Dual Fort Adventure - Bhasmangi

  The regions of Madhugiri and Madakashira are home to many Forts, a few to name are the forts of  Madhugiri, Channarayanadurga, Midigeshi, Madakashira, Bhasmangi, Ratnagiri, Gudibanda, and Pavagada. Last Sunday we were on a mission to explore any two of the unexplored forts amongst the above and one of those was Bhasmangi. The Fort of Bhasmangi was built by Budi Basappa Nayaka around AD 1650 and was later captured by Hyder Ali in AD 1768. Hyder destroyed the old fort and built a new one which can be seen even now. The fort is a perfect example of the Forts built by Hyder Ali and serves a great example in showing much importance given to rain water harvesting in those times. 
The Mighty Madhugiri
 Bhasmangi Fort
Our Break Fast

 We left early that Sunday morning (around 5:00 am) so we could cover both the forts. We started our ascent to this hill fort and in some time reached the first gate of the fort. We were amazed to see the magnificent fort standing tall in front of us. Every stone here stands to tell a story and the glory of the past. We sat down and had breakfast that we had packed. We then  proceed further towards the second gate where we found a small temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya. A few steps further lead us to a flat terrain which had a lot of ruins and water collecting ponds. Up above a small hill from here is a small temple dedicated to Nandi or Basavanna. The idol of Nandi is big and beautiful.
 Hopper
Second Gateway
  Other View of the Second Gateway
 
The Stairs
Lord Hanuman
 Continuing our climb up, we reached the last and the most intact tier of the fort comprising of many ruins and a doorway which probably lead to the location of the palace/ king's residence. The view from top was simply awesome. The descent was uneventful until we reached the first gate of the fort. Hereon, we took a simpler  route to descend till we reached  the roadway. There was a temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya just outside of the fort, which is now being taken care by two elderly people. Resting a while here, we moved on, getting prepared to explore the next fort of Ratnagiri. It was close to 11:30 am while we reached our vehicle and started driving towards Ratnagiri.
The Fort Wall
Dodda Basavanna Temple
 Nandi
Last Tier of the Fort 
One Among the Many Water Ponds Here
Panoramic View of the Last  Tier
One of the Ragi Grinding Stones
Panoramic View from the Top
Fort Walls
What A View !
Ready to Jump

Dabbe Waterfalls, Shimoga

          Every time we come across a new place, we realize how little we have traveled! We were much surprised to know how such a beautiful waterfall missed being in our must-visit list. A shop keeper suggested us to take an alternate parallel route instead, as it was motorable until the stream from whereon we had to walk to reach the falls. Following his directions, we reached a house from where driving further seemed  risky. On inquiring about the route to the falls, people here were much surprised since this was really not the right time to make a visit to the falls. On insisting much, he gave the exact route to the falls and warned us to be careful.
Gaint Wood Spider
Giant wood Spider
Dark wanderer Butterfly
Dark Wanderer Butterfly
 We started our walk towards the falls and in no time reached the stream which was in full swing. We met a person who was trying to fix an electricity issue and asked him about the falls. He too suggested us not go to the falls and confirmed the route to the same. We continued further until we reached a junction and proceeded as per directions. We crossed a bridge and walking on, reached an areca farm only to realize we were lost. We went in search of people at the farm and  found a house. Luckily,  a person present there told us the route and directed us towards paddy fields at the end of which we had to make a risky descent to view the falls. 
 Crab
Pill Millipede
Pill Millipede
Gaint Black Millipede
 Giant Black Millipede
Paddy Fields
  We reached the end of the paddy fields and found a trail and decided to get down in that direction. After descending a few steps, my wife started being speculative about the route as she looked down. Anyway, we went a little further down and alas! we found ourselves on the edge of a cliff from where there was absolutely no route of getting anywhere. We decided to backtrack to the top and find out the possibility of another route. On reaching the top and walking a little further, we reached the dead end of the paddy field and from there, we could see another trail leading downwards. We feared about this route turning out to be the same as our previous one, but had no other go. We were hell-bent on reaching the waterfall. Having lost a lot of time in finding the route, we had to be quick as we were unaware of how far we had to descend to the falls and the time was ticking. As it was raining  heavily at regular intervals, the path became too slippery with time and we had to watch every step we took. The thick forest canopy blocked sunlight, making our descent difficult. To add to our woes, it began to rain cats and dogs continuously. And as there was no place to take shelter, we had to keep trekking down non-stop with the help of trees and roots (without which the trek would have been impossible). As we trekked downwards, we reached a place open to sky and heard a roaring noise, camouflaged with the heavy rains. Looking around, the beautiful waterfall became visible and what an amazing sight it was! It was worth all the pain we had taken. Though  the heavy rains didn't give us much of a chance to stand and enjoy the falls, nevertheless just a glimpse of it made us more than happy.
The Bridge
The Roaring Stream
           This was only mid-way while the trail continued further down till the bottom of the falls. As the water level was high, we thought there was no point in getting down further and within minutes, we started our ascent. It was pretty much easier compared to our descent. We reached the paddy fields before sunset and on our way back, we met the owner of the farm who wasn’t present at the start time of our quest. He was glad we returned safely and complimented us knowing that  we got down to see the falls while it was raining so much. He also told us about how three days ago, a team of boys gave up after seeing the trail downwards. No Pain, No Gain! True isn't it? It was a great deal of encouragement for us and a zealous adventure though we realized it could be risky at times. We deserved a pat on the back and doing so to each other, moved on! Thus ended another marvelous and unexpected adventure.
Dabbe Waterfalls, Sharavati river Valley
 Nature's Hidden Beauty
Dabbe waterfalls, Shimoga
The Mighty Dabbe Waterfalls


