Melgudi Jain/Jaina Temple, Hallur, Bagalkot

'Hallur' is a nondescript village located in the district of Bagalkot, off the Bagalkot - Kudala Sangama highway and can undoubtedly be considered as unusual and unique. Bagalkot, the Badami Chalukyan heart land is home to numerous temples built by the Cholas and Rashtrakutas around the 8th and 9th centuries AD. During one of my visits to Bagalkot, I got an opportunity of visiting the ancient temples of Hallur town. It was fascinating! The two prominent historic temples among them are those dedicated to Lord Basaveshwara built in 8th century by the Cholas and a Jain temple (popularly called Melgudi Jaina temple) built in 9th century by the Rashtrakutas. Hallur is located about 18 km from Bagalkot. Reaching this place was an easy task and as we reached, both the temples were easily visible.
Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur
First Look of Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur
Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur, Bagalkot
Melgudi Jain Temple, Hallur, Bagalkot
We chose to visit the Melgudi Jaina temple at first which is located atop a small hillock, thus giving it the name Melgudi. The temple is built on similar lines with the Meguti Temple at Aihole (7th century, Badami Chalukyas) with the only difference being that the navaranga here is a closed one. The Melgudi Jain temple was built around 870 AD during the reign of the most famous Rashtrakuta king, Amoghavarsha. This beautiful sandstone temple consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala and a navaranga/sabhamandapa, with an interesting stone ladder leading to the first storey that housing a small garbhagriha. The garbhagriha is originally believed to have consisted of a murti of a Jaina Tirthankara. However the temple now enshrines a Shiva Linga and Nandi along with a damaged inscription at its entrance which probably carried details of the installation of the same. The temple having been dedicated originally to a Jaina Tirthankara even now houses a murti of the same which is  kept in the sabhamandapa. But with no details with regards to why and when the original Jain temple was converted into a Shiva temple, the temple's history still remains a mystery. However, the  inscriptions may have carried information regarding the same, but it sadly remains damaged.
Inside the Garbhagriha
Typical Rashtrakutas Ceilings
Three Lotus Carving on the Central Ceiling
Murti of Jaina Tirthankara in the Navaranga
I climbed the small stone ladder that opens to the first storey only to find an empty garbhagriha. Being awestruck witnessing this small gudi (temple), I could only imagine as to how grand it would have been back then, during its full glory. That said, I strongly believe that my imagination would any day fall short of its true glory. After coming back to reality, I got down the ladder and decided to explore the external features of this temple. There are a total of 8 life-size carvings of various Jaina Tirthankaras on the outer walls of the temple. There are different kinds of Jalis (perforated stone windows) fixed in the outer walls. The details of the kutas (miniature shrine motifs), salas (oblong members with a wagon shaped roof), panjaras (shallow niches formed by pilasters) and makara toranas  are unfinished.
Small Gudi on the First Storey
A Jali Window/ Perforated Stone window of Rashtrakuta period
Jali Window
Life Sized Jain Tirthankaras are Carved on the Outer walls
Life-size Jaina Tirthankaras are Carved on the Outer Walls 
Historic Temple to visit near Bagalkot
Another View of the Melgudi Jain Temple
Detailing on the Outer walls
While closely observing the outer walls, I was dumbstruck to sight prehistoric kind of carvings on them! They were quite intriguing! Although I was able to identify many carvings such as those of the bulls, people and scenes of hunting, I have never witnessed something like this before and was unable to believe my eyes. The carvings here were pretty much similar to the ones at Sanganakallu. On further visual investigation as to whether these carvings belonged to the prehistoric period or not, I tried to trace the carving between two stones of the wall and found them to be discontinuous. Thus revealing that the carvings were made much before this temple was built. Sadly, a few insensitive idiots have tried to disfigure these carvings by their senseless graffiti. Thanks to god that some of these carvings have remained intact. I was unable to find much of literature/details about this temple. Once I was back in Bangalore from this trip, I re-looked at all the photographs taken by us during our previous visits to Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole. On careful observation and with a keen eye for detail, I found one of the pictures of Pattadakal having similar carvings of bulls and the only feeling I got was 'Wow'! Probably back then in October 2010, we were not versed with the prehistoric times and hence did not go ahead with the search for such carvings around with interest. However, may be during our next visit to this place, we would end up finding more about these carvings and many such! It is truly mysterious to have found such carvings on the temple walls and to further ascertain whether they are really prehistoric or not is very difficult at present. However the same can be achieved and confirmed by a thorough  and proper investigation and documentation. 
Southern Wall of the Temple
Prehistoric carving on Historic temple
Carving of a Bull
Proof of All the Vandalism and Ever Vanishing Evidences of Our  History
Bull Carving from Pattadakal
 To be continued...

