Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Panchakuta Basadi at Kambadahalli

25 April 2014

Sometimes we travel to places with fewer expectations but return with a pleasant experience. One such place was Kambadahalli that I visited last weekend. A great place if you have liking for history and Architecture.

The name Kambadahalli (meaning “pillar village” in English) comes from the pillar in front of the Basadi. It is said that the bell on the pillar rings when there is a problem in the village. Sounds strange but villagers vouch that it works!! The Temple was constructed in 900 – 1000AD during the time of Ganga and Hoysala rulers.

The wife of the priest along with her son guided us in the Temple. They provided quite some information which I find now hard to recall!!  The Basadi was constructed in two phases. The first phase consists of three shrines (right side on the picture below).

The second phase consists of two shrines facing each other joined by pillared porch. All shrines have the idol of thirthankaras.

There are beautiful carvings on the roof.

The idol of Thirthankaras.

This sculpture has three expressions; serious, smile and in peaceful meditation. These expressions are revealed when light is beamed from different directions. Amazing!!

Carvings on the wall.

How to reach:
Kambadahalli is about 20 km from Bellur cross. The shorter route via Bindiganavile passes through the villages and coconut plantations. While most of the road is in good condition, few stretches were under construction. The rains led to some slushy patches in between. Another route is via Nelamangala. This is longer but road conditions are better. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Maastricht - A heritage town in Netherlands

15 March 2015

About Maastricht
Maastricht is a town that shares with Nijmegen as the oldest city in Netherlands with respect to Human settlement. It is the birthplace of European Union thanks to Maastricht treaty signed in 1992. It has huge number of National Heritage sites (> 1600) second only to Amsterdam. The University in Maastricht makes it more thriving town than other similar places in Netherlands.

Maas river at Maastricht
My journey
When I got down from railway station, I just followed the crowd to St. Servaasbrug, a stone bridge constructed across Maas River.

St. Servaasbrug
At information center, a lady at the counter happily explained the places I can visit in the town. That was very helpful.  And then I headed to Vrijthof square.  A nice place to rest and relax, it was surrounded by restaurants and bars. All of them were full!! A nice weather and Saturday ensured that people were on the streets!

Church at Vrijthof
What attracted me were the trees at Vrijthof. They looked different.

At Vrijthof was Sint-Janskerk, a gothic church.

I went into the Basilica and spent some time enjoying the interiors.

The main intension of my visit to Maastricht was to visit caves. I walked a long way to Fort St. Pieter where the caves were located.

A street in Maastricht
It is hard to see hills in Netherlands!! Maastricht is an exception and Fort St. Pieter on top of a hill provides nice views.

View from the fort

Fort St. Pieter
About caves
These are manmade tunnels of limestone quarries. The labyrinth of tunnels covers a length of about 200km!! It also connects to neighboring Belgium. But today about 80km of the tunnel remains due to the collapse and open pit mining.

The caves are very dark and it is very easy to get lost. Only guided tours are available which lasts for an hour.

Map of the pathways in the cave
Lot of paintings is seen in the caves which are made by charcoal. These were drawn not by the quarry workers but the visitors in olden times.

The tunnels also were used as hiding place during wars. The reminiscent of those days can be seen in the form of kitchen.

Surprisingly Maastricht is less visited by International tourists. Most visitors are from neighboring countries.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mallikarjuna Temple at Basaralu

19 April 2015

Basaralu is a small village in Mandya district. In 1234 AD, Harihara Dandanayaka, an Officer under the Hoysala King Narashimha II constructed a small Temple dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna. Few people know about its existence today. Thanks to ASI, it is still well maintained.

While going we took the route from Maddur via Koppa village. Though the road was good for most parts, asphalted road was nonexistent for 4-5 km making journey little tiresome. Once we reached Basaralu village it was not difficult to find the Tempe. Located near a saw mill it is surrounded by houses.

When we reached the Temple, we saw a group of villages were having a chat in the verandah of the Temple. One of them was a caretaker. It was good as he had the key to the Temple. Like all Hoysala Temples, this Temple is also built on top of the raised platform. It is a trikuta Temple consisting of three garbhagrihas on the west, north and south, a sukanasi, a navaranga, a small porch and a Nandi mantapa.

It is said that on the day of Ugadi, the sunlight passes though the holes of the window to fall on Shiva Linga. Amazing!!

The Temple has two entrances with flight of steps leading to it. Both sides have elephant statues.

The Temple has beautiful wall sculptures which includes sixteen handed Shiva dancing on Apasmara, Durga with twenty two hands, dancing Sarawati, Ravana lifting Kailasa and Gajasuramardhana to say a few. It is said that there are 103 intricately carved wall images.

The main garbhagriha has Mallikarjuna in a form of Shiva Linga. The other two garbhagrihas consist of Surya Narayana and Naga-Nagini. There is a Mahishasura Mardhini and Sapta Mathrike statues on either side of the main garbhagriha.  

Unlike many Hoysala temples controlled by ASI, there is a board explaining about the Temple. That helps lot of visitors to understand about the temple. For locals, this is just another Temple used for worship.

A small Temple in the complex.

There was a small stamba outside the main complex. I could not understand the significance of it and the fact that it is kept out of the Temple complex.

Locals mentioned that the renovation of the Temple was on the offing as once side of the Temple had collapsed slightly.

While returning we took the road towards Mandya to avoid non asphalted road. The Mandya road was better but occasionally turned rough!!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Boeing factory tour

February 2015

The Boeing factory that manufactures 747, 767, 777 and 787 is at Everett, north of Seattle. Public can also visit the factory through organized tours from Future of Flight Aviation Centre at Everett.

The Aviation centre has a gallery that has several exhibits.

The Rolls-Royce Engine that powers 787 Dreamliner. It is so huge that we feel dwarfed in front of it. Amazing to see that it powers the entire aircraft.

There is a GE Engine in display.

A real cockpit from 727. We can go inside and handle all controls!!

A wing from 747.Another monster in the gallery. Look at how small a person looks in front of it.

Boeing outsources most of its components. The Dream Lifter lifts all these huge components from various locations (Italy, Japan and Taiwan) to the Boeing factory. There are only four Dream lifters and one of them was at the factory when we visited.

The aircraft that are ready to be delivered to customers.

The main highlight is the tour to the factory. Boeing does not allow people to carry any electronic equipment and wallets. Locker facility is available to securely keep the items.

A "nose" of an aircraft
It is the world’s biggest factory in terms of volume covering about 98 acres!! You can imagine the size. It is really huge. To enter into the factory we had to get down to the tunnel, so long that we could not see the other end. The elevators took us to the upper floor where we can see the aircrafts being assembled.

It is an amazing experience to see those huge Jumbos being assembled. Even the interiors and painting are carried out here. When we went 747 for the Korean Air was being assembled. Boeing uses the runway next to the factory to perform all the testing before delivery to the customer.

I must say that I was completely mesmerized by the visit to the factory. One should not miss this place if you are visiting Seattle.