Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mysore Palace

One of the most heavily etched images in my mind, is that of Mysore Dasara and the illuminated Mysore Palace against the night sky. It takes ninety seven thousand light bulbs in making this enchanting image!

The Palace is situated in the middle of the city and is a reminder of the grandeur of a bygone era. This profusely decorated and gilded palace is illuminated every Sundays and on holidays. As a kid, my evening walks were mostly to the Palace. Our house was a meager 10 min walk from Palace. This day, I happened to drive on a rainy evening.

This snap which is a capture of 'life' and 'Palace' on a rainy evening, has been digitally edited into an 'Oil Painting'.

This is a better view.

Hey, the below image was captured, balancing the Steering in left and DigiCam in my right hand. The moon at the back ground, was observed later.

About :
The present structure is a little over a century old. History tells that, during the wedding of Jayalakshammanni, the eldest daughter of Chamaraja Wodeyar, in February 1897,a fire destroyed the entire front wing of the previous wooden Palace. The construction of the present structure was completed in 1912 and ended at a whooping expense of Rs. 42 Lakhs! Its known that, during this period, the royal family temporarily lived in the Jaganmohan Palace, which now houses an art gallery.

The Amba Vilasa Palace - The Mysore Palace as it is known, is an excellent combination of Dravidian, Indo-Sarcenic, Oriental and Roman styles of architecture. The Maharaja's Palace is a beautiful three storied stone building of fine Grey granite and rich pink marble dome. Overlooking this structure is a five-storied 145 foot tower whose domes are gilded in gold. The palace is encircled by a garden.

The interior of the Palace is equally worth a visit. Its adored with visually delightful pavilions and halls, Kalyana Mantap, Amba Vilasa - the private durbar hall with ornate ceiling, Gombe Thotti, the portrait gallery, the royal armory - all built around an open courtyard. The walls are adored with paintings and murals of the Dasara procession of the period of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.

Collections of costumes and jewellery, delicately carved doors of mahogany and solid silver, graceful chandeliers, decorative stained glass ceilings, ornamental fresco, huge cast-iron pillars, decorated dooms, paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Murals in panels, friezes and niches add to the grandeur of the palace. The palace has now been converted into a museum, which treasures the souvenirs, paintings, jewellery and royal costumes.

However, the old portion of the palace was retained and can be seen even now behind the front portion of the new structure, and houses the present museum.

There are twelve temples inside the Palace complex dating from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries and have varying architectural styles.

The below 2 snaps has a story attached.
In short : They are 2 years old; Thatz when I didn't own a Digicam; Photography is strictly prohibited inside the Palace; You even have a detector and scanner; A colleague wanted me to play host; The Digicam was luckily missed at the checking counter; All my warning and explanation didn't stop the guest from breaking the law; The camera was confiscated by the Policemen-in-disguise; It was a life time worst situation, since, they questioned the host too; Guest had to pay a fine of Rs 500; And they weren't adamant about deleting the pics, if the money is paid!

Moral of the story :
Don't play host to unknown creatures.

Update : My post on Mysore Dasara is here.

Recent Travel

My TravelBlog has been left un-updated for long. I have not been traveling for long. Its almost a year, since my last long drive. My next travel plan, is only in summer.

But, then there was a 'National Bonsai Exhibition', in Mysuru. An album follows.

I loved these Mushrooms on the lawn. They are carved out of Stone!

A few carvings at Rangayana, Mysore.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mysore with Barry

It was yet another weekend, but with a difference.

Somanathapura by Srihari:

Srihari, Girish, Chandu and Barry, were in Mysore at 11:30 MST (Mysore Standard Time). When, Srihari tried reaching me, I was just 2 km away, i.e. from the foot of Chamundi Hills, while he expected the distance to be expressed relative to the foot of Nandi Hills!
I am sure, they would have thought twice before logging onto my set of wheels.

We started...
The first question that popped out was, 'whether that was my first attempt, to drive up the Hill?'; they ensured it was not. Chandu especially was a bit more worried and cautious :-)

It was time for Barry, to explain me, his Somanathpur experience, 'the round white Indian bread'- Idli, he had for Breakfast and 'the Indian god - half human, half elephant'- Ganesha.
I did get compliments for, initiating non-stop conversations; which was as they had expected, and, as they had enlightened Barry earlier.
I saw, a sigh of relief on Chandu's and Girish's face, when they got to know, we had reached the pinnacle. Managed to drive till the Temple, although Girish, was less on our side, and more favorable towards the guard.
Soon, it was time for us to debate on the cars in the parking lot, and predict whether it had been parked there by a female or male. By, this time Barry had already experienced walking barefoot, on the hot stone lays and side walks, at Somanathpur.

Yet, another time.....
Not, only the stone-lays, but even the asphalted roads were unbearable, with some witty comments to add. :-) It was a pretty crowded day at the Temple. We took about 45 mins to exit, and less than 4 seconds, to run towards the Car. Soon it was time for Girish to change banks, yet again.
SreeHorry was already in a semi-conscious, soporific state by this time, for all the cold he had gathered the previous day and the sleepless nights he was going through ;-) . A few clicks near, 'Mahishasura', and time for descend; with Chandu a less worried this time. :-)

Diversion towards Nandi:
We were at Nandi, post a pit-stop at the scenic point, from where the entire Mysore city was visible, with myself and Chandu, boosting Barry and Girish's imagination, on how splendid the city would look, lit-up during night. Sight, not to be missed!
We were back and peeped into the car, and saw Srihari was no more with us; I mean, he was snoring! Before, I shifted gears; we were at 'Nandi'. Time for a few snaps again, and down we were at the foot. Chandu and Girish logged off our Car, to find a safe parking for theirs, and SreeHorry, who was waiting for this opportunity, went on a quick horizontal sleep. Blessed!

