MP Diaries: Ekattarso Mahadev Temple Mitawali - The Mysterious Yogini temple

First Look of Mitawali Temple 
Next on our list was the Chausath Yogini temple of Mitawali located about 18 km from Sihoniya. The village of Mitawali is located close to Padhavali, on the way from Sihoniya. The drive was quite enjoyable along the ravines of Chambal. We were only wondering how it was when the dacoits were all around, with horses and the guns. After driving for about 25 minutes, we were able to see a small circular temple atop a hill. This temple from far resembled that of the Hirapur Yogini temple, which is also circular in shape. Though many people believe this temple to be an inspiration behind the construction of the Indian Parliament, it could also be an easy coincidence with the resemblance of its shape (further reading).
Ekattarso Mahadev Temple, Mitawali
Ekattarso Mahadev Temple, Mitawali 
Chausath Yogini Temple, Hirapur
Chausath Yogini Temple, Hirapur 
 The beautifully laid sandstone steps lead us to the temple on the small hillock. There were a few people here who had come to visit this temple and the care taker was also present. A small doorway on the eastern side welcomed us into the temple. The temple is hypaethral (with no roof) and comprises of a circular cloister around an open courtyard over a high plinth. There is also a central circular shrine facing east in this courtyard. This temple was constructed in 10th century by the Kachchapaghata rulers. But as per inscriptions found here, this temple dates to 1323 AD and is said to have been built by Maharaja Devapala and also states it to be the “Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple”. It may have happened that the king converted the original Yogini temple into a Shaiva temple by placing a Shiva Linga in each of the 64 cells here. Though there are no records to prove the above statement nor that the temple built originally was a Chausath Yogini temple, it is only based on the assumptions of shape, number of cells and certain recent studies undertaken here that point it towards being a Yogini temple.
Typical Cell with Shiva Linga 
The Central Temple 
 This temple is very much similar to the Chausath Yogini temple of Hirapur (near Bhubaneswar) and Jharial (also in Odisha) and closely resembles the Yogini temple in Bhedaghat (near Jabalapur, M P). However, the Yogini temple in Khajuraho is square in plan, unlike the above and does not comprise of any central temple. Though doubt persists about whether this was originally a Yogini temple or not and is rather difficult to prove so, it is good to see that most of this temple remains intact today. This was the first of the surviving 3 Yogini temples we visited in Madhya Pradesh. There is also a small shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu outside this temple, with another ruined shrine at the hill base.
Chambal Ravines
Chambal Ravines 
Vishnu Temple and The Guardian 
 How to reach Mitawali:  Reach Nurabad which is located on the Gwalior-Agra Highway, take right turn towards Padhavali and proceed further to reach Mitawali, about 35 km from Gwalior. 
Entry Fee: Entry is free
Accommodation: There are as such no accommodation options here, though one can stay at Morena or Gwalior where options are plenty and make a day trip to this place. 
Where to eat: There are a few road-side eateries that make tasty chats, especially Aloo Tikki. 
1. Madhya Pradesh - Unknown Attractions around Known Destinations
2. RBS Visitors Guide India - Madhya Pradesh
3. A Wandering Mind                                                                                                                      

