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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hulikere Kalyani

15th November 2008



Sun had already set when we reached Hulikere. Since it would not take much time to see the place, we decided to make a quick visit before it is completely dark. The tar road naturally turned into a narrow mud road as we entered the village. When we stopped and asked a Woman about the Kalyani she replied that there was no Kalyani in the village. I was struggling to explain what a Kalyani is; a person came and told her that I was talking about the pond!! It is just next to the road. I had thought that the Kalyani is in an open ground but it was surrounded by houses.



It is a small Kalyani and more than 3/4th of the Kalyani was filled with water. Like in any other Kalyani, the water here was dirty. We can have a full view of Kalyani during summer. One striking point about this Kalyani is 12 sanctuaries with pinnacles.


How to reach Hulikere?
Hulikere is 5 kms from Halebidu on Halebidu – Hagare road. Hagare is on Hassan – Belur road. There is a signboard mentioning about the Kalyani which can be easily missed. Take a left here and after a km is the Kalyani.

More photos of Hulikere Kalyani can be found here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Belavadi

15th November 2008

It was another not so visited place in our Hoysala trip. Though quite a number of people have heard about Belavadi and in spite of being just 10kms from Halebidu, Belavadi is not frequented by tourists.

Belavadi is 29 kms from Chikmagalur on the Chikmagalur Javagal highway. The main attraction in Belavadi is the Veera Narayana Temple built in 1200 AD by Hoysala Veera Ballala II.

The Temple is completely surrounded by the village. ASI has done a good work in keeping the Temple separated from the village houses. There were no visitors at the time we went to the Temple. The lone priest of the Temple was indifferent to our presence. I wanted to get some information about the Temple and details of the architecture but the priest did not show any interest. Generally priests at remote places are friendly and try to explain things but here the attitude of the priest was strange. He seemed to be a man of ego. I then stopped bothering about him and started to explore the Temple.


It is a Trikuta Temple with three towers. The Temple is quite huge. There is an open hall which is very spacious. The two shrines are on either side of the hall and a central shrine at the end of the hall. Though the sculptures are not as intricate as the ones in Belur and Halebid, it is the architecture of the Temple which differentiates from others.



More photos of the Belavadi can be seen here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Devarayanadurga

23rd November 2008

Krishna was asking me for a long time to go on a trip to some place near Bengaluru. The destination we decided was Devarayanadurga, near Tumkur. The motive of the trip was to get take some good snaps, if possible.

Devarayanadurga is on the range of hills near Tumkur. It is famous for Yoganarasimha and Boganarasimha Temple. So, majority of visitors here come for religious purpose, few youngsters come for fun and very few for photography and environmental purposes.


Having started early from my Home, we had breakfast at Kamath Upachar on Tumkur road. At Kyatsandra in Tumkur, we took the deviation towards Siddaganaga Math. It seemed to be quite a busy day at the math. It was then through some villages and shortly we were driving through the forests. On the way was Namada Chilume which we decided to visit while returning back.


We stopped at a view point on the way to take few snaps. The views were promising. There was greenery everywhere. With high hopes we continued further and within few minutes we were at Devarayanadurga. We avoided entering to the town and took the road going up the hill. It was a series of hairpin bends leading up to the top.

On top was the Temple. We were not much religious that day and we skipped it. We then did not know what to do. With nothing else to do, we just roamed here and there taking snaps everywhere. We were expecting lot of birds but were disappointed when we found not many of them.

Slowly the number of visitors increased and the silence was marred by the sound of the vehicles. We decided to return back.

We visited Namada Chilume on the way back. There is a natural spring here. But here again we were not much happy. It looked more like a “couple” spot. We walked aimlessly in the plantation maintained by forest department. There is also a deer park here.

It was Kamath Upachar for Lunch. Earlier it was pain to travel from Nelamangala to Bengaluru city. NICE road has resolved much of the problem with its peripheral road connecting to Mysore road. It was a stretch fun to drive where my car touched 150km/hr.

Though it was not a great trip, but it was definitely better than roaming in Bengaluru.

