Sri Kamala Narayana Swamy Temple, Degaon/Deganve, Belagavi

As we were driving towards Khanapur during one of our trips to the district of Belagavi, we came across a board directing us to Degaon/Deganve. Vaguely recollecting about the presence of a beautiful temple dedicated to 'Sri Kamala Narayana Swamy' here, we stopped by to check it out. Without any hesitance, we took a left turn towards this temple. After traveling for about 2 km, we reached the beautiful temple of Sri Kamala Narayana Swamy. Thanks to the incessant rains, this entire region had turned lush green. Sri Kamala Narayana temple was constructed in 1174 AD by Rani Kamaladevi, wife of the Goa Kadamba chief Shivachitta Permadi.
Sri Kamala Narayana Swamy Temple, Degaon/ Deganve
Sri Kamala Narayana Swamy Temple, Degaon/ Deganve
Sri Lakshmi Narayana
Lakshmi Devi Garbhagriha
Sri Lakshmi Devi
The agrahara of Devagrama, erstwhile name of Deganve was built around the Kamala Narayana temple by queen Kamaladevi. The inscription of 1174 AD found here states the same, while another mentions the name of a sculptor Nageya or Nagayya, who probably was the sculptor in-charge of this temple, thus finding his mention in the inscription. This dwikuta (modified trikuta) temple is dedicated to Sri Kamala Narayana Swamy and Goddess Lakshmi. This is a unique dwikuta temple with a big devakoshtha (niche) in between the two garbhagrihas, housing a beautiful murti of  Sri Lakshmi Narayana and decorated similar to the garbhagrihas. It is without an antarala and opens directly into the Navaranga. The other two garbhagrihas have elaborate antarala, opening into a common navaranga with two mukhamantapas facing them.
Sri Kamala Narayana Garbhagriha
Beautiful Central Floral Decorated Ceiling
A Close up
Pillared Alley
Side View of Sri Kamala Narayana Swamy Temple
This temple is considered to be one of the finest surviving temples built by the Goa Kadamba dynasty. The door frames of the garbhagrihas and the northern Mukhamantapa are heavily decked with floral carvings. The ceilings of the Navaranga are deep and adorned with floral pendants in high relief. The Shikharas are non-existent and is believed to be of Kadamba Nagara style. Another unique feature of this temple is the presence of Kakshasana (bench) at the low relief walls of the mukhamantapas. The themes of Krishnaleela, Dashavatara, Madanikas and a few erotic scenes are engraved on the walls of the Kakshasana. 
Krishnaleela and Vishnu Avataras 
Sri Krishnaleela
Naga - Nagini Stone
Directions to Degaon: It is located about 15 km from Kittur, towards Khanapur.

References: Karnataka Gazetteer 
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Jagadevi Fort, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu

Our inquisitiveness to explore the 'Baramahal or the '12 forts' only increased with every passing minute and led us towards the fort at Jagadevi. The Jagadevi/Jagadeo/Jagadevu Fort is believed to be the second capital of Baramahal along with Krishnagiri. However whatever information is available on the internet regarding this fort seems to be incomplete. We had read about the fort at Jagadevi being a small one and built by Tippu Sultan which seems to be inaccurate information owing to what we witnessed here. Jagadevi fort is quite considerable and spread across 2 hills with most of its fortification being intact. We were also excited to find 2 inscriptions engraved in Kannada, giving details about the King Raja Raja Sri Jagadevaraya and Jagadevu durgam. Thus making it clear that this fort was built much before Tippu Sultan's reign by King Jagadevaraya.
Morning Scene at Jagadevi Fort
Jagadevi Fort, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu
Jagadevi Fort
King Jagadevaraya was a feudal king under the patronage of the Vijayanagara king Venkatadri of Aravidu dynasty. His ruling period can be assigned to 1570 - 1615 C.E and he is said to have brilliantly defended his kingdom against Ibrahim Adil Shah during the war of Penukonda. There are many interesting stories related to this war. Although the Krishnagiri government website mentions about a Hoysala king Jagadevaraya, none of books we have related to the Hoysalas carry any information about the same. A further research about him revealed that he belonged to Channapatna which was also his capital city. He was one of the strongest Palegars of this region and sadly with none of his successors being strong enough to maintain the kingdom, it eventually came under the control of the Wodeyars of Mysore around 1630 C.E. King Jagadevaraya belonged to the Telugu Banajiga sect and even today people belonging to this sect are referred to as Kote Banajigas or Musku Banajigas. Tippu captured this fort from the Wodeyars which was later seized by the British in 1792 who later abandoned the fort. The Hoysalas at one point ruled the entire region of Krishnagiri along with Dharmapuri and other surrounding areas.
The Ascent
Why Fear When I'm Here Appa!
 Lush Green Patch
MId-way View
We were keen on exploring this fort and on the last Sunday we decided to do so. Meanwhile our companion Sanidhya expressed his interest to join in for the trek along with his 2 friends Harshal and Ankitha. We started quite early in the morning with an intention to complete the trek before the weather turned extremely hot. We reached the base of Jagadevi Fort at around 6:30 am and inquired about the route to the fort with a local. We parked our vehicles under the shade of a tree which was quite a blessing, thus beginning our quest to explore the unexplored!
Sri Netrikan Selva Vinayakar (PC Harshal)
The Lord Ganesha
The initial stretch of the climb has rock cut steps carved out recently and leads us to  Sri Netrikan Selva Vinayakar temple. There is a beautiful and unique carving of Lord Ganesha here who is seen with 3 eyes. This is quite rare and reminded us of  Sri Kumbhi Ganapathi of Huliyurdurga. A little further is the Sri Kote Anjaneyaswamy temple. The route hereon turns less conspicuous and interesting. As we entered the third tier of the fort, we got a clear picture of how big the fort is. We sighted fortification spread across the 2 hills at many sites. As we walked around inspecting the area, we found a Kannada inscription on the rock. We rested here for a while trying to decipher the script.
Kannada Inscription of  King Jagadevaraya
Fortification on the Right Hill
Fortification on the Left Hill
Turret
Cacti Flower
Periyamalai in the Background
As we trekked further, we found fortification on both sides of the hill with the left peak dominating. We changed our initial plan of exploring the right peak first and  headed towards the left. The climb was steep and  slippery at a few places. We reached the fort entrance which was in complete shambles. I could relate the scenes from here to the painting of this place from Oriental Scenery (Thomas Daniel and William Daniel) which mentions about two forts, Jagdeo and Warrangur in the same painting, probably having mistaken the fortification on the other peak to be that of Warrangur fort.
Painting of Jagdeo Fort from Oriental Scenery
Breakfast Time
View of Cannon Point
Mahal or the Royal Residence
Water Pond

We climbed up till the cannon point of the fort. However there is no cannon present now. The view from here is magnificent as we could spot the other hill forts of Periyamalai, Thattakal, Kondappanayakempalli, Krishnagiri and many others. We rested for a while at this point and had snacks. After sometime, we continued further on to reach the next higher level of fortification where there was a small natural water pond (Dhone). It was good to see so much water in which a snake seemed lying dead. It was quite a long one accompanied by another little snake. Though it remained still for a while, it swam into the waters as soon as it felt disturbed due to our movement. There were many tadpoles and a few small fishes too. A little ahead of this pond was a ruined structure resembling a palace. Though the walls of the palace remain damaged considerably on three sides, it seemed obvious that this place was used as a residence for the Royal's. We stumbled upon another fort gateway which probably was the entrance to the original route. We spotted a large pond here which had turned almost dry, but surprisingly had ensured that its surroundings remained green. During our descent, we found a second Kannada inscription that clearly mentions about Raja Raja Sri Jagadevaraya and Jagadevu durgam. 
2nd Kannada Inscription of King Jagadevaraya
Inscribed Jagadevu Durgam
Natural Water Pond
As we descended further, we came across a lush green patch which was home to many birds including the very colorful woodpeckers. We spotted many varieties of birds among which were the yellow throated bulbul, green billed malkoha, fly-catcher and other common birds. While descending,  we decided to clean the plastic trash from this place. Though the fort area and its surroundings had very less or literally no plastic, the areas in front of the temples of Sri Anjaneyaswamy and Lord Ganapathi were totally littered with plastic and paper. We collected and carried as much as trash possible. Thus ending our quest of Jagdeo/Jagdevu/Jagadevi. With this quest, we have covered 7 out of the 12 forts that constitute the Baramahal! 
Trash Collected
Thriving Granite Factories
Rampant Granite Quarrying
It was unfortunate to witness the rampant quarrying in the immediate vicinity of Jagadevi fort. This fort does not come under the limits of the ASI and is maintained by the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department. Some amount of restoration work seems to have been carried out initially, but now is left to the mercy of god.

