Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Lost Temples of Karnataka: Hedathale

Hedathale: Interesting story of an ancient temple

Overview:
Hedathale is a small village near the temple town of Nanjangud has an ancient Hoysala temple of Sri Lakshmikanthaswamy which is of great architectural importance.
The 12th century Lakshmikanthaswamy(Vishnu) temple is unique in its own way. Inside the main temple, we have Narasimhaswamy and Venugopalaswamy idols and the main idol of Sri Lakshmikantha Swamy. Apart from this we come across a beautiful idol of Andal. The speciality of this idol is that in normal light it looks like an ordinary idol, but on performing puja and archana, the lights are switched off and once the aarti is placed near the forehead, the eyes of Andal look real and seems like looking straight into our eyes. This kind of beauty is rare to find in any other place.
Hedathale HedathaleHedathale  Hedathale    
The story gets better as we move inside a hall which is called a 'Chavadi' which is very interesting. The Chavadi was built by the Pallegara Dhanda Nayaka who had 16 daughters. This was well narrated by the priest of the temple. In those days, women were not supposed to see their son-in-laws. In case they wanted to communicate, the women were supposed to stand behind the doors and talk so they are not visible to their son-in-law. As the Palegara had 16 daughters, and hence the same number of son-in-laws, it became extremely difficult for him to identify which person is associated with which daughter. So an idea struck to him and he built the 16 faced hall (Chavadi) which has 16 seats in a symmetric fashion so that husband/wife could sit next to each other and the Palegara finds it easy to communicate with the son-in- laws. Also in order to keep the tradition of mother-in-laws not directly viewing the son-in-laws, The design is such that, if the Palegara stood with his wife under one mantapa, he could see all his daughters and the son-in-laws as well whereas the Palegar's wife could view only the daughters and the son-in-laws were hidden behind pillars strategically constructed. Amazing was the design which looks so sohisticated yet simple.
Chavadi@HedathaleChavadi@Hedathale
Also under one place there is a point where one can meditate in peace and can help in curing all the stress because of the chain of snakes carved at the ceiling indicating that it pulls all negative vibes from the mind.
HedathaleHedathale
How to reach: By own vehicle- SH17 towards Mysore, continue on Mysore-Ooty road, after crossing Nanjangud town, drive for around 5 kms before turning left towards Hedathale. 
By public transport: Plenty of direct buses ply from Bangalore to Mysore and Mysore to Nanjangud. From Nanjangud hire a private taxi or auto. 
Nearby places to visit:
Nanjangud: It is a very popular pilgrim center near Mysore and is known as Dakshin Kashi. The main attraction here is the Srikanteshwara temple which has a rich history behind it. It is believed that the sage Gautama installed a shiva Linga at this place. The main temple is believed to be built by the Gangas in the 9th century which was renovated later by the Hoysalas. The temple has also been very close to Tipu Sultan as his elephant was cured after visiting this temple and hence he installed an idol and named it 'Hakim Nanjunda'. The idols of various avatars of Vishnu are well preserved inside the temple and its an art which has to be admired.The temple towers are painted mustard giving making it look like a wooden gopuram. Every year there is a Chariot festival which is taken across the town and is witnessed by many people. The temple is situated on the banks of river Kapila which is usually not maintained but during monsoons the river flow makes the waters look clean.
Another attraction in Nanjanagud is the Raghavendra Swamy Mutt which is the only Mutt with the idol of the great Raghavendra Swamy. Temple timings are between 6am and 1pm in the morning and 4pm and 8pm in the evening.
More details about this place please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanjangud
NanjangudNanjangudNanjangud Nanjangud  River Kapila  
Food/Accomodation: Plenty of options available on Bangalore-Mysore highway. Popular chains like Kadambam, Kamat Lokaruchi, Maddur Tiffanys, Adigas, Cafe Coffee Day, Shivalli are present on the highway.
Reference: http://www.vishnutemplesofkarnataka.info/Mysore/Hedathale.htm
Map:

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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Panchapalli & Bettamugilalam: Hidden getaways from Bangalore

