Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hoysala Temples at Hosa Budanur

17 August 2013

I would have crossed this village few hundred times while travelling from Bengaluru to Mysore. But that did not help me to realize the hidden Temples of Hosa Budanur. Located on Mysore-Bengaluru highway near Mandya, it has two beautiful Hoysala Temples. It was Dhiraj’s blog that helped me to find these Temples.

I made it a point to visit this place during one of the drives to Mysore. The Temples are just half km from the highway.

The two Temples Anantha Padmanabha and Kashi Vishweshwara were built during 13th century by Hoysala King Vira Ballala II.

ASI has restored these Temples recently. You can see the numbers on the stones!!

Like other Hoysala architectures, the Hosa Budanur Temples are built on top of an elevated platform. Both are Ekakuta Temples. The carvings on the wall are conspicuous by their absence!!

The villagers do not have much information about the history of these Temples. The priest would have been of help but he could not be found. Little information comes from a tarnished board at Anantha Padmanabha Temple. I feel ASI must put some information which will help visitors to appreciate the place.  

The Temples are “live” and the main idol is worshipped daily.

Entrance of the Temple.

Rear side of Kashi Vishwaeshwara Temple.

A sculpture lying around.

This might be used for lighting purpose.

Interior of the Temple.

Carving on the ceiling.

My daughter posing happily. 

Kids playing at a nearby restored structure. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Silverline waterfall

17 November 2013

I came upon this falls few years ago while trekking in Western ghats.  The view of the falls from a vantage point was an unforgettable experience. It was during monsoon and was impossible to reach the bottom of this 400ft single step falls. I promised to come back again but like all other plans, it was shelved due to the reasons unknown to me!!

(Photo courtesy: Shasidhar Gadad)
Things took a better turn when Rajesh Naik informed about a trek they were planning to the base of this waterfall. Rajesh is an avid trekker who had explored several waterfalls in Karnataka. Though I knew him from several years, I never got an opportunity to meet him in person. I was free during that weekend prompting me to join the trek.

And so I landed in Udupi on a Sunday morning. It was 5:30AM and I called up Rajesh to inform about my arrival. He came in another five minutes and took me to his Home. I am not a great “social animal” but here it did not take much time to strike conversation!! May be things get easy and simple when interests are similar!!

Another falls on that way!!
After having stupendous breakfast, Rajesh dropped me at the bus stop where the group had assembled. Rajesh could not join due to personal commitments. At 7:30AM we were all set to go.

At Joseph's house
After few hours of travel, our vehicle stopped in front of Joseph’s house. Joseph would be guiding us to reach the waterfall. After exchanging pleasantries we started our walk. And in few minutes we were in the thick jungles of tropical forest.

The route was not clear and Joseph had to clear the path to make way for us. An alternate way was to walk along the River but that would be long and tedious journey. Still, we had to cross the stream few times as the forest was too thick to continue further.

After about two hours of walking, the falls made its first appearance. Joseph had thought that we would watch it for some time and then return back. He was little surprised to hear that we were intending to reach the base of the falls and not just watch it from a distance!!

First view of the falls

Finally, we reached a place where we could see the falls directly in front of us. But to reach the base, we had to climb huge and slippery rocks. At first, I was hesitant given my fear of slippery rocks. But then the “group spirit” enabled me to climb further. This stretch was really tough where we slipped many times. I had to walk barefoot to get some control over slippery rocks.  At one time I even crawled to avoid falling on rocks. My dress was covered in mud by the time I reached the base.

The last 30 minutes was tiring but it was equally rewarding at the end. We spent a long time in enjoying the waterfall.

In the meantime, Joseph headed back as he had to milk the cows in his house. And now we had to return back on our own!!

The return journey was equally eventful. We lost of our way many times but managed to find the correct route thanks to people like Sudheer who had the knack for retracing the route. Later, Joseph refused to take any money from us!! 