More photos of this trip can be seen here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Halebidu

15th November 2008

Halebidu was once the capital of Hoysala Empire. It was called Dwarasamudra (Entrance from Ocean) during those days mainly because of a huge lake. Early 14th century saw an attack from the rulers from Delhi who sacked the city and damaged the Temples. It marked the end of Hoysala Empire and Dwarasamudra turned into Halebidu (old village).


Hoysaleshwara Temple

The main attraction today in Halebidu is Hoysaleshwara Temple built during the rule of Vishnuvardhana in 1121 AD. This Temple is very well known for its wall sculptures. It is these wall sculptures comprising of Animals, birds, Shilabalikas and depictions from Hindu mythology has made this Temple immensely famous.


This Temple has two huge statues of Nandi (Bull).


A nicely maintained Garden surrounds the Temple. The lake is next to the Temple. ASI has also maintained a museum in the Temple complex.


This Temple attracts lots of tourists across the world. When we went there was lot of children who came for educational visit. The whole place was filled with sounds of those people.


Most people return back after visiting this Temple. But there are two more Temples which are worth visiting.

Jain Basadis
Half a km from Hoysaleshwara Temple is the complex that houses three Basadis. The Parshvanatha Basadi was built by Boppadeva in 1133AD during the reign of Vishnuvardhana. There is an 18ft tall Parshvanatha theerthankara statue inside the Basadi.

The Shantinatha Basadi was built in 1196 AD and is very similar to Parshvanatha Basadi but houses the statue of Shantinatha.



The Adinatha Basadi is built during 12th century AD. In addition to the sculpture of Adinatha, there is an image of Saraswati in the vestibule.

There is also a 20ft mahastamba and a well in the complex.


Kedareshwara Temple
Few hundred meters from Jain Basadis is Kedareshwara Temple. It was built in 1219 AD by Ketaladevi, a queen of Hoysala Ballala II. Though smaller compared to Hoysaleshwara Temple, the stone carvings are interesting.





I could not visit Pushpagiri hill which has the Mallikarjuna Temple. It was once a Jain Basadi. It is 3 kms from Halebidu.

More photos of the trip can be viewed here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Manjarabad fort

16 November 2008

This was a bit of an odd man out in my tour of Hoysala Temples. This fort was added in the itinerary to break the monotonous visit of temples.



Manjarabad fort is in Donigal on NH 48, 7 km from Sakleshpur. Donigal is a famous spot with Sakleshpur railway track trekkers and Lorry drivers. There is nothing here but couple of hotels next to the highway serving snacks and drinks.


We parked our vehicle next to the Hotel and asked the hotel guy for directions. Walking on a foot path for 5 minutes would lead to the steps of the fort. It was a pleasant day and the surrounding was filled with lot of flowers and chirping of birds.



The caretaker of the fort volunteered to guide us about the fort. It was appreciated as we knew very less about the fort. This fort was built was Tippu Sultan. The work was started in 1785 and ended in 1792. It is a star shaped fort (Here is the Wikimapia view where you can see the star shape of the fort). It was constructed mainly for defense and to store the ammunitions. During those days Tippu was at loggerheads with British. So, to stop them from attacking from Mangalore side, he constructed the fort. It is on a strategic location and the soldiers in the fort could see the army coming from Mangalore.




There are many chambers in the fort, few of them used to house the horses and some were used by the soldiers as kitchen and bathroom. There is also a tunnel in the fort. Guide told us that it would lead to Srigangapatna, the capital of Tippu at that time. Hard to believe but he told that couple of decades ago people went some half a km inside the tunnel but could not continue further due to less Oxygen levels. Since it was used to dump dead bodies, the tunnel was closed and now what we can see and go is just a few steps in the tunnel.



Tippu died in 1799 during the war with British in Srirangapatna. Shortly later British took over the fort and destroyed a part of it. Some parts of the fort is being renovated now.



It is being said since the fort was covered in the mist (”Manju” in Kannada) for most of the time, it was named as Manjarabad fort. The other logic which would sound music to secular (??) people is that Tippu was not in a good shape at that time and had given some offerings to Lord Manjunatha in Dharmasthala. So, he decided to name the fort as Manjarabad. I knew the first version and the second one was told by the guide.