A Trek to Posadigumpe Hill of Dharmathadka, Kasaragod

'Posadigumpe Hill' is one of the many offbeat places around the district of Kasaragod in Kerala. Posadigumpe is popular among the locals for its picturesque and panoramic 360 degree views of its surroundings. The highest point of the hillock is about 490 m above sea level. Over a general discussion, a cousin of ours came up with an idea of trekking to the Posadigumpe hill to see the mist engulfing the hill. On the next day which was the first day of  year 2018, I along with two of my cousins headed towards Posadigumpe early in the morning. We took the longer route via Kumbla as I had traveled through this route a few years back.
Sunrise at Posadigumpe Hill
Sun Playing Hide and Seek
Trek to Posadigumpe, Kasaragod, Kerala
Sunrise over the Posadigumpe Hill
Panoramic view from the Peak of Posadigumpe Hill, Kasaragod, Kerala
A Panoramic View from the Peak of Posadigumpe Hill 
We reached the hill and found that there was no mist, but we decided to trek the hill to catch the sunrise. We climbed a few steps and got a good view of the surrounding hills and realized that except the main hill, almost all the other  surrounding hills were engulfed in mist/fog. What a sight it was! and What a perfect way to begin our new year! It was a short and easy trek. We reached the hill top and waited for the sun to rise. The beautiful red sun was lazy to come out of the clouds and finally showed us his face. It was a sight to behold! We spent sometime at the peak and tried experimenting on a few interesting photo ops. Thus spending the first morning of 2018 in an eventful manner.
Sunrise at Posadigumpe hill, Kasaragod, Kerala
Have This Perfectly Shaped Ladoo...  
Trek to Posadigumpe hill, Kasargod, Kerala
That's a Goal!
Posadigumpe, a nice place to visit around Mangalore
In...It Goes!

How to reach Posadigumpe from Kasaragod: There are many routes from Kasaragod - the shorter and the best one being  via Maipady, Seethangoli, Permude to Posadigumpe. It is about 26 km from Kasaragod.
How to reach Posadigumpe from Mangalore: The best route from Mangalore is via NH 66. Take a right turn at Mangalapady, Permude to Posadigumpe. It is about 50 km from Mangalore.
Places to Visit Around Posadigumpe: Permude/Posadigumpe Waterfalls, Bekal Fort, Ananthapura Lake Temple, Kumbla Fort, Pooval Fort, Neelikunnu Beach, Kapila Beach, Madhur Sri Ganesha Temple, Kanva Thirtha Beach, Manjeshwara and many such.