The route we climbed up
One big positive aspect of this trek was I made new friends and saw myself joining them in their subsequent programs!!  Special mention to Raghanna, Kamath Sir and Ashok Sir for their enthusiasm, energy and passion for trekking. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A new member

A new member has made an entry into my world of travel. Being a lover of “small gadgets”, this was in my wish list for a very long time. The high cost of this device in India deterred me from buying it. I got this into my kitty during last “Black Friday” deal and now after three months it has landed into my hands!!

Now I need to make use of this gadget. Head into a forest and loose my way!!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Ballalrayana durga – A stretched exercise!!

2nd December 2013

This is a classic example of how a trek that seemed to be easy turned into a challenging one. I and Subbu were just back from Annapurna circuit trek and we considered this as a cakewalk. But events of the day and our over confidence made this hike difficult so much so that we even lost hopes of reaching the peak at one point of time.

The first culprits were the restaurants of Kalasa. At 6:30 in the morning, we were all set to go but could not find a restaurant that served breakfast. We roamed around the streets of Kalasa in vain. Finally by 8AM we gulped some idlis and boarded a KSRTC bus towards the base point.

Now enters the second culprit in the form of a fringe political outfit. It seems that KSRTC had cancelled a night bus from Kalasa and 20 odd people started protesting against it. People in Kalasa shouted against KR Nagara bus depot manager. I could not make a link between Kalasa and KR Nagara. Not sure whether depot manager in KR Nagara would ever know that there were people protesting against him!!  The protestors were all “paid” and the leader had a cunning look. The protest was called off after a press guy came and took a photograph!!

A precious hour was lost in the process.

It was 9:45AM when we finally started the trek. The initial stretch was not exciting as we were walking on asphalted road though the scenery around us was enchanting. The silence of the place was occasionally disturbed by autos which plied on the road. After walking for about 30 minutes, we had the first glimpse of our destination, Ballalarayana Durga.

The first glimpse of the hill
An hour later, we realized that miniscule idlies in our backpacks were insufficient for lunch. We went to a “kirani shop” and requested them to prepare some lunch for us during our return for which they obliged!! One issue solved.

Slowly, the asphalted road turned into a Jeep track and then a diversion appeared. The prominent road on the right went opposite to Ballalarayana Durga while a narrower road directly led to it. We chose the latter and continued our walk.

After walking for about 25 minutes, we felt something was amiss. Contrary to our expectations, we did not gain any altitude. Notwithstanding the doubt about the correct route, we continued hoping to meet a local to clear the confusion. We finally saw a house but unfortunately it was locked. But then there was a small colony of houses nearby. So, went in that direction hoping to clear our doubts. But we were in for a surprise!!

Abandoned Bungalow
 No soul was present in any of the houses. But more bizarre was that they looked abandoned. Completely astonished by this, we walked towards the main bungalow which was void of any human life. Only few goats were grazing in the area. It was a sort of “Bhooth bungalow”.  The bungalow looked wonderful from outside and the items inside the house was intact though cob webs was present everywhere. “How can one leave such a beautiful estate and bungalow?” I expected to find some ghosts but was disappointed!!

After a round of investigation we sat and decided the next course of action. A road from Bungalow seemed to lead towards the hill. We decided to try that path. The initial reports were encouraging as we found some plastic papers!! But then the road vanished into thick undergrowth making us difficult to continue further. It was a leech area and we were bit by them mercilessly. Our conclusion was that the road was unused for a long time. We retreated back to Bungalow.

We were tired and ate some energy bar to rejuvenate ourselves. The watch showed 12 noon. By all our estimates we should have reach the top. We were nowhere near it. As we looked at our food reserves and energy level, we felt that the time had come to give up our plans. But not before trying till the last minute!!
So, we went back from the abandoned bungalow. We crossed a stream but it did not occur to us to fill our water bottles though we had minimal amount of water in our bottles.