Lunch Time
It was time for us to debate on, when, where and what, have's. Barry was happy, we had finally decided!

We did enjoy the food; Although, I was in a state of ambivalence, about the place, as it was suggested by Chandu. ;-) Chandu, who was their old, regular customer, received extra importance form the management there. Time to relax, talk, debate and discuss, while the ambrosia took all extra time to reach us. Our gastric juices and taste buds were finally blessed.
'Cinema hall v/s Multiplex' was the topic our way back, as the area housed some well know Cinema halls of the city. On our way back to the parking lot, Barry managed to buy a flute each for his Nephew, Niece and his Secretary :-)

What next?
'Mysore Palace', was our obvious choice. Holiday season, the area was crowded, parking place unavailable, and the roads were choking. Ahaaa, it was there to test my driving skills. Everyone got a chance to comment, contort and enjoy, adding to that, I miscalculated a 1st gear U-turn to a 2nd, due to which I had to turn on the ignition a few times. Finally, managed to maneuver thorough the traffic and it was time for some applause. :-)

We were there with our tickets. But, Barry was blessed this time around. Although he had to leave his footgear, he was to traverse inside the palace.

Culture, Heritage, Wodeyars, the pre 1897 wooden palace, the post 1897 palace which stands to this day, administration, Glass paintings, Teak and Rose wood carvings, Ivory inlay work of the doors, Frescos and Murals, Oil-paintings which were full of life, The Ivory, Silver and Sandal wood caskets, not to mention the 'Mysore Dasara', the richness, pomp and vigor....

Our debate on whether the stone structure was a Leopard, Jaguar, Cheetah, Lioness, Tiger, Mouse, Dog, Elephant, is still open. We met a friendly cop, who tried explaining us the 3D effect of the saree in the oil painting, using his indifferent n smattering gibberish.

It was those huge dressing mirrors which caught my attention, and in no time Barry and Srihari had known. There were tens of them we came across later, and neither of them missed the opportunity, they had utilized it! There were a few idols, gifted to the Wodeyars, which had description in French, which Barry managed to read it out for us. While we had Kites, Parrot, Peacock and Eagles engraved n carved, we had 'SreeHorry the Bird-Watcher', for our rescue.

All of us were totally engrossed, in the splendid structure that made us spell bound. It was closing time already, and a few quick shots, until we were chased out.

The famous one being, Barry with 'Use Me', and not to mention Mysore Palace. ;-)

We also managed to get hold of a Digicam illiterate, and, managed a 'click' for us. :-)

St.Philomena's Church
It was time for us to turn taciturn. Barry introduced us to the funct, the design and architecture of the church, a comparative study with those back home, Spire and the most interesting of all the Catacombs.

BTW, "Girish, did some one knock back from behind the walls, at the Catacomb?”

Chequered flag
We were at
Karanji Lake in no time, with Chandu, being a beacon, all the way back. I had thus safely dropped all the 4 prized souls around the cockpit, near Srihari's SIX wheeler. We bumped into an overtly 'cautious’ and 'concerned' guard here; and It was time they took SH17 and me MG road back home, post an allocution round. ;-)

On the way back, it was Barry's turn to sleep, although a horizontal one wouldn't have been achieved. ;-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Day 1 & 2 : Chitradurga


It was time to turn our dreams into reality - from a long time we kept planning a long drive. It was tough for dad's, anu's and mi vacation to intersect (Mom anyway would always be on vacation :-)) Things were well planned and finalized, months ago. The map in my Scrap-Book looked something of this sort....

Started with our splendid SH17, and my new DigiCam. :-)

We started at around 1:30PM : Our afternoon and evening drive was simply superb. The deserted roads and the mild day, added further to it. The previous night's discoveries, had resulted in a completely discharged battery, thus couldn’t have Srirangapatana, on the banks of river Cauvery as our first pit-stop. So, our first pitstop was at Pandavapura, for the SugarCane juice & for some fresh hot Jaggery. In spite the loads of luggage, I still did make some space in the Boot-store, for a few lengths of sugarcane.

Drove further, recalling my trekking experience, in the surrounding hills.

ShivaTemple : This was our second pit-stop, en route diversion, from SH17 to NH4. A Shiva temple, on the bank of a lake - which was said to be constructed by my Dad's devotee friend. It didn't look any special, though... We had plans of refreshing; While we saw Cattle and Humans in the lake, just couldn't imagine getting into it, but, Dad managed to... :-)

It was here that, I explored the 'Plug and shoot' option in my Digicam.
Soon, we were at NH4. The concentration of cars on this highway was less than our SH17. We just could see trucks, trucks and trucks around. The road was dull, busy and monotonous. But, well layed and illuminated. Appreciating and Praising A.B.Vajapayee, we continued………

NH4 is the longest National Highway in Karnataka and runs for a total of 658km. There was some construction going-on on NH4, where we took the wrong deviation and landed at the dead-end, during a wrong hour. But, I got a chance, to display my driving skills and exhibit my dare devilry. :-)

Without further delay, reached the proper deviation of NH4. This highway was a splendid route to drive. Reached Chitradurga, via Sira and Hiriyur. We stopped at the ‘Naryanapura dam’,the first in our list, still 3 more to go. We had left home @ 1:30 PM, reached our destination @ 9:30 PM. A good long drive, blessed by mild drizzle and good roads. At last, after a long time!

The Chitradurga mutt, is located outside the city, felt at home, although we were 300km away. The full moon and the mild drizzle further added. We went around for a walk after a humble dinner, just to explore. We could see Deers and Stags wandering around, which I mistook for a calf, as it was least expected. :-) This place was just wonderful! There was this huge Anchor, which I fell in love with [the next day, I did manage to collect a flake of iron for myself]. I wanted to get myself, pictured beside this, so, walked back to our cottage, to get my digicam recharged.

