Jan 21, 2017

What to see in Yadgir District?

Yadgir is the second smallest district of Karnataka, it was formed in December 2009. This little district of 3 Taluqas- Shahapur, Surpur and Yadgir -was originally part of Gulbarga district. This district is known for its vast fertile black soil plains. Crops produced are jowar, cotton and toor. A large portion of Yadgiri district lies between the two big rivers - Krishna and Bhima. During the Muslim rule, this region was known by the word Doab which means 'land between two rivers'. Yadgir district along with its neighbouring districts Gulbarga and Raichur has a rich cultural past, its a very active place since Neolithic times. In the past Yadgir, was known by the name Yadavagiri. Yadgir district capital was the capital of the Yadava kingdom between 1347 to 1425 CE. Yadgiri was part of kingdoms and empires like Satavahans, Chalukya of Badami, Rastrkuta, Aidil Shahis, and lastly Nizam of Hyderabad. During the time of Nizam, Surpur was ruled by the Nayakas assisted by the British political agent Philip Meadows Taylor. Besides administration of Surpur, Meadows carried out development of roads and lakes. He also visited and documented the prehistoric sites of this region like Bhimarayana Gudi, Rajan Kollur, Budhihal and Hagaratagi. Durintg taylor's stay at Surpur, he designed and built a house on a hill overlooking Surpur town which is a historical monument today.

Cannon at Yadgiri fort, Yadgiri hill fort, Royal Bath near Gurmitkal fort
and Khasa Matha near Gurmitkal

Wagangera fort, Shahpur fort, Sleeping Buddha hill and
Prehistoric Stone Alignment of  Vibhutihalli

Taylor Manzil at Surpur, Megalithic Tombs of Rajan Kollur,
Bastion at Rayan Palya fort and Gateway at Vanadurga fort
Well, here's a list of places of historical importance-

