Friday, October 31, 2008

Aghoreshwara Temple, Ikkeri

3rd October 2008

Ikkeri is a village situated 3 kms from Sagar in Shimoga district. The importance of Ikkeri is Aghoreshwara (Shiva) Temple in the centre of the village. It was built by Keladi Nayakas. Incidentally, Ikkeri was the capital of Keladi Nayakas for few years.

The Temple architecture is influenced by both Hoysala and Vijayanagar style.

Ikkeri was made as the capital by Sadashiva Nayaka during mid Sixteenth century. After nearly some 100 years, Bijapur Sultans plundered Ikkeri. The palaces where Kings used to stay are all gone now. Only remaining structure of old times is Aghoreshwara Temple, which is maintained well.

How to reach Ikkeri:
From Sagar BH road bus stop, take the road towards Holebagilu. After 2 kms, there is a diversion to Ikkeri towards right. One more km on that road will directly lead to Temple.

More photos of Ikkeri can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sharavathi valley 2: Kanoor Kote and Chaturmukha Basadi

19th October 2008

The second day was supposed to be a long walk and since we had to reach Gersoppa by 4 in the evening, we had to maintain the timings. So, we had an early wake up call at 5PM. People promptly got up and were all ready by 6AM. Our cook Dharmanna and others had woken up at 3AM and had prepared “Akki Rottis” for breakfast. It always happens that during trek, one always gets to eat some junk and stale food, but not here. We always got fresh and hot food thanks to Dharmanna.

The route was a Jeep track and we were walking on a ridge with valleys on both sides. But due to thick vegetation, we could get the feeling of walking on a ridge. At one place, we found some open area and got some stunning views. We could see dense forests everywhere. Even Arabian Sea and an island (must be the one near Karki) was visible. On the way, we could also see Gersoppa town and Tail rise dam.

We walked non stop for 2 hours and had covered a good distance. We found a lake and decided to have breakfast. It was then we got to know that Kanoor Kote was just a few minutes walk. Though it was not in the itinerary of the trek, since we had covered a good distance by that time, it was decided that we would visit the fort. People who had already seen the fort earlier decided to rest.

After breakfast, Narayana led us to the fort. The golden days of the fort had long been over and for the last few centuries, forest has taken over the fort. Also, this place has higher concentration of Wipers, and Narayana was constantly telling us to walk carefully. We also found that Kanoor Kote Wipers being bit more fast and aggressive when compared to the ones we had seen before. I have no explanation for that.

History says that during its peak time, this fort was ruled by Queen Chennabhairadevi. She was more popularly known as “Pepper Queen” as she was exporting pepper to Europe. Keladi Nayaks who were in constant war with her kingdom were finally able to capture her. Later, she died in the prison sometime during 1606 AD. The fort was left deserted and forest took over.

I heard few more stories linking fall of the fort with Shivaji and Delhi Sultans, but it looks like they may not be true as the timelines does not match.

But in the last decade, the fort witnessed “gold rush”. Many places in the fort were looted and destroyed in search of the gold that was rumored to be in the fort. The idols inside the Temple were taken out and the place of “Garba Gudi”, one can see only diggings. The remains of the fort and Temple are scattered everywhere.

Narayana took us inside the tunnel. A torch would be helpful, and it is better to check for snakes before entering dark places.

We spent about an hour in the fort and joined others who were resting. From fort, it was continuous descent till Kandodi. Again, we did it non stop. From Kandodi, the route was a mix of civilization and forests. We crossed several streams on the way. It was about 12 in the noon when we reached Chaturmukha Basadi.

This Basadi is amidst a forest in a peaceful location. There are few families who look after the Basadi. This Basadi was built by Chennabairadevi and could not be completed because of her defeat with Keladi Kings.

After lunch and a dip in the nearby stream, we set out for the final walk of the trek. The last hurdle we crossed was River Sharavathi, snake boats ferried us to the other side of the River. These boats are scary which make me feel that I should have learned swimming.

Two km walk from river side to the bus stop was the most tiresome journey due to hot and humid weather.

Thus ends one more trek with great experiences!!

More photos of the trek can be seen here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sharavathi valley 1: Haadagere and Vasughitti falls

18th October 2008

While chatting with Sampath last week, he mentioned that he was planning an exploratory trek in Sharavathi valley covering few unknown falls. I was excited and immediately agreed to be part of the group for the trek. I was impressed with the way the earlier trek was conducted and was looking forward to trek with Sampath and his group.

