Monday, 30 January 2017

Alleppy: Venice of the east


Overview: I had an opportunity to visit the beautiful coastal town of Alleppy or Allapuzha, known for the meandering waterways, old temples and churches. We stayed at the Kayaloram resort, located on the banks of Lake Vembanad, the longest freshwater lake in India. Starting with the resort, the facilities are great, with lake facing cottages, and a swimming pool facing serene waters. The food served is also good, taking inputs from the guests.
The vast lake covers 3 districts of Allapuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam. The cruise on the river also takes us to Kuttanad, where farming is carried out below the sea level. An advantage of this cultivation is that the place is called the Rice Bowl of Kerala.
IMG_0573 IMG_0605 IMG_0655
Coming to Alleppy town, one of the main attractions here are Mullakkal Rajajrajeshwari Temple, built over 500 years ago during King Devanarayana of Chembagasery. Another popular temple in Alleppy is Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, built in 15th – 17th AD by the local ruler Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal. The temple is built in the typical Chera architecture, with some carvings on the walls and a beautiful pond in the complex. Also popular in Alleppy is the Mount Carmel Cathedral, established in 1952. The beach, waterways and the lighthouse are some of the pretty sights in Alleppy.
IMG_0683 IMG_0708 IMG_0703 IMG_0711 IMG_0762  IMG_0749 IMG_0767 IMG_0776 IMG_0788 IMG_0792
How to reach: Alleppy is connected with all major cities in Kerala by road, and is also lies on the Konkan railway. The National Highway runs through Alleppy connecting Mumbai and Kanyakumari.
Food/Accommodation: Alleppy is popular for its Malabar cuisine and seafood.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Forgotten Ancient monuments of Bengaluru District–Part 1


Overview: Though Bengaluru may not feature in many heritage locations in India, the city and district has been witness to several kingdoms from the 2nd century AD, and some of the monuments can still be seen all across the city. Capturing these heritage monuments right from the Gangas (6th century) to the Hoysalas (12th century) in the first of the two parts.
1. Begur: The 9th century inscription found in Begur bears the name ‘Bengalooru’ which was not deciphered until the late 16th century. The Panchalingeshwara temple in Begur was built by the Cholas.
IMG_6334 IMG_20150913_174557 IMG_6329
2. Manne: The Gangas had their capital at Manne, which was earlier called Manyapura, not far from Nelamangala, from where they administered Bangalore. Several ruins of the Ganga dynasty temples can be seen at Manne today.
IMG_0925 IMG_0939 IMG_1003
3. Kodigehalli/Thindlu: An inscription was discovered in Kodigehalli which talks about Veera Ballala III ruling from Thiruvannamalai, in present Tamil Nadu. The ancient Veerabhadraswamy temple in Thindlu village centre is a testimony of its ancient past. The temple was built by the Cholas initially, now being renovated for the second time in the last 20 years.
IMG_7351 IMG_7345
4. KR Puram: KR Puram had been a small hamlet on the way to Kolar, holding an interesting story. This village was a part of Ganga period and evidence can be found in the Hero Stones or Veeragallu found at KR Puram town.
IMG_7714 IMG_20151212_120201
5. Gangavara: This is an ancient village on the banks of Dakshina Pinakini river around 15kms from Devanahalli, believed to have been ruled by the Gangas and Nolambas in the 8th century. The village’s Someshwara temple ws built by the Cholas, with the earliest inscription from this temple dating back to 10th century.
IMG_8215 IMG_8211 IMG_8212
6. Narayanaghatta: A small village near Chandapura, is an ancient village lost in the expansion of the city limits. The village is popular for the 6th century temple dedicated to Sree Varadaraja Perumal, now known as Sri Rama temple. The temple was renovated during Hoysalas in the 12th century.
Narayanaghatta2 Narayanaghatta1
7. Aigandapura: Aigandapura was a celebrated agrahara during Cholas and is believed to be the place where the Pandavas spent some time during exile.
8. Domlur: Chokkanatha swamy temple in Domlur is one of the oldest temples in Bangalore, built in the 10th century. According to the inscriptions found in this temple, Domlur is referred to as ‘Tombalur’ talking about grants offered to the temple. The temple was initially built by the Cholas and later renovated by the Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers.
9. Kadugodi: The Kashi Vishwanatha temple at Kadugodi was built during Chola dynasty in the 11th century on the banks of Dakshina Pinakini.
IMG_20151224_105412 IMG_20151224_105452
10. Madivala/Agara: Old Madiwala was the seat of the Chola kings and the Someshwara temples at Old Madiwala and Agara are few of their footprints. Inscriptions have been discovered at Someshwara temple in Old Madiwala, from the same period, talking about grants by a local ruler in Begur.
IMG_20151112_113011 IMG_20151112_112951 IMG_6397IMG_6391IMG_6395 Agara1 Agara2

