Saturday, 25 February 2017

Tea estates in Coffee heartland


Overview: The onset of summer in Chikkamagalur was early in January when we planned a boys trip to Coffee Gudda homestay. Our ever excited gang was all geared up for an extra long drive to Coffee Gudda through Agumbe and Sringeri. The drive was very scenic and thrilling, no doubts about that. We reached Agumbe just for the sunset, but unfortunately, it was quite hazy and couldn't get a clear view. From Agumbe we proceeded towards "Dodda Mane", the old house which was used during the filming of the TV series "The Malgudi Days". The house is still in good shape and is currently used for offering accomodation to tourists.
From Doddamane we proceeded towards Coffee Gudda via Sringeri and Kudremukh town. The homestay was along the highway connecting Hornadu and Kudremukh. The cottages can be reached by crossing a hanging bridge and a narrow path through the coffee plantations.
Around the resort, taking a small walk leads us to some tea estates, which is quite strange in this part of the Western Ghats. Also, around 10kms away is a beautiful waterfalls called Yeleneeru falls, which can be reached by small trek. On the other side of the highway is the town of Samse, which has 2 ancient Jain temples.
This place is ideal for anyone looking for a break from the monotonous city life into the wilderness.
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How to reach: From Bangalore, take the Bangalore-Mangalore road, from Hassan, turn towards Belur and proceed towards Mudigere and Kalasa to Coffee Gudda.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Lonar: Historical village with a meteorite crater


Overview: Located on the border of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra is the village of Lonar, popular mainly for the crater lake, which was formed roughly around 50000 years ago as a result of a meteriorite crash into the Earth. Initially believed to be a volcanic site, it was termed as a site formed due to the impact of an asteroid in the 1990s. The water in the lake is of alkaline nature. We stayed at MTDC resort, just opposite to the lake, and hired a guide to take us around the crater lake and other places of interest in Lonar.
The base of the crater is approachable by a light trek through dense woods. On the way to the base is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Rama and another one dedicated to Lord Shiva, built during the 11th century. The base of the crater is filled with alkaline lake, spread across 1.5kms in diameter. Different kinds of rocks can be seen on the lake bed, like copper, iron and basalt. The lake looks best at sunset when looked from the rim of the crater.
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There is another smaller lake next to the Lonar lake, which was formed as a result of this meteorite impact, and is locally called Amber lake. Amber lake is a freshwater lake unlike the crater lake.
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Apart from the lakes, Lonar also has historic temples like Daitya Sudan temple, with carvings similar to those seen at Khajuraho. This temple was built in the 11th century by the Chalukyas. The Gomukh temple, with its perennial water flowing throughout the year, is located along the rim of the crater. A few other temples in the town are the Hanuman temple in a unique sleeping posture and Kamalja Devi temple along the lake bed.
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How to reach: Lonar village is located in Buldhana district of Maharashtra. The nearest major town with railway station is Jalna, around 85 kms from Lonar. The nearest airport is Aurangabad, around 225 kms. MSRTC buses ply regularly from Aurangabad and Jalna to Lonar.
Accommodation: MTDC resort is available at Lonar just opposite to the crater, offers good option for accomodation. Other small lodges are available at Lonar near bus stand..

