Dec 8, 2018

Gurudwar Sri Nanak Jhira Sahib, Bidar

Sept-2 to Sept-4, 2018
First day of our 3-day holiday ended with a visit to Gurudwara of Bidar. We reached Bidar around 4 PM, checked into a hotel, freshened up and drove down to the Gurudwara. We wanted to spend few hours in the peacefully. I'd visited this Gurudwara during my previous visits to Bidar but for Pushpa this was the first visit to a Sikh temple. She was captivated the ambiance.. the calming effect on body and mind was so evident. We had entered the Gurudwara premises just as dusk was setting in. The silvery-white gateway, temple and lodges looked amazing in the last rays of the day.

This is the gateway of the Gurudwara complex. This is arch is prt of one long L-shaped building covering two sides of the complex.

Gurudwara provided lodging facilities for visitors from other cities. This building has those rooms for visitors.

That's the Gurudwara and next to it is Jhira, fresh water spring. The white building exudes peaceful vibes.

The premises is well kept, the yard is swept several times a day.

This is the Jhira, an octagonal pit from which fresh water keeps flowing out constantly. People come here to see this holy spot and get a handful of the water as Theerta.

A board states the history of this Jhira..

Brief history of Gurudwara: Sri Nanak Jhira Saheb, Bidar
As and when this world is infested with sins, injustice and falsehood God has sent some pious souls to teach righteousness and follow the true path of life. Guru Nanak Devji was born during the fifteen century. He went on four world tours to enlighten the people about Almighty.
During his second tour to Deccan from Sultanpur (Pubjab) he reached Bidar via Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra. The people of Bidar who came for his Darshan requested him to bless them with sweet water as the water in Bidar was salty. Sri Guru Nanak Devji remembered God and touched the hillock with his right foot and a spring of sweet water started flowing from this place and since April 1512, it is flowing continuously till date. The people of Bidar come here to take water for drinking.
Guru Nanak Devji sowed the seeds of Sikhi. During 1699 when Sri Guru Gobind Singhji created Khalsa Panth the fifth beloved (Pyara) Bhai Saheb Singhji was from Bidar who offered himself to 10th Guru at Keshgrah Anandpur Saheb. When Guru Gobind Singhji came to Nanded from Punjab, the Sikh lady General Mata Bhag Kaurji also came along with Guruji to Nanded and stayed in village Janwada where stands a beautiful Gurudwara in her name.

A painting of Guru Nanak and his disciples.

The blue-colored text reads on the arch reads "Ik Onkar." Chant this even if you do not understand, these words have a calming effect, makes one feel stronger.

Ek onkar satnam kartapurakh
Nirmoh nirvair akaal murat
Ajuni sabham
Guru parsad jap aad sach jugaad sach
Hai bhi sach nanak hose bhi sach
Soche soch na ho wai
Jo sochi lakh waar
Chhupe chhup na howai

Je laai har lakhtaar
Ukhiya pukh na utari
Je banna puriya paar
Sahasyanpa lakh woh hai
Ta ek na chale naal  
Ke ve sach yaara hoi ae
Ke ve kude tutte paal
Hukum rajai chalna nanak likheya naal

These are the steps ascending to the temple. Photography is not allowed up there. The interior of the temple is grand, rich decorations befitting a holy shrine. The floor is covered in thick carpet, the columns, walls and ceiling are richly decorated in colorful murals. The central shrine.. a copy of  Guru Granth Sahib is kept along with a collection of daggers, swords, and spears.

As we entered, evening bhajan was on, three youngsters sang the bhajan while playing harmonium and tabla. We found a spot among other visitors and sat. It was nice to just sit there, doing nothing but listening to sweet music. We must have sat there about 45 minutes, until the bhajan session closed. Then we received prasad and left.

We spent some time outside, in the yard, truly this place has a magical quality.

Just outside the Gurudwara complex are a dozen shops selling Sikh religious things and general items. Pushpa wanted to buy some jewelry.. she picked a pair of ladies rings and a Kara (Skih steel bangle).. souvenirs from Bidar.

It was Pushpa's birthday, she wanted a treat of pizza. I was skeptical if there were pizza joints in Bidar but I was wrong. There were two. We locate one close to our hotel, a little joint, service was good. Birthday girl was happy :) We still had some chapati left, we picked up two vegetable dishes from a Punjabi restaurant near the Gurudwara complex and ate at in our room. The dishes were spicy, really hot! Did not know Punjabi dishes were made so spicy. Being a hectic day, we slept off soon after dinner.

