Sep 27, 2010

Sri Lakshminarayana Mahamaya Temple, Ankola

My plan for the day was to visit Mirjan Fort, Apsarakonda and if possible Basavaraju Durga. I had hired a taxi for the day, Shrikanth behind the wheel, we left Dharwad by 5 PM. Hardly any traffic, drive was relaxed... as we passed by Yellapur and Idagundi the skies opened up. After a while we were driving a full scale downpour. As we drove further down the ghat section the intensity seemed to increase. I thought there goes my day! How can I see any place in this kind of downpour?

We were supposed to turn left couple of kilometers before Mastikatti and take a short-cut to Gokarn Cross. We realized we missed that road when we entered Mastikatti. Shrikanth blamed it on a car driver who caused confusion while overtaking us. We decided to carry on... through Ankola.

Few kilometers before we hit the West Coast Road, rains had almost stopped... few drops here and there. We stopped for a moment to check out tourists spots. Mahamaya Temple caught my attention.

As we entered Ankola rains had stopped completely. I wished the weather held for the rest of the day. However we decided to pick up an umbrella. Ankola city created a good impression, I liked the town. We got directions and drove through the rain water drenched narrow green moss coated wall lined streets. It was easy to find.

That's the gateway to Mahamaya Temple.

Typical Konkan architecture.

Somehow I felt I was looking at a Japanese Shinto Temple.

Temple premises is clean, everything in its place. Inside the temple, columns, ceiling and floor were shiny. The deity was decorated elaborately with jewels. Tidiness showed how efficiently the temple was managed. Photographing the temple interiors is not allowed.

I was curious to know the temple's history. I got a booklet from the temple office. This is a private temple, owned and managed by few families with roots in Goa. Ancestors of these families migrated to Ankola in 1510 to escape Portuguese persecution. To know more read this scanned page of the temple booklet-

We went around the temple. The temple is surrounded by an administrative office, lodging for the Kulavis and priests' quarters.

Every aspect of the place is maintained well.

The place has a wonderful ambiance.

I was happy to have seen Mahamaya temple. Thanks to Shrikanth's momentary distraction... else we would be on our way to Mirjan Fort and missed this amazing temple.

On our way out of Hanumatta we stopped at another temple close by. Kulavis of that temple were busy preparing for Ganesha festival. In fact we saw some family members haul in a 3' Ganesha with kids preceding them noisily ringing bells and chimes. One of the kids was carrying an infant with a half scared-half worried look on it's sweet little face, wondering ...what ever are these guys up to? who's that colorful person with a funny nose being carried by four adults?

We drove out of Ankola towards bypass road, we stopped at Hotel Sapna for idli and tea. This little restaurant was clean and well maintained. I enjoyed my breakfast. Good way to start a day!

Soon we were on our way towards Kumta...


Sep 20, 2010

Someswara Gudi and Shalmala Ugamastala, Dharwad

Someswaragudi is a XII century temple dedicated to Shiva Linga probably built during Chalukyan times.

Since the temple sees regular maintenance- repairs and whitewash -it does not seem ancient. Once you step across the threshold and doorway, you'll notice the interior is still stone finish.

The Swami who performs pooja told me that the Shivalingu is a natural formation and not man-made.

Basavanna with jewelry around it's neck.

The raised foreleg is unique ...I've not seen this in any of the other Basavanna.

One of the four columns in the Sabhamantapa.

As you see the shikhara is a stepped pyramid.

This smaller structure is a Anjaneya temple.

A Bilvapatri tree.

and a Banni tree.

The temple is situated in a shallow valley. These hills... the hill range marks the border between the Bayaluseeme (plains) and Malanadu (hilly region).

The lake is generally known as Someswara Keri. About 25% of the water surface is covered with lotus plants.

A stone's throw from Someswara Gudi is the birth place of river Shalmala. The river's starting point is in the small temple on the edge of the pond. The water which collects in the pond flows out for a short distance and goes underground.

Shivalingu and the temple caretaker.

