Aug 30, 2010

Pattadakal Temple Complex

...continued from Mahakoota.

Jain Basti on the village outskirts was our first stop.

One look at this stone structure, you can tell it was restored. Every single stone was numbered and removed. A foundation was laid over which the temple was built again. Completely damaged parts- stones -were reproduced to match the original dimensions. According to care-taker, Rs.87 crores i.e. Rs.870,000,000 was the cost of restoration ...we found it difficult to believe. Whatever is the real cost, the job is well done. The only way this temple was recognizable as a Basti was by a 4 inch sculpturing of Mahaveera on one of the walls. I saw something I'd never seen before- a 1.5 feet wide and thick, 12 feet tall monolithic stairway connecting the floor to the ceiling, it must be about 2500kg.

The care-taker showed us round with patience ...not many tourists visited eve though it's pretty close to the main temple complex. We thanked our guide and moved on to the main attraction of Pattadkal.

The entry ticket for Pattadkal Temple Complex, one of the 15 World Heritage Sites of India.

We struck a deal for Rs.150 with Basavaraj to show us around. Though he seemed young to be a guide, the way he welcomed us formally and then started off with the history was impressive. Pattadkal is situated on the river Malaprabha's bank ...these temples were built by Chalukyas between during the 7th century ...kings of those days would come here for pattabhisheka i.e. coronation. Temples here are built in 3 distinct architectural styles- Dravidian, Nagara and the third type is a mix of both. The temple dome is the part which helps identify the style.

Talking about temple domes Basavaraj asked us a question- "Do you know the difference between shikhara and gopura?" None of us knew the answer. Shikara is the tower on the garbha-gudi (sanctum sanatorium) while gopura is the tower on the gateway to the temple. A Dravidian shikhara is stepped while a Nagara shikhara tapers smoothly.

Basavaraj commenced the tour from Kadasiddeshwara temple followed by Jambulinga, Galaganatha, Sangameswara, Virupasksha, Mallikarjuna temples. The builders experimented with different designs engineering and aesthetics. The complex has about 10 temples. Pooja is performed only in Virupaksha temple. ...I cannot recall everything Basavaraj told.

October 2009, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Karnataka received heavy rains. Malaprabha river flooded the town and many people sat atop Sangameswara temple for couple of days. This reminded me about my visit to Ulavi on October 2nd and the temple poojari's comment about the rain- the heaviest he had ever seen.

This is Galaganatha temple.

Sculpture of Lord Shiva killing the demon Andhakasura.

Characters in these five squares are supposed to be Ghanas.

This is Virupaksha temple built by Queen Lokamahadevi in 745AD to commemorate Vikramaditya II's victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.

A decorated ventilator ...that's supposed to be a single rope fashioned into a grill.

Halegannada inscription.

Scenes from Ramayana with inscriptions between the rows.

Scenes from Mahabharata. The middle panel shows Bhishma on a bed of arrows.

Birth of Lord Krishna.

Sex was not considered a taboo those days.

This is a flying bull with peacock feathers. The face is chubby ...looks cute.

Pattadakal Basavanna belongs to the polished class (like the ones in Mahakoota, Banavasi, Halebidu). The flower in the nostril gave me a funny feeling ...I kept thinking Basavanna might sneeze anytime. Two photographers had a busy time meeting the demand from tourists to be snapped with this Basavanna.

Mallikarjuna and Kasivisvanatha temples.

We narrow down on Kasivisvanatha temple.

Of all the Nagara style temples Kasivisvanatha temple's shikhara is the most impressive to me.

We must have spent about 2 hours in Pattadakal but what ever we saw is just the summary. One day I wish to come back and spend some more time.


Aug 23, 2010

Mahakoota temple complex

My last visit to Aihole and Pattadkal was in February 1996 with Gulli during our 13 day biking trip around Karnataka. Somehow memories of these two places remained sketchy. I decided to revisit. The first attempt sometime July failed, I got tied down with work. While the second plan was taking shape I met Dr.Girish Kamat. Chetan, my colleague was enthusiastic to join me. The plan was set- August 14th- we would be visiting Badami, Banashankari, Aihole and Pattadkal.

Our journey started at 6AM. Our cab driver Shrikant was familiar with roads... Hebballi, Byahatti, Hebsur, now we were cruising on SH63... Konnur, Navalgund, Nargund and Kulgeri.

Between Navalgund and Nargund a minivan loaded with plastic pots was chugging along happily. It looked very colorful, like a curly haired head from the back.

Shrikant is from a farmer's family. I enjoyed discussing about Banni tree and Shiva-Jaali trees which are pretty common here.

From Kulgeri Badami, Pattadkal and Aihole are 22km, 44km and 66km. It was around 8-30 when we reached Badami, we stopped for breakfast. Our plan was to visit Pattadkal and Aihole and then come back to Badami & Banashankari. Just outside Badami we saw a board pointing the direction to Sidlaphadi. Few months back I had read an article about Sidlaphadi in DH and ever since I wanted to see the lightning struck rock. But the dirt road was not motorable and we were not prepared for a trek in this rough terrain ...our sandals would not have lasted the 4km + 4km trek. Some other day. We decided to go to Pattadkal. Few kilometers down the road we saw the arch beckoning travelers to Mahakoota.