Friday, 10 February 2017

Monuments of Medieval Bengaluru - 2


Overview:  Following the downfall of the Hoysalas, the district of Bengaluru came under Vijayanagaras, Kempegowdas and Marathas. There are several Medieval monuments and structures which we cross everyday within the city, most of us unaware of its past.
1. Bugle Rock and Bull Temple, Basavanagudi: At the Bugle Rock, Kempegowda II built a watch tower where a person used to sound the bugle every evening to make sure all is fine after having a view of the city from the top. The Bull Temple built by KempeGowda in the 16th century in the Sunkenahalli village.
2. Mallikarjunaswamy temple, Basavanagudi: The history of this temple dates back to 1689 during the rule of Chikkadevaraya Wodeyar, who is also credited for his work in building Kote Venkataramanaswamy temple.
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3. Kempegowda Towers: Kempegowda II built 4 watch towers marking the outer boundary of his Bengaluru. These towers can be seen today at Halasooru(East), Lalbagh(South), Sadashivanagar(North) and Kempambudhi Kere(West).
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4. Yelahanka Fort area: Several inscriptions can be seen in Yelahanka old town in Kote Beedhi or Fort Area. Even though the remains of the fort cannot be seen now, the area has been always known as the Fort Area. The Venugopalaswamy temple inside the Kote Beedhi is a testimony of its ancient past.
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5. Marathahalli inscriptions: Ancient inscription written in Old Kannada can be seen near the Someshwara temple belonging to the Vijayanagara kings.
6. Dharmarayaswamy temple: The Dharmarayaswamy temple, developed during Kempegowda II's time, is the place where the annual Karaga procession is kick started.
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7. Pete area: Ranganathaswamy temple was built by local traders under the leadership of Kempegowda II in 1628 AD. The area also has the ancient Sugreeva temple at Balepet.
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8. Bhawani Shankar temple, Vasantapura: Standing next to the Vallabharaya temple is the Bhavani Shankar temple in Vasantapura. This temple was built by the Marathas under the patronage of Guru Ramdas.
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9. Kadu Mallikarjunaswamy(Malleshwara) temple, Malleshwaram: The Kadu Malleshwara temple at Malleshwaram was also built during the Marathas in the 17th century. The great king Shivaji’s brother Venkoji built Kadu Mallikarjina Temple, which was in the middle of a forest called Malleshwara in those times.
10. Sri Rama temple inside Karanji Anjaneys temple premises: The Sri Ram temple next to Karanji Anjaneya temple (developed during Kempegowda’s time) in Basavanagudi was built in the 17th century by a Maratha chieftain from the Scindia clan. This is built in such a way that Hanuman is facing Lord Rama. Inside the temple, Lord Rama is seen with wife Sita and brother Lakshmana.
11. Prasanna Krishnaswamy temple, Tulasi Thota/Vana at Chiklalbagh: The temple of Sri Prasanna Krishnaswamy, along with the idols of Sri Rukmini Thayar and Andal Thayar, known to exist much before the Wodeyars built the temple in the Tulasi Garden which is now the Chikka Lalbagh area. The current structure was built in  1844 by Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar. The temple has several special features such as the dancing posture with left leg on the Earth and the right leg on a lotus.
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12. Bengaluru Palace: Bangalore Palace was built in 1880s by Rev J Garret, the first Principal of Central High School. More details at
13. Kote Venkataramaswamy temple: Adjacent to the Tipu Sultan's palace, is the temple of Kote Venkataramana, built by the Maharaja of Mysore, Chikkadevaraya Wodeyar in the 17th century. This temple is known for its exquisite carvings and is a popular tourist attraction among the visitors.
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14. Beereshwara temple, Sampangiramanagar: This is a medieval temple built by the Kuruba community probably in the 8th century according to the temple priest. The village was known as Sampigehalli and the area was used by shepherds for cattle grazing. Several Hero Stones were found around this area which tell tales on sacrifices made by few couples for the community. These stones were probably brought together and assembled around this temple in the 1900s.
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15. Kote Jalakantheshwara temple, Kalasipalayam: Located opposite to the Kalasipalayam Bus stand, is the old temple of Jalakantheshwara. The temple, believed to be initially built by the Cholas, was later renovated by Kempegowda in the 17th century.
16. Chikkajala Fort: There is a lot of confusion on the history of the Chikkajala fort, just next to the National Highway along the BIAL road. The fort area also has a huge tank, a small temple and the ruins of some old civilization.
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17. Gutte Anjaneyaswamy temple, Mavalli: Close to Mavalli is the Gutte Anjaneya temple, on Hosur Road, adjacent to Lalbagh Gardens. The idol of Lord Hanuman was found behind bushes in the 20th century, though this might have existed for several hundred years. The Lord is known for miraculous blessings to the devotees since the time of Maharaja of Mysore, Sri JC Wodeyar. It is said that once the Maharaja’s car had a breakdown near the temple area and after the Maharaja offered prayers at the Gutte Anjaneya temple, the car started miraculously. The Hanuman statue is carved out of stone on a hillock, hence it is called Gutte Anjaneya temple.
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18. Gottigere Kalyani: Another heritage site with undocumented history is the ancient pond at Gottigere. The pond stands next to a small Hanuman temple, and according to the locals, the temple and the tank both are atleast 500 years old.
19. Rameshwara temple, Chamarajpet: Continuing to undocumented historical sites, one stumbles upon the Rameshwara temple, the new structure, however is very modern, but the temple complex has several structures which are pretty old, probably dating back to the Kempegowda's times.
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20. Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple, Attiguppe: Attiguppe was an ancient village with the old Lakshmi Narasimha temple near the bus stand. The temple dates back to the times of the Vijayanagara rulers in the 16th century, and was again popular during the Wodeyars.
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21. Anjaneya temple, Kengeri: The Hanuman temple of Kengeri, is known by the locals to be atleast a few centuries old. But the developments around the area has hidden the temple and has taken its history along with it.
22. Bettadasanapura: This area is close to Begur with a forgotten for t built during Kempegowda ’s rule with a small temple on the hilltop. This is perhaps the only fort with some solid remains in Bangalore today. It is said that during the time of Kempegowda, a local ruler of Bettadasanapura had a dream in which Lord Thimmaraya appeared and the ruler later renovated the temple which was originally built during the Cholas.
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22. Devanahalli Fort: During the Vijayanagara rule, Mallabhaire Gowda from the Avathi clan built a fort with the consent from Deva, a feudatory from Devanahalli. The fort was later annexed by Hyder Ali. Devanahalli also happens to be Tipu Sultan’s birthplace who later renovated the fort. The Venugopalaswamy temple inside the fort dates back to the Vijayanagara times.
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The next of this series will feature some more of the medieval monuments of Bengaluru, from the Tipu Sultan’s era.