Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Revisiting Mysore - 1

Overview: I have been to Mysore several times, but it was mostly for family functions or as a transit point to other destinations. This time I decided to spend some time in Mysore city and soak into the rich culture.
We started off from Bangalore very early morning and headed towards Gommatagiri Kshetra, near Ilvala, and around 10kms from Mysore city. The 20 feet statue of Bahubali, known as Gommateshwara, is the main attraction here. The statue can be approached by climbing a series of 50 steps. The statue is attributed to the Vijayanagara period dating back to the 15th century. This is one of the 6 Gommateshwara statues in Karnataka. Others being in Shravanabelagola, Venur, Karkala, Aretippur and Dharmasthala.
From Gommatagiri, we visited the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, which is a heritage building and a museum. The building is named after Jayalakshmi Ammani, the first princess of the Mysore Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar. The mansion has over a 100 rooms, with exquisitely carved doorways and elegant staircases. Artifacts from the mansion such as old dresses, weapons, paintings and sculptures are on display for the visitors inside the mansion.
Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion
After the visit, we headed towards Oriental Research Institute, passing through the Mysore University and Crawford Hall. The ORI, started as a library in 1891 under Chamarajendra Wodeyar X. The Institute is a pilgrimage place for history lovers, with written documents and manuscripts from hundreds of years have been preserved in the shelves. One of the most important manuscripts is the Arthashastra, which was translated into Kannada by Dr. R Shamashastry. Also on display are a few inscriptions from different regions in Karnataka.
Old manuscripts at the Oriental Institute
From the Oriental Institute we headed towards St Philomena's cathedral, one of the most prominent monuments in Mysore. The church was built by a French architect in 1933 in place of an old church dating back to 1843. The church has a Neo-Gothic architecture inspired from the Cologne Cathedral and is considered as one of the largest Churches in India.
St Philomena's Cathedral

From here we headed towards the Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery, which is right in the heart of the city. The Palace was constructed by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, and was the alternate residence for the Royal family during the re-construction of the Amba Vilas Palace. The palace is lined with the Royal collection of paintings, murals and sculptures. The most prominent paintings are from Raja Ravi Verma.
Jaganmohan Palace
Next was the main Amba Vilas Palace, which is popularly known as the Mysore Palace, which we could reach through the city crossing the Dodda Gadiyara (Big Clock), which was constructed to commemorate the silver jubilee of Nawadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, and the 1884 structure Rangacharalu Memorial Hall (Town Hall).
To wrap up the day, the last and the biggest attraction was the Amba Vilas Palace, or the Mysore Palace. Since it was a weekend, the Palace was very crowded, and one had to struggle to reach through the stairs and get inside the monument. The Palace, no doubt, is an outstanding piece of architecture, with massive halls, wide corridors, and spacious dining areas. Outside the Palace there are a few ancient temples like Bhu Varahaswamy temple, Someshwara temple and Gayathri temple. Unfortunately, all the temples were closed for repairs, so we could not see any of them. We stayed back for a spectacle at 7pm when they switch on the lights. It was indeed an experience with the crowd cheering the moment.
On day 2, we visited the Chamundi Hills, Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashrama, Wellington Lodge, RK Narayan's House and Mylari Hotel.

Dodda Gadiyara and Town Hall

Bhu Varahaswamy temple

Trinetra Temple

Inside Someshwara temple

Amba Vilas Palace

To be Contd..

Saturday, 10 February 2018

A date with Prehistory and History

Overview: I had heard a lot about the pre-historic site of Arabikothanur near Bangalore. The site is a bit difficult to find as the roads are very narrow and there are no proper signboards.
We reached Kendatti-Garudapalya road at first and were amazed to see Menhirs of different shapes pretty close to one another. These Menhirs which we spotted were anywhere between 6 feet to 12 feet in height. These are mostly megalithic structures, roughly dating back to 1000 BC, which are found in many parts of India, as well as other countries. For more details on Menhirs, please refer to the wiki page -
There were also some rocks arranged in a a circular shape, and also a few Dolmens.
We then proceeded towards Arabikothanur, around 5kms from Garudapalya. I saw one big Dolmen there, popularly known as Pandavara Gudi. This dolmen can be seen right in the middle of the village, totally ignored and not protected.
Menhir near Kendatti

Menhir near Kendatti

Dolmen at Arabikothanur
Apart from the prehistoric findings, we had a chance to visit a few ancient temples too, like the Kanneshwara (Shiva) temple in Bellur, initially built in the 12th century, was later expanded by the Hoysalas. At Kendatti, we visited the ancient Shiva temple, interiors in complete ruins, but the exteriors are re-assembled. One can see some wall inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil.
At Arabikothanur, we saw some incredible Hero Stones, with great details. The temples which were around these stones seem to be completely renovated now.
Shiva temple at Bellur

Shiva temple with wall inscriptions at Kendatti

Hero Stones at Arabikothanur
How to reach: From Bangalore, take the Bangalore-Kolar highway. At Narsapura, turn left towards Bellur. From Bellur, take the road towards Garudapalya which joins the Kendatti road. After visiting Garudapalya and Kendatti, cross the NH to the other side of the highway to reach Arabikothanur.


Monday, 5 February 2018

Visiting Bengaluru temple with Kodagu connection

Overview: Hidden between the hustle and bustle of the Bangalore Pete is the Manchi Someshwara temple, built in the 19th century, by the then Diwan of Kodagu, Manjayya. Manjayya was the Dewan under the king ChikkaVeera Rajendra, who ruled Coorg in the early 19th century. The Raja was exiled by the British in 1834 and he took refuge in the Nalknad Palace in Kodagu.
The Manchi Someshwara temple is a simple structure, with a 12 feet long Dhwajastambha opposite to it. The inner mantapa has Vijayanagara like carvings, now painted in silver. The main diety has a small Shivalinga, with Nandi bull facing it. The idols of Ganapathi is also seen next to it and an idol of Devi on the right side.
The Kannada inscriptions mentioning the Kodagu Dewan's description of ChikkaVeera Rajendra is seen inside the temple.

Manchi Someshwara temple

Manchi Someshwara temple

Manchi Someshwara temple

Manchi Someshwara temple

Manchi Someshwara temple

Manchi Someshwara temple