Sooramane Abbi Waterfalls, Chikmagalur

Sooramane Abbi, a waterfall that was displayed on a flex board of a small town caught our eye and we wanted to explore it. As we were totally unaware of its location, our only lead was the contact number given on the flex board. After much dilemma, we contacted the person in-charge (who presumably owned a rough terrain jeep) and he gave us the details of the fee that will be charged for taking us to the water fall, apart from saying positively that the route to the waterfall remains inaccessible by foot and one has to use a jeep to get through to the waterfall. The price he quoted seemed unreasonable and  made us have second thought. We informed we will get back to him when needed and thanked him. When we inquired about the whereabouts of this waterfall with a shopkeeper, he made sure he gave us the least possible information and ended the conversation by saying the route is long and since it is located in the interiors, we would find it difficult to get there. We started feeling disappointed as things were not working our way. We consoled ourselves by saying the shopkeeper may have been a stake holder in the touring sector along with the flex board advertiser and so on. However we did not give up. Driving back, we stopped by at the outskirts of the town and took a chance of inquiring someone again. An isolated house was our only hope. I went in to check and found a person who was occupied with some work. I began my conversation with the discussion about the work he was involved in and he explained that it was a part of Deepavali celebration. Lights will be lit in their paddy fields and prayers to the god will be offered for good yield. The sticks are made out of bamboo and one its ends is smeared with dried cow dung only to be lit later.
Hairy Caterpillar
Path to the waterfall
In the end, without any hesitation he gave us  directions to the falls and informed us about two alternate routes, out of which one was a trek route and the other was a jeep route. We decided to go with the trek route and followed his directions. Driving along the said route, we reached a dead end. It seemed as though we had missed the route. Fortunately, there was a house with people sitting outside, chatting. On inquiring, he told us that taking the trek route would be impossible without a guide and during the days of the festival, none would be ready to accompany us. Surprisingly, he told us about the jeep route assuring us that our vehicle will make it to Sooramane. From Sooramane, a small trek would lead us to our destination. We hit the jeep track and reached Sooramane. A little board directed us towards the falls and as we walked along for about a kilometer, we reached a small village. Walking further, we crossed a small stream and a perennial spring. A narrow path on the left bank of the stream took us through the woods and there it was! The Hidden Waterfall. It was all ours!
Perennial Spring
Stream crossing
Sooramane Abbi Waterfall

Enjoying the Waterfall
Waterfalls Chikmagalur
Under the Sun-rays

The water falls amid rocks from about 40 feet, surrounded by greenery. The place was serene with and with none around, we felt close to nature. We found a suitable place for our younger one who enjoys playing with water. While seeing him play, my wife spotted a water snake(Checkered Keel-back) in a rock pile that was perfectly camouflaged among leaf litter. I moved our younger one to a safer zone and on taking a closer look around helped my wife to spot two other snakes! The three snakes popped their heads out and seemed to communicate. The sound of the water fall was loud and echoed amidst the lush green environs, setting a perfect mood for displaying romance between two of the snakes. After capturing them on camera, we made sure to let them be and joined our younger one. After spending some time, we bade a good bye to the water fall and the snakes which had given us company.
Here he comes ...Checkered Keel-back (Xenochrophis piscator)
Spot the three water snakes!
The mood is setting in 