MP Diaries: Kakanmath Temple Sihoniya, Chambal Ki Rani

Kakanmath Temple, Sihoniya
Kakanmath Temple, Sihoniya
After a wonderful river safari at Chambal Sanctuary and an exciting visit to the Eco-park at Deori, Kakanmath temple of Sihoniya was the next destination on our list to visit in Chambal region. After having some food on the way, we reached Sihoniya and drove towards Kakanmath temple which is located about 1 km outside village limits amidst the fields. Huge skeletal remains of a magnificent Shiva temple are seen, giving us a glimpse of what had stood once here. The temple complex consists of a main temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Linga surrounded by 4 small temples which are now in complete ruins.
Pillars  Remains of a Mantapa 
This temple complex is believed to have been built in 10th century by King Kirttiraja of Kachchapaghata dynasty, as per the inscription found at the SaasBahu temple in Gwalior.  The temple here stands on a lofty ornate pitha/platform similar to other temples in Madhya Pradesh built around this time such as the VijayaMandir, Vidisha.  The temple comprises of a sanctum and mukhamandapa which can be approached from the east by stairs. The Ashtadikpalas are carved in the eight directions of the sanctum, which are surviving even today. Carvings of various gods adorn the temple wall of this temple.
Lord Ganesha (He looks smart and slim) 
Lord Trivikram  (Lord Vishnu's Avatar) 
Indira on Airavata (The Guardian of East)
Indira on Airavata (The Guardian of East) 
Yama on Mahisha  (The Guardian of South)
Yama on Mahisha  (The Guardian of South)
Lord Brahma (The Creator)
Lord Brahma (The Creator) 
Agni on Mesha (The Guardian of South East)
Agni on Mesha (The Guardian of South East)
Kubera (the guardian of North)
Lord Vishnu on Garuda 
Various Apsaras Adorning the Wall of the Main Temple
The shikara of this temple is around 30 meter in height, of which only the inner part crowned by a bell member has survived. The remains of balconies can be seen even today with pillars carved to perfection. There are also remains of a small mandapa in front of the main temple with only 2 of its pillars surviving. The ASI and MP tourism have done a wonderful job in restoring this temple which probably was damaged during an earthquake. The excavation work is still underway and in the coming days, we can hope to see much of this temple getting back its original shape. The sculptures found here are preserved in the Gwalior ASI museum.
Lord Shiva Linga 
Pillars of Mukhamandapa 
How to Reach Sihoniya: Reach Morena which is located on the Gwalior-Agra Highway, take a right towards Ambah and travel for about 16 km. Then take a right turn and travel for about 12 km to reach Sihoniya.
Entry Fee: Entry is free. 
Accommodation: There are as such no accommodation options here, but one can stay at Morena or Gwalior where various options are plenty and make a day trip to this place. 
Where to eat: There are a few road-side eateries that make tasty chats, especially Aloo Tikki. 

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A Monsoon Trek in the Western Ghats, Kavaledurga Kote, Shimoga/Shivamogga

On inquiring about the route to the fort of Kavaledurga to a local, he replied saying, "Are you guys crazy to venture out there during these rains!? The path will be very slippery. Go straight, walk along the field bund and you should reach the base of Kavaledurga".
Brightly Colored Mushroom Welcoming us to the Fort 
We nodded our heads and thanked him for the information and concern shown by him. We walked as per his directions and reached the end of the fields from where the path laid to the fort was visible. It was only when we laid our first steps did we realize we were in for something! As we started our trek uphill on a very slippery slope, we noticed our steps almost matched that of a disco! We surely would have proved to be a tough competition to Micheal Jackson or Prabhu Deva. Even carefully laid steps with caution were slippery, and after slipping and trekking uphill for a good 40 minutes or so, we reached the second gateway of the fort from where the climb seemed easy and the views from here were mesmerizing.
Walk along the Field Bund 
Kavaledurga Hill fort
At the Base of the Kavaledurga Hill 
Kavaledurga Kote
First Look of Kavaledurga Kote
Entering the Fort 
The history of Kavaledurga Kote (Fort) goes this way, "This place was also called as Bhuvanagiridurga owing its name to the temple of Goddess Bhuvaneshwari, which is located in the village and is of considerable antiquity. The fort was a stronghold of the Nayakas of Keladi, who fortified this hill post their liberation from the Vijayanagar kingdom. The credit of building this forest fort goes to King Venkatappa Nayaka, who also built a palace and village inside the fort walls. The fort is three tiered and surrounded by thick forests, which proves to be a perfect defense structure. Out of the many temples built inside this fort area, the three that have survived the test of time are the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Shikhareshwara temple and Lakshmi Narasimha temple.
Lajja Gowri, Lord Hanuman and Elephants on the Wall at the Fort Entrance
 The Kashi Vishwanath temple is a beautiful structure and a unique one due to the presence of 2 dwajastambhas or stone pillars in front of the temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a linga and is built in typical Keladi style of architecture. Besides the temple lie remains of another structure with only pillar bases. A small rock with a temple of Lakshmi Narasimha at its top is seen right opposite to this temple. A little further from this temple is the ruins of a huge palace where King Venkatappa Nayaka lived. These ruins are a feast to the eyes and a sight difficult to forget. Besides this is a small yet charming queen’s bath. Further from here is the topmost point of the hill, with the temple of Shikhareshwara. We did not trek to this spot as the rains intensified and the weather looked threatening.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Kavaledurga
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Kavaledurga 
The Palace, Kavaledurga
The Palace, Kavaledurga 
 There are many water ponds which were full owing to the incessant rains and were a sight to see. The descent also was too slippery with fresh rains and drizzle every now and then. The only saving grace was that we did not have any fall or injury. Though the trails were too slippery, we enjoyed the trek thoroughly and will always remember the enchanting views Kavaledurga offered .Overall, the trek was exciting and adventurous.
The Queens Bath 
One Among the Many Water Ponds Here
Other Places to Visit Nearby: Thirthahalli, Agumbe, Hulikal, Kolluru, Kodachadri, Nagara Fort and many more. 
How to reach Kavaledurga Kote: Drive on Thirthahalli - Agumbe highway; Take right at about 7 km from Thirthahalli and travel for about 10 Km to Kavaledurga village. The village is located about 18 km from Thirthahalli and 350 km from Bangalore. 
Accommodation: There are no accommodation facilities inside the village, though one can pitch their own tents inside the fort area or in the village premises with prior permission of the villagers. However, the closest and a better option would be to stay at Thirthahalli which offers good accommodation choices. 
Where to eat: There are no eateries in Kavaledurga; Thirthahalli is the closest and a better option. 