The tree tells the story
Joined the main road and continued further to climb up. Then enters the second Samaritan of the day (first one is the woman who agreed to prepare lunch!!).  He said that we were on the correct path and provided information about the deviations we need to take. With renewed energy we proceeded further.

After a while, the Jeep track narrowed and little later a small footpath appeared towards right. We decided to follow the main road. But to our luck, we met the third Samaritan who was climbing down on the smaller trail. We were going on a wrong route again!! Thanked him for his help and continued further. The bigger worry now was the water supply. We were all set to hit the grasslands but we had no water!! The person assured us that we can find a small source on the way.

"Water source"
We did find the water source which was just enough for us to fill our water bottles and quench our thirst. We found our energy levels rise by leaps and bounds!! This was the stage we were convinced that we would reach the top. The progress henceforth was quick as we quickly gained altitude. The scene around us started to get better and better. We crossed couple of shola forests and Ballalarayana Durga appeared nearer.

Finally, we reached the fort. Nothing much is left of the fort other than the walls. A little small house surrounded by tress is the only sign of human life on the top.

The best part is the scenery. It is just unmatched as folds grasslands and shola forests. We explored the area for some time and had our little idlies as lunch. The main course would be waiting down!!

Trek to Bandaje Arbi was also on our agenda but we dropped it. There was not much time left to come back.

We had our late lunch on our way back. It was so late that the woman who prepared lunch was wondering where we had vanished!!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Ranthambore fort

27 December 2013

In the zest of wildlife sightings, many visitors forget to visit the fort standing just opposite forest entry gate.  Like Devagiri fort in Maharashtra, Ranthambore fort was equally formidable and was only conquered by invaders after employing mischievous ways. Raja Hammir Dev found bravely against Allaudin Khilji but was finally defeated due to the conspiracy of some of his Officers. It is said that Allaudin Khilji, after taking over the fort killed all the Officers who helped him saying that were traitors who were not loyal to their king!!

Fort seen from the road

Ranthambore fort
The fort is situated on the hill and lies within Ranthambore National park. From the main entrance, start walking up on the steps constructed. At the next gate is a small idol of traitor, called gaddar!! People generally throw a stone at it as a mark of disrespect. I wonder how come the idol is still intact in spite of enduring such rough treatment from visitors!!

"zig zag" path
One of the gate

The 'traitor'
As we climb upwards though the zigzag path, the view gets better. Ranthambore forest starts to open up offering beautiful view of the lake and surrounding wild areas. There are some good vantage points here to enjoy great views of the forest and the fort.

Pathway to Ranthambore fort

View of the lake and forest from Ranthambore fort
We then enter into the top portion of the fort where the land levels. Dilapidated buildings are seen everywhere. One of the inspiring buildings is Battis Khmaba Chattri, a dome that is supported by 32 pillars. There is a small pool nearby which is said to be the bathing place for queens!!

Battis Khamba Chhatri

Queen's pond
Hammir Palace can be seen from the dome but unfortunately the huge building complex is locked. We walk further towards Ganesh Temple. The Temple attracts lot of local people. Before the Temple is a pond which is quite attractive. One of the two mosques in the fort lies near the lake.

Palace complex
Langur monkeys rule this area. No visitors can escape from them if they carry any food items.  They are confident and have “don’t care” attitude towards human beings. But they are peaceful if your hands are empty!!

The fort is very huge and it takes several hours to just to have a good view of it. Some parts of the forts are “wilder” as the forest has overtaken the walls.

There is also a Jain Temple which makes the fort multi religious area!!

Reaching Ranthambore fort is easy. It is just opposite to the entrance of safari routes 2 and 3. Even though the road towards the fort passes though the National Park, vehicles are allowed till the entrance. The road is good for any four wheelers. There are no entrance fees for the fort. Contrary to my expectation, the fort was not deserted. Thinking that the fort is less visited and wild, I took a guide with us to be on the safer side!! Most of the visitors were there just to visit Ganesh Temple.