Friday evening started on a bus to Sagar. The journey was quite comfortable. Our guide Narayana was waiting for us in Sagar. We then boarded a jeep, and after finishing our morning ablutions at a stream, reached the base point of the trek at 9AM. We had a heavy breakfast there and then started our trek.

Initial part of the trek was in thick forests. On the route, we spotted a green snake and a Wiper. Though, I was at the front I just passed next to it without even noticing it. Narayana and Panikiran spotted the wiper and started taking the snaps. Being afraid of snakes, I gave my camera to Narayana to take the snaps.

After walking for about an hour, we got down into the valley and as we entered the stream, the waterfall was visible. The view was simply amazing. The serenity of the place, the silence only to be broken by the sound of the falls, thick vegetation all around gave us a feeling that is hard to express. What adds to all is that the place is totally un-spoilt by any kind of human activities. Barring few locals and survey people, hardly anyone knows about this falls. The falls forms a very nice pool at the base. Narayana told that the depth was about 25 feet.

Even though we did not get into water, lot of time was spent at the falls. It was very difficult to leave such a place. Credit goes to Narayana and Halappa for finding this falls. A falls needs a name and the falls was named as Haadagere falls. Hope this place remains as is for many more years to come.

It was time for the next waterfalls and for that we needed to walk upstream. Since it was impossible to climb up the cliff at the Haadagere falls, we climbed up the valley and got down again just before the falls. Then started the long journey along the stream. Walking on the stream is extremely tricky. We had to jump the boulders and cross the stream many times. It was extremely slippery and I started falling down frequently. I then decided to remove my shoes and walk barefoot. It at least gave me some balance on slippery rocks.

Forget monsoon, it would be very tough to walk on this stream even if it rains for sometime. The distance was just 3 kms but we were feeling that it was taking eternal time.

Narayana remembered of doing a survey on this route for KPCL during 80’s to build a dam here. Luckily, it never happened.

After nearly two hours, we reached a point where two streams joined. Another 30 minutes, we were at Vasughitti falls. It looked great and was totally different from the any other falls that I have seen. The stream falls on a huge rock to be split into two, thus forming an inverted Y.

What made a big difference was a huge tree which had its roots all down the falls. It was surprising how this tree survived the fury of the stream for so long. The roots of the tree that had spread everywhere and the rocky terrain might be the reason for its survival.

Narayanan and local chap Yogaraj climbed over the huge rock to get into middle of the falls while others enjoyed standing in front of the falls. The total height of the falls may be some 200ft. After having light snacks, we climbed up the valley that was very steep. It was a very tough climb albeit a short one. We had our late lunch at base point and then proceeded to our place of stay that arranged at a tribal house.

We knew that the next day would be quite long!!

--- To be continued.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bennehole falls

2nd October 2008

During my visit to my native place few of us decided to visit Bennehole falls. I, my brother, my Uncle, cousins Anujith and Anusha and neighbour Raghu went for this falls.

We started from my native place after breakfast. At about 9:45AM we were at the place on the highway where a board indicated the direction to the falls. It was a jeep route; still I drove my car on that road.

After about half a km, there was a deviation. Both the roads were equally wide and there was confusion about the correct route. We did some strange calculation, and took the road towards right. Another half a km, road became worse. Since it would be too much for my car to handle, I decided to park the car and walk remaining distance.

As we started walking, there was another deviation after about 500mts. Since this deviation was from the same direction as we came, we did not worry much. After another few minutes of walking, we were at one more deviation. What the hell! I thought. I do not know why so many roads are required in the forest. All along this journey, we did not see any humans on the road!!

Somebody (Hopeless fellow!!) had marked an arrow for the road that went straight. I thought that some trekker with good intentions had marked the way for waterfalls (how naïve!!). So, we took that path. After few minutes, the path ended in an open space with a small hill. We did one complete circle of the hill but could not find any path. So, we came back again to the deviation point and took the road to the left.

As we moved along this path, we found few deviations to our left but we just ignored and continued on the main path. We were bit anxious whether we were following the right path or not. There was a deviation to the left and more importantly was a board directing to a Temple and village.

