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Friday, December 23, 2011

Hooli

8th October 2011

Hooli is a small village in Belagavi district which is about 10km from the religious place of Savadatti. It was once a great place of learning and art. It was a site of nearly 100 Temples!! That is history. Most of these Temples were looted, destroyed or neglected. All that remains now is Panchalingeshwara Temple which is well maintained by ASI. All other Temples are in ruins.
 
The Panchalingeshwara Temple was a welcome respite in the dusty village of Hooli. As mentioned earlier, it is well maintained Temple complex. As the name suggests, the Tempe has five garba gruhas.


The Temple complex also has a sort of museum where the sculptures restored are kept for public viewing.


The gate keeper of the Temple seemed to be knowledgeable about the history of Hooli. He gave a good description of the Temple and also listed other Temples and places to see. On hearing it, we felt that it was not a good idea to just plan little less than an hour for Hooli. Anyway, weather was hot and we were extremely hungry. I was tempted to visit few of the ruined Temples that were spread across the base of a mountain. But he mentioned that there is nothing to see there and “you have to close your nose” to reach those Temples at the base of the hill.


So, we went to the lake from which we could see a lot of Temples in ruins. Looking at the glory of Panchalingeshwara Temple, this place would have been one of the great historical site if all other Temples were intact (or restored).


There is also a fort near Hooli. But sadly we had not planned for it and the heat and hunger was taking a toll on us. So, we did not visit them. Hooli is a little known place but definitely worth a visit for its Temples.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Navilu Theertha

8th October 2011


This place turned out to be an exceptionally great place. Initially, we had no plans of going to Navilu Theertha where Malaprabha Dam is constructed. All along the way from Sogala->Munavalli->Savadatti we were seeing the backwaters of the dam. And then we came to know that the dam is very near to the main road we were travelling. “Why not just look into the place” we thought.


Next to the board “Welcome to Malaprabha dam” was a board “Entry restricted”!! Completely confused I asked a local guy whether normal people like us can enter the place. After his affirmative reply, we entered into the gate. The dam was still a km away and we were still seeing the boards “private vehicles restricted” and “No entry” boards. Being a law abiding citizen(!) I stopped my car thinking the next course of action. And then a private bus full of tourists passes ahead leaving a cloud of smoke on us!! I promptly followed the bus. I feel that the Government departments get some satisfaction by putting such nonsense boards.


But the flower garden at Navilu Theertha was simply great!! Kudos to people who have maintained it so well. My kid loved it and was we. We spent a good amount of time seeing those beautiful flowers.


Visitors are not allowed to go to Malaprabha dam but they can see it from the top. The dam is constructed at a place where the river from the plain enters into a gorge.


One of the gates of the dam was opened which gave a different perspective of the surroundings.
A nice place to spend time!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sogala

8th October 2011

The beauty of Sogala lies in its approach. After travelling for a long time on plain land, the view of the hills come as a respite. And a waterfall suddenly appears as we enter the Sogala village. A pool as large as a lake is formed at the base of the waterfall. It was much more than expected and we were positively surprised. We started from Belagavi in the morning and had to reach Dharwad by evening. A nonstop journey would just take an hour and hence we decided to take a detour and visit nearby places.


For people who are not aware of this place, Sogala is a religious destination in Belagavi district. It is famous for its Temple the prime being the Someshwara Temple. It is at a distance of about 60km from Belagavi via Hire Bagevadi and Bailahongala.


Coming back to our trip, our joy of seeing the falls was short-lived. The filth of this place was revealed as we got down and went near the pool. It was sad to see people using this place for attending nature calls. People were least perturbed that it was a religious site. We then decided to look at the Temples. Since the Temples were located on the hills we started climbing the nicely paved steps. As expected, the views from the top were nice. The Renuka Sagar backwaters (Malaprabha dam) could be seen.


But unfortunately the place is maintained badly. It was filled with leftovers of previous day feast. We could not manage to stay there for long. A small waterfall lies on the top of the hill which is used by devotees to take bath. A deer park is also maintained in the complex.


Sogala has all the potential of being a nice place if maintained well.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Amboli

5th - 7th October 2011

Amboli is a hill station in Sawanthawadi district of Maharashtra. Being close to Belagavi (70km) it attracts lot of tourists from North Karnataka region. Amboli is famous for its waterfalls and viewpoints. While monsoon is the best time to visit when waterfalls are in full, the post monsoon season provides some nice views.