The next morning we went to Narasimha Jhira, Ashtoor tombs, Qila, Madrasa and lastly Barid Shahi tombs. After the tiring tour, we freshened up and visited the Gurudwar again, bought a Kara for me this time and had paranthas at a Punjabi restaurant. The following morning we went for a walk, had tea, bought a Kannada newspaper and went to the Gurudwar again. This is the arch on the main road near Bidar bus-stand. From here the Gurudwar is half kilometer.

We sat on a platform under a tree, just enjoying the silence, Pushpa was engrossed in the newspaper. This is the Gurudwar garden, a small mantap at the center. The steel sculpture on the mantap depicts the Sikh military symbol.. Khanda, Kirpan and Chakkar.

A closer look at the emblem.

I was happy to have visited the Gurudwar all 3 days of our visit. We walked back to the hotel, bathed, packed up, checked out and came back to the Gurudwar for a Punjabi breakfast. We had three different types of Paranthas and Lassi.. relished every bite and sip. Charged up, we were ready for the return journey to Hyderabad.

On the way, we stopped at Deva Deva Vana, the botanical garden maintained by the Karnataka Forest Department.

While researching Gurudwaras in this region, I happened to learn about the Gurudwara at Janawada, a village 12 kms north of Bidar. On my list for the next visit to Bidar.

Dec 1, 2018

ShivaSharana Cave, Basava Kalyana

September 2, 2018
We had left Hyderabad around 5-15 AM, reached Basava Kalyana at 7-30. Our plan was to see the 108' statue of Vishwaguru Basaveshwara first, however the garden wasn't open for public yet. So we had tea and then drove to Anubhava Mantapa, about 1.6 kms away. Anubhava Mantapa, also called Maha Mane, is situated on a elevated spot right next to Tripuranthakere (Tripurantha lake). The place has a peaceful ambiance. Having spent about 45 minutes at Anubhava Mantapa, we had breakfast.. chapati, sprouts and cucumber. Tummy satisfied, we continued our tour.. came back to Basaveshwara memorial. Instead of climbing the hillock we decided to check out the man made cave in memory of XII Century Shiva-Sharanas. This is the path leading to the cave entrance..

This region is rich in laterite rock which is easy to shape, hence a popular source of material. Laterite boulders are also convenient to hack into and form cave shelters. During the XII Century Kalyana revolution, when Shiva Sharanas were persecuted by King Bijjala's soldiers, Shiva Sharanas hid in natural and artificial shelters around Kalyana. In the present day, these caves are a tourist attraction. The cave's caretaker lead us into the cave's innards lighting our path with a LED lamp. There are small chambers dedicated to some of the prominent Shiva Sharanas like Allama Prabhu, Akka Mahadevi, Basaveshwara, his wives Neelambike and Gangambike, nephew Channabasaveshwara, Madiwala Machayya, and few others.

This idol depicts Basaveshwara wife Neelambike.

I decided to use the flash so that the cave walls are seen. The cave makers have given an artistic touch to the walls. This chamber is dedicated to Allama Prabhu, the mystic who used to preside over Anubhava Mantapa.

I happened to notice the rails in one part of the cave. Our caretaker said that work was still going on, the rails are to run trolleys transporting overburden, material and equipment. Interesting to  work in such projects.

This larger chamber is dedicated to Basaveshwara, its become a shrine.

A chamber dedicated to Akka Mahadevi, the lady mystic who had accepted Lord Shiva as her husband.

Another view of the cave.. notice the art work on the ceiling and walls. Creative indeed.

These two characters are Channabasaveshwara reading our Vachanas and Madiwala Machayya engrossed in Lingaradhane.

I did take pictures of few more Shiva Sharanas but the pictures weren't clear enough. This dead-end cave, like any other, was warm and we felt uncomfortable. We finished the tour quickly and came back to the entrance. As you see work is incomplete, work progresses with funds inflow. The project team has done a fair job.

Here are two short videos with the caretaker's commentary by Pushpa.

There ends our tour of Sharana's cave.

These are good tourist attractions.. people come and go but what they learn is also important. I think the boarding facilities should be present, nothing fancy or luxurious, just clean basic facilities, people should get an opportunity to experience the simple lifestyle of Shiva Sharanas. People who wish to stay should also be given an opportunity to do manual tasks like cook, clean, gardening, recite Vachana, meditate, etc. A two or three day stay will help relax and rejuvenate mentally and physically. Well, that's my thought, wish someone thinks alike and makes it happen.

Talking about cave temples, I would like you to see a cave temple of Amminabavi also in laterite, dug out by an ascetic in 1970s.