We thought that there would be some people in the Temple to at least tell us whether we were on the right track or not. After about 5 minutes of walking, I was at a gate. There was a Temple next to the gate and a small house in mid of the field. At such places, my main worry is the dogs and I do not like dogs. The moment I thought about dogs, I heard their barking. I waited for others to join me before entering the field. After confirming that the dogs were tied and not free, we went to the house. Luckily, there was a person in the house. He told that the route we followed was correct and if we continued on the main path, there would be a board indicating the direction of the falls. Feeling relieved, we thanked him for the information and returned back to join the main path. After about a km, we reached the deviation. Here the board indicated that straight road goes to Hosur village and path to the right would take to the falls. We promptly followed the directions and continued.

After walking for another 15 minutes, we were at the end of Jeep track. From here was a narrow path which went down. We walked down for 10 minutes and we could see the first glimpse of the falls.

We were at top of the falls. To get a clear view, we tried to get down. We could manage to get down half way which offered the full view of the falls.

The falls looked majestic, and there was decent amount of water. I tried to get down further, but the boulders were very slippery and there was no support to hold on. With Basavana Baayi incident fresh in mind, I did not wanted to take any risks (Later, from when we were at the Hotel in Bandal, a person told that there is a way to get down the falls). The river then flows down the valley and finally joins Aganashini River.

Actually, from the main road, it would take about 75-90 minutes to reach the falls provided not lost in the labyrinth of routes. If one has a high ground clearance vehicle or a bike, he needs to walk just 15 minutes to view the falls.

More photos of this falls can be seen here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mirjan fort

1st October 2008

This fort is in the Mirjan village on NH-17, 10 km from Kumta. When told that we were going for Mirjan fort, my relatives cautioned about the place being a bit infamous for some criminal activities. Few incidents that happened last year was at the back of their mind.

Couple of kms from highway on a small road will take to Mirjan fort. It looked like a haunted place, with no soul around. My wife was bit worried that there were no visitors to this fort.

As we entered into the fort, we found one guy. He was from ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). There was some excavation happening at the site and he told not to use camera. I wanted to protest but since his looks were dangerous, I did not argue.

It is not a huge fort. What irritated me was that there was no information about the fort. By that time, I found out that the ASI person was a good chap, only his physique and looks was tough. He narrated the story of the fort. He did not know Kannada and his Hindi was very tough to understand. My wife got bored and started looking else where. I told him that I knew everything about the fort and asked him to stop his narration. I thought I could find information from net, but surprisingly there is nothing much about the fort. Only reliable information was a paragraph from ASI website

“The Fort at Mirjan was constructed during A.D 1608-1640. Excavation conducted at the site during the field season 2000-01 has unearthed a number of laterite structures of medieval period . The structural remains include a U shaped structure with a cloister all around. Towards the west of the U shaped structures, a circular soakage pit constructed of dressed laterite stones and water tank connected with water carrier were exposed. Among the antiquities mention may be made of a unique gold coin issued in A.D. 1652 by the Portuguese Viceroy Conde De Sarzedas during the rule of JOAO IV. The other antiquities include canon balls, Chinese Porcelain, clay tablets with Islamic inscriptions.”

What I found strange was couple of big wells in the fort. I have never seen well of that size till now. There are also few tunnels that go out of the fort.

There are also nice views of the paddy fields outside.

Well, it is certainly not a bad place even though some criminal incidents had happened before. The fort itself is getting a facelift. I think once the excavation and renovation activities are completed, it would be a good spot to visit.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Gore Temple and Dhareshwara

30th September 2008

Gore cross is a small place on NH-17 between Honnavar and Kumta. A temple dedicated to Krishna is on a small hill. I happened to see this Temple on my visit to my relatives place at Kadekodi, a village near Dhareshwara.

A small road takes to the hill. Temple is situated on a large plateau on the hill. There is also a math that looks after the Temple. The surroundings of the Temple offer silence and solitude. One can also see Arabian Sea from the hill.

Dhareshwara Temple is one of the five Atma linga Temples. It is situated just next to NH-17 between Honnavar and Kumta. Other four Temples are at Gokarna, Gunavanthe, Murudeshwara and Shejjeshwara.

We were the only people at the Temple. I was saddened at the condition of the Temple. Even priest was not visible anywhere.

Our next visit was Dhareshwara beach. It is a common thing in Karnataka that boards with Kannada script written wrongly, but here it was hopelessly wrong. It sounded as Dhareshwara “bitch”!!

Vehicle can go directly to the beach. This is not a very clean beach but walk for a km towards north to get into cleaner section where there is no human activity.

I was surprised at my daughter’s response to waters. She was seeing a beach for the first time but once in water, she refused to go away from it!!