Of late this fort is also famous with movie people. Few scenes of Kannada blockbuster “Mungaru Male” was shot here. (The scene where Ganesh carrying heroine to climb to Punya Peetha!!)


This is a nice stopover spot for people traveling between Bangalore and Mangalore. This is the only place in Shiradi ghat road where you can see the panoramic view of Western Ghats.



More photos of the fort can be seen here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Doddagadavalli

15th November 2008

As my car moved from the smooth road of Hassan-Belur to pot hole ridden tracks, my wife was not very happy. It was hard for her to believe that there can be a great Temple in that village. The feeling of seeing an ordinary Temple was looming large on her mind. It was normal as most people are not aware of Temples other than Belur and Halebid in Hassan district.



The village road climbed through a hillock providing some nice view of a lake and village. As we entered the village, the road narrowed and barely enough for my car to pass. There were few diversions for that small road, but villagers were there to assist us to get the right path. As the car stopped in front of the Temple, my wife exclaimed “It is great!!”



It is the Lakshmi Devi Temple that is the main attraction here. Being next to a lake, the area around the Temple looks picturesque. Built in 1114 AD, by a merchant called Kullahana Rahuta and his wife Sahaja Devi, this is one of earliest Hoysala Temple.


The caretaker of the Temple, Putta Swamy showed immense interest in explaining about the Temple. That was welcome as we knew very few things about the Temple.



One of the striking differences from the other Hoysala Temples is that the Temple does not stand on a platform. It is a Chatuskhuta construction meaning that there are four towers. The main garbagruha of the Temple has Lakshmi Devi. A bit of rarity that is not found in other Temples is that main Temple consists of four garbagruhas. One of them has Lakshmi Devi idol as mentioned before and other three contains the idols of Kali, Vishnu and Bhoota natha. It would mean that a person cannot pray to a God by lying down because his leg would then point to other God which is considered as a disrespect to the God.


In the vestibule of Kali shrine, there are two betalas beautifully carved. This is the only Hoysala Temple that has Betala statue.


The ceilings of the Temple contains one of the beautiful designs which are the main highlight of the Temple. One can easily miss this but a guide would take care of explaining those beautiful ceilings. Next to the main shrine is a small Temple of Bhairava.

The lake is at the back of the Temple. Silence, still waters and light breeze and view of the hills far away provide solace to anyone.



How to reach Doddagadavalli:
Doddagadavalli is located on the road between Hassan and Belur. 14 kms from Hassan is a village Kalkere. A diversion to the left on a village road would take to the village. This village road is about 3 kms.

More photos can be found here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A camera story

I never thought that a small mistake would cost me so much in terms of money and time. It was near Basavana Baayi falls. Negligence for a second made me to slip from a rock and break my digital SLR camera. The lens broke out of camera and took a dip in water. It was found later but the holder was broken and water had entered into it. I knew that lens could not be restored back but camera looked to be in a good condition. On putting another lens and upon switching on the camera, things looked fine. It booted up normally, but when tried to click a snap, I got an error message which refused to disappear even after restarting the camera. It was the first sign that something had gone wrong with my camera.

It was an entry level Nikon SLR and upon searching on net, found out that there was only one authorized Nikon service center in Bangalore. It was at Infantry road. After my Office hours, I went to service center and gave my camera. The persons name was Baalu. Upon further examination of camera, he found out that the plastic was broken. He told that it would take two weeks to examine the camera and provide an estimation of the cost for repair. Two weeks was too much and that was just to examine the camera forget about repairs. It looked like a Government Office affair. Anyway, I had no options and agreed to that.

In the mean time I had to go to my native place. Since, I had planned to visit few places I borrowed my friend Srini’s camera for the trip.

After coming back from my native place, I called up Baalu for the status. It was exactly 15 days and I expected that he would be ready with estimation. I was pissed off with his reply. He had not even touched my camera and the reason he gave was work pressure. I don’t think that there would be so much repairs in that service center. For me it was an unprofessional behavior and asked him to provide an estimate at the earliest. I had to make daily calls to remind him of the work that he was expected to do. Exactly after 22 days, I got a call from him. It was another shock. He gave a list of things that were damaged and told that it would cost Rs 12,500/-. He continued to say that even after that there might be other things that need to be looked into. This was a careless statement and something that cannot be quantifiable is hard to believe. And in addition to that I need to buy a new kit lens.