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At the Confluence of Rivers Tunga and Bhadra, Koodli Sangama, Shimoga/Shivamogga

Kudli Sangama
Confluence of Rivers Tunga and Bhadra 
Kudli/ Koodli Sangama is a small village located at the confluence of rivers Tunga and Bhadra. The mighty Tungabhadra originates here and takes an easterly course towards the Bay of Bengal. It is one among the most prominent rivers of India and has been a centre of activity for many centuries. The surrounding areas of Kudli have been under continuous occupation since the Paleolithic period. Various dynasties have ruled this place starting from the Satavahanas of Banavasi to Nayakas of Keladi. Kudli is home to many temples built during various periods, such as Lord Rameshwara temple, Shringeri Shankar Mutt, Narasimha temple, and Vidyashankar temple. We first visited the Sangama or Confluence of the rivers Tunga and Bhadra with overflowing waters, thanks to the good rains! We enjoyed sitting by, watching the river and people around here. 
River Tungabhadra
River Tungabhadra Flows from Here
Rameshwara Temple, Kudli
Rameshwara Temple 
Bramhalingeshwara Temple
Shikara of  Rameshwara Temple
Hoysala Emblem on Vestibule 
Lord Veerabhadra and Bhikshatana Murti
 The Rameshwara temple here was built in 12th century by the Hoysalas and is dedicated to Lord Shiva in form of Linga. Though the super structure of this temple is of the non-ornate type of Hoysala Architecture, the Rameshwara Linga seems to be of much earlier times than the Hoysalas. This is a simple ekakuta temple with navaranga being connected by three mukhamantapas. There are three inscription stones in the compound of Rameshwara temple out of which one is in Kannada, probably belonging to the Western Chalukyas or Hoysalas and the other two seem to be scripted in Sanskrit/Marathi. The Chintamani Narasimha temple which is closely located to the Rameshwara temple was closed during our visit. It is believed to have been built during the same period as the Rameshwara temple with a similar plan. The Keladi styled Rajagopuram welcomes everyone to the Chintamani Narasimha temple.
Keladi Styled Rajagopuram of Chintamani Narasimha Temple 
Inscriptions Slab Stones 
Shringeri Shankar Mutt
Sharadamba Temple 
Sri Vidyashankara Temple
 We went on to visit the Vidyashankara temple which was under the renovation and finally visited the Shringeri Shankar Mutt. In the premises of this mutt are two temples dedicated to goddess Sharadamba and the great saint Shankaracharya. This temple remains the second choice after Kollur Mookambika temple for the ritual of Vidyarambham or Aksharabhyasa (the ritual of introducing small children to the world of learning and writing). We witnessed a few families performing this interesting ritual wherein small kids write their first letters of their mother tongue in a plate full of rice grains. It was time for the Anna prasadam (Lunch) which is served here to all, and we moved on to have a hearty and sumptuous meal. 
Other places to visit nearby: Shivamogga, Gajanur Dam, Mattur (Sanskrit Village), Sakrebyle Elephant Centre, Bhadravathi and many such. 
How to reach Kudli: Located off the Shivamogga - Honnali Highway, about 15 km from Shivamogga.
Accommodation: There are two mutts here which offer accommodation, though getting one depends on availability. A better choice would be to stay at Shivamogga and make a day trip as there are plenty of options in Shivamogga to suit all budgets. 
Where to eat: A few small eateries are present here as it is a pilgrim center. Anna prasadam is served daily during lunch time at Shringeri Shankar mutt. 
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