As usual, recited my experience to a few pals - courtesy Airtel's corporate plan. Finally had to stop, as my cellphone batteries didn’t allow me to. We weren't tired, but were forced to sleep, since we had decided to start early the next day.

"Gud N8!"


It was 6, and we were ready for the trek. Sunrise at the entrance was captured. This is from the first set of photos shot outside with my new Nikon. They are here, for you to rate. We had a good photographer and a skilled driver by this time. :-)

The Goddess of Chitradurga : This was our first stop, on the way to the fort.

At the Fort entrance : We were at the foot of the hill @ 6:50. It was a breath taking view. A magnificent fort on the hill, stood before us. It made me just watch in agape!

The Karnataka Tourism board read so : The Chitradurga fort was built in 1562 AD, by Timmana Nayka. It was later taken over by Hyder Ali in 1779. The fort is popularly known as 'YeLu Sutthina Kothe', due to its charesteristic 7 lines of defence, with circular, square, hexagonal and octagonal bastings, at intervals; out of which 3 are at the foot of the Hills and 4 built over the Hill. It has 19 dwara, 38 diDhe baaGhelu, 35 guptha dwara and 4 suranga margha.
Bold rock hills and picturesque valleys. Huge towering boulders in unimaginable shapes. Well known as Kallina Kote. 'The Chamundi hills, back at home, was nowhere, compared to this', is what I felt that moment, but still, I just loved trekking that, once in a fortnight. I thought, I’ll lose interest henceforth, as I had fallen in love with this!

The present halts and the past unfolds ....
As already known, the fort consists of 7 zones, in the front, and 3 at the read-end, towards the dense forest. The first 2 zones has been integrated with the city. So, the third zone, is what we hit as soon as we enter the Archeological Survey of India’s enclosure. Huge and high, with some intrinsic carvings rarely.

We got a index board, which displayed 26 places to look for.

Walked around this practically impregneable capital of the Nayak Paleyagars, scrutinizing the fascinating battlements and bastions.

# Kaamana Baavi

# Gaare Areyuva SaaDhana & Charma haaDha maaDhuva saadhana

# Moat between 3rd and 4th Zone

# BanaShankari_Temple, built during the reign of Badami Chalukyas.

# GunPowder Store(Built of soil. But, it still stands there, even to this day). I had seen a windmill, only in my textbook @ school. This was the first time, I saw one in reality. It was still misty, while the fortress wall, hill and the Windmills, were in line of sight.

# The Grindig Stone : This is star shaped, with four grinding stones. The centre pillar has been destroyed.

# View of the Fourth zone

# Kariwarathi temple, a small one under a tree; less impressive.
We entered the fourth zone. And all the while, I just wished, this was in Mysore...This marvel of military architecture has 19 gateways and 38 postern entrances too, of which the fourth gateway is indeed the best. Rising 25 feet in height, the ornamented pillars and walls contain fascinating relif figures.
The archeological survey of India, has done a perfect job. Providing route maps, name boards and indicators at every step, not only in the identified site, but, throughout. Anywhere you get lost, you’ll end up finding a route indicator.

# Ennhe koLha : This is a 9th feet deep, KoLa, carved in a rock, which was used to store oil. This had a small pipeline carved in stone from which Oil flows out to the smaller reservoir. It even had the Ennhe Kawalugarana ManHe, beside it.

Inside the Fourth zone : Also known as Vishada kaaThi baaGhelu/VeeraBhadrana baaGhelu.

# Bombe Mantapa : The place where all carving works were done. These were for later installation at a different location. Some samples displayed, for approval.

The entire fort was not built in the same era, as one thinks. Each zone displays, different styles of architecture and emblem, of the dynasty. The Shathavahanas, Kadambas, Badami Chalukyas, Hoysalas & Vijaynagar kingdoms, have contributed their style of art and architecture, to the zone constructed by them. After the fall of Vijaynagar empire, this was ruled by the Palegaras in 1505. The Veera Madhakari Nayaka, being the notable one. That was not the end, this was even ruled by Tippu and the British Empire. My entire history text was there. Just that, I wasn’t aware. Infact mom, dad & bro, were as good as our Guide. 'The brandishing of swords, the neighing of the horses as they rise on their hind legs, the proud death of soldiers', all seemed to come alive with the Fort which spoke, adding to that was our Guide's detailed, comprehensive explanation.

# The 6th Zone : This was built during the reign of Hoysala and Vijaynagar dynasty. The emblem of Hoi-saLa depicts the same. We get to see the Hindu-Islamic style of architecture.

# Elephant Rock : This for you to imagine. They are called by their imaginative names. We even saw a Titanic rock, failed to capture. Its all that man can relate to and more. :-)

# Aanhe Ganapathi Temple. Itseems, lot many Kannada films were short here.

# Zone 6: Rabbit Rock and Rat rock

Zones 1,3 & 6 had two entrance, known as, HeBhaGhelu and the maremaChena baaGheLu. Just to mislead enemies. The arrangement is designed to trap intruders between the gates.

# Uyyalehe Kambha, Deepada Kambha and Ekanatheshwara Temple, build by Shathavahanas.

# Entrance to Mutt : The MurughaRajendra mutt was previously situated inside the fort. This was later moved to the present location, on the outskirts of the city, during times of famine.

# Ookali Honda - for celebration of Holi - the festival of colours.

We further entered into the remains of 'Administration Block'. The mint and the chest was seen. The Coins found in the 20ft Khajane during excavation, belonged to
different dynasties, and can be seen in the adjacent museum.

# These were meant for the Horse : Intelligent Horses! We humans don’t follow the lane discipline.

# Akkana Hondha and TanGhi Hondha : Madhakari Nayaka, had married Pannamma NaaGhathi and Renukhamma Naaghathi. Each reservoir is named after these sisters, who later ended their lives due to the customary sati system, prevailing during the times.

