Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Yoga Narasimha temple, Baggavalli

Yoga Narasimha temple at Baggavalli was the second Hoysala temple we visited on the way to my native place. It was about 2PM when we reached Baggavalli village, which was about 15 km from Birur. It seemed to be an odd time to visit the temple and I expected it to be closed.

But surprisingly the temple was open and the priest was performing puja when we entered. He said that he would have closed the door in another 10 minutes. Great timing!!

Since the temple is also used as a place of worship, it is in a better shape. The idol of Yoga Narasimha was intact and beautiful!! 

The temple was built in 13th century. It has some good sculptures on the walls that are still in a good shape. Notable among them were Vishnu and Lakshmi and Narasimha sculptures.

I took a long time to look at the temple. In the meantime, Tanu was very much charged up and went round the temple many times!! 

Baggavalli is about 15 km from Tarikeri and Birur.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Back to history at Gummanayaka fort

Gummanayaka fort was an accidental find while looking at the google maps. Very little information was available on internet about the place. The place looked nice and I added to my backlog.

View from the temple on the fort

Last week, when our grand trekking plans fell apart, me, Subbu and Girish looked for some places for a day trek near Bengaluru. I then remembered this little known place which when put across the table was immediately accepted by everyone.

Fort seen from the base
The drive to Gummanayaka fort would have been uneventful. But as we were driving on the village road after Bagepalli, at a turn a two wheeler guy came at a very high speed from the opposite direction and lost his control. He would have directly rammed to our car but a bike in front of us took the hit. The impact was heavy and the guy fell just couple of feet in front my car. We were totally shocked to react. The guy seemed motionless. The two people who were hit had minor bruises and managed to get up. They were so agitated that they started hurling invectives on the unconscious person who was riding bike carelessly. Questions were running in my head like “what should we do?”, “call an ambulance?”, “What if he is dead?”. After couple of minutes, the guy showed signs of waking up. By then locals had come and started taking control of the situation. We decided to proceed further. I do not understand why people drive so carelessly putting their and others life at risk.

View from the fort on the way to Gummanayakana palya

The Gummanayakanapalya village looked backward and uninteresting. We parked at an empty place near an old temple. It would have been centuries old but the villagers had turned into a cowshed.

The village was a mix of Kannada and Telugu speaking people. They understood that we were looking for the fort and showed us the direction. The entrance of the fort gave clear indication about its condition. It looked like the structure could fall apart any time!!

The wall of the fort and also on the temple had some erotic sculptures. Something that is not a regular feature in other forts.

The fort had buildings with Indo Islamic art. It might be the construction after the fall of Vijaynagar empire. The villagers had also converted some of the land into fields. There is absolutely no maintenance in the fort.

We met a very old woman on the way. She was explaining about the history of the fort. But unfortunately she only spoke Telugu, the language which we could understand only with subtitles!! I took a video of her. Hopefully will get it translated from my friends!!

The climb to the fort was not at all difficult as the steps were present most of the places. One thing we noticed was the precariously placed(?) rocks. Some of these rocks were supported by stones while few were almost ready to slide down. We thought of testing but could not muster courage to do so!!

On the way to the top was a temple. It was a nice place to sit and view the surroundings. Interesting to see solar panels on the top of the temple!!

The last gate before we reached the top. As it started raining, we spent a long time in the gate discussing about various things. It was a long time since we had trekked together.

The top was a rocky area where the traces of quarrying was present. It would have been for the construction of the fort. The rocky protrusion on the top was interesting. We also saw a very deep well at the central portion of the fort.

The views from the top was good. As expected!!

View of Gummanayakana palya and the road leading to it. 

After spending a good amount of time, we got down from the fort. On the way back, we had a quick look at the Kalyani.


Gummanayakana Palya is about 130 km from Bengaluru. From Bagepalli on Hyderabad road, take a turn towards Chelur.  The fort is said to be contracted in 13th century by the “palegara” of the area, Gumma Nayaka who was under the control of Vijaynagar. After the fall of Vijaynagar, the control of the fort changed many times but today it is in decay and total negligence.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Vignasante

Whenever I drive to my native place, I take a detour to visit some nice places. This time when I drove to my native place during Deepavali, I selected two Hoysala temples in the list. One of them was Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Vignasanthe.

Vignasanthe is about 3 km from Nonavinakere which is on Bengaluru —> Kunigal —> Yediyur —> Tauruvekere route. At Nonavinakere, I had expected the distance to village to be about 3 km but google maps showed 21 km through a circuitous route!! It was time to switch off google maps and turn to locals for help. It was then an easy task to reach the village.

The temple plan is trikuta temple, there is only one central tower. At the entrance to the temple are two elephant statues. 

The ceiling over the main mantapa is typical of hoysala architecture. 

The most interesting part of the temple was the carvings on the top portion of the shrine. The tower itself has beautiful carvings with a kalasa on top of it.

Inscriptions in the temple. The temple was built in 1286 A.D during the reign on Narasimha III. 

Indeed it was a small and beautiful temple. We could not get into the temple as the priest was not available in the village. I understood that he stays at Nonavinakere.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Genocide museum and killing fields of Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia reminded us of Bengaluru. Crowded, heavy traffic, dusty, bad roads (except for important places) gave us the feeling of Bengaluru. Having visited Siem Reap and Battambang, Phnom Penh was a bit of shocker to us. We expected a calmer capital!! Nevertheless, we were there just for a day before flying back to India. 

At genocide museum

While Angkor wat represents the glorious past of Cambodia, Phnom Penh holds some of the bloodiest recent past. Between 1975-1979 Cambodia saw one of the worst genocide of last century where 2 - 3 million Cambodians were massacred wiping out 25% of the population. While we had a glimpse of the past at the killing caves of Battambang, the sites of Phnom Penh explain it deeper.

The cells inside the room at genocide museum

We visited genocide museum of Tuol Seng. The former high school had turned into a security prison during Khmer rogue regime where 20,000 people were executed. There were only 7 survivors in this prison. Today, it is converted into museum but the building structure has been maintained in its old form. It is not for sensitive people as the museum explains the torture and killings of people in this place. It is unbelievable that so many deaths took place while the whole world watched without bothering. After sometime, it was too much for Chaya and Tanu to handle; they decided to spend their time in the park.

Memorial at Killing fields

Having visited the genocide museum, we went to the killing fields of Choeung Ek village at the outskirts of Phnom Penh. This time Chaya and Tanu decided not to enter and stay outside as they felt very disturbed by these sights. Only I decided to visit the place. Choeung Ek is now a memorial with a Buddhist stupa. The stupa has some 5,000 human skulls being displayed.

A mass grave in killing fields
There is a audio guide available and one need to walk at the memorial listening to the way people were brought to the place, executed and buried. Even children and infant were not spared. It is a very heart breaking scene to see the clothes of young ones being displayed at the mass graves. Human bones are still present at the site.

Both places are not pleasant to visit. But it is important for every visitor to understand the recent history of Cambodia. It is peaceful today and had a golden age long back but the recent history was anything but bloody.