Dolmen Circles of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, Somwarpet

  While passing by this site during one of our journeys, an ASI board  directing towards the Dolmen circle site caught our eye, however, due to lack of time we couldn't make it and the name was included in our to-visit list. After prolonged postponement, during our recent road trip, we made sure we visit this intriguing site of dolmen circles. As we were already  aware of its location, we reached the village of Doddamalathe, located off the Somwarpet - Shanivarsanthe state highway only to realize that we were familiar with the surroundings of this megalithic site, as we had visited the famous pilgrim center of Honamma temple situated very close-by to the site( Read here).
ASI Board
 The two hills here are named Gavi Betta and Morey Betta. While the former is quite popular among pilgrims, the latter is a megalithic site. We inquired about the route of Morey Betta and a few confirmations here and there lead us to the hill base of Morey Betta. As none were present in the hill surroundings, we had to explore the right route to the site and wasting no time, we went ahead. Fortunately, we climbed the hill in the right direction and very curiously looked forward at each and every step to see if the dolmens were visible. The dense grassland blocked our vision and after climbing a certain distance we reached the megalithic site. With great excitement, we walked ahead. An incomplete barbed wire fencing around the circumference of the site ensured against trespassers and taking the right entrance.
The Path 
The Megalithic Site
We sighted a number of  Dolmen circles or cairn circles at the site, out of which some being undisturbed by external elements stood in a good shape while the others were in a disturbed state. However, the Dolmen circles here are quite intriguing. Locally known as 'Pandavara Gudi', owing to a popular belief that these structures were constructed during the period of Mahabharata (the epic war of kurukshethra between the Kauravas and the Pandavas), these Dolmen structures are  commonly  associated  with Pandavas across Karnataka, except in a few places. We were able to identify two types of Dolmen circles here. The first type and the most common of all consists of small sized stones arranged in the form of concentric circles (around 2 to 4 in number) with the dolmen placed at the centre. The second type consisted of big standing stones or Menhirs around  the first circle of stones followed by smaller ones around the other circle. The former may have been that of common men while the latter may have been the ones of important people such as that of a king, a leader or their peers. The Dolmen typically had four vertical stone slabs with a big cap stone placed over them, with one of the vertical slabs housing a port hole. Some of them resembled anthropomorphic figures.
Dolmen Circle, Gavi Gudda in the Background
Notice the Stone circle with Menhirs around the Dolmen 
Dolmen 
 According to R A Cole (the then Superintendent captain of Coorg), these structures may have served as Altars or temples. Further investigations conducted by R A Cole and his team revealed pottery of miniature sizes, similar in shape to those found in the other Coorg cists. It also revealed an interesting gold coated copper disc, though the coating had peeled off in some places. This megalithic site is almost 3000 years old and has survived against all odds. Another interesting story associated with this place is that when people dug a basin for a lake (presently the Honnammana kere),  no water was encountered and water came in abundance only post human sacrifices to the goddess. These burials of the dead formed the Pandavara Gudi. This theory is far from being the fact but this place needs some kind of restoration and maintenance.
Stone Circle

Though the ASI website mentions of two dolmen circle sites here, namely Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, the locals confirmed that the two together form one site. The megalithic site being surrounded by both the villages of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe around its periphery, it falsely seems as though there are two different sites. 

References: 
1. "The Megalithic Culture in South India", a book written by B.K. Gururaja Rao 
3. Kodagu First