Gooty Fort, Anantapur - Oldest Fort in Andhra Pradesh

Gooty Fort, Oldest Fort in Andhra Pradesh
Gooty Fort, Oldest Fort in Andhra Pradesh
'Gooty Fort', also known as 'Gutti Fort' is considered to be one of the earliest surviving forts of Andhra Pradesh. Gooty Fort was always on our list of must visit places, but never happened until last year. It was during our day one of road trip to Madhya Pradesh, while driving from Bangalore towards Hyderabad that we decided to stop by Gooty Fort in order to break the monotony of driving. It was afternoon and the weather was quite hot to explore this fort, but we decided to go ahead with the ascent. This hill fort is also known as Ravadurga and is spread across 3 hills located to the North of the current village of Gooty.
British Cemetery, Gooty
British Cemetery, Gooty
Gooty Fort
Climb to the Mighty Fort of Gooty
History of Gooty: The earliest inscription found in Gooty can be dated to the 8th century belonging to the Badami Chalukyas dynasty. Later in 10th century,  the Nolambas took over this place and  built the hill fort. The Kalyani Chalukyas then strengthened this fort in the 11th century and made this a very important part of their kingdom. Later the Vijayanagara kings ruled here and further strengthened this fort and developed Gooty. Post the down fall of the Vijayanagara empire, it was occupied by Qutb Shahi of Golconda. Subsequently, the Marathas under Murari Rao captured it after which it fell into the hands of Hyder Ali, until finally being captured by the British post the death of Tippu Sultan. There are 16 Kannada inscriptions found in Gooty/Gutti, of which the earliest one belongs to the Badami Chalukyas dating back to the 8th century AD. This inscription is a dual language inscription with a mix of sanskrit and kannada. It mentions of  'Srivallabha Yuvaraja', probably the king during whose reign the images of Goddess Mahishasura Mardini and Lord Ganesha were carved. The second kannada inscription found here belongs to the Nolamba dynasty and can be dated to the 10th century. It mentions of king Dandanayaka Chavundamayya and the construction of Lord Narasimha, Rameshwara and Bhagavatidevi temples here. 10 out of the 16 Kannada inscriptions found here belong to the Kalyana Chalukyas falling between 11 -13th centuries. Nine of them mention about the various grants given by king Tribhuvanamalladeva (Vikramaditya VI) towards development of Gooty fort and temples here. Thus making this fort one of the earliest forts in Andhra Pradesh. The current structure standing here is an improvised form built by the Vijayanagara kings with later modifications  by the Marathas, British and Hyder Ali.
Gooty Fort
Fortification of Gooty
Gooty Fort
View of the Top Tier of Gooty Fort
British Colony, Gooty Fort
Inside British Colony
British Colony, Gooty Fort
British Colony, Gooty Fort
Gooty Fort
The Strong and Complicated Fortification of Gooty
 Gooty Fort
Fort Walls Snaking Through the Hills of Gooty
Gooty Fort - Places to visit in Andhra Pradesh
One of Many Water Ponds Here
We had to travel through a few narrow lanes of Gooty to reach the fort area. Many people had gathered as a part of a local fair that was being held, creating chaos with regards to parking. After finding a safe place to park our vehicle, we moved ahead towards the hill base where we were welcomed by the British Cemetery of administrator Thomas Munro who died of Cholera and was buried here. To the right of the cemetery is the path to reach the top of this hill fort. After a short climb we reached a darga, probably built during the rule of Hyder Ali. We continued climbing further and as we entered the third gateway, we found remains of British colony with many structures. There were a few structures outside this colony, most of which were in ruins. The fourth gateway carries a depiction of Goddess Gajalakshmi on the center of its lintel. The pillars here are a typical of Vijayanagara style of architecture. Sadly most of the carvings on them have been vandalized. The next gateway is quite simple and seems to have been built in an Indo-Islamic style of architecture.
Gooty Fort - Places to visit in Andhra Pradesh
Pillars of the Gateway Belonging to Vijayanagara Period
Gooty Fort - Places to visit in Anantapura
Gooty Fort
Gooty Fort - Places to visit in Anantapura
Fort Walls
Gooty Fort  and Badami Chalukyas
Carvings of Goddess Mahishasura Mardini and Lord Ganesha Belonging to Badami Chalukyas
Gooty Fort
6th Gateway
Gooty Fort  and Kalyana Chalukyas
Pillar of the Gateway Belonging to Kalyana Chalukya Style of Architecture
Kote Anjaneya, Gooty
Lord Kote Anjaneya
History of Gooty Fort
Top Tier of Gooty Fort
Close to the 6th gateway is a small temple which sadly looks damaged or destroyed post its reconstruction. The temple has the carvings of Goddess Mahishasura Maradhini and Lord Vinayaka, and can be dated to 8th century based on the inscriptions. The pillars of the 6th gateway seem to belong to the Kalyana Chalukyas/Nolamba period. A little further from here is a beautiful carving of Lord Anjaneya belonging to the same period. Hereon we entered the 7th gateway and found many ruins, mostly related to the Royal family. There are many wells inside the fort that served as sources of water which today are in a state of sheer neglect. There is a place known as Murari Rao's Seat, where the Maratha King sat in a swing with his queen and enjoyed watching the panoramic views of Gooty. From atop the hill fort, one can have a clear view of fortifications spread across various hills. Overall, this fort is in a fairly good shape with much of its fortification intact, though in need of minor restoration work.  The wonderful Gooty fort has a great potential of becoming a prospective tourist spot of Ananthapur, with the only flip side being its very hot weather throughout the year. Winter mornings would be ideal to climb this hill.
History of Gooty Fort
Water Pond
Royal Enclosure of Gooty Fort
Royal Enclosure of Gooty Fort
Kings and Queens Palace, Gooty Fort
Palace of the Kings and Queens, Gooty Fort  
Murari Rao's Seat, Gooty
King Murari Rao's Seat and View From Here
 Gooty Fort
A Discarded Yet Beautiful Kalyani at the Hill Base 
How to reach Gooty:  Gooty town is located off AH44 that connects Bangalore to Hyderabad. It is about 275 km from Bangalore and 300 km from Hyderabad.
Places to Visit Around:  Guntkal, Bellary, Tadpatri, Madakashira, Lepakshi, Belum Caves, Yaganti, Gandikota, Alampura, Gudibande, Ratnagiri, Rayadurga, Kalyandurga and many such.