A plan was hatched to visit Amboli and nearby areas during Navarathri. Hotel booking were made in advance to avoid last minute tensions. The drive from Bengaluru to Belagavi was uneventful. It took me 6 hours to cover the distance of 500km. That includes a break of one hour for breakfast at Chitradurga and refueling at Ranebennur. Not a bad timing for Indian roads. Thanks to Golden Quadrilateral. After having an early lunch in Belagavi we headed towards Amboli. Very soon we entered into Maharashtra. The difference is easily noticeable!! No more English boards. Even the numbers are written in Marathi. But road quality was same as in Karnataka.


The distance from Belagavi to Amboli is about 70 km which took us 2 hours to cover. Being at the beginning of the Western Ghats, Amboli resembles more like Agumbe in many aspects. The highway and few building on either side of it make this place. The silence is shattered by occasional sound of vehicles passing on the highway. I had made a prior booking in MTDC hotel. It turned out to be a good choice. It is a simple resort with nice rooms and gardens.


The long journey of 580 km had made us tired and we took some much needed rest. In the evening we visited Mahadevgad view point. It is about 3 km from the main road though dense forests. The place was completely empty. Steps are constructed to the edge of the cliff. It provides a nice view of the plains below and the forests of Western Ghats. It formed a perfect evening to spend. With no soul around the place was for us. We liked that isolation!! My daughter started running all around making us run behind her. But when I took to the edge of the cliff she was scared!!


As we departed back, the entire area was covered by mist. It remained so for the remaining of the night. Being Navarathi time, Dandiya was played in a nearby Temple. We spent some time watching it.


On the next day we visited Kavlesad view point. The road from the main road passes though area filled with flowers. In spite of long weekend, there were no visitors. This view point turned to be much more beautiful than I had imagined. It provides a complete view of the valley. Several waterfalls can be seen on both sides of the valley. This must be am amazing place during monsoon. Even during the month of October I could spot eight waterfalls!! This was something that I had not seen elsewhere. My daughter decides to spend a long time playing in a nearby stream.


We then came back to the main road and proceeded further towards Nangartas waterfalls. It is just situated next the main road and beside a temple. Here water flows into a deep hole. This is a waterfall different from others.


We then went to Hiranyakeshi Temple. It is situated in amidst forest with peaceful surroundings. Hiranyakeshi River originates from this place.


It was then time to visit Amboli waterfalls. It is just next to the main road. This was the only place in Amboli where we found people and there were lot of them. I have not seen any photograph that has only this falls. It is always filled with people. Steps are constructed to the falls. People take bath and spend a long time under water.


Evening was spent at sunset point. There were few other places like Parikshit point which needs some amount of trek. I did not visit as I had promised my family not to go for these solo treks.


Some information:

There are several buses to Amboli from Belagavi. The options to stay are few but are decent and economical. As mentioned before, we stayed at MTDC resort which can be booked online on their website. Food is not a problem. It needs one day to cover all the places in Amboli.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Siddeshwara Temple, Haveri

11 November 2011



It is hard to imagine that such a great Temple complex can exist in the main road of Haveri town. The gardens and lawns maintained by ASI are large and beautiful. It seems to be a favorite place for locals to relax and enjoy. We saw a lot of students studying under the shade of the tree. And there were few couples roaming around.


The Temple is situated at the far end of the garden. Built during 11th century CE it is one of finest example of Western Chalukyan art. Like the Temple at Bankapura the basement of this Temple is sunk by few feet. The Temple is also called as Purasiddeshwara Temple.


The sculptures on the roof is impressive.


Before the garbagruha is a pillar with inscriptions.


The gopura of the Temple is beautifully carved.


A neglected sculpture of Ugra Narasimha next to the main Temple.


We spent a long Temple just sitting under the shade of a tree. My daughter spent some time chasing egrets that were numerous in the garden.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kalyala waterfalls

28th August 2011

When we reached the tiny village on the foothills of Western Ghats the sun had already crossed the mid sky. The waterfall was visible from the State Highway that passed through that village. It was a steep climb on supposedly bad roads. We did not want to put strain on a brand new car and hence opted for a Jeep ride. The road was indeed steep but nicely tarred.