11. Binnamangala/Nelamangala: Binnamangala village near Nelamangala has a very old Chola temple dedicated to Mukthinatheshwara, which has inscriptions dating back to Rajaraja Chola’s times. The front of the temple has inscriptions in Tamil dating to 1110 AD which mentions about Kulothunga Chola making donations to the temple.
IMG_7764 IMG_7772 IMG_7780IMG_7789
12. Huskur: The Madduramma temple at Huskur is believed to be built by the Cholas in the 11th century.
13. Haragadde: The inscriptions at Chennakeshava temple at Haragadde indicates that Hoysalas had their presence in South Bangalore.
IMG_20151114_175719 IMG_20151114_175221
14. Doddanekundi/Marathahalli: Inscriptions from the time of Veera Ballala-II (1304) have been discovered in Doddanekundi village, mentioning the name Nerkundi and a granting revenue to Shivagange temple. A leisurely stroll down the streets of Marathahalli takes us to the old village which is centered on the old Someshwara temple, though renovated now.
IMG_6383 IMG_6387 Marathahalli1
15. Shivagange: This is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations around Bangalore. The area has been known since the Hoysalas, with several inscriptions mentioning about grants been made towards the temple.
16. Vibhutipura: An inscription belonging to Veera Ballala has been discovered in Veerabhadraswamy temple at Vibhutipura near HAL. It talks about building an agricultural land around the area which was called Vachidevarapura in those times.
Vibhutipura1 Vibhutipura2
17. Bannerghatta: A 12th century Hoysala inscription can be seen at Champakadhama temple near Bannerghatta. This temple is believed to have been built during the rule of Tamilarasa in 1257.
IMG_4992 IMG_4988
18. Doddaballapura: The 15th century Venkataramana temple has a huge compound with Hoysala carvings and also the compound walls are decorated in Islamic style, giving it a unique appearance.
IMG_8158 IMG_8170
19. Kengeri: The history of Kengeri can be dated back to the Cholas, the Prasanna Someshwara temple was built by the Cholas in the 11th century.
IMG_20150704_170146 IMG_20150704_170038
20. Hebbal: The ancient Ananda Lingeshwara temple on Anandagiri Hill built in the 13th century by the Cholas still stands strong in Hebbal.
21. Vasantapura: Around 5kms from Banashankari temple is the ancient village of Vasantapura. The village derives its name from the old temple of Vasantha Vallabharaya swamy.
IMG_6160 IMG_6148
22. Kondrahalli: The Dharmeshwara temple at Kondrahalli is one of the few Chola temples built in 1065 AD. According to another legend, this was the place where the Yaksha Kanda of Mahabharata took place.
IMG_8300 IMG_8301 IMG_8320
23. Doddagubbi: Around 10 kms north of Banaswadi, Doddagubbi is host to another of Bangalore’s ancient Shiva temples of Cholan times. Inscriptions around this temple indicates the significance of having lakes around a village to maintain the needs of the community.
IMG_20150104_111943 IMG_3443
24. Hulimavu/Bilekahalli: Hulimavu is known for the popular cave temple and the Someshwara temple built by the Cholas in the 11th century. Bilekahalli, just 2 kms north of Hulimavu is home to the 11th century Someshwara temple built by the Cholas. A part of the original structure is intact but is surrounded by a new set of walls.
IMG_6836 IMG_20151021_173740 IMG_20151021_172241
25. Gavipuram: There are several old structures and homes in the area, the most popular attraction is Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple. Dating back to the times of Cholas, this temple was renovated by Kempegowda in the 16th century.
IMG_5762 IMG_5770
26. Halasuru: Halasuru Someshwara temple is the main attraction and is very popular across Bangalore. The temple itself dates back to Cholan times (10th century), and was later renovated by Vijayanagara kings and again during Kempegowda’s times. Recent excavations have surfaced an ancient pond around 1200 years old just next to the Someshwara temple.
27. Vagata: Vagata, a small village near Hosakote, was a celebrated Agrahara during the Cholas and was earlier known as Sri Yogapuri. Several inscriptions have been found in this village dating from 13th century to 16th century, most of them in Tamil.
IMG_8222 IMG_8225
28. Muthkur: An ancient pilgrimage village during the Cholas with several temples, now left high and dry. The temples have been destroyed and many houses have sprung up at the site. Some traces of the ancient Muthkur can still be seen now.
IMG_20160126_162716165 IMG_20160126_162659108
29. Hosakote: There are several ancient temples in Hosakote old fort area and Brahmin’s street like Hanuman temple, Kashi Vishveshwara temple, Raghavendraswamy temple and Nagareshwara temple. Most of these date back to the Cholas.
IMG_20151212_130421 IMG_20151212_130113
30. Sondekoppa: Around 12 kms west of Nelamangala is the village of Sondekoppa, after which one of the gates of Kempegowda’s fort was named. The village has a Kashi Vishwanatha temple, which was built by the Cholas in the 9th century AD. Also next to this temple is another temple complex of Lakshmi, Ganapati and Shiva temple, with a huge tank in the middle.
IMG_20160116_115122423 IMG_8131 IMG_8141
31. Chowdappanahalli: The Shiva temple at Chowdappanahalli near Gangavara is also from the time of the Gangas, which was further renovated by the Cholas in the 13th century.
IMG_8203 IMG_8205 IMG_8199
32. Nallur: The Tamarind Grove at Nallur in North Bangalore is perhaps the oldest grove in the country and the trees are believed to have been planted by the Cholas around 800 years ago. A few temples belonging to the Chola period can also be seen near the grove.
IMG_3464 IMG_3463
33. Anekal: The Chennakeshava temple at Anekal dates back to the Hoysalas.
IMG_8340 IMG_8344 IMG_20160126_174704
34. Sorahunase: A tiny village near Varthur is known for the ancient Chola era Someshwara temple. which has been revered for centuries, now lying forgotten in a corner of an agricultural field.
IMG_20160428_140019 IMG_20160428_140051

Most of these monuments date back to pre-Kempegowda Bengaluru, though I feel most of these temples/monuments are off the tourist list for many people.
The next of this series will feature some of the medieval monuments of Bengaluru, starting with the Vijayanagara and Kempegowda’s times to the post-Independence age.