# Aanjaneya and Kashi Vishwanatha Temple.

# TaNNiru DHoni : The water here was chilled, in contrast to the hot sun. We met a group of civilized people from our neighboring state, near this sweet n clean water source trying their best to pollute this, ignoring the board. We got an opportunity to shout at them, from peak to pinnacle.

# 7th zone and beyond : Every one’s aware of the veera Obbava, and her loyalty.The kingdom survived the 1772 attack by HyderAli, due to her devotion. But, finally lost to Tippu Sultan in 1779. Each successive ruler has made his own addition to improve the vantage position of this fort. Tipu Sultan built a palace, a mosque, granaries and oil pits here, after he took over. Of this stark palace, only the lofty pillars remain. We got to see, Obbavana manhe, the Temple, and the rock on which she died, and not to mention 'OBBAVANA KHINDI'. The opening in the rocks still remains as a historical witness for the story, beside the Tanniru doni a small water source which holds cold water round the year. All of us did manage to creep and crawl through it.

# Beyond Zone 7, we see sihineeru hondha, which is now absorbed in the city.

# Kaavalu gopura and Kaavalu khindi. That was the end of zone 7, so, back to zone 6 for diversion.

# Gopalaswamy Honda: This was meant for the queen. Prohibited area. ;-) This also had an adjcent garden. The reservoirs and lakes were built in such a way that the water flowed from Gopalaswamy Hondha to, Akkana Honda, Tanghe Hondha, Tanniru Hondha, SihiNeeru Hondha and Santhe Hondha(at the heart of the city). You will be amazed at the unique system devised by the rulers of Chitradurga to ensure constant water supply. Those ingeniously placed set of tanks and reservoirs, collected the rain water that fell on the Jogimatti hills and the upper fort before finally filling the moats.

# Sampige Siddeswara Temple : This is said to be from 13th Century AD, from the Vijayanagar reign. his temple gets its name from the hundreds of Michaelia Champaka, trees around the temple.

# Heading towards gaaLhe gopura. It has housed a few ancient Shasanas, and Hidambeshwara Temple.

# gaaLhe_gopura_&_tuppaDha_bathere

# Prison: This was built by Tippu Sultan, after he captured the fort in 1779. This depicts the contrast, between the Hindu and Muslim rulers. The concept of prison not known, until then!

# The oonThe kallu Basava; if you remember Vishnuvardhan and NaagaraHaavu.

On the way back, I collected flowers growing in nooks and crevices, to bring home as memorabilia; hollyhocks, Blue-Bells, Crysanthemum, lots more. It was 10:15, and we
were at the foot of the hill. Panting, sweating and thus stinking! It was time for a sumptuous breakfast.

# Archaeological Museum : Browsed through the Archaeological Museum to glean more of the historic wars, coins and manuscripts.

Post Breakfast :
The next stop was at, Chandravalli Caves. Chandravalli consists of hundreds of caves, upto 80ft deep. Some saints are said to have been lived here. And was even a safe hide-out for the king and his family, during rough times. They were all dark and stinking, with Bats hanging all around. You will come across a large cave with remains of paintings on the walls and 10 lingas, which are said to have been set up by the Pandavas,according to the local folklore.

Vanivilas Sagar : at the Vedavati river - the first reservoir in the State to be with modern engineering techniques.

Lunch Time : We were back at the Mutt. Time for ablution!
The Mutt is surrounded by 3 lakes, and been designed to have 364 aankaNaHas. A huge anchor laid in the garden. No harbors and ports around; wonder how and when it reached this dry land?!? This was something, I was in love with! I finally managed to get a flake of iron, from this Anchor for myself.

We started to move towards our next destination, before sunset. Towards NH13 it read so.

11/10/2006 : 5pm : TungaBhadra Dam

NH13 - The second longest National Highway in Karnataka, and runs for 648km. Long drive, along the stretch of the Highway, lined by Windmills and Sunflower crops on either side, interlaced with sound sleep..... :-)

Unexpected and unknown : The worst part on this stretch is the frequent road blocks by group of saree clad teenage Girls(escorted by Men), demanding money for what-nots.
Its disgusting...The worst experience. They were ready with stones/boulders of all sizes, to match the ground clearence of ANY automobile. Remember to keep all the windows up. SHAMELESS!!

Within hours, we saw water upto infinity - the clouds and the river intersecting; Upon that, we were blessed with Sunset. What else can one dream of...Neither me nor my camera though of a snap. Totally lost in the exhilirating panorama....

You are approching the dam when you see an ocean of trucks, loaded with mineral ore. This stretch of road,is the worser than one can imagine; only fit for the heavily loaded trucks. A right would lead us to Hospet and Hampi, but we stuck to NH13, since we were to cover Hampi on our way back. It was apparent from tens of trucks carrying truckloads of a red, dusty cargo that a lot of mining was being done in these hills. The red dust now with incessant rains, was red mud. It no longer settled on things, it obstinately clung to them. :-)

Towards the dam :

The electricity generating station : Photography was strictly prohibited. Couldn't capture a better pic. :-(

The dam and the main gate : Completely zoomed snap. While trying for a few more click, I was 'fortunately' spotted by a Police man, had to slide down, else get the Nikkon confiscated. Anyways, all dams look alike.... :-|
The dam has a attached garden too, like Brindavan garden. But, well maintained unlike Brindavan garden. Could spot the usual Aquarium, Deer park, Bhel and Samosa corner like everyother garden.

