Dec 27, 2010

Lalgulli Falls. Where is it?

Search for Lalguli Falls and you get a dozen results. Most sites give the same information: Lalguli Falls is in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. It is 13kms from Yellapur. One favorite line used in many is "Lalguli Falls attracts thousands of visitors every year." None of the blogs give directions. There's one common picture of the falls floating around on all sites which I doubt is Lalguli Falls.

We went on a trip in February 2010 and ended up disappointed. Reasons: we did not reach the falls because we were told it was a long trek through rough terrain and there would be no water at this time of the year. We realized September to October would be the ideal time to visit any of the waterfalls in Yellapur region.

We planned another trip mid November. Neelkant and I drove down to Lalguli village via Haliyal, Bhagawathi, Kannigeri and Vadehukli.

straight to Yellapur
turn right to reach Vadehukli and Kannigeri

two minute stop

Agriculture Department Board at Vadehukli

At Lalguli village we spoke to Khaitan Degasiddi Lalguli, tribal with roots in Africa.

The Siddi told us that Lalguli falls is a 6+ kilometer trek through the forest and there are many elephants, it's dangerous. Then he said that the falls is closer to Tatval, a hamlet on Haliyal-Kannigeri road. Directions given to us: just after Tatval you see a bridge, little ahead is a forest check-post, ask the forest guard for directions. Lalguli falls is just 2 kilometer trek from the check-post. The alternate sounded doable and we were happy that somebody is guiding with the right info. We thanked our Siddi friend and left.

We drove back towards Kannigeri and then to Tatval.

We stopped at the Tatval, we could see a small arch dedicated to Ravalnath temple. Right besides the arch is a Dargah. A local man told us to visit the temple, we made a quick visit since we were eager to find Lalguli Falls. We found the forest check-post and a young forest guard who had just got out of the bed. This guy had not even heard the name "Lalguli". Our hopes down. He told us to inquire at another check-post further up the road. Fine. The next check-post was deserted. No sign of anybody near by.

I remembered seeing a board pointing directions to Tattihalla Forest Training Center.

I imagined that forest officers could have good knowledge about the area and we decided to go and inquire. The road also connects to Tattihalla Dam & Reservoir... we thought we'll see it first and then come back to the Forest Training Center.

At Tattihalla Dam, we found the gates open, no guards in sight but a few workers were cleaning weeds, they let us in. We walked about 100 meters, Sun was blazing, air was thick with humidity, we were hungry, back to the car. We had bread, jam and chatni.

We came down the road parked the car close to the second entrance to the dam. We went up the steps leading to the top of the dam wall. Photography was banned here :( At the top, a guard was shocked to see us. He told us if any officer turns up he would loose his job. We spent a few minutes trying to absorb the dam's statistics.

As we reached Tattihalla Forest Training Center we found this person closing the gate. Demanna, from Bagavathi. A short chat revealed he frequented the training center. We also inquired the route to Ambikanagar just in case we do not learn anything useful about Lalguli falls. Demanna introduced us to one of the junior staff. The officer was in-charge of the center, Mr.Barretto, Assistant Conservator of Forests, was in his office. Mr.Barretto said that he had visited Lalgulli Falls, it's a 3km trek from lalguli village. Now I was totally confused. Where on this Earth is Lalguli Falls?? Anyway, we thanked Mr.Barretto and drove towards Ambikanagar.

We turned left at Bagavathi towards Ambikanagar.

A four way junction. Our destination to the left. At Ambikanagar we met the security chief, we wanted permission to visit Skykes Point and Kavala caves. Sorry. Public not allowed without reference from a working KPTCL staff. The officer told us security is tight because of terrorists' threat. Disappointment again. We drove out of Ambikanagar...

The muddy waters of River Kali. I used to wonder why it's always so muddy.

We were hungry, we located Erappana Lingayat Khanavali, about 100m from Rani Chennamma Circle, Dandeli. The khanavali owner's one year old girl came out from the kitchen covered in flour :) ...she actually was thrown out of the kitchen for troubling her mom. The jolada rotti meal was satisfying. I would definitely stop here if I ever need to stop for food at Dandeli. On inquiring for tourists spots nearby, khanavali owner suggested Moulangi ...river Kali.

The 6km drive took us almost half an hour. Yes, that's river Kali at Moulangi.

This is an ideal picnic spot for Dandeli people. One family had already set up an open air kitchen and another family who had just arrived were gathering firewood and setting up their kitchen. Neelkant and I were little sluggish... thanks to the meal. The Sun was too bright for comfort. We decided to head back home.

Back home I checked out Google maps ...postmortem of our trip. I located Lalguli village, Tatval, Tattihalla FTC and Moulangi. So Kalinadi is not really muddy until the stream joins at Maulangi. The small white strip running parallel to the orange stream is the road leading to Maulangi.

The entire week I broke my head over Lalguli...


Dec 20, 2010

Cave temple of Amminabhavi

I heard about Aminbhavi's cave temple from Shrikant, a trusted driver with Janani Travels. Shrikanth's description about the place made me inquisitive and decided to visit it.

The cave temple is inside a Hindu cemetery, about 200m from Dharwad-Saundatti road. The underground cave was carved out of a monolith single handedly by an ascetic between 1962 and 1977. The ascetic was a worshiper of Lord Shiva.

This board reads "Rundra Bhumi Gavi Aminbhavi" and gives a preview of the place: the artistic impression of the ascetic meditating and the four important art works of this temple. Going clockwise from top right image: Shiva Linga, five headed Nagappa, Basavanna and self portrait of the ascetic. The board also mentions the date of establishment.

Company of the day- Veerersh, Chetan and Neelkant. The visit would have been less interesting without these guys around.

The front yard is little messy with firewood and the utensils strewn around. A notable feature in the front yard: two fully grown ganja plants. However the inside of the cave is clean except for powdery mud which coats the floor and walls.

The gateway to the temple. I remember Shrikanth telling that the ascetic who created this temple landed himself in trouble with the law and was evicted from here. The person in this picture, the current swami, takes care of the temple now. He's lighting two kerosene lamps... the cave is really dark.

Cave's plan

Camera flash was useless