References:
1. Oriental Scenery (wiki source)
2. Forts of Tamil Nadu Book from Pustaka.co.in
3. Chieftains of Karnataka
4.  Rayakottai 

Related Posts:
1. Balagondarayanadurgam
2. Ratnagiri Fort, Hosur 
3. 125 Forts of Karnataka 

In Search of Adichunchungiri Peacock Sanctuary

                                                                                                                                              05 July 2009

As every Sunday gets more excited for us, this Sunday too, ended up being very special. Our pick for this weekend adventure was a Peacock Sanctuary very close to Bangalore. Though not much information was available either from the websites or blogs about the sanctuary itself, we went. ahead to explore this place. Both, I and my husband being nature lovers, were equally excited about sighting a beautiful peacock amidst lush green landscape during our visit. We decided to leave as early as possible since we knew early mornings and late  evenings were the best times to sight the pride of India! We packed our stuff and left around 6:30 am. We drove non-stop taking the NH48 and took a right towards the Adichunchungiri mutt arched entrance. Since we failed to get any kind of information from the web, we totally banked upon the locals for the route to the sanctuary. To our dismay, many of them, on inquiry replied to us in kannada, 'Navila' (a peacock?) 'Illi modhlu ithhu saar, ivaga enu illa, dhaama noo illa, naviloo illa'! (peacocks were seen here long time ago.Now there is nothing here, neither the sanctuary nor the peacocks). Another old man, who heard less, filled us with hope for a moment by saying 'idhe' (meaning it is there), until we realized he had actually misheard the ‘Navilu Dhaama’(peacock sanctuary) as ‘Ravi Dhaba ’!!!! It was kind of funny but it filled us with furt at that moment. A couple of auto drivers too replied  negatively.


Both of us felt disappointed and consoled each other saying it was okay. We still took chances and drove around in search oft it, inquiring people. One man pointed us towards a place that turned out to be a ‘Sasya Kashi’. The guard there made it clear to us about the non existence of any peacock sanctuary around. More disappointment encroached on us. And to be frank, I was really down on hearing such a thing. We went back to the Mutt, drove all around a few kms just to check if there were any sign boards leading to the sanctuary. But no luck. My husband suggested that since we’ve come this far, we should go visit the hill at least. With a heavy heart, I went along. The pain of not sighting a peacock still lingered. To our surprise, the mutt offered us more than we expected! After the dharshana of Lord Bhairaveswara, we followed the track to Gavi Siddeswara and Kathle Someshwara atop the hill. Since it was a religious place, we had to trek the hill bare foot. Initially there were huge granite steps to walk up the hill and then later on, it kind of got slippery as he steps were carved out of karikallu (black stone). We spotted a beautiful yellow crested Bulbul and three different lizards at the hill top. The only thing we were missing was our camera! Anyway, we decided to trek further towards ‘Kathle Someshwara’, supposedly a cave temple where Nandi god is worshipped. The little priest pointed us towards an exit which led to the 'sthamba' (pillar), our second destination. This was the most exciting of all. We experienced a bit of rock climbing and some hard trekking.
 On viewing the ground from hilltop, my husband spotted a route, that we thought could’ve been the one taken by jeeps for rounds in the sanctuary. We decided we would walk around that place and explore. Also, on asking  the little boy (who guided us), if he had spotted any peacocks around recently, he replied to us…‘irithve, bandegal kelagade malgirthave’(peacocks will be there, resting under rocks!). And he vaguely pointed out to the place from top. Our hopes became strong as this was the first positive response we heard. During our climb, we had asked another boy priest about he same and he answered, ‘now there are very few or no peacocks as there is quarrying work going around and the sound of the blasts keep the peacocks away from this place’. It was justified. But we kept our hopes alive. After we finished our trek, we drove towards the Kalyani and a pond filled with lotuses.
Water Tank
Pink Lotuses
     Now, we were hungry to death .We found a place just in front of the mutt and had Thatte Idli, some amazing Saagu (which my husband thought was not tasty!), chutney and bondas for lunch. A cup of hot coffee was perfect to end our afternoon meal.
With hope filled in us, we started the walk into a place just behind the mutt, which we thought could’ve been the non existent sanctuary! It was lush green everywhere, a perfect place for butterflies and birds! As soon as we started to walk, we met an old shepherd who told ‘navilgalu mosthaagive’(there are many peacocks here). We were happy now, since it filled in a lot of confidence of finding one! We explored the place, found lizards, insects and some colorful butterflies.