Prehistoric Anthropomorphic Statues of Kumathi and Hulikunte

Three years ago, I had an opportunity of staying in Bellary for a brief period of time during which my wife shared a few must visit places in and around Bellary. The list included pre-historic sites of Kumathi, Sangankallu and Kuppagal. But due to paucity of time, I could never make it to any of these places back then. However, we managed to visit a few of these places during our Dussehra vacation. Kumathi is one among the very few sites where anthropomorphic statues have been found. Anthropomorphic statues are statues resembling human beings and are associated with pre-historic period.
Leading the Way 
After a sumptuous meal at Nayakanahatti temple, we headed towards Kumathi which was about 30 km from Nayakanahatti. It took about 45 minutes to reach Kumathi without much hassle. As per the details given in the book, these statues were located in the farm of Sri K M Thipperudraiah. We reached Sri Thipperudraiah's house and on inquiring about the statues, his son and grand-daughter volunteered to guide us to this place. On reaching the farm, we were awestruck to witness these structures that resembled a scarecrow. Although 7 statues existed originally, sadly only 2 of them have survived, while the remains of the others are seen. Out of the two statues, one of them seems to bear feminine features with a narrow waist, while the other seems to represent a male, though unsure. These statues are believed to have been erected after the death of a king/leader/head of the tribe. The slab statues are tall  and carved out of locally available granite stone.
Is it A Bird or Female?
 Male  Anthropomorphic Statue
Tall Anthropomorphic Statue
Heading back to the guide's house, we confirmed about the route to Hulikunte and bade a good-bye to our guide. Hulikunte, an other anthropomorphic site was located about 12 km from Kumathi. On reaching Hulikunte, we were supposed to head towards Harijana Borakka's farm land where the statue was situated. Unfortunately none in their family were seen or heard and nobody around were willing to accompany us to the site. However, we met a person who was busy carving a farm tool out of wood and managed to strike up a conversation regarding the site. After much hesitation, he agreed to accompany us to the site. A 10 minute bumpy ride took us to the site and after we parked our vehicle, we had to walk about 600 meters through a groundnut field to witness the statue. These statues are locally known as 'Rakshasa Kallu' or demon stone. Only 1 out of 3 statues have survived here. The statue here is small in stature and less complex, compared to the statues of Kumathi. In both the places of Kumathi and Hulikunte, the statues were erected  inside a stone circle in a standing posture.The legend behind the statues goes this way. "There was a god-man named Byraweshwara and during his visit to the forest for hunting purpose, he met a few demons who troubled him much. Out of anger, he cursed the demons to turn into stones, which is why these stones bear the local name as 'Rakshasa Kallu' (Rakshasa means a demon in Kannada)". In Yarenahalli village of Molakalmuru taluk (Chitradurga), during the local festival of "Shri Ajjanamuni Veerachit Shri Kalabyraweshwara or Shri Nukanmale Siddeshwara", a folk art play portrays the story of theses statues although the reason behind why these statues were carved out and who carved them, still remains a mystery. These statues are being attributed to the megalithic period based on other evidences found here. Further research needs to be undertaken on revealing the mystery behind such structures and appropriate measures should be taken to preserve them for future studies. These statues are believed to belong to the last or final stage of the anthropomorphic culture and are considered to be the finest.
The Battalion 
The Site
Rakshasa Kallu
  While researching on Anthropomorphic statues, I came across an interesting article titled 'Anthropomorphic statues of South India'. Surprisingly, I read about a few other sites with such statues scattered across the states of Unified Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It would be intriguing to visit these sites and know more about these structures. Our guides at Hulikunte were quite excited to know that we had come all the way from Bangalore only to see these structures. As we walked towards the site, we were accompanied by many others who were working in the nearby fields. An elderly person gave a much more interesting insight to the statues, although it seems that somewhere these stories are slowly vanishing in our fast paced materialistic generation. His enthusiasm made us feel proud in a sense that there are people who still strongly believe that such ancient structures possess magical powers and need to be preserved for further studies. We spent sometime conversing about the statues and also inquired about the presence of any cave paintings or dolmens around, as there were many hills surrounding this place. Though he replied with a negative response (or may be he was just not aware of its presence),  he informed us about the presence of a 7 tiered fort on top of the hill close-by. Since it was already late that evening and the chances of encountering bears during that period of the day were high, we decided not to venture to the hill top. He also added a list of places worth visiting nearby, but as time did not permit us, we assured ourselves to visit them some other time and with a lot of ifs and buts and doubt in mind, we headed towards our next destination of the trip.
Life Size Anthropomorphic Statue
Hills around the Site 
1. A book in Kannada titled "Hampi Parisarada Adhimanava Nelegalu" by Dr.L.Srinivas.
2. Journeys across Karnataka, a blog by Siddeshwara.

Related Posts:
1. Rock Engravings of Usgalimal

Thipperudraswamy Mutta, Nayakanahatti

We reached Nayakanahatti and decided to visit the famous Mutta/shrine/temple dedicated to 'Lord Thipperudraswamy'. The temple being quite popular among the locals, always remains bustling with pilgrims. It is believed that Saint 'Rudraswamy' (original name of the Guru) did his penance in a mound of refuse and cow dung, thus gaining the title of "Thipperudraswamy". The prefix 'Thippe' is translated as refuse in the language of Kannada. It is said that he gained popularity after performing many miracles. The Ola-mutta or main temple is the place where he lived and met all the visitors. The guru is said to have entered jeeva samadhi (or live cremation) as per his wishes and hence was buried alive.
Thipperudraswamy Temple, Nayakanahatti
The Grand Rajagopuram 
The temple has a beautiful Rajagopuram (entrance) built about 250 years ago. There are two carved panels on either sides of the Rajagopuram. The left panel depicts a war scene between Lord Rama and the Demon Ravana. While  Ravana is portrayed beautifully with ten heads and twenty hands, on the panel top are seen soldiers with guns marching toward war. The right panel depicts a carving of Lord Hanuman's interaction with Demoness Surpanakha (Sister of Demon Ravana). The top panel here depicts the procession of the King and the queen. Both the panels are seen carrying  a  few erotic carvings.  The temple also houses a Shiva Linga installed by the Guru himself. One of the ceilings here has been carved beautifully and resembles an inverted flower bud. The outer walls of the temple carry numerous stucco figure which appear to have been painted recently.
War Scene Between Lord Rama and Demon Ravana
Interaction Between Lord Hanuman and Demoness Surpanakha 
 As Anna prasadam (religious offering of food after worship) is served here two times a day, we had an opportunity to energize ourselves so we could move on to our next with equal enthusiasm.
Carved Ceiling
Stucco Figures Carved on the Compound walls 
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Northern House Gecko

Northern House Gecko (Hemidactylus flaviviridis Rupell), a not so common gecko/lizard in the south of India was spotted inside the Lord Ramalingeshwara cave temple. We spotted three geckos, out of which the one closest to us was captured on camera. He was a lazy one and did not move an inch since the time we spotted him!
Northern House Gecko
Northern House Gecko

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.
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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