 Related Posts:
1. Rock Art at Usgalimal

In Search of Kanakagiri's Ashokan Edicts -2

While researching about this place, our inquisitiveness about King Bindusura (Father of Ashoka) increased. To our surprise, sadly, very little has been found out about him or documented as compared to king Chandragupta Maurya (Father of Bindusura) and Ashoka himself. Though Bindusara was the key person responsible for the consolidation of the Mauryan empire post Chandragupta era, it seems somehow the life story of Bindusura is missing. It is also quoted at many places that Sushima (elder brother of Ashoka) was the choice of Bindusura as the next heir of Mauryan empire. But Ashoka killed him and 5 other brothers to gain the throne. King Ashoka's life may be divided into two phases, that during pre Kalinga war and post Kalinga war, the war being the turning point.. Ashokan edicts give us the insight of Ashoka's second half of his life, the Buddhist way of life. The edicts are present even today across India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are 9 such documented Ashokan edicts in Karnataka, all of which have been visited by and written about by a fellow blogger. (Link: Ashokan edicts).
Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka, Dhauli Orissa
Minor Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Gavi Matha Koppal 
In continuation with our previous post, our perseverance was finally rewarded with a piece of information being disclosed by people at the temple about a rock inscription near Kattle Basavanna temple, though it wasn't sure whether  it was the same one we were looking for. They also gave us directions to this temple. We reached the temple and searched for the inscription, but found none. A person directed us to a few stones close by the temple. On close observation, we found one of them to be inscribed and poured water for further investigation that revealed inscriptions in Kannada language.
Kannada Inscriptions Near Kattle Basavanna Temple
 We closely checked all the rocks around the temple but found nothing. We went back and inquired  with people at the temple regarding the edicts. The same person who showed us an inscription near the temple also told us that there are some inscriptions atop a hill located close by. This information gave us goose bumps since Ashokan edicts are located on/close to hills. On asking him for more details about the same, he accepted our invitation to join us in our quest. Hereon, we headed towards the Lakshmi Narasimha hill, situated about 2 km from Kanakagiri. And our search for the edicts continued!....
Lakshmi Narasimha Hill 
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In Search of Kanakagiri's Ashokan Edicts

Our quest to find the surviving Ashokan Edicts in Karnataka took us to the elusive Ashokan edicts at Kanakagiri. Probably there is no Ashokan edicts here or the information on the internet is incomplete regarding the same. 'Kanakagiri', translated as 'Hill of Gold' is located about 30 km from Gangavathi in Koppal district. After visiting a friend's place at Gangavathi, we got a chance to go in search of the edicts. Early next morning we headed towards Kanakagiri. From various sources of information, we had learned that the Ashokan Edicts are placed inside the temple though unaware of its exact location.
The Main Entrance
Kanakagiri is referred at many places as "Ashoka's Swarnagiri". Our task of finding the edicts began as we entered the the first temple which was the Kanakachalapathi temple. This temple was built during the Vijayanagar period by the Nayakas of Kanakagiri. While our eyes were eagerly in search of the edicts, a room in front the main Gopuram caught our attention. On carefully inspecting the room interiors for the presence of any edicts, we found none. A beautiful stone slab depicting a scene involving the king and queen was placed in front of the room.
Shri Kanakachalapathi Temple , Kanakagiri
Shri Kanakachalapathi Temple 
The Stone Panel Depicting a Scene between King and Queen
As we entered the temple we sighted three big inscription panels, a close examination of them revealed that they had nothing related to emperor Ashoka. This temple is dedicated to Lord Kanakachalapathi, a form of Vishnu. The Sabhamantapa has beautiful pillars and stories from Ramayana etched at the top of the wall. The temple has been maintained very well, but no one here had any idea about the Ashokan edicts. The priest was not all in the mood to discuss about Ashokan edicts and the temple manager along with others present around too confirmed that there is no such edicts present here.
The Stone Inscriptions 
The Sabhamantapa
The Dwikuta Temple
A Scene from Ramayana

On showing them the book we referred to on Kanakagiri that spoke about the edicts, they remained unconvinced, until one among them finally gave in.....
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The Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli, Mandya

