Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Hills and Plains of Chamarajanagar District - 2


Overview:  We then continued our last leg of our trip to the plains of Chamarajanagar. We stopped at Yelandur for our breakfast, after which we visited the Gaurishwara temple, built during the Vijayanagara period in the 16th century. One unique feature of this temple is the Bale Mantapa, which is carved out of a stone in the shape of a bangle. The structure also has several carvings and also has a big stone tablet with inscriptions.
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From Yelandur, the next place we visited was Hole Alur, which has a very ancient temple built by the Gangas in the 9th century dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is ticked in the middle of an agricultural field with coconut and arekanut trees surrounding it. The temple is not huge but it is a pretty structure.
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We then moved to Chamarajanagar, the district headquarters, to see the Chamarajeshwara temple. This temple was built in 1826 dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the temple is named after Sri Chamarajendra Wodeyar.
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From Chamarajanagar, we went to Narasamangala, known for the Rameshwara temple, which was originally built by the Gangas in the 9th century, but later was further developed by the Hoysala chief Veera Ballala III. Most of the outer structure has now been destroyed, with only a few big Shivalingas blessing the village.
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The next place on our itinerary was the Varadaraja temple at Terakanambi, which is a 16th century temple dedicated to Lord Varadarajaswamy. Finally, our last place of interest was the Jain basadi at Kelasur, which was one of the main Jain pilgrim centres in the early 13th century. However, most of the old structure has been renovated now.
From Kelasur, we proceeded towards Bangalore via Gundlupet and T Narsipur.
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References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamarajanagar_district
How to reach: From Bangalore, Chamarajanagar can be reached via Mysore or T.Narsipura. The village roads connect Chamarajanagar with Terakanambi, Gundlupet, Narsamangala and Yelandur.
Food/Accommodation: Accomodation and food options are available only in major towns like Kollegal, Chamarajanagar and Gundlupet.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hills and Plains of Chamarajanagar District - 1


Overview:  A road trip to the hills and plains of Chamarajanagar district was on my wish list for a long time. We started off with Male Mahadeshwara Betta. The Mahadeshwara hill temple built at a height of 3000 feet was built by Junje Gowda dedicated to the Veerashaiva saint Mahadeshwara. This temple is popular with both pilgrims and nature lovers as the entire area is rich in flora and fauna. It is said that Saint Mahadeshwara lived here in the 15th century.
The temple is located in the midst of seven hills in the Western Ghats, which are rich in flora and fauna. The hills provide a pretty sight while driving to the temple. The hills connect Karnataka to the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.
Within the temple premises, one can see the new Gopuras overlooking a kalyani, where both old and new tanks can be seen. On certain days like Shivaratri, the chariot is taken around the temple where thousands of devotees witness the event.
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From MM Hills, we proceeded towards Dhondenling Tibetan settlement at Odeyarpalya. The Tibetan settlement here is one of the lesser known monasteries in Karnataka.
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After having lunch at Kollegal, we proceeded to BR hills. We drove directlty to the Biligiri Ranganathaswamy temple, dating back to 11th century. Apart from the main deity of Ranganatha, the temple has deiteis of Ranganayaki and Alvars.
After overnight stay at a hotel in the hills, we proceeded to the BR Hills viewpoint near the temple. The view was spectacular and it was very windy in the morning. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spot much of wildlife in BR hills except the deer.
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Next in the series will feature the plains of Chamarajanagar district
References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamarajanagar_district
How to reach: MM Hills can be reached from Bengaluru via Kanakapura, Malavalli, Kollegal into the hills. The roads are in good condition and are regularly repaired. Buses ply regularly from Bengaluru and Mysuru. By train the nearest station is Chamarajanagar. From there buses are available to MM Hills.
Food/Accommodation: Good resorts are available at MM Hills, Kollegal, BR Hills and K Gudi. For food, the hills have basic food options available.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Things to do in Amsterdam


Overview:  "Coffee shops" and the "Red Light district" are the places which are synonymous with Amsterdam. A walk around the area itself is an experience, if the actual experience seems too adventurous.
* Take the canal cruise across the city touching major landmarks and museums in Amsterdam Explore heritage homes like Anne Frank's residence and Van Gogh museum.
* Wine and Dine at some traditional restaurant and watch the summer sun setting past dinner time.
* Madame Tussauds Wax museum
* Bicycle through the city to experience its culture through the city centre.
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Friday, 10 March 2017

Kailasa Temple Ellora: An architectural marvel


Overview: I was wonderstruck when I saw the majestic Kailasa temple at Ellora. This structure has been carved out of a single hillock using some ancient technology which is unimaginable today.
Though the inscriptions reveal that the temple was used during the period of Rashtrakutas in the 8th century, the monument itself might have been initially built much earlier. The entrance to the temple leads us to two symmetric gigantic pillars, beautifully carved to precision. On the outer boundary of the temple, pillared caves are built with carved stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, each carving being atleast 10 feet high. The interior of the temples are no less fascinating, which can be reached by climbing a series of steps on to the first floor. The huge hall with intricate carvings leads to the Shiva linga, which is the main deity of the temple. Both inner and outer walls of the temples are beautifully decorated with carvings. Of all the monuments in India, this temple would definitely rank amongst the 'must-sees'.
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How to reach: Ellora caves are located around 30kms from Aurangabad. Cave number 16 or the Kailasa temple is right at the entrance of the Ellora caves.
Accomodation: Several options for accommodation are available at Aurangabad for all budgets.