1. Kannada Inscriptions of Andhra Pradesh, A Book Edited By Dr.C.S.Vasudeva
2. Indian Vagabond
3. Shodhganga
4. Wiki 

1. Udayagiri Fort, Nellore
2. Krishnagiri Fort
3. Channarayyana Durga Fort

Kurugodu Sri Dodda Basaveshwara Temple and Panchamukhi Veerabhadraswami Temple

Sri Dodda Basaveshwara Temple, Kurugodu
Sri Dodda Basaveshwara Temple, Kurugodu

'Sri Dodda Basaveshwara Temple' of Kurugodu is the most revered of all temples here. One of its kind murti of lord Panchamukhi Veerabhadraswami is found here and is considered to be the most unique. After visiting various temples of Hale Kurugodu, we reached the Dodda Basaveshwara temple around noon. After seeking blessings of the Lord, we were served with Anna Prasadam  which happens here on a daily basis to all the devotees during the noon time. This temple is believed to have been constructed during the rule of the Vijayanagara kings. The temple complex is quite big, with a recently constructed Shikara and is dedicated to Lord Nandi or Basavanna, the vahana of Lord Shiva. The murti of Lord Basavanna is about 12 ft tall.The recent findings have revealed that the 'Bhavana Sangama', father of Harihara and Bukka (founders of the great Vijayanagara empire) belonged to Kurugodu.
Sri Dodda Basaveshwara Temple, Kurugodu
Nandi Pillar at the Entrance of Dodda Basaveshwara Temple
History of Kurugodu
Information About Kurugodu
Hereon, we visited the Panchamukhi Veerabhadraswami temple which is located in the by-lanes of Kurugodu town.  This temple is completely renovated into a new structure. We visited the Sahasralinga complex besides the Veerabhadraswami temple. Though the main temple remained closed, we were able to have the darshana of the Lord, thanks to the grilled door . The Lord looked  divine with five faces and 12 hands, with Daksha Mahaprabhu standing besides him. It is rather an unusual depiction of the Lord Veerabhadraswami. There is a small murti of Lord Ganesha in the same garbhagriha. This temple is hardly known to many outside the town of Kurugodu.
Sahasralinga, Kurugodu
Rare and Unique Murti of Panchamukhi Veerabhadraswami, Kurugodu
Rare and Unique Murti of Panchamukhi Veerabhadraswami
How to Reach Kurugodu: Kurugodu is about 30 km from Ballari/Bellary. Take NH150A which connects Siriguppa to Bellary and then  take a  right turn at Dammur cross to reach Kurugodu. 
Accommodation: There are not many options available for accommodation in Kurugodu. However,  the best would be to find a stay in Bellary overnight. Our usual place of halt is Hotel Ashoka Residency with an affordable budget.
Places to Visit Around Kurugodu: Sandur, Kudatini, Sanganakallu, Bellary, Hampi, Nittur, Sirigeri, Siriguppa, Kenchanagudda, Kampli, Hirebenakal, Gudekote and many such. 

