The Fort of Garudanagiri, Hassan

'Garudanagiri' is a small sleepy village about 30 km from the town of Arsikere. Long time back while  travelling on this highway, we saw a board put up by the Tourism Dept.of Karnataka showcasing the history of this place, Garudanagiri. Though immediately it was in our to-explore list on our next visit around this place, it rather took us a lot of time for this next visit. After having lunch in Arsikere,we decided to check out this interesting place. We took a deviation towards Garudanagiri and drove until we reached the village. When we inquired the way to the fort, we got a response that there was a way until the top from right behind the temple present at the hill base.
The Garudanagiri Hill Fort 
Way to Fort 
Intact Fort Walls 

We reached the temple and started our trek. The fortification on the hill was quite visible from the start point. The weather was favorable which made our climb comfortable.We were protected from the sun's heat by the monsoon clouds and the not very warm weather. We were also excited and happy to see that much of the fortification was intact. As we entered the second tier, we found a Lord Hanuman temple and from here, passed through five more gateways. There is a temple at the top of the fort dedicated to Lord Shiva. This fort being 7 tiered is believed to have been built during the Hoysala period by the body guard of King Vishnuvardhana who carried the name Garuda, thus the name Garudanagiri. Lots of other rulers have ruled this place.
Bird's Eye View of Garudanagiri
Fort Walls 
Temple and Water Pond Inside Fifth Tier Fort Walls
Fort Gateway 
Cave Temple
 We spent some time at the top until the clouds turned dark and heavy after which there was a sudden downpour for a short while. The rain surely made our descent slippery and long as we had to watch every step. We reached our car and from here we headed towards Hire Nallur.
On the Top 

The Lost Hoysala Town of Keresanthe, Chikmagalur

While returning from Shimoga after a monotonous drive, we decided to explore an interesting place before reaching Bangalore. One such place we found along was 'Keresanthe' and a board directing us towards this village. Though our GPS directions varied from the ones on the board, we stuck to and followed the board directions strictly. Few inquiries here and there on our way ensured that we reached the right village but sadly, our GPS was adamant until the end to accept this place as Keresanthe.
Goddess Mahalakshmi Temple
The Watch Tower
 On reaching the village we located the Mahalakshmi temple, a temple dedicated to goddess Lakshmi.This temple architecture bore close resemblance to the later Vijayanagar Style. Later on, when we inquired the locals about the presence of any other similar temples in this village, their answer was a firm no.Then luckily, an elderly lady informed us about a ruined town nearby housing a few old ruined temples. In no time we reached that town and sighted many ruined temples. At the first look, it was obvious that these were built by the Hoysalas.
The Lord Janardhana Temple 
Lord Krishna on the Lintel 
  The first temple we visited here was the Sambhulingeswara temple, a trikuta (three celled temple) dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a linga, Lord Kesava (Lord Vishnu) and Lord Surya (Sun god). As the entry to this temple was blocked by overly grown thorny bushes, we had a tough time getting into the temple and were shocked to see that the entire temple had been disturbed in order to find the presence of rumored treasure and today, this place is nothing but a bats den. Hereon, we visited the temple dedicated to Lord Janardana (Lord Krishna), an Ekakuta (single celled temple) with a very long Mukhamantapa. This temple was no different from the Sambhulingeswara temple, being entirely in ruins.
Lord Sambhulingeshwara Temple
Lord Natraja on the Ceiling 

To be continued.......

New Year Wishes

May everyday of the new year glow with good cheer and happiness for you and your family.
 Happy new year 2015

India's First Biodiversity Heritage Site - Nallur Tamarind Tree Sacred Grove

Road to Bliss 
"Nallur" is a the small village located off  the Devanahalli - Hoskote highway. We heard of this place first from a friend's tweet  and then Google revealed more information about it. It was quite surprising that such a wonderful site was not very well known to the outside world and a trip to this place was definitely on. On a holiday, we decided to explore the Tamarind Grove and headed towards Nallur. After a while, owing to the presence of good direction boards all along, we found ourselves right in front of this sacred grove. We could hardly believe our eyes while we witnessed the scenic beauty of the tamarind trees against the backdrop of the blue sky and white clouds.

 An information board at the entrance of the grove read, " This site covers around 53 acres and there are more than 300 tamarind trees. This site is believed to have had its origin during the period of the Chola Dynasty, who ruled this region during 12-13th Century AD. The oldest trees have been confirmed to be older than 410 years now while the others have been here around for 200 years. One can find 5 types of crown, 4 types of foliage, 3 types of inflorescence and 3 types of trunk".
Nallur Tamarind Grove

The Bark of the Oldest Tamarind Tree
There are many ancient temples in and around the grove. While the main temple dedicated to goddess Gangamma  has been renovated, the other temples are in ruins which stand tall and beautiful. The temple of Lord Gopalaswamy  has some magnificent carvings of  Lord Krishna. After exploring this place a little further, we found more ruined temples around and a big Banyan tree. The site has been maintained by the Karnataka Biodiversity Board, Dept. of Forest, Ecology and Environment. The National Biodiversity Authority (Government of India) has listed 5 such sites in India as of now, two of which are the Nallur Tamarind Grove and my college campus of GKVK, Bangalore. 
Lord Gopalaswamy Temple

Goddess Gangamma Temple 
Banyan Tree