Panchapalli & Bettamugilalam: Hidden Getaways from Bangalore

Overview:
Panchapalli Reservoir: I read about this place in Bangalore Mirror in its weekly feature on offbeat destinations around Bangalore. We decided to go biking to Panchapalli. It is around 85 kms from Bangalore and is a nice and silent place to spend a weekend. As it was a Sunday, there was not much traffic on Hosur road. We took the Anekal-Attibele road to reach Denkanikottai road. This road is really deserted but well maintained. Criss-Crossing the countryside and crossing the Karnataka-TN border we reached Denkanikottai. Its a bustling town and we enquired about Panchapalli lake from the locals and finally reached the road which leads to the lake. The roads were smooth and cool breeze blowing was great. We finally reached Panchapalli and it was very silent with not a single soul in sight. We sat by the lake for sometime and then thought of venturing into the wild following the water which was flowing steadily. We stopped at a place which had a miniature waterfall and played in the water for sometime. After a while we started our journey back towards Denkanikottai. Before reaching the town we visited the Bettarayaswami temple which is believed to be around 500 years old. The temple is clean and well maintained.
On the way to Panchapalli PanchapalliPanchapalli    Panchapalli PanchapalliPanchapalli  Panchapalli Panchapalli Bettarayaswamy temple, DenakanakottaiBettarayaswamy temple, Denakanakottai
Bettamugilalam: Our next destination was Bettamugilalam which was a place again mentioned in the Bangalore Mirror. Its around 28 kms from Denkanikottai. The route to this place is through a jungle with ghat sections. It was thrilling to ride the bike in this place. This place is also called mini 'Nilgiris' because of the hills surrounding the region. We spotted a variety of birds of different colours and was very pleasing to watch. We finally reached Bettamugilalam and went a few miles down the muddy road where we rested for a while admiring the beauty of nature. On our way back we halted at a small lake in the midst of the jungle which looked perfect for camping. Taking several pictures at this place, we started back towards Bangalore. At the end of the day we thoroughly enjoyed our biking trip.
On the way to Bettamugilalam On the way to Bettamugilalam On the way to Bettamugilalam On the way to Bettamugilalam BettamugilalamBettamugilalam Bettamugilalam Bettamugilalam Bettamugilalam Bettamugilalam
How to reach: Take NH7 towards Hosur, Turn right at Attibele towards Anekal, then turn left towards Denkanikottai (20km away). At Denkanikottai turn left to Panchapalli reservoir (18km). For Bettamugilalam, ask for directions at Denakanikottai. It should be around 28 kms from Denkanikottai.
By public transport: There are frequent buses from Bangalore to Denkanikottai and Hosur to Denkanikottai. Private taxi can be hired from Denkanikottai to Panchapalli and Bettamugilalam.
Food/Accommodation: Not many options for food once we deviate from NH7.
Map:

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Kodaikanal: Getting lost in the mist