Lemon Pansy

Spiny Lizard

Crimson Rose
     We kept walking, until we heard the sound of an amazingly beautiful bird, the Peacock! Now, it was a sure thing that there was at least one peacock around! And all our efforts were put in, to sight one. We kept praying secretly that we get a glimpse of the peacock. We walked continuously until we were stopped by a granite slabbed compound, and thought it was best not to walk any further since it looked like the boundary wall of that place. We had read that the peacock sanctuary was less then 1 sq.km. of area. We rested for some time to look for any peacocks around, but in vain. Some people were shouting from the hill top which probably was a disturbance that kept the bird from coming out. We spotted more lizards and some beautiful green bee-eaters.
We walked a little further along the boundary, to a place full of rocks. A group of four birds of unknown identity just fluttered past my husband. For a moment, we thought it was a peacock but no! Keeping our hopes alive and telling each other we needed the luck factor too to sight a peacock, we started walking back towards the car. We heard the cries of a peacock, loud and clear, and tried tracing the peacock. Every now and then, we rested and kept silent. My husband walked keeping the handy cam on,  while I spotted an amazing swallow tailed butterfly that was waiting to be photographed! I was pretty happy to have photographed a butterfly so closely.

Peacock on Rock

It started to drizzle and looked like it would get heavier. My husband advised we reach back to the car as quickly as possible. We walked together talking about the peacock and gosh! What an amazing moment it was, for the both of us….we witnessed the presence of the most beautiful bird in the world, the Peacock! It was a mighty one. At that moment, we couldn’t believe what we’d seen. It looked like as if the peacock came out and showed off just for our sake!!! It was so colorful that one can hardly miss it amidst the background of rocks. We actually got to see a peacock. And a mere glimpse of it had filled our hearts with joy. It made our day and we secretly felt we were lucky. At least lucky enough! I would’ve waited there all evening to watch that beautiful bird. Since we had little time left, we had to hurry back. We climbed up to the place where we had sighted the bird, but found nothing, since the bird had escaped to another place. I could see something big fly away from us. We at least had the mercy of god and the peacock, that we could sight one. It was enough for the day. Just while we were getting down a small hill, we saw a peahen fly over us. We had almost reached the end of where we had started the walk and looking back, we witnessed another amazing moment.
Yes, it was another beautiful peacock. This time, far away and high above, it stood atop the hill as if to say good-bye to us and, revealed its beautiful feathers, showing off its colors and left a message of being happy to have seen us around and to come back again!!! We waited for sometime appreciating its beauty, while it flew to a tree close by. My husband could spot the peacock very distinctly though its bluish green color made it difficult for me to spot it amidst the greenery of the tree. It sat there waiting for us to leave.
  This is our first travel story written long before the inception of this blog . Entire credit of this post goes to my wife.