unique Dwikutachala. While one of the temples is dedicated to Nageshwara (Lord Shiva), the other is dedicated to Chennakeshava (Lord Vishnu). The approach road to this village  is quite a magnificent sight with narrow roads snaking through lovely green fields.
Welcome to  Mosale
Roads Snaking through the Green Fields
Nageshwara and Chennakeshava Temple
    These temples are believed to have been built in the 13th Century. According to a legend, the village of Mosale was also the hermitage of Sage Jamadagni (one of the Sapta-Rishis or Seven Sages). The two temples are similar in architecture and  have grand exteriors and interiors.
Nageshwara temple (Top) and Chennakeshava Temple (Bottom) in Monotone
Entrance Porch
Nectar in the Stone
Ceilings of  the Nageshwara Temple
   An other intriguing feature of this temple is the carving of Goddess Durga on the external ceiling of Nageshwara temple. The speciality of the carving is that, irrespective of the direction from which we view it, the goddess appears to be looking back at us. While there are numerous images of Gods and Goddesses sculpted on the outer walls of the temple,  the most interesting ones are that of the Goddesses with their respective Vahanas  ( or Vehicles) of Snake (presumed to be Kamakya or Manasa ) and Pig (presumed to be Gauri). While these forms of Goddess Durga are predominant  in North East India, they are rarely witnessed in the South Indian temples. The Shikaras of both temples are extremely beautiful with the Hoysala Emblem and the Shikara Phalaka carvings intact.
Goddesses with their respective Vahanas (Vehicles) Snake and Pig
Exterior Ceiling depicting Goddess Durga
Exemplary Art Work on the Shikara- Nageshwara (Top) and Chennakeshava (Bottom)
Twin Gems
Directions from Hassan: Hassan - SH 67- Travel about 8 km - Right turn to Mosale (Follow Sign Board)
Distance from Hassan: 10km
Places to visit Around: Anekere, Ambuga, C R Patna, Hassan, Gorur, Koravangala, Nuggehalli, Belur, Halebid, Dodda Gadavalli, Grama and many more...