  1. Chaya Bhagavati temple - is an ancient shrine and an educational center during the period of Vikramiditya VI.  The place is called Dakshina Kashi; it is located about 20 kilometres south of Surpur.
  2. Bhimarayanagudi - is known for its archaeological site dating back to Neothic and Megalithic cultures. The site has an ash-mound which was documented by Meadows Taylor. Bhimarayanagudi also referred to as B Gudi is known more for its Agriculture University. B Gudi is about 5 kilometers from Shahpur town.
  3. Chandriki fort - Chandriki is a little village close to Karnataka-Telangana border, situated in the paddy producing lands. Chandriki fort is about 800 years old, its rampart walls are built of stones and mud. The walls though built of mud have survuved the forces of Nature several decades. One can know how advanced building technology was back then. And eco-friendly too. Chandriki is about 10 kilometers from Gurmitkal.
  4. Gurmitkal fort - Gurmitkal is a small town close to Karnataka-Telangana border. In the town are several ancient wells, though not maintained properly. Gurmitkal fort is situated well within the town, is also a mud wall fort.
  5. Gogi tombs - Gogi is know for the Dargah of Hazarat Chanda Hussaeini. At this necropolis are the tombs of Adil Shahi family. According to sources, some family members who passed away at Bijapur were brought here for burial.
  6. Khasa Matha of Gurmitkal - This is a Lingayath Matha ~ a Hindu monastery established about 600 years ago by Sri Murugarajendra Mahaswami. The present seer of Khasa Matha is Sri Shantaveera Swami. The Matha runs a primary school on its premises.
  7. Kodekal Basavanna Devasthana - is a shrine dedicated to Kodekal Basawanna, a well known as a saint who wrote Kala Gnana.
  8. Krishna - Bhima Sangama - the confluence of two mighty rivers forms the tip of Doab ~ land of two rivers. The Sangama is quite close to Raichur Thermal Power Station to reach the Doab, its a round about way. It would be a grand sight to see this place when both Krishna and Bhima are flowing to their limits. This confluence is also called as Nivrutti Sangamam.
  9. Mailarlingeshwar Gudi - a shrine dedicated to Sri Mailapur Mailarlingeshwar. This temple is located on a hillock with massive rock formations. The place is visited by thousands of people during Makara Sankranti.
  10. Narayanpur Dam and Basava Sagar - this is a dam across river Krishna. The dam's foundation stone was laid by Lal Bhaddur Shastri in 1962 and completed in 1982. The reservoir is named as Basava Sagar after the Lingayath saint Jagatjyoti Basaveshwara.
  11. Rayan-Palya fort - an ancient fort situated on a hillock besides a large pond. Rayan Palya is about 6 or 7 kilometers from Rajan Kollur.
  12. Rajan Kollur - This village is known  for the megalithic tombs on its outskirts. This protected site is one of the best preserved archaeological sites of Karnataka. Here are about 80 stone cist graves - cists or kistvaens are ancient graves or stone coffins.
  13. Sagar - a small town today was a place of great importance few centuries ago. It is said a fort existed here. Sagar wasd a provincial head-quarter during Mohammad Bin-Tughalq's rule. During the rule of Bahamanis, Sagar was again a head quarter. It is said that on the fort here is an inscription of Firoz Shah Bahamani.
  14. Shahapur fort - is one of the largest forts of Karnataka. The fort is built on three rock hills which are part of a large group of hills. In a valley within this range of hills is a big lake called Tavarekere or Lotus Lake. The hill fort is a kilometer in length and clearly visible from Shahapur town.
  15. Sleeping Buddha hill - is a hill off Shahpur which creates a silhouette of Buddha lying down. Incidentally this amazing natural creation is near Sannati, the famous archaeological site of a Buddhist Stupa of Ashokan times.
  16. Supur fort - or Shorapur has been head quarter of this region for two centuries. The town is situated in a high valley amidst a group of hills. The Nayakas ruled over their kingdom from Surpur. Meadows Taylor spent a major part of service in administering affairs of this kingdom. 
  17. Taylor Manzil - is a bungalow designed by Meadows Taylor himself and built around 1844 CE. The bungalow is situated on a hillock overlooking the town. AN interesting fact of this house is the security feature. When all its doors and windows are shut and any attempt to force open any door would rattle all the doors and windows warning the people inside.
  18. Thintini Mouneshwara Gudi - It is shrine it is located 20km distance south to Shorapur it previously it was a Agrahar (Education Center) during the period of Vikramiditya 6th and it was an ancient temple called as a Dakshina Kashi it attracts both Hindu and Muslim devotees.
  19. Vibutihalli - is known for its prehistoric stone alignment which was a calendar of Neolithic times.
  20. Vanadurga fort - is a fort built by Nayakas. The meaning of its name is forest fort. It is said that a thick forest existed here when the fort was built/
  21. Waganagera fort - is another fort of the Surpur range of hills. This fort is situated on the western end of the range. It is said that Wagangera was the original capital of Surpur kingdom. Locals say that a large number of Aurangzeb's soldiers were massacred here by Nayaka army. It is also said that one of  Auranzeb's sons' remains lie buried here.
  22. Yadgir fort - The district capital has the largest hill with the largest fort too. The massive rock hill is completely fortifies with kilometres of rampart walls and strategically positioned turrets. The hill offers a commanding view of the surrounding plains.

Jan 14, 2017

Aikyasthala of Akka Nagamma, Basaveshwara, Gangambike and Neelambike

Akka Nagamma, Basaveshwara, Gangambike and Neelambike are few of the well known Shivasharana ~ a person who has surrendered to Lord Shiva. They are members of one family. Akka Nagamma is Basaveshwara's elder sister. Gangambike and Neelambike are Basaveshwara's elder and younger wives. These four noble persons had dedicated their lives to society's well being.

From a small age Basaveshwara was close to his sister Nagamma and she was a great influence over him. Also, Basaveshwara was an enlightened soul, from a young age he showed kindness to animals and the helpless. As he grew up he could not bear to see the pains and difficulties of the poor and downtrodden. He was sent to Kudala Sangama for education, where he spent many years and remained bonded to the place. Basaveshwara served as a minister in King Bijjala's court at Kalyana in present day's Bidar district. He initiated a social revolution to fight the injustice meted out the so called upper caste people to the lower caste people in a non-violent way. Basaveshwara preached and practiced a way of life which can be described in two Kannada words 'Kayakave Kailasa' - this short saying roughly translates to 'Work is Worship' but has a deeper meaning. He said that one perform their duties in a selfless manner i.e. work with dedication and accept the outcome as it is, be it favorable or unfavorable. He was equally dedicated to his official duty as a minister and personal endeavor to bring in social equality. His family members supported him completely and played an active role in the revolution. As a part of their practice Shivasharanas composed Vachanas - short poems in simple language carrying a moral. The movement showed positive changes and gained popularity.

Every good change has to face opposition, so was the case at Kalyana. Some prominent characters of the upper caste stirred up trouble by falsely accusing Basaveshwara of misusing state funds for personal use. Basaveshwara disproved the allegations and regained the king's confidence. But the seeds of doubt were sown. The last straw was to accuse Basaveshwara of conspiring to usurp the throne to which his reaction was resigning from the minister-ship. After formally bidding bye to the king, he left Kalyana and moved to Kudala Sangama. At Kalyana the situation changed drastically, King Bijjala is assasinated and Shivasharanas are blamed and harassed. Many Shivasharanas leave Kalyana and move southwards carrying their Vachana collection. Shivasharanas were peaceful but were trained in martial arts to defend themselves. The harassment did not stop, Bijjala's army went after the fleeing Shivasharanas and battles ensued. The main battle was near Kadrolli on the banks of river Malaprabha (present day Belgaum district) was won by Shivasharanas. Having lost, the king's soldiers give up and return to Kalyana.

Shivasharanas continue their journey southward, some succumb to their injuries on the way. Gangambike attains Aikya on the banks of river Malaprabha. It is said that a group led by Akka Nagamma and her son Channabasaveshwara to Dharwad and stay at Ulavi Basaveshwara Gudi for few days. Then Channabasaveshwara goes to Ulavi, deep in the jungles of Western Ghats. Akka Nagamma continues to travel south and her journey ends near present day Tarikeri. The place where she attains is called Yenne Hole meaning stream of oil. While all these happen, Basaveshwara has attained Aikya at Kudala Sangama. Not much is known about how Neelambike reaches her resting spot on the left bank of river Krishna near Tangadgi. All this happened 800 years back and their services are still remembered, their Vachanas still popular. Long live their names.

During early 80s, 90s and 2000s Karnataka government took steps to conserve the Aikyasthala of Basaveshwara, Gangambike and Neelambike. However, nothing had been done at Akka Nagamma's Aikyasthala until March-2014. So, here are the four spots..

Akka Nagamma's Aikyasthala at Yenne Hole, Tarikere, Chikmagalur District

Basaveshwara's Aikyasthala at Kudala Sangama - the confluence of rivers Malaprabha and Krishna, Bagalkot District. These are the waters of Basava Sagar, the reservoir of Narayanpur dam across river Krihna.

Basaveshwara's Aikya Mantapa in 1959
Gangambike's Aikyasthala in river Malaprabha, Belgaum district. This spot is off the national highway, about 43 kms from Dharwad & 35 kms from Belgaum.

Neelambike Aikyasthala on the left bank of river Krishna, in the waters of Basava Sagar, about 2 kms from Tangadgi village in Bijapur district. This spot is about 4 kms from Kudala Sangama on the right bank.

To see more pictures of these places, check out the individual posts on them, here are the links-
Akka Nagamma's Aikyasthala
Basaveshwara's Aikyasthala
Gangambike's Aikyasthala
Neelambike Aikyasthala

If you want to know about Basaveshwara's birthplace and a 108 feet statue at Basava Kalyana. This is the same Kalyana where he served as a minister during Bijjala's rule. Here are the links-
Basava Smaraka at Basavana Bagewadi
108 feet statue of Basavanna near Basava Kalyana

Also, here's a link to two other related spots-
Dohara Kakkayya Aikyasthala near Kakkeri, Belgaum district.
Ulavi Basaveshwara Gudi, Dharwad. This is the temple where the Shivasharana group had camped here after the battle of Kadrolli to celebrate their victory.