The TBDam is right on NH13, so, out from parking lot and continued on NH13. As usual Trucks, Trucks and Trucks... Poking headlights, huge reflectors mounted on them, unregistered chassis, Dhabas and amazingly designed Petrol bunks. I had thought, NHs would have street lights, like our SH. Never ever did I spot one. Driving was not only risky, but dangerous too; couldn't even dare to think of the music system work. You could see broken and tumbled trucks every now and then. The only thing that occured to me was the movie ROAD!! Although not appreciated by most, I loved it! Vivek, Antara, a Tata Safari on a road, is what ROAD is all about. :-)

Adding to this was a railway crossing. Oops....Trucks lined up for Kilometers togeather, we were lost(I should have opted for a Scorpio or Safari). Finally, courtesy some drivers, we crossed and escaped.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Day 3 : Bijapur

11/10/2006 : 9:30pm : KudalaSangama

120Kms, a good 3 hr drive (although didn't drive at 40 on NH ;-)) and a right deviation from NH13, and 5Kms IN, we were at KudalaSangama. The confluence of Rivers Krishna and Malaprabha.

KUDALA SANGAMA most historic place since around 800 years. The famous rivers Krishna and Ghataprabha merge here and flows towards Srishaila of Andra Pradesh. To improve this historic place, Government has established a Kudala Sangama Development Board and provided nearly Rs. 45.00 cr to develop this places. This place is one of the most sought pilgrimage center.

The Kamat group is omnipresent. So, food isn't a concern, plus, you can try out some finger licking delicacies, local to the place. The accommodation here is real cheap. A sound sleep....

Next morning, a dip in the river and a visit to the temple. The temples here are recently renovated. The Aikya Mantapa of 12th century poet and social reformer Lord Basavanna. The Mantapa is under water, but is well protected. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Sangameswara, built in the Chalukyan style architecture. A semi-circular draw bridge over the river, would lead us to the location of confluence/the aikya mantapa. A huge 4 floor complex. FOUR floors below the ground level; ground level being 'water level'. A bubble source of water - Its admirable! Though there are leaks in the walls....

The much unknown was the preparation of Vibhuthi. We saw it live!

PERFECTLY sign-posted, along the entire route. But, if you need some entertainment you can ask the pedestrian, the route and about other places of interest around, in Kannada. Most of the time they'll be more than eager to help, and you are sure to enjoy their language, and accent. On NH216 the visibility was up to infinity. But, the next set of wheels which you could bump was barely a few meters away. All my experience and skills of maneuvering was tested.

11/10/2006 : 11 AM : Bijapur

Keep following the sign-posts, which keep showing the way like a beacon.....

Alamatti Dam : 'WOW'! one's surely bound to exclamate. The dam across river Krishna, would make one watch in agape. The fantastic view of the 3 bridges. The main dam, the Railway bridge and the Roadway briged. I could imagine the rail experience over this bridge! A bussiest bridge, one's not allowed to stop and click, just allowed to fill your eyes and memory with the enchanting view and keeping in pace with the traffic. Tight security here, due to 'R.Krishna -> Alamatti; AndraPradesh' issue similar to, our 'R.Kaveri -> KRS; TamilNadu', issue.

Think of Bijapur and the first thing that comes to mind is the Gol Gumbaz. We just had plans to visit Gol Gumbaz, Barah Kamaan and Ibrahim Roza, as our text books at school just boasted of those structures.

First pit stop after entering Bijapur was to taste the water of R.Krishna. And straight we drove to Gol Gumbaz, with the assistance of the some bystanders who helped us meander the narrow, flocked streets and reach our destination. The most appreciating part of all the places visited is, that they don't charge you for holding a camera and clicking snaps or video. Only a tripod and an handy-cam is a strict no-no. Anyway my 'biscuit sized Nikon' wouldn't fall into the category, anyhow...

1] Gol Gumbaz boasts of the Third largest dome in the world, after Pantheion of Rome and St.Paul's of Britain.The tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah(AD1626-1656). He has his wives and daughters burried here. Soon we met our talkative, overtly friendly guide. Who explained us every aspect/feature of Gol Gumbaz and accompanied us till the end of the day. The central hall is supported by four lofty octagonal, seven storeyed towers in the four corners. Above which is the 44 meters diametered dome. This dome forms a highly sensitive echo-chamber. The remarkable feature of this monument is the whispering gallery that runs around the interior of the dome. The slightest whisper echoes seven times over and the tick of a clock held at one end can be distinctly heard at the opposite end - 125 feet away ! This was demostrated too. The 7 floored structure, The 7 tired toweres are octagonal in shape. You get to see the entire city as you go up. The flight of steps are in a narrow dark passage and pretty high. The entire city of Bijapur, is said to have a count of 1365 domes.

Our guide here was full of wit and humour, adding to that was his accent. I consider myself lucky to have caught his humour though! The JamaMasjid and Gol Gumbaz was built from the from the wealth looted from VijayaNagar. Post to Battle of Talikote and the battle of Rakkasathangadi. How unfortunate things are!

The entrance porch is warm and welcoming. For a moment you go blank. The wooden plank on the platform is many inches thick and the columns are solid wood sculpted in geometrical forms. The ceilings are ornate with floral motifs. Above the ornate relief the verses of Koran etched.It is the rich details of the stone carving that are revealed as ornament!

The city was hot and dusty; people in Whites - were filthy. Probablly the Rin and Surf adds weren't aired in this city. The entire day neither did the sun change nor did our plans. I think there is a BIG hole in the ozone layer, right above this city.

We were loaded with info and was time for lunch. The food which almost made us feel at home all this while, suddenly turns Mughalai or Hyderabadi, as soon as you reach this region. Scrouching sun, the sun was indeed merciless; ; The first thought that hit me was that, 'the equator is passing through this region'. The second thought, 'We kept wondering whether we have landed in Pakistan'!

2] Shiva Temple : There is one in Bijapur, similar to the one in Airport Road, Bangalore. Temple : Bangalore v/s Bijapur.html

3] Bara Kaman :

The incomplete structure stands to this day.