Considering the cost of repairs and new lens, if put some more money I can buy the same model outside. It was meaningless to get the camera repaired by Baalu guy. So, I told him that I was not interested in repair and would take back my camera. After 3 days, I went to Infantry road to collect my camera. To my horror, Baalu tells that he had no time to put the removed parts back into the camera. I was angry and blasted him for his behavior. But Baalu is a man with buffalo skin and he seemed to be least bothered. I told him that I would be coming next Saturday and expected him be ready with camera.

This time I called him before going to the service center. Finally the camera was back in my hand. By that time, a month had passed. That day, the skies opened up suddenly and I was totally drenched out before reaching my car. I was angry at the way things were moving. I had to do something about the camera. It was then I called up my friend Girish. He is a camera expert and asked me to go to a person called Askar at SN Bazar, Majestic.
I came back home and decided to go to Majestic during evening.

It was a Deepavali week and all traffic seemed to be going towards Majestic. I knew that I had to spend till midnight in Majestic area if I take my car there. So, half way I returned back to my home.

On 28th October, I went to Askar at SN Bazar. He talked nicely and opened the camera before me. The damage was indeed severe. The board was broken and there were other damages. I did not wanted to tell him that I had given the camera to service center before but he found out by looking at the things in camera. He assured me that camera can be repaired easily and would cost around Rs 5000/-. He boasted of his abilities to repair any stuff in any camera and challenged me that he would repair in an hour. For me, it was things moving very fast and told him that it is ok if it takes a day. He asked me to come on the next day.

Little did I know that events had just started!!

I would now like to give day wise progress of the repair:


Oct 29: It was a festival day. I promptly went in the evening hoping that the camera would be ready. Askar had opened the camera and told that he was waiting for the board which would come shortly.

Nov 1: I go to Askar to check the status of the camera. He has got a new board but still in the process of fitting it. He asks me to come in the evening. I go to Sapna book house next to SN Bazar and buy few books.
I went in the evening but the status is same. He asks me to come the next day.

Nov 2: I am a bit clever now. I make a call to Askar and learn that the camera is almost done but still could not be finished on that day. So, I save myself from going to Majestic.

Nov 5: I call Askar and he tells everything is done and asks me to come there to see something. What is that “something”? He does not tell. My Home, Office and Majestic are all in different directions and not an easy task to go to Majestic on a weekday. I decide to visit Askar on weekend.

Nov 8: It was a shocking day. Askar shows me the flash board on the camera. A chip on the board has been “peeled off”. I had never seen such a thing in life. Askar blames it on service centre people, that since I decided not to repair camera with them, they did this stuff. Hard to believe, but Baalu is not a professional. Finally, it means that repair cost increases.

It has already taken too long. I ask Askar to proceed faster with repair. He tells me that he would finish by end of the day.

When I call him in the evening, it is the same reply again. Come tomorrow!!

Nov 9: I start calling Askar from morning. He is finding it tough to repair. He asks me come at 4 in the evening. I go there promptly only to see the shop closed!! I now decide to try out eating at Malabar Hotel and Udupi Krishna Bhavan. It was on my list for long time. Food was really good.

Nov 10: I had already spent few weeks in Bengaluru because of this camera issue. I was restless and desperately wanted to go out. Thinking that camera would be repaired, I and my wife plan a trip to places near Hassan.

Nov 12: I have started calling him daily. To put more pressure, I decide to go to his shop even though it was a working day. I tell him that my patience was waning and to hurry up the things. He was facing some issues after fitting all the parts in the camera. He promises to deliver the camera in a day.

Nov 13: No Progress.

Nov 14: Askar tells that camera is completely done and is testing it. But he can deliver only on the next day. I have my Hassan plans. This time I borrow camera from Sankara.