 
I was surprised to see a plain land after climbing up the hill we saw from the highway. A peaceful village was on the top. The waterfall is just half a km from the village which needs to be covered by walk. Jeep driver volunteered to show us the way. After few minutes of easy walking we reached the stream that formed the waterfalls. I was expecting to reach the bottom of the falls but we were on top of it!!


In order to reach bottom of the falls, we had to get down over a rocky and slippery path. I had an umbrella, water bottle and camera in my hand. With climbing down proving difficult I decide to take only camera and drop the other two to be picked up while climbing up. It was a leech prone area and we had to quickly get down. While I and Jeep driver got down almost to the bottom of the falls there was no sign on others. After waiting for some time, I decided to climb up and see their whereabouts. They had badly bitten by leeches and had decided to stay on the top.


I climbed down the rocks and reached the base of the waterfalls. The waterfall was about 80-100ft in height. It looked like there were few more stages of the falls but was completely covered by forest. We had to cross to the other side of the falls to get a good view. After spending some time in the waterfalls we climbed up to reach the village back. After drinking water at a house nearby we started the return journey.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

K Hole falls

28th August 2011

One would be in strange situations when looking for lesser known places. Here we were searching for a falls that I had heard from various sources. When asked about the same with the villagers they laughed at me and said that they have not heard of any such falls in the vicinity. I felt embarrassed but quickly recovered and asked whether there are any streams in the area. I should have carried the photographs of the falls.


We continued on the village road now in search of the stream. Finally we reached a place where the sound of water could be heard. Shortly the water falls made its appearance!! It was not completely visible as a coffee estate was between us. A small shop owner near the estate denied permission to enter into an estate. We could not find a good place to take snaps. It was a disappointment.


Looking at my Digital SLR camera the shop keeper was convinced that I was a serious guy!! Having a big camera helps whether you take good photos or not!!!! “If anyone asks tell that you are from TV9”, he told me. I and Balaji quickly got down into the estate while Saran, Sankara and Chitrai decided to have tea. Quickly we reached the base of the falls. A tree had fallen on the top of the falls blocking the full view. But it was a good scene to watch.

Seeing my interest in waterfalls the shop owner mentioned about another falls upstream. That was news to me. As per his directions we proceeded further and found the deviation. The car could not take that extreme right and hence we continued ahead to reach State Highway that was a furlong away. And then took a U turn to come back to the village road. The people at the road were surprised by our action!!


This falls was again inside a coffee estate but now there was no one to stop us from getting down. The path was slippery and I saw myself sliding down without any control. I only hoped that I could stop before falling into the stream!! Sankara and Balaji who were behind me were also in same situation. It reminded me of a similar incident in Yelaneeru. This time I was lucky to not get spoilt by mud but Sankara and Balaji had to change their dresses later!!


A nice little adventure!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Baalebare falls

30th August 2011

Another road side falls!!

This is at the beginning of Hulikal ghat. As you start descending from Mastikatte (last town before the ghat) you see Chandikamba Temple on your right side. People make a stop here before proceeding further. Continue on the main road and you see the falls!!


We went during peak monsoon time mist had enveloped the entire ghat area!! We could identify the falls only by its sound. We had to wait some time for fog to clear!! The silky white falls was a treat to watch.

While returning back we saw few elderly people walking on the main road. They had stopped their vehicle at the Temple and walked down to see the falls. But they were struggling to climb up. A woman in the group was gasping. The people requested and we decided to take her in our car. She told that they did not anticipate the climb while returning back. Anyway, she was in better form when we dropped near the Temple.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suralabbi falls

27th August 2011

A road side falls in Kodagu.


It is not widely known to people but is easily accessible falls in Kodagu district. Thanks to its location away from touristy places it has still maintained its charm!!


Known locally as Napandapole or Medarpole falls, it is most widely known as Surlabbi falls. Each waterfall look different and this is no exception. The water comes out of small narrow gorge to a wider area.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Devaramane

22 October 2011

My friends Aishwarya and Rakesh Holla had been to this place before. The photos shared were awesome which prompted me to visit Devaramane. The initial plan was to trek to Minchukallu from Devaramane village but looking at the recent adventures of Rakesh Holla, I decided to add nearby Ballala caves into the itinerary.


