Monday, 30 April 2012

North Indian Sojourn-1 (Agra & Delhi)

North Indian Sojourn – 1 (Agra & Delhi)  

Overview: Killing time for 4 days on a long weekend was definitely not going well with me. So suddenly decided to make some quick travel plans. Being brought up in Chandigarh for over 20 years, I wanted to refresh my childhood memories with my wife and moreover she had not been to North India. With all resorts booked around Bangalore and no bus reservations available, we decided to take a plunge on the long distance route. My wife, being a tatkal reservation expert :), booked tickets from Bangalore to Delhi for 25th Dec, and the return trip by flight from Delhi to Bangalore for 4th Jan. My job was to fill the itinerary between these days.
I wanted to cover as many places as possible, chalked out a plan for that. Below are the details of the trip:
Day 0-2: We had to catch the 12649 Sampark Kranti express from Yesvantpur at 22:10 hrs on 25th Dec. Luckily we got the tatkal reservation done, thanks to my wife for that. The train took around 36 hours to reach H.Nizamuddin station passing through Kacheguda, Nagpur, Bhopal and Jhansi. We reached H.Nizamuddin at 10:30am on 27th Dec. We checked into a hotel in Karol Bagh in New Delhi and relaxed till lunch time. We had kept the evening for some shopping around Karol Bagh. It was winters and it was like a carnival at Karol Bagh. My wife had a gala time shopping for around 3 hours. We then had our dinner and came back. We wanted to go to Connaught Place as well but as it was a Sunday, the shops were supposed to be closed. The next day's plan was to leave for Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan. So we slept early.
Day 3: We had booked a tourist bus for Agra, the bus left Delhi at around 7:30 and to our horror, the NH2 to Agra was choc-o-bloc with traffic. It was a complete waste of time on the road and because of the long weekend it had become worse. What was supposed to be covered in 4 hours, the bus took 6 hours to cover. We finally reached Agra Fort at 1:45pm. We went inside the fort for which tickets were available at the entrance. The fort, originally built by the Rajput kings in the early 10th century, was ruled by Sikandar Lodhi which was later under Babur. The fort was plundered and the famous Kohinoor diamond was looted by the Mughals under Babur.The fort is built in 1080 AD is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Agra Fort Agra Fort Agra Fort Agra Fort
The view of the river Yamuna and Taj Mahal at a distance was really breathtaking. By the time we came out it was almost 3pm. Quickly we went to the Taj Mahal. We entered through the East Gate. The first sight of the Taj rendered us speechless. Basking in the evening sun, it was all in its glory. The winter evening crowd was a bit too much to handle. It took almost 2 hours to go inside the minaret and come out. The carvings and the craftsmanship inside the Taj was excellent and this monument thoroughly deserves to be in the list of 7 wonders of the world.
Taj Mahal, Agra Taj Mahal, Agra Taj Mahal, Agra  Taj Mahal, Agra Pelicans @ Yamuna
It was 5pm by the time we started back towards Mathura. Though this was the second visit to Mathura, in both occasions it was too dark by the time we reached Mathura. I suggest people to spend 2 days to cover Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan. Went to the Krishna temple and it was great. Chantings of Hare Krishna was like music to our ears. We had matka lassi which was too good.
After visiting the Holy city of Mathura, we proceeded to Vrindavan, it was really too late to view the beauty of this place. The guide showed us around the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood days. We climbed the stairs and went to various temples insde the complex. Its a pity that we could not capture any picture of the place. I would surely revisit this place in leisure. Finally we reached back to our hotel in Delhi post midnight.
Day 4: We had booked a tourist bus again for Delhi sight seeing. The bus took us through the usual places like the Birla Mandir, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament house, India Gate, Indira Gandhi Memorial, Qutub Minar, the Lotus temple, and the Red Fort. After Delhi, we started towards Amritsar by an overnight train from H.Nizamuddin.
Lotus Temple, DelhiBirla Mandir, Delhi Qutub Minar, DelhiIndia Gate, Delhi   

Trip schedule: Dec 25: Started from Bangalore on 24th Dec by 12629 Sampark Kranti express at 22:10
Dec 27: Reached Delhi on 26th Dec at 10:30 am
Dec 28: Day Trip to Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan from Delhi
Dec 29: Delhi local sightseeing, departed for Amritsar 8:15 pm by 18237 Chattisgarh express
Dec 30: Reached Amritsar on 29th Dec at 08:30am; Departed from Amritsar to Chandigarh at 11:30pm by Punjab roadways bus
Dec 31: Reached Chandigarh at 04:00am
Jan 01: Chandigarh
Jan 02: Day trip to Shimla
Jan 03: Departed from Chandigarh to Delhi airport at 11:00 pm
Jan 04: Reached Delhi 3:30am, boarded a flight from Delhi at 07:00am, reached Bangalore at 09:30am

Map:

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Monday, 23 April 2012

Rosary Church, Shettihalli: Withstanding all Odds

Rosary Church, Shettihalli: Withstanding all Odds 

Overview: We happened to visit Hassan once for a family function and having heard of the Rosary Church in Shettihalli a lot, decided to make a quick dash to it. Not too far from Hassan, we set off on Hassan-Arakalgud road and had to take a deviation before Gorur. We took the right turn and the road suddenly started to make way for potholes and non-tarred roads. We were brave enough to proceed facing all odds as it was only around 5 kms from there. As we kept on moving, we saw a glimpse of the Hemavati river and the next moment the Church appeared in front of it almost 90% submerged in water. We wanted to get as close to it as possible. The road was non-existent but still we drove our Ford Ikon just next to the Church. The view was amazing and the Church was looking like a city submerged in water. During summer the water recedes and one can go further inside the ruins. The Church is believed to have been built by the French missionaries in the early 18th Century. I would definitely love to visit this place again in summer to see the difference.
Rosary Church, ShettihalliRosary Church, Shettihalli Rosary Church, ShettihalliRosary Church, Shettihalli   Rosary Church, Shettihalli Rosary Church, Shettihalli
How to reach: Bus: KSRTC buses ply from Hassan to Arkalgud regularly. But transportation to Shettihalli is a bit difficult. Probably have to hire an auto from Gorur.
By Car: Take the Bangalore-Mangalore road, At Hassan, turn towards Arkalgud, Just before Gorur, ask for directions to Shettihalli. Need to take a right deviation from there for 5 kms to reach Shettihalli Church.
Food/Accommodation: No options for food in Shettihalli. For restaurants one has to travel either to Hassan or Arkalgud.
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Monday, 16 April 2012

Lost temples of Karnataka: Hangal

Lost temples of Karnataka: Hangal

This Post is a part of the Chalukya Trail. Please Click here to read the main post
Overview: From Tilavalli, our next place of interest was the Tarakeshwara temple in Hangal. Hangal was the second capital during the Kadamba dynasty and gained more importance during the Western Chalukya era. Though Hangal boasts of several temples built by the Chalukyas and Kadambas, this was the main temple so we decided to explore only Tarakeshwara temple as we were short of time. The Tarakeshwara temple, built in the 12th century, is a perfect example of Western Chalukya art. The mantaps and the walls are minutely carved. The main highlight of this temple is the large Domical ceiling which is a huge gathering hall with 8 pillars in an octagonal shape having carvings of various Gods. The walls are carved depicting scenes from the Ramayana. The only disappointment was the temple was closed and the priest was nowhere in sight. At Hangal, we had local North Karnataka lunch.
Entering HangalTarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, Hangal Tarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, Hangal Tarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, HangalTarakeshwara Temple, Hangal
How to reach:  Bus: From Bangalore, there are direct buses to Hangal from Haveri
Car/Bike: From Davangere, head on NH4 directly to reach Haveri, from Haveri, head towards Hangal via State highway.
Food/Accommodation: There are some small restaurants offering North Karnataka meals at Hangal.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Suvarnamukhi and Thottikallu: Trekking along Bangalore’s outskirts

Suvarnamukhi and Thottikallu: Trekking along Bangalore’s outskirts

Overview: I had done this as two separate trips but both the places are interconnected and can be done by trekking between the places. Lying just on the outskirts of Bangalore is Suvarnamukhi next to Bannerghatta National Park. While travelling towards Bannerghatta, there is a curve which leads to Bannerghatta National Park and there is a straight road just next to it which takes us to the Champakadhama temple. The temple is at the foothills and the complex is nice with a huge gopuram resembling temples of Tamil Nadu and once having darshan of the Lord, we can proceed towards Laxminarasimhaswamy temple for which we have to climb a rocky boulder with steps carved on it. The climb itself is not very taxing and can be easily done by people of all ages. the route takes us to a small temple enroute and then will lead us into the jungles of Bannerghatta. Its a nice walk with pilgrims walking alongside so there is not a sense of loneliness on the way. It is believed that this is home to a variety of bird species but we could not spot many as it was mid-day. On the way there is a trail of stones made into a circular path within which we can complete a round would yield us blessings. Further ahead we have the Suvarnamukhi pond after which the entire place is named. The pond is believed to have medicinal powers and there is a small temple as well. Here a lot of people can be seen having a dip in the holy waters and visiting the temple. The pilgrims usually complete this 4 km trek and head back towards Bannerghatta.
Champakadhama temple Champakadhama temple Entrance to the hillock Champakadhama at a distance Obelisk Enroute Suvarnamukhi Enroute Suvarnamukhi Enroute Suvarnamukhi Enroute Suvarnamukhi Enroute SuvarnamukhiThrough the jungle  Enroute Suvarnamukhi Suvarnamukhi Suvarnamukhi
The more adventurous can take the onward route which takes us to Kagglipura on Kanakapura road passing through Thottikal falls and a small but beautiful village. The trek is of around 4 kms and will lead to the base of the falls. The waterfalls are great during the rains when there is plenty of water. There is a small temple as well after the falls dedicated to Muneeshwara swamy. On crossing the TK falls the road leads to Kagglipura through a village and farmlands which is pleasing to the eyes. This should make a complete day's trip.
Thottikallu falls
Thottikallu falls Thottikallu falls Thottikallu falls Thottikallu falls Muneeshwaraswamy templeThottikallu Thottikallu Thottikallu Thottikallu  Thottikallu ThottikalluThottikallu Thottikallu
How to reach: There are frequent buses from Majestic, KR Market and Shivajinagar to Bannerghatta to reach Champakadhama temple. From Kagglipura again there are plenty of buses heading towards Majestic, KR Market, and Banashankari. 
Food/Accommodation: Not many options available for food. Its better to carry food and water from home.
Map:

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