The Panchalingeshwara temple of Govindanahalli is one of the few surviving Panchakuta (Pancha-five; Kuta-shrine) temples built during the Hoysala period. Govindanahalli, an obscure village in the Krishnarajpet taluk of Mandya district was once a flourishing town under Hoysala rule and is believed to have been a part of the ancient Kabbahunadu. The temple was built in the 13th century during the reign of the Hoysala king  Veera Someshwara.
Sri Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli
Sri Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli 
Originally, this temple was a Chatushkuta (four shrined) built in dravidian style. However, there was an addition of another garbhagriha on the eastern side categorizing the temple under panchakuta type. Each garbhagriha has a separate antarala, opening into a common navaranga. There are two north facing entrances with Mukhamantapas and Nandimantapas. Unlike other Hoysala temples which possess platform as a common feature, this temple is devoid of the same. The five Shiva Lingas here are named Ishanyeshwara, Tatpurusheshwara, Aghoreshwara, Vamadeveshwara and Sadyojateshwara, attributing them to the Pandavas of Mahabharata.
The Five Shrines
Demon Ravana Shaking Mount Kailash 
Narashima, Vamana, Parshurama and Rama (4th,5th, 6th and 7th of the Vishnu's Dasavatara)
Matsya, Kurma and Varaha (1st,2nd and 3rd of Vishnu Dasavatara)
Lord Vishnu and  his incarnations 
The shikharas of all the five shrines are richly decorated in dravidian style. An intriguing feature of this temple is that though the temple is dedicated mainly to Lord Shiva, the outer walls of the temple carry images of various forms of Lord Vishnu as a majority, similar to the Malleshwara temple of Aghalaya. This may be due to the fact that the temple was built during two different phases of Hoysala rule. There are some beautiful sculptures inside the temple, that of Shanmukha, Ganesha, Mahishashuramardini and so on. The lady care-taker in charge of the temple had maintained the temple clean and tidy though she was unaware of any history or information related to the temple. This temple is probably the only Panchakuta temple surviving today which is in good shape compared to the others, namely the Panchalingeshwara temple of Somanathapura and the Panchalingeshwara temple of Halebidu, which are in complete ruins.
The Little Guide
Saiva Dwarapalaka
Nandi Mantapa
The Ground plan of Panchalingeshwara Temple (From S Shettar The Hoysala Temples)
The Ruined Temple
References:
1. The Hoysala Temples - S Shettar
2. The temples of Karnataka - Dr. K M Suresh
PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta, Ramanagar

Our hunt for a place to trek around Bangalore along with our one year old led us finally to Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta, a hillock located off the Ramanagar - Magadi state highway. As we were aware of the presence of steps in order to reach the hill-top, we chose to climb this hill keeping in mind our little team partner. We drove to the hill base comfortably and after parking our vehicle in a mango orchard under a big tree, proceeded towards the hill. The hill looked bald, devoid of any kind of vegetation.
Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta 
  The presence of rock cut steps have always inspired us to climb with more enthusiasm. The climb was fairly easy and we reached a point which is supposedly believed to have been the place where Ramanujacharya gave the  Vishwaroopa (Omniform / Universal form) darshana. A short descent hereon leads us to a small temple dedicated to Lord Yathiraja. The legends goes, "This hill was inhabited by saints who were doing penance for a long time in the caves. One day, it so happened that Ramanujacharya came to this place in the form of Yathi (Saint) and on asking the residing saints for a place to live in, they obliged by allowing him to stay with them. As days passed by, Ramanujacharya advised all the other saints to leave this place and go away. But the saints refused to do so and it was at this moment that Ramanujacharya exhibited the Vishwaroopa darshana. On witnessing this, the saints feared Ramanujacharya and were forced to leave this place".
The Rock Cut Steps
Hills around Ramanagar
Hills and More Hills
Remains of Fort 
Place Where Ramanujacharya gave Vishwaroopa Darshana 
  It is believed that the idol of Yathiraja here in the cave temple was installed by Ramanujacharya. Unfortunately, the cave temple was locked and there were no signs of the priest of this temple anywhere. There is a perennial spring besides the temple whose flow has reduced off late owing to this year's enormously hot climate. The spring water was clear and cold. We spent a good time resting under the shade of  the very beautiful tree of Plumeria.
The Spring 
Spring Water and Reflections
Shri Yathiraja Swamy Temple
Plumeria Trees
Directions - Bangalore - NH275 - Ramanagar - Right Turn at Ramanagar Traffic Signal - 8Kms - Take Left towards Koonumuddanahalli - 1Km Right side is the hill.

Reference - Ramanagar District (Book in Kannada) written by Prof. M. Shivananjaiah