Saturday, September 27, 2014

Channagiri fort

About 20 years back I had had a glimpse of the fort from the state highway passing through the town, while driving towards Chitradurga. Time a constraint that day, so not stop by.

About the fort on Channagiri town website: Channagiri has a hill fort of about 1770 A.D. with a Ranganatha temple inside it, which rises to a height of about 200 feet to the west of the town consists of a single soft dark covered with earth which commands a wide plain. The fort consists of two rubble walls defending by moats, the chief gate being on the north where the gradient is lowest.

On the peak stands a temple  dedicated to Sri Ranganatha. It is called Bete-Ranganatha and depicts Vishnu standing in Samabhanga holding Chakra and Shanka in his back hands and arrow in his front hands with a low Garuda pedestal below him and a consort in relievo on the Prabhavali on each side.

March 16, 2014
I left Dharwad early morning, first stop was at Chitradurga fort, followed by Chandravalli. Next was Channagiri. Reaching the fort was easy, car could a short distance on the hillock until a locked gate. Its a short walk to the summit past low rampart walls.

Past the gateway, on the left hand side is a large pit to store rain water.

I walk along the recently repaired wall towards a smaller gateway and a bastion.

The wall is not really tall however the fort has another line of defence- a moat runs along the base of the hill.

One of the two surviving turrets. This sits at the south-east part of the hill. The other turret is at the hill top.

View from the turret: the wall, a gateway, a platform on the left.

This is the southern wall, moat is visible on the left.

View of the turret as seen from outside.

Highest point of the hill: turret and Ranganatha temple. Rituals are performed daily in the temple.

Another view of the highest point of Channagiri fort: right besides the turret is Ranganatha temple.

Continuing along the wall.. going towards the western side of the fort- the steepest part of the hill.

Afternoon sun lighting up the western wall and slope.

Behind the temple is a deep pit with fresh water. This water is still used for daily rituals at the temple.

This is the south-west part of the fort. This probably is the tallest wall of Channagiri fort.
The pit. The deep dark pit. A steep flight of steps descends into it.

Looking up towards the highest part of the fort. Concealed behind the tiled roof structure is the temple. To my right is the fresh water pit.

Wall design is similar to walls at Uchangidurga.

The temple chariot. Looks ancient, could be made 500 to 800 years.

Signage at Channagiri fort: This place was in possession of the Gangas under Asandinadu, then it became part of Nolambavadi 32000. During the rule of Chalukyas of Kalyana, Subsequently ruled by Pandyas of Uchchangi, later this place passed on into the hands of Keladi rulers in XVII century. The place was named Channagiri after Chennammaji who built the fort here.

The fort is to the west of the present Chennagiri town. The layout comprises of two masonry walls set in mud mortar defended by moats and the main gate is towards north. Roughly ovalish, the fort wall is punctuated with as many as 7 bastions and two circular watch towers. There is a depression at the top for collection of rain water, towards north-east is a rock and pond with stonecut steps. At the top several basement of secular structures. There is a temple having the image of Vishnu as Bete Ranganatha Swamy.

Close to the fort gate, also close to the deep dark pit is this little cave. Perhaps some animal must have occupied it.

Having done with this fort, I went in search of an unknown hill fort south of Channagiri near Mavina Hole. Day was coming to an end, I had no hopes of reaching the unknown fort however, I found the name from few villagers. The hill fort is said to be Hanuma Durga. I'll have to come back some time.

Channagiri fort coordinates: 14°1'19"N   75°55'18"E

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lakshmi Narasimha Devastana, Bhadravati

Bhadravathi is one of the towns named after a rive. Most probably it is the only town. Bhadravthi is situated on the Bhadra river bank. The little town was known for its steel and paper mills which were established by Sir M Vishweshwaraiah in 1923 and 1937 respectively. Both factories are situated on the left bank of Bhadra. Besides these factories Bhadravathi is known for its 800 year old temple - Lakshmi Narasimha Devastana. The temple was built by Veera Narasimha, grandson of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. It is a east facing Trikutachala built on a Nakshtra style ~ star shaped platform with only one entrance. Inside the temple are images of Sri Krishna, Purushottama, Ganesha, Sharadamba. The temple is under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

March 17, 2014
It was after a long time I was visiting Bhadravathi, last visit was during an industrial tour when I was doing engineering. It was even longer the last time I visited Lakshmi Narasimha temple, probably 1976 or 1975. On this visit it was as good as seeing the temple for first time. The temple is about a kilometer and half from the main road, goes through the narrow streets of old town. Unlike other ancient temples, this temple is a regular pilgrim center. Even an annual fair is held here.

As you see, the temple is assembled on a star-shaped platform which is 3' high. The temple has a small Mukhamantapa with Sukhanasi flanking the doorway. 

The temple is located in a residential but its well protected.

This where the temple priest is usually seated after finishing with rituals, reading holy scriptures.

Going around the temple clockwise. A slab with Kannada inscription - this is the only one in this temple.

The platform is very convenient for those circumambulating the temple. There were few other visitors here performing rituals. On the left, behind this wall is one of the Garbhagudis.

That's main the main Garbhagudi- abode of Sri Laxmi Narasimha, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.

A closer look at the structure reveals scars of vandalism. Our people, will they ever realize, why cant they just leave these monuments alone. The temple is relatively simple, meaning not much of decorative sculptures. Parts of second level looks quite bare. Was the temple work abandoned before completion?

Sculptures on second level- gods and goddesses accompanied by performing musicians and dancers.

Few sculptures are target to rituals here- worshippers apply vermilion, turmeric, burn camphor and even pour oil. Stone absorbs oil and softens it. I wish people give up such damaging practices.

Sculpture of a man with a serpent.

Here we have three sculptures blackened by effects of camphor I guess. The dark sculpture on the right is Sri Krishna in the classical pose of playing flute.

The temple is situated on the river Bhadra's right bank. If you are coming from Tarikere or Chitradurga side, you need not go across the river. If you are coming from Shimoga side, you have go across the bridge and turn left immediately.

The other Hoysala temples nearby are Amruteshwara temple near Tarikere and Sri.Chintamani Narasimha Sri.Rameshwara at Koodli, the place where Tunga and Bhadra merge to form Tungabhadra.

Coming back to Bhadravati, I would like to tell about a modern day monument- St. Charles Borromeo convent schools. The two schools- Kannada and English -were established in 1960. The schools are imparting education for the past 54 years! Even children from Shimoga are students here. The school has a hostel for children from far off places. The school building is a stone structure in Gothic architecture.