People, with a belief to wash away their problems, come here to take bath in the holy water and offer prayers at the temple.

Like any other Shiva Temple, there's a Bilva Patri tree with couple of ancient sculptures.

The pond water overflows in a trickle, flows about 40 feet ...gets absorbed back into the earth.

Few years back this valley was a silent place, away from the hustle-bustle of the city. Like any other city, Dharwad is growing rapidly ...swallowing it's surrounding hills, lakes, farm land and villages. :(


Sep 13, 2010

Amboli Ghats

I heard about Amboli sometime January 2010. Not the right time of the year to visit- that's my opinion. During rainy season the streams would be flowing, cascading and diving of hills... that's when we got to see during our visit mid July.

This trip was with two uncles, two cousins and a brother-in-law and my uncles family friends ...11 in all. A Trax Cruiser was hired for the trip. We left Dharwad by 6 30 AM, drove towards Belgaum. We stopped at Hotel Milan for breakfast and continued our journey towards Amboli. It was green every where... trees, paddy fields, hills, valleys...

We stopped by to check out this plant which covered entire hills ...looked just like a tea estate.

Our third stop was at Nangatarasakari Temple and Waterfall.

As you see this is a very unique waterfall... looks as though the shaft is man-made... like an open-well.

The pictures above do not describe the scene fully should watch the video.

Our next stop was at a sight-seeing point...

Except for this pavement nothing caught was in my interest ...very slippery.

Our next stop was at Amboli Dab-Daba- the most popular site on this stretch. In fact for tourists coming from Belgaum side this is the last sight-seeing point. If you drive along the road you'll reach Goa.

Two cousins and the BiL climbed up the cement steps leading to the base of the waterfall. I was in mood to get wet, I stayed back with the rest of the group.

I bought a roasted sweet corn for twenty rupees ...what a rip-off!

To escape the trouble-some monkeys, I went walking with the corn in my hand... a cave like formation on one of the adjoining hills.

Our next destination was Hiranyakeshi Ugamastan- birth place of river Hiranyakeshi.

Scene under the bridge was interesting.

Check out this short video to see a natural tunnel formation.

A ten minute walk brought us to this temple and a little cave. Water flows from under the temple flows into the little pond and flows in the jungle. Even though the place was filled with people, I did not find it noisy. The jungle created a different ambiance.

Inside the cave I had to bend at the waist.

This definitely an ideal spot for families to have fun. We had lunch watching a noisy group play in water.

After lunch I went exploring the woods. I liked the place. I wish to revisit next rainy season.

We walked back the ten minute stretch in rain. Drove back towards Belgaum.


Sep 6, 2010

Ramakrishna Ashram, Belgaum

August 22, 2010

My first visit to Belguam's Ramakrishna Ashram. I'd visited Bangalore ashram several times. The same peaceful ambiance can be experienced in both Ashram. This is the main meditation hall.

I was about to climb the steps an aged person sitting there told me to visit the tiled house first and then go up to the meditation hall.

Swami Vivekananda stayed here for nine days in 1892, from October 19th to October 27th.

Once inside I was surprised to see a life size statue of Swami Vivekananda. As you see it seems so real. An elderly person was meditating. I took pictures silently and went out quickly cell phone was not in silent mode and one can never say when those things start ringing.

Amazing talent of the artist who created the murthy.

The meditation hall looked neat & tidy. Three pictures at the inner end of the hall- Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in the middle, Sharada Devi to the right and Swami Vivekananda to the left. A monk had just started pooja. There were three other visitors in the hall.

I spent couple of minutes. I had to rush back to my relatives waiting at the Durgadevi temple at Belgaum Kote entrance.

I went down the steps, went past the book-store in the ground floor and back towards the gate. Like Bangalore's Ashram, this ashram too has a well maintained garden.

Wish to come here when ever I visit Belgaum again.

Within Belgaum fort is another historic monument - Kamala Basti, a Jain temple with mirror finish turned pillars.