Temples of Hale Kurugodu, Ballari

'Hale (Old) Kurugodu' was earlier a village of Kurugodu during the rule of Sindhs, which later got shifted from here to the east, in its current location. This place today stands a mute spectator to its history and the events that took place here. There are many temples here, most of which are in ruins today. It is hard to imagine the grandeur of this town in the bygone era. The majestic hill fort, the grand temples and cave temples here serve as a testimony to what a small yet significant dynasty could achieve in a short time. There are more than 10 temples built during their period that have survived the test of time, significant among them are,
1. Chikka Basavanna Temple: This temple is located about 2 km from the main village and is dedicated to Lord Basavanna (Nandi). This murti of Basavanna is facing  Lord Shiva, located on the hill of Kurugodu. This temple was built in 12th century, with only garbhagriha and a part of the Navaranga remaining today. This temple is located in a calm and serene location and we spent quite a good time here.
Chikka Basavanna Temple, Kurugodu
Chikka Basavanna Temple, Kurugodu
2. Sri Veerabhadra Cave Temple: Sri Veerabhadra cave temple is located in the interiors of  the hills. We had to drive across a few quarry vehicle routes to reach these isolated caves. There are 2 caves here, one dedicated to Sri Veerabhadra with Sri Daksha Maharaja and the other to Lord Shiva. There is a Kannada  inscription in front of these caves.
Lord Veerabhadra Swamy With Daksha Maharaja
Lord Veerabhadra Swamy With Daksha Maharaja
Cave Temple, Kurugodu
Inscriptions in front of  Veerabhadra Swamy Cave Temple, Kurugodu
Inscriptions in front of  Veerabhadra Swamy Cave Temple
 3. Jain Cave Temple: A small cave probably dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras and remains incomplete due to change of rule here. These carving date to 9th - 10th Century, before Kurugodu Sindhs taking over this place.
Jain cave, Kurugodu
Incomplete Carvings of Jain Tirthankaras
4. Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple: Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple was built by Kurugodu Sindhs in the 12th century. It is now in a ruined state with all the vandalizing done by our generation. The temple consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala and an open sabhamandapa.
Sri Mallikarjuna swamy temple, Kurugodu
Sri Mallikarjuna swamy temple, Kurugodu
5. Sri Sangameshwara Temple: Sri Sangameshwara temple is the grandest of all the surviving temples here. This huge temple was built in the 13th century, with later additions by the Vijayanagara kings in 16th century. This temple consists of garbhagriha, an antarala, a pradakshinapatha, an open 60 pillared mahamandapa and a mukhamandapa. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga. It was good to see that this temple was live and people were performing pujas and offering prayers here. 
Sri Sangameshwara Temple, Kurugodu
Sri Sangameshwara Temple, Kurugodu
6. Srisaila Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple: Srisaila Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple was built in 12th century by the Kurugodu Sindhs. This temple consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, a sabhamandapa and  a mukhamandapa. There is a beautiful pillar in front of this temple. 
Srisaila Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Kurugodu
Srisaila Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Kurugodu
7. Sri Siddeshwara Temple: Sri Siddeshwara temple is close to Kurugodu town, probably hinting this to be the earliest village site. We found many pieces of pots and stone tools. This was a Jaina temple, but later converted into a Shiva temple during the 12th century by Kurugodu Sindhs. The temple consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, a sabhamandapa and a mukhamandapa.
Sri Siddeshwara Temple, Kurugodu
Sri Siddeshwara Temple, Kurugodu
8. Sri Rachamalleshwara Temple: Sri Rachamalleshwara temple is a trikuta temple built  in 1177 AD by the Kurugodu Sindhs. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, housing Lingas in all its three garbhagrihas and are named Gavareshwara, Mallikarjuna and Muddeshwara. The temple was renamed as Rachamalleshwara due to the belief that the strongest of the Kurugodu Sindhs, Chief Rachamalla transformed into a Shiva Linga post his death, here in the temple. It is a pity that this temple today is in ruins. 
Sri Rachamalleshwara Temple, Kurugodu
Sri Rachamalleshwara Temple, Kurugodu
Lord Rachamalleshwara
9. Murugudi Temple Complex: This temple complex comprises of 4 temples, all of which are dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga. Two out of these temples are live with regular worships, while the other two are in ruins. The main temple here consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, a sabhamandapa and a mukhamandapa. 
North Temple, Murugudi Complex
South Temple, Murugudi Complex
10. Dodda Ganeshana Bande: There are two stone carvings of Lord Ganesha here, one of which is 10 ft tall and  the other is 20 ft. The carving of the 20 ft Dodda Ganesha was amazingly beautiful!
Dodda Ganesha, Kurugodu
Dodda Ganesha

To be continued...