Please don't litter the place, respect the nature and nature will respect you.

Hirebenakal - The land of the dead


            Hirebenekal is a small village located in Koppal district, off the Gangavathi - Gadag Highway. The hills of Hirebenekal are considered to be the most significant amongst the pre-historic sites in India. I was much excited to explore this place. One early morning, I left my room in Bellary and boarded a bus to Gangavathi town. Gangavathi at that time was decked with paddy fields, getting ready for harvest. As there were no direct buses to Hirebenekal, I took the bus that dropped me off closest to Hirebenekal and further hired a passenger auto to Hirebenekal. The village of Hirebenekal is located about a kilometer away from the highway. It is surrounded by a hill range that stands as a testimony to the pre-historic period.
Hirebenakal Information Broad
            My first task was to look out for a guide / local person who would help me go around this site and give the necessary information.  I found out about the care taker of this site but unfortunately could not get him. I was directed to the hill base to find him but in vain. Luckily, I was greeted by informative boards giving details about this place and its pre-historic culture.  I was glad to see the direction boards to the site.
About Megalithic Culture
Crocodile Painting
Rugged Terrain
  Moving as per the directions, somehow I lost track and climbed the wrong hill. After climbing and not finding any directions thereon, I decided to get down this hill from the opposite direction. During my descent, my eyes fell on one of the boulders that looked like it carried paintings.  A closer look confirmed the same and I was amazed to witness crocodile paintings on the boulder.  I was also quite surprised as this place is located away from any kind of water bodies. I continued my descent only to realize I’d lost my way again! Upon investigation the surroundings, a direction board caught my eye and I only wondered how one could miss this. Within no time I reached a big boulder with paintings, amongst which the paintings of people standing in a row and dancing was quite interesting. I spent quite some time here admiring the technology of creating paints that have survived tens of thousands of years of sun and rain, whereas paints of today may only manage to survive a few..
 
Rock Art 
People in Line
Dancing People

Cave painting
 
Dolmen Site 

            As time was ticking and the day getting warmer, I had to hurriedly reach the cluster of boulders upon which was the Kettle's Drum, another wonder of the pre-historic times. The boulder when tapped emits a sound made by the drum. Here on, I reached a pre-historic grave yard, which housed dolmens of various types, sizes, and shapes. It took me a lot of time to explore this area in depth. Lastly, I moved on to the site of the quarry and a pond.  It was time was to return and complete the quest for the day only to begin a more exciting one the next day!
Quarry and Pond
 
 

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