Shree Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple, Hosagudda Nayakanahatti

The priest was late as his vehicle was under repair and he had reached the cave temple by foot. We were glad that he made it just in time. We followed him to the cave temple and while he unlocked the door of the temple, he briefed us about this hill being called as Hosagudda (new hill) or Ramadurga hill. The Shiva linga here is believed to have been installed by Lord Rama during his journey from Ayodha to Lanka and hence the god is known as Shree Ramalingeshwara. Later, the Nayakas ruled this place and built the fort in order to protect this temple. Until recently, priest belonging to the royal family performed rituals and with his death the popularity of the temple declined.
The Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple
The Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple 
The current priest seemed genuinely concerned about his successor as this place no longer attracts people and hence maintenance of this temple may not be a viable option. While he got busy with the cleaning of  temple premises and preparing for the daily prayer rituals, we looked at the temple interiors and as usual were wonder-struck by the exquisite work on the ceiling of the cave temple about 12 feet above the ground. There are 6 sections of the ceiling with each being uniquely carved. The cave has a garbhagruha which houses Lord Shiva in the form of linga and a front porch. Inside the garbhagruha is a carving of Shiva linga with seven hooded serpent sheltering it.
Gajalakshmi
Explicit Carvings
Lord Hanuman
Pillar Head 
Kalinga Mardhana
 The front porch of the cave temple has 4 pillars which are carved to perfection. The ceiling sections carried some of the most beautiful carvings. The bird Garuda (a mythical bird also the carrier/vehicle of Lord Vishnu and his consort) is beautifully carved and is depicted holding a cobra in its beak and two young ones of the snake  by its feet. The opposite side of the same section carries a carving of another mystical bird with a unique beak which looks more like a merger of a lion face with an elephant trunk.The red ochre painting on these carvings gives it an extra rich look. We would have definitely missed out had the priest not made it before we left. We thanked the priest and continued our journey...
Garbhagriha Entrance 
Lord Ramalingeshwara
Ceiling Carving
Most Interesting Carving of Bird Garuda
Bird Garuda with its Catch
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Ramadurga Fort, Nayakanahatti

The Nayakanahatti fort was on our radar since the time we had visited Kanakuppa, but somehow we never managed to visit this fort. However, our recent Dussehra Festival vacation permitted us to visit this place in leisure. That Sunday morning, we started our 45 minute drive from Chitradurga to Nayakanahatti. It was a nice morning drive and cruising our way through the picturesque rural landscapes, we reached Nayakanahatti. There were no signs of any fort here but on inquiring with the locals, we were told about the presence of a  fort about 4 km from here. Following the given directions, we reached the village of Ramadurga and a fort was visible in the distance on a small hillock.
Fort Ramadurga, Nayakanahatti
Fort Ramadurga, Nayakanahatti 
As we drove closer to the fort site, we realized that most of the fortification remained intact. We started our ascent towards the fort and sighted 2 tiers of fortification, which is quite unusual with regards to the Nayakas style of architecture. Most of the forts built by them exhibit  3 or 7 tiers of fortification. This fort also lacks the complexity of the Nayakas style of architecture. The fort walls are built with neatly dressed stones arranged in layers. We reached a cave temple dedicated to Lord Ramalingeshwara (Shiva) which remained closed. Nandi (the Bull), the guard or protector of Lord Shiva is seen outside the cave. The idol of Nandi is very beautiful though the face appears to be damaged. A peep inside the cave temple seemed to have many surprises in store which made us feel bad about the temple being locked.
Road To Bliss
Crumbling Fort Walls
Neatly Dressed Up
 We entered the second tier of the fort and sighted two natural water ponds filled with clean and clear   water. The ponds together are known as Akka-Thangi honda. A little further are two artificial pits which were probably used for water storage. Although the fort did not have any additional structures, we found a big number of balancing stones belonging to the modern era. These stones are placed by the local people with a popular belief that the wish or desire of building their own house will be fulfilled if the stones remained intact in a balanced condition. We started our descent and while walking towards our vehicle met a shepherd who informed us that the priest opens the cave temple everyday by 9am and looked surprised as he hadn't turned up yet. Just as we were nearing our vehicle, an elderly person introduced himself as the priest of Ramalingeshwara temple.
Balancing Rocks 
Artificial Pond
Akka Thangi Honda 
Cave Temple
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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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