4] Jodi Gumbaz :
Mosque again.

5] Jumma Masjid :
Embracing 1,16,300 square feet is the Jumma Masjid - "one of the finest mosques in India". Here, in a beautiful mihrab - covered by a heavy curtain - and verses of the Quran, beautifully inscribed in letters of gold. A large fountain and a reservoir at the centre of the courtyard.

6] Hyder Burz : A tall watch tower

7] Ibrahim Roza(1626AD) :
On the western outskirts of the city lies the mausoleum of Ibrahim Adil Shah II(AD1508 - 1626), constructed for his queen Taj Sultana - Ibrahim Roza, said to have inspired the Taj Mahal in Agra. But, Adil ShahII ultimately died before the queen, and lay burried here. You'll be overawed by the decor and the staggering expanse of the mosque. Minarets, domes, prayer hall, striking symmetry of proportions, praphets, writings of quoran on the walls, it is known for. Its esplanades alone can accomodate 80,000 worshippers.

8] Malik-e-Maidan :
the largest medieval cannon in the world - is fourteen feet long, weighing about 55 tons. 14 feet 11 inches, wifh a diameter of 4 feet 11 inch. The inscription on it says, it was cast by Mohammed Hasan, a Turkish officer, in service of the king of Anmednagar. This was supposed to be bought home as a trophy of war, with the help of 10s of elephants, numerous oxens and men. The muzzel of the cannon has been designed to depeict Lion, Elephant, Horse and ox. Small ears have been drilled into holes to attach the shakles. Its said to be made, from an alloy of Copper, iron, tin and some precious metal. It sounds like a Bell, when striked.

All this structures have been integrated with the city. Some have shared walls too. The Archeological survey is successful to some extent in its attempt of evacating the houses and clearing the surrounding area, and maintaing green patches around. You can hear muezzin calling muslims to prayers, and get to see people with skull-cap all around the city.

It was time to depart from city of Bijapur....

Basavana Baghewadi : 'Eight hundred years ago, there lived a couple by name' Madarasa and Madalambike in a village called Bagewadi of Bijapur District, in Karnataka', remember learning thisbyheart for my 4th standard exam. Now got to see it live...

Alamatti :

Day 4 : Aihole

12/10/2006 - 6:30 AM

Its 6 AM on NH216. The sun is calm and I'm trying to figure out a crude oil outlet - peeping into the gauge and indicators, trying to figure whether the reserve would suffice the entire days drive. We drove into the country roads. A glimpse through the wind shield proved me wrong. We were welcomed by a romantic drizzle...!

Rolls of grass frames on either sides passed through; the stretches covered completely by Sunflower gardens, forest weeds and ferns, looked exhilarating. Looking forward to being wowed by the scenery en route, we drove. Single lane roads, totally deserted, cool breeze, and the sun trying to wake himself up. Roads minus potholes and humps, added to the good drive. Lit by the morning sun, nature displayed its gorgeous palette.

We drove towards Aihole via Aminaghada, famous for its 'KaraDHantu'. A stop here for a tank fill, and for a few 'kilos' of the world famous Karadanghu. One 'should' take this route to Aihole and should never be missing a stop here. A feast to your salivary glands and gastric juices! Blessed were we. :-)

Streaming lines of brush strokes, within the frame of my moving window; A pit stop now and then, when a temple was see in the frame.

This set the tone for a brilliant day!! The air was energizing.....

The first temple the reddish structure suddenly emerged from within monotonous greens, which had masked them all this while. We were indeed excited! The first monument which caught my sight - a huge Basava under a Tamarind tree, made us spellbound. We were at the 'Tara Basavanna Temple'.

Wherever one looks, it's temples that meet the eyes. Intricately carved, rich in detail, quiet and peaceful. Mute witnesses of a bygone era.

Sunlight flooded the sight, sisps of shifting clouds, dotted with houses and temples, adding to this were long line of back packers. We were nearing our first destination, famously known as the "Cradle of Indian architecture" - 'Aihole' has over a hundred temples scattered around the village.

# The Hutchimalli Temple - out in the village - has a sculpture of Vishnu sitting at-top a large cobra; dates back to the 6th Century.

# The Ravalphadi Cave - Temple celebrates the many forms of Shiva. Not-to-be-missed is the Konthi Temple Complex (kwanthi Gudi), the Uma Maheswari Temple, the Jain Meguti Temple and the two-storeyed Buddhist Temple.

# The oldest temple here is, perhaps, the LadKhan temple dating back to 450 AD, built by early Chalunkyas. It was built originally as panchayat. On the roof of the temple
is another shrine. There is a Chalukyan royal emblem and a stone ladder outside.

# The Durga Temple(640-680 AD) is notable for its semi-circular shape, elevated plinth and the gallery that encircles the sanctum. It was built by Vikramaditya II. The interior is filled with fascinating carvings - Narasimha, Harihara, Ardhanarishwara, Mahisasura Mardini can be seen…In this same complex, is the first model of an intricately carved lathe-turned pillar.

# Megutthi Temple was built by Ravi Kirthi, the poet in the court of Chalukya Pulakeshi 2nd. Its a jain temple with Mahavira in the Sanctum. Climb up the stairs and you'll come across a tranquil, smiling Buddha carved on the ceiling.

All the temple are maintained by, Archeological Survey of India. The temples are surrounded by manicured green lawns and beds of well tended flowers.

This is Aihole, the earliest Capital of the Chalukyas. Today, a picturesque village nestling on the banks of the river Malaprabha and overflowing with clusters and clusters of the most beautiful temples.....