Kodaikanal: Getting lost in the mist

Overview:
Day 0: The summer of 2009 was getting on our heads and we were searching for an escapade into the hills. I decided to visit Kodaikanal in April 2009 with my collegemates. We booked our hotels in advance and going by the reviews it was a pretty decent one. But for travel we had to book a special bus at 10:13 as the regular buses were full because of the long weekend and the sweltering heat. So our bus started from Shanthinagar bus terminus at 10:13. I usually don't prefer buses for long distances but we didn't have too many options. The roads were pretty good till Dindigul so didn't feel much tired.
Day 1: We saw the first sight of the hills at 07:00am. Our bus stopped for tea in the morning at around 07:40am. The temperature was gradually decreasing as we were climbing. Finally we reached Kodaikanal bus stand at 10:30am. We got a number of a cab driver named Selva at the bus stand whom we could approach for local sightseeing. After checking-in at the Spring Valley resort, we got fresh and decided to have early lunch.  We went to a restaurant named 'Tava' suggested by Selva in the upmarket area near Coaker's walk. We were famished after our long journey and couldn't wait to pounce on the food. The food was also very good at the restaurant. Then later we called Selva for the sightseeing options. He agreed to take us around for the 3 days. So first up was a view point from where we could see the entire Kodaikanal Lake. It started drizzling and the view was absolutely stunning. Then next we went to the Pine forest where a lot of movies have been filmed. We went into the woods and clicked a few pics. Our next spot was to go to Guna Caves which are bat infested and are fenced so that tourists don't venture out deep into the caves. These caves lie beneath Pillar shaped rocks. Next was the Botanical Garden where a number of flowers were kept on display. It was a delight to watch flowers with so many colours. Next place was the Green Valley View or the Suicide Point which offers a panoramic view of the Palani hill range which looks awesome. On the way is a golf course. A lot of stuff is available near the Green Valley to purchase especially for the ladies ;-). Next we went to the Murugan temple which is another popular place for the visitors in Kodai. The temple is not a huge one but looks charming. This was our last place for the day and we asked Selva to drop us to the lake. We spent the evening near the lake and had lunch nearby before heading back to the hotel.
Road leading to Kodai Lunch@KodaiKodaikanal Lake Pine Forest Guna CavesGuna Caves Pillar Rocks Kodaikanal   Kodaikanal Green Valley View Murugan Temple, Kodai Chocolate Shop@Kodai 
Day 2: Our today's schedule was a very interesting one. The first one was the waterfall trail which we were supposed to follow the waters along the jungle crossing a few waterfalls. We started our walk at around 11am and immediately saw the first waterfall which was a small one. The rocks were wet and a bit slippery so we were advised to walk carefully. It was a really pleasant trek across the jungle where we came across several cascading falls both small and bigger ones. We saw one bear cave on the way as well. Our driver Selva accompanied us all the way and clicked our pictures with different poses. We came back to where we started and in all it took around 1.5 hrs.Our next plan was to visit Dolphin's nose. We went there at around 1:30pm and had to change our footwear so that we got better grip and its more comfortable in slippers. We had stalls selling noodles and omlette all the way through our trek and lot of people were trekking along with us. The trek was not very tough and we reached the Dolphin's nose in around 40 mins. We walked to the cliff and it looked scary from the top. We got our pictures clicked from the professional photographers standing at the edge of the cliff. That was a thrilling experience. Then on returning back after the wonderful trek we decided to wind up for the day.
Waterfalls trek@KodaiWaterfalls trek@Kodai Waterfalls trek@Kodai Waterfalls trek@Kodai Dolphin's Nose trek@Kodai Dolphin's Nose trek@Kodai Dolphin's Nose trek@Kodai Dolphin's Nose Dolphin's Nose Dolphin's Nose trek@Kodai Dolphin's Nose trek@Kodai Dolphin's Nose trek@Kodai
Day 3: Today we had plans to just visit the Kodaikanal town and roam around the lake. First we went to the Coaker's walk which is a well-paved pedestrain path on the slope of the hills. We saw a couple if view points inside the premises. After this, we went for boating at the lake and later went inside the Byrant Park just beside the lake on the east side. The park is maintained well and is lined up with different trees and a Horticultural display is also set up inside. We did some shopping after visiting Byrant Park and then headed for the hotel. We had to catch our bus for our return journey at 6:30pm. This was a memorable trip and special thanks to Selva for making it easy for us in exploring the places in whatever time we had.
Brunch Coaker's walk entrance Coaker's walk Coaker's walk Flowers at Byrant Park Byrant ParkKodai Lake Cycling alongside lake 
How to reach: By own vehicle- NH7 up to Dindigal. At Dindigal, take the state road to Vakkampatty. At Ganguvarpatti take the Kodaikanal road.
By public transport: KSRTC buses available from Bangalore to Kodaikanal which depart in the evening. 
By train: 16732 Tutucorin express leaves Bangalore City at 21:20 hrs and reached Kodaikanal road at 06:23 hrs the next day. At Kodaikanal road, private taxi can be hired to go to Kodaikanal.

Food/Accomodation: Plenty of good resorts/restaurants available in Kodaikanal
Map:

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