Nov 17: I decide to go to Majestic in the evening. But there was a villain out there. Devegowda and his son had created havoc on Bengaluru streets. Going to Home becomes priority and it takes me 3 hours to reach my Home from Office. Few unlucky ones reached their home sometime after midnight. May God NOT forgive the father-son duo for their sins!!!!

Nov 18: I was happy to see my camera in nice shape. I start to do some preliminary tests. Things are ok but not able to take images with flash. Askar starts to scratch his head and tells that he might have forgotten to join a wire. There were many customers that day and he gets a headache. He asks me to come at 9PM but I know nothing would happen by that time.

Nov 20: It was a day which would end my miseries. This time my camera works. Only hitch was whenever the camera switches on menu come in Japanese language. Aska says that he would get software to fix that next month. I am ok with it. It is not a big task to change the language to English in menu.

Next is the cost. He simply quotes some astronomical figure and within few minutes, he reduces it drastically and finally we agree for Rs 7500/-. Good thing was about the lens. I had decided to throw it off thinking that it was damaged. But he says that it can be repaired; only holder needs to be replaced. Cool!!

It was exactly 2 months before the camera had taken the fall. I hope my camera works fine for the days to come.

All along this period, I was thinking why not change my camera instead of going for this costly repair. Nobody likes to downgrade their stuff, for that matter anything in life. It means that I have to buy a bit higher end camera than the current one and it would cost me a lot. Digital SLR cameras are costly and I did not want to spend lot of money on that when I already had enough liabilities on my head.

This post is a bit off topic from the original intent of my blog, but since camera forms an integral part of my treks and travels, I decided to write my experience here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stone Temple, Kalasi

3rd October 2008



Kalasi is a village situated 8 kms from Sagar in Shimoga district of Karnataka.


I have been visiting my uncle’s home in Kalasi since childhood. Always wondered how come a Temple in that village was similar to the ones in Belur though much smaller than the one in Belur. There were stories that it was built in one night and a pond next to it was done in one dig.






But Temple in Kalasi is not popular. Unlike Keladi and Ikkeri, where atleast there are few visitors daily, hardly anyone visits Kalasi.



Coming to History, the stone Temple actually consists of two Temples Mallikarjuna and Neelakanteshwara Temple in the same complex.

It was contructed during early 13th century when the area was under Hoysala rule.


The Temple was in ruins during my childhood days. It has been renovated in recent years. But I do not know why ASI does not put a board giving some details about the Temple. A standard board is placed about some ASI rules which is useless. A preist family lives in the Temple complex and they would be able to explain about the Temple.


How to reach Kalasi:

From Sagar, take the road to Saraba. After 6-7 kms is a nada kalasi bus stop. Take a right turn here and follow the tar road. You will cross nada kalasi village, and then contibue on tar road and the Temple is on the left side of the road.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Keladi Temples

3rd October 2008


Keladi is a village 7 kms from Sagar in Shimoga district of Karnataka. Keladi was the capital of Keladi Nayakas who rules the areas around Shimoga for nearly two and a half centuries.




Choudappa Nayaka who was the first ruler of Keladi kingdom constructed these Temples. Keladi kings started to rule as a feudatory of Vijayanagar Empire in 1499 AD. Later, when Vijayanagar Empire fell down during the battle of Talikota in 1565 AD, Keladi kings gained independence.


Important rulers of this Kingdom were Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka, Shivappa Nayaka and Keladi Chennamma. In 1763 AD, Keladi was defeated by Hyder Ali of Mysore and was merged with Kingdom of Mysore.


Temple complex looks like a big house from outside. Once entered, the beauty of the stone carvings is amazing. The Temple is built in Hoysala, Dravida, Kadamba and Vijayanagar style. The Temple complex consists of 3 Temples – Rameshwara, Veerabhadreshwara and Parvathi Temples. Overall, Temple is popularly known as Rameshwara Temple.


Gandu berunda (Bird with two heads)


How to reach Keladi:

From BH road bus stop at Sagar, take the road towards Soraba. Shortly after crossing a railway line, there is road towards left that takes to Keladi. Travel for 7 kms to reach Keladi. The Temple complex is at the right side of the road.