We drove further, unfolding some incredible views. Yellow hue on the grass caused by the carpet of wild flowers; a perfect spot to catch on some lost reading, but was not privileged to do so. :-(Collected a few memorabilia as usual - Stones and plants and ferns and Bonsais to fit into natural mural; some flowers and leaves to preserve between sheets.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Day 4 : Pattadakal

12/10/2006 - 12:00 PM

Pattadakal is 24kms from Aihole and 29kms from Badami, situated on the left bank of the river-Malaprabha. Pattadakal a world heritage centre has 10 major temples representing early chalukyan architecture.

Although rainy season a clam river that conceals more than it reveals. The grass "lawn" is slightly unkempt, and littered with wild flowers.

# The Galaganatha Temple was built during 750 AD, by Vikramaditya II. The tower of this temple is beautiful.

# Virupaksha Temple - The biggest temple here is deidicated to Virupaksha. Enclosed in a large quadrangle surrounded by small cells, it has a massive gateway and inscriptions. Besides from the Ramayana and Mahabaratha, there is a beautiful carving that would look like an elephant from one side and a buffalo form the other. In front of the temple is a majestic 2.6 metre tall Nandi.In contrast to the pink-tinged sandstone, the Nandi is made of deep green stone and is covered by a red floral cape. The Virupaksha temple is still used for worship.

# The Mallikarkuna and Papanatha temples are delicately carved and rich in details. The Papanatha temple is guarded by Nandi and Virabhadra. There are 16 pillars in themain enclosure. These temples represent chief style of indian architecture and the social life of those days.

In contrast to Aihole were every temple has a tank - a water source, adjacent to it, temples in Pattadakal are on the bank of the river; and on the bank of a lake @ Badami.
Just clicked all I saw into my biscuit sized Nikon. By this time, I had turned spellbound with saturation!

12/10/2006 - 2:30PM -

This was the only place where we saw a crowd waiting to get into to the Temple...Badami was just 4kms away. The temple houses uniquely carved lighiting towers and the biggest tank (which was totally dry).

At Mahakoota again we get to see temples of the Chalukyan tenure. Mahakoota was the centre of Shaivism during the period. The most fascinating is them twin fresh water tanks.

Day 4 : Badami

To know a place,

" The best way is to breathe it.
The next best way is to walk it!" - And so we did the entire day

Badami is famous for its cave temples all hewn out of sand stone on the precipice of a hill. Badami also has eighteen inscriptions ranging from the sixth to the sixteenth century.

We could see lots of Backpackers around - we were nearing the cave temples. And the gigantic caves just emerged, turning us awestruck!

Rock-cut cave temples, gateways, forts, inscriptions, sculptures that seem to come alive under your eyes… Badami has to be seen to be believed. These date back to 543 AD. Climb a flight of steps to reach the ancient caves. The capital of the Early Chalukyas, Badami (also known as Vatapi), is picturesquely situated at the mouth of a Ravine between two rocky hills.

There are four caves here. The 1st one dedicated to Shiva, 2nd and 3rd to Vishnu and 4th to Jain. The first three belonging to the Vedic faith and the fourth to the Jainism.

# Enter the first cave temple past Shiva's door keepers and there he is !

Nataraja : The first cave temple; one can see the eighteen-armed Nataraja striking 81 styles of Barathanaya. We get see a smiling Lord Shiva accompanied by Lord Ganesha and Karthikeya with musical instruments. Master Piece!!

# Vishnu : The second cave temple, dedicated to Vishnu. Spotted some carvings of Narasimha, Narayana, Shesha and others. Built by Pulakeshi I - we get to see carvings of Ardhanarishwara, Varaha and Mahishasuramardhini.

# The largest and most ornamental is the third cave temple dedicated to Vishnu. The Sheshasai Vishnu is a 15 ft carving. The style is described to be a model of coronation festival of Chalukyas. Here are some splendid carvings of the Hindu Pantheon. Narasimha the half-man half Lion avatar of Vishnu Hari Hara, the composite god who is half-Shiva and half-Vishnu. Vishnu Narayana sitting as well as reclining on the snake Shesh or Ananta (Eternity )… There are also some painting on the ceiling and wonderful bracket figures on the piers.

# A little to the east of this shrine, on top of a cliff is a Jain temple. Here you will find many Jain deities and a huge figure of Parshwanatha. This Buthanatha temple, lends its name to the lake beneath.

Overlooking the cave temples is a reservoir dotted with temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. At the foot of the caves and on the way to the lake, is the Archaeological Museum.

After the fall of Chalunkyan empire, Badami was occupied by Rashtrakutas, Vijaynagar rule and finally by Tippu Sultan. The fort wall and watch towers built during Tippu Sultan can be seen to this day, entry into which is prohibited.

Since its carved out of red stone, it was most colorful and photographically mory gratifying. The colour and grandeur of the sand stone carvings lasts undisturbed in mind forever. The 'day' dawn till dusk would remain etched for ever.

The caves are a surreal experience!

One of the wisest things we had done in the recent past. Scenic refuge from urban chaos, it really was....

From childhood had a very whimsical fancy for getting myself photographed in a Sunflower garden. I did, and to my dismay, it turned into a source for all malice. :-)

As the day came to an end. We headed towards Hospet.

Day 5 : Hampi

13/10/2006 : 6:30 AM : Hampi

The scenic drive towards the heritage sites started at 6:30 AM; first stroke of dawn was romaticized by a light drizzle.

Hampi is a short 13km drive from Hospet. Crossing canals and green fields.

The first few minutes went in swirll of crowds and then the main temple followed by the 'garbha gudi' and circum abugations...and the magic set in....

Unlike all these days, noisy tourists, Souvenir shops, historic Post-office and stamps and postcards, whirrs and clicks of the cameras....