Buses go till Guthi which is 6km from Devaramane. Instead of walking on road, we decided to hire a Jeep. Unable to get a Jeep, we finally hired an auto from Mudigere. Unfortunately the auto could not climb the stretch after Guthi and we had to walk on tar road!! The road was steep but our spirits were high as it was the beginning of our walk. The cloudy conditions also helped us a lot. When we reached Devaramane, it was already 9:30AM.


The first person we met in the village was Kushalappa who was busy in some carpentry work. Rakesh Holla had said that Kushalappa is the only person in the village who knew about the caves!! But since he is busy with carpentry work, Kushalappa refuses to come. After pleading and convincing for few minutes, he agrees to guide us!! We do not waste much time to dump all unnecessary things in Kushalappa’s house and start the trek.


The trail starts behind Kushalappa’s house and after a climb of about 5 minutes we start to descend into a valley. The views around this place are amazing but thanks to overcast conditions we could not enjoy it in full. After a short descent we enter into a Shola forest. This is a leech territory and we run as fast as we can. We then had to climb up a hill wading through shoulder height grass.


After crossing the grassland we rest on a rock which is an ideal place to remove leeches. Everyone is bitten by them and some time is spent on removing them. Our guide shows us a place “Kaati mettida kallu” which had imprints of bison hoof on stone!! Sadly, this also is a hunting ground for workers from neighboring state employed in a nearby estate.


The journey is mostly on grasslands where we cross several mountains. It is said that the ruler Ballalaraya built fort here. The remains of the fort can be seen at several places. One is of the hill is named after the servant of Ballala. It is called as Banta kallu.


We now move along the border of South Canara and Chikmagalur district. It is amazing to see that people work at these remote places identifying and marking the borders!! We finally reach the end of a cliff. It is a perpendicular drop of few thousand feet. Guide shows the Ballala caves. It seemed no one till date is able to explore it fully. Kushalappa says that during his Father’s days few people who tried to enter into the caves never returned back. King Ballala also entered the cave never to come back!! Even Kushalappa has never entered this cave.


I try to enter the cave. It is the most scary and risky attempt. One needs to get down over slippery rocks with very little support. It is dark inside and any mistake would end our life. Even if we get down coming back would be difficult. Gone are the days of taking risks on life and I decide not to get into the cave any further. Rakesh Holla and his friends did explore some part of the caves last month. Hats off to them as they are the real adventurers!!


After spending some time at the caves, we start to walk. Minchukallu was our next destination. Since we had booked overnight bus, we had to return back on that day. And the last bus from Guthi was at 5:30PM. And we had an additional 6km to cover from Devaramane to Guthi. Minchukallu was still far away. We decide to drop Minchukallu half heartedly. As a consolation we start climbing a small hill nearby. Our decisions changed as we climbed that small hill. Minchukallu was clearly visible and we felt that we could make it. I and Yasin start walking briskly towards Minchukallu while Chitrai and Ashok decide to halt on a nearby hill. For next 30 minutes, we almost ran towards Minchukallu. The last stretch was steep and took away all our energy. I just fall as I reach the top of Minchukallu. Destination reached!!


Minchukallu is one of the highest peaks in Charmadi area. But due to misty conditions we cannot see much. The mighty Amedikallu is visible. It is still a day’s trek from Minchukallu.


We spend some time on the top and then start climbing down to meet Chitrai and Ashok at the base. It was time to have some lunch. With clouds hovering around the hills Kushalappa is worried. He says that it would be difficult to return back in rains and asks us to hurry up. So we put off our rest plans and start back.


Return journey is always tiring and this was no exception. Especially the last stretch to climb to the village of Devaramane was tough on my body. Back in Kushalappa’s house at Devaramane we were greeted with delicious buttermilk. That was a relief for our dehydrated bodies.

The last leg of the journey from Deveramane to Guthi was boring and tiring. But we were just in time for the last bus from Guthi.


The dog:

This was the dog from the Devaramane. It accompanied us all along the trek. The friendliest dog I had ever seen. At one point I and Ashok were trailing behind and were not visible to the people in the front. This dog comes back to check our progress and runs to the front again!! It even accompanied all the way from Devaramane to Guthi!!