The moment we got out of the cab, we could feel the silence, it was so peaceful. We saw some pilgrims bathing in the fresh water stream in the front yard of the temple. The stream passed under the temple wall into a pond. We passed through the gateway past this Basavanna.

The inside is crowded with temples and varieties of sculptures scattered all over the place. Not all sculptures are ancient, I could see a few new sculptures too. For instance this mantapa below is a recent creation styled similar to the mantapa in Banavasi.

Shivalinga and Basavanna sculptures are aplenty. I guess there are about 8 to 10 temples within this complex with Basavanna facing each one of them.

Of all Basavannas, the one you see below looked most beautiful- color, shape, the decoration -it's different in every aspect. Chetan described it as a Gooli.

This temple is attention grabbing. The shikhara is captivating, makes me wonder how wonderfully talented were the people who created it. It's not just the looks but also the engineering behind it. This particular shikhara reminds me of a photo of Angkor Wat I'd seen long back.

A closer looks reveals so much details in each of the stones.

The most notable feature of this temple complex is the pond. Water is crystal clear. We climbed down the steps leading into the water, it was cool. Small black fish hovered around our feet, they were the most friendly fish I'd ever seen. Chetan noticed bubbles rising out from the pond bed. The color of the pond bed is just like Chilume Honda of Ulavi.

This is Ardhanaareswara, half man and half woman. I've seen similar sculpture in Alampur also. In fact the architectures are similar.

This is the only place I've seen temples and trees co-existing but I also feel trees are trying to grab what ever attention temples get.

We had seen most of the temple now and we had to end our stay and move on the next place ...we still had 4 more places to cover. Before turning back we thought we'll check out what was behind a gateway at the back of the temple. As we stepped out of the gateway two life size figures... Kaala and Kaali.

The couple zapped us out of our wits. So many questions arose- why were they made? are they guarding a graveyard? how would anybody feel if they saw it during a night? As you see, both seem like skeletons covered with skin. We got so engrossed studying and discussing these two characters we had to force ourselves to move on.

As we walked back to the car-park we saw a well, water was just 6 feet below ground level and we saw three turtles swimming peacefully. We bought guavas from a woman asked to stay back. It seems most people come here to stay for a day at least. We told her an outline of our plan and hoped to see her again. We moved on towards Pattadkal.

Back home I read the DH article and realized that Sidlaphadi was just one kilometer from Mahakoota. I have plans to visit again, stay overnight at Mahakoota and see Sidlaphadi.

Aug 16, 2010

Idagundi, Kavadikere, Magod and Jenukalgudda

February 2010

This particular trip was literally planned over months with a trial of discussions. Finally it was a seven member group- Yasmeen, Vidya, Shweta, Shilpa, Marina, Arshiya and me. We hired a Chevrolet Tavera for the trip. My first ride in Tavera. I just did not like the vehicle. Journey was not really comfortable with it's crammed seating and rolling ride. I'll never again hire this vehicle. Not a good start?

It was still dark when we picked Marina from Gokul Road, Hubli. We were moving towards Yellapur, all excited to see Lalguli Waterfalls, especially Vidya. We were glad to have left early but... few kilometers after Kalghatgi we saw a line of ore laden trucks parked on our left. It was light now. We seemed to be driving past an endless line of trucks. After about 3 kilometers the left lane was blocked. We drove on the right lane past between two parallel lines of trucks and finally we came to an halt. We were surrounded by trucks. We heard people saying they were stuck since 3AM and someone gave an expert opinion that this mess would take another 3 hours to clear.

I was praying silently, wishing to slip out of quickly. Yes, prayers answered. We drove past the damned ore transshipment center, the sole reason behind this jam. It seems this is a daily affair on this highway. Trucks from Bellary reach here early mornings queuing up to unload ore. Unloading would start at day-break. More and more trucks keep joining the line stretching up to 10 kilometers at times. This means mining businesses use national highways for their own needs.

Finally we were moving as we should be normally moving on a highway. About 10kms before Yellapur, we turned right- road to Haliyal. We asked for directions to Lalguli falls and we overshot the left turn by 6kms. However the road was good, running through thick jungle. We could see plenty of wild fowls. Anyway took a U-turn at a Forest Check Post. The road to Lalguli falls was narrow and in bad shape. We drove deeper into the jungle. On the way we stopped people and asked about water at the falls. No. This is the wrong time of the year. Anyway, we were hungry we stopped to have idlis cooked in jack fruit leaves.

Same info at Lalguli village. One of the locals described it would be a long trek to see nothing. We decided not to go.

Our next stop was Veena's place- Idagundi. The night before was Maha-Shivaratri and Veena was awake through the night. Veena looked tired but still she mustered energy to give us a tour of their family arecanut plantation. Veena had experimented with Vanilla plants and she explained the process of pollination. Back in the house Veena's mother had made avalakki and paanka.