Hampi was founded in the middle of 14th century by Hakka and Bukka', learnt at school. You can still glimpse the pomp and vigor, the wealth n splendor, art and architecture, magnificence and opulence of Vijaynagar in its ruins.The city was looted, sacked, burnt and destroyed in 1565 AD, by the Muslim rulers. Rocky hills and the mighty TungaBhadra River, which flows through the rugged landscape; One can imagine the splendor and richness of Vijaynagar, from the remains and ruins, spread over 26 kms. One of the largest empires in the history of India!

1] With entering Hampi, you see some Mohammadean tombs, which displays 'Bahamani' style of architecture.

2] Sasivekaalu Ganesh : A 2.5 mt tall molithic Ganesha, which dates back to 1506 AD, is just marvelous.

3] Hemakuta group of Temples. Hemakuta hills has a scattering of early ruins.

4] Virupaksha Temple is the main Temple of attraction and the only place where pooja is performed even to this day. There is a magnificent shrine dedicated to Virupaksha the deity of the Vijaynagar rulers. The temple encloses a Raaga mantapa, Sabha mantapa, Kalyana mantapa & a kitchen, apart from the sanctum sanctorum. The pillared Raaga mantapa is beautifully painted. The temple is flocked and spoilt by human activity, which is visible by the very signs. The inverted image of the gopura on the wall, is admirable. A narrow stream of River Tungabhadra flows besides the temple, which then descends through the kitchen of Virupaksha Temple.

5] The Virupaksha Bazaar or Hampi Bazaar, which runs 32m wide and 728m long, with shop like structures on either side, build using stone. Hampi Bazar : a market place, where fairs were held.

6] KadalekaLu Ganesha

7] The magnificent monolithic Nearby is the 6.7mt tall monolith LakshmiNarasimha; the coils of Adishesha; the seven hood as canopy.....just makes one spellbound. This had a huge arch-Kirthimukha torana covering made of Sandle-wood, which was set ablaze by the Muslim rulers. The four arms of the statue as well his consort, goddess Lakshmi has been destroyed. Unimaginable!

8] Badavilinga Temple : The gigantic Shiva Linga is located next to LakshmiNarasimha. It is 3 mt high and stands submerged in water, which flows through a ancient canal.

9] Uddana Virabhadra Temple, houses a 16ft tall sculpture.

10] Chandikeshwara Temple

11] Akka-Tangi Guddha

12] Prasanna Virupaksha aka Underground ShivaLinga - the roof of which is at the ground level. The temple houses a Garbhagriha, Antarala, Ardhamantapa, Mahamantapa and Dwajastanbha.

13] Administration Block

14] Mohammadan Watch Tower, Band Tower, Mosque - Cannons and watch towers...

15] Mint enclosure

16] Hazara Rama Temple

17] Zenana Enclosure - is enclosed by tall structural walls. The enclosure houses a Treasury, Queens residence, JalMahal, Lotus Mahal, Watch Tower, The museum is heart felting, but potography prohibited, with the ancient picture in grey and the present day picture in multi colours, a comparitive study.

18] Lotus mahal - This two storeyed structure with recessed archways, opening to the sun like petals of Lotus, dates back to 16th century, is located in the Zenana enclosure. Here's a integration of Hindu and Islamic style of architecture.

19] Elephant Enclosure - The Elephant stables have arched entrances and domes.

20] Hazara Rama Temple : lies at the heart of the royal centre, with finely carved pillars, depicting incarnations of Vishnu . The exteriors of the temple have sculptures illustrating Ramayana.

21] Royal Enclosure - is the biggest of all, spanning an area of 59 thousand sq. m. The massive audience hall, ornamental doors, Public Bath and the Mahanavami Dibbha where Dasara was celebrated for all 10 days. The Mahanaami Dibbha is a 3 tired stone platform.

22] Queen's Bath - situated in the citadel area, this is a large pentagonal structue, with plain exterior and very ornate interior. The bath is 15 sq and 1.8m deep. It is surrounded by delicately arched corridors and balconies. The lotus shaped fountain is just mesmerizing! The entire structure is protected by a wide, deep moat.

23] Octogonal Bath

24] Vithala Temple - The most splendid is undoubtly the Vithala Temple. The 56 pillars in the main hall produce musical notes when struck. We went on moving from grandeur to grandeur, chamber to chamber, despite the bustle of everyday life.The sculpture here is just incredible. This is relatively in good state. The outer pillars are known as the 'Musical Pillars'. The temple houses the well known 'Stone Chariot', in the courtyard - which has carved stone wheels which revolve. 56 musical pillars, each producing a unique sound. Underground temple, and Kalyana, Bhajana, Sabha, Nirutya, Kitchen, Utsava.

25] The king's Balance - where the king was weighed.

26] Achuta Raya Temple : The Tirvengalanatha temple built during the reigh of Achuta Deva Raya is know by the name of the ruler. The temple is in ruins. Old stone bridge across TB river.

Untiring tourists....
The air of mystic clings to it.

Mango Tree - wispering plaintains and other trees set in a lush serene plot of the lakeshore in luxurious and elegant without being opulent. We were in need of bland and boring food. withing minutes we were rattling the spoons against the plates. Hampi was the only place where were saw lot many foreign backpackers, tours and traders, all haggling, quarrelling, bargaining and negotiating. Never miss a visit at this restaurant while @ Hampi.

Temperature was dipping and the sun was slowly going down the horizon, i stood there with my camera poised; clouds played a prank. It was not a shoppers/collectors route. Just got the tourist brochure cliche to file-up.

With the end of the day, ended the trip, but the sight would stay etched in mind.

Towards Mysore....

200km of more potholes than road. the heart throbbing in my mouth Back to NH4. We were welcomed to NH4 by pitter-patter of rain on the glass. Blessed! :-) The roads are a dream come true! So what if the driving is a bit aggressive. This was the most excited of all days, the much awiated, planned and draemt, but realized, my imaginations were not even in par with those structures. Interesting tid-bits from history. Familiar yet EXOTIC, brethless sights they were...

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