That's Ramlingeswara temple which is quite popular in Yellapur area. Veena's cousin Mahesh accompanied me to the temple. He told me stories connected with this temple. One day I need to sit with him and listen. I remember during my last visit, I heard the Kannada word for wedding reception- mitrabhojana.

Our next destination- Kavdikere. We asked Veena to join us but she declined.

We trekked the trial along the lake's 2.5km perimeter. We stopped by to eat water melon. It was delicious.

Naaz could identify an insect eating plant on the moist lake bed. It was pretty warm even though we were walking in partial shade. By the time we came back to the Tavera the gang was exhausted. I wonder how many cursed my for coming up with this idea. No appetite for lunch but we did have. We fed rice and kalinapalya to few cows. We moved on to Magod waterfall.

We rested a while here. For few minutes I felt a peaceful feeling coming over me by watching the water cascading down the rocks and birds flying freely above this deep gorge. These birds seemed supremely confident.

Our final destination of our day- Jeukalgudda. We made tea. It turned out pretty good and refreshing after a tiring day. We could not see the sun set but we saw it fading into the mist on the horizon. EOD.

Does the sky look honey colored?
Jenukal = Jenu + Kal ~ Honey + Stone

We chatted most of the way back. I was busy watching the road and our cab driver. We dropped off Marina and we were back in Dharwad by 9-15PM. The outing was not really an ideal one but the moments would remain in our memories.


Aug 9, 2010

Neersagar, Sidharoodha Mutta, Gundyall Lake & Moorsavira Mutta

Hubli is one city I always avoid. That's because it's crowded, noisy and dusty. But my wish to visit Sidda Ruda Muttaand Moorsavira Mutta was pending for quite some time. Chetan, my colleague, is from Hubli. During a lunch break, we spoke about places around Hubli and struck a plan to visit both muttas coming Saturday. July 31, after work, over lunch at Sheetal Goan Fishland we decided to visit Neersagar also.

Neersagar always known as Dummadkeri is about 15km away from Dharwad on Kalghatgi road between Jodalli and Dummad. As we drove on Kalghatgi road, we saw green fields. Just before Dummad we turned took a small road to our right. About 2km down the road we were at Neersagar gate. Wind was blowing in from the west. It started to rain as we reached the steps leading up the reservoir bund.

We took shelter under the gate-house. Air was fresh and cool. Few minutes later it stopped raining and we walked on the bund. We could see few kites being harassed by crows. We saw a butterflies defying the windy conditions. I remembered Deepak telling "butterflies are one of the best fliers, one moment they are here and the next moment they are else where." It's so true!

I learnt from Chetan that Neersagar water is supplied water to Hubli. Our next destination was Sidharoodha Mutta. We drove back towards Dharwad, went through the underpass for Dharwad-Hubli bypass and at Kanvihonnapur took right towards Taryal, the industrial area of Hubli. We drove past Hubli Airport and then on Gokul road we took a right- straight to our destination.

I imagined the Matha to be bigger place than what I saw. On Chetan's insistence we went to the Matha's pond to see fish. I was thrilled to see the fishes of various sizes. Couple of them were about one and half foot long. It's started pouring all of a sudden, we rushed to the car and decided to head towards Gundyal Lake. We drove through the narrow lanes of old Hubli and soon we were outside Hubli driving towards Devaragudyall.

Surprisingly the road was good, after about 10km, we took a narrow dirt road to our right. In a minute the Gundyal lake was in view. With paper plates and plastic cups strewn around I could guess this is a good place for youngsters to party. We drove on the bund, past the gate house. Water from this lake is supplied to Hubli Railway Junction. We spent some time on the lake bank watching local people go about their chores. Some boys were cleaning a battered red Maruti Zen, few women washing clothes, some youth trying to catch fish for dinner few others simply loitering around. One dog was lazing around on the grass. I saw one of the guys pull out a half-filled quarter bottle from his pocket, dip in the water carefully so that water mixed with the booze, held it up to his eyes, satisfied with his handy work, took a long swig.

There's nothing special about the place but it definitely is peaceful and probably we get to see some water birds too. One thing I did like was the waves created by the wind, it looked as though water was flowing. It was time to move on, our next destination- Moorusaavira Mutta.

We were driving past Bharat Mills' imposing chimney. We stopped and shot few pictures. Chetan and me stood there admiring the chimney built sometime during the British rule.

Chetan gave me directions and at one point I asked if he was sure about the roads ...should we stop and ask for directions. Can we ask three thousand Matha? No, we cannot. We negotiated the narrow lanes (may be I should simple say lanes because all roads in Hubli are narrow) of market area ...the massive gateway built of stone was right ahead of us. We parked, washed our feet and hands and went in- Moorusavira Matha.

The temple was under ground. The place is well maintained. We spent few minutes looking around. I was little tired and hungry.

Chetan suggested Kamat Hotel was the best and also close by. We left the car in the Mutha, walked to Kamat. Over idlis and tea we spoke about other places we could visit. It seems Hubli fish market is a very interesting place, we get to see hundreds of varieties of sea creatures including octopus, hammerhead shark and sting rays. ...some day I'll visit it. We said bye and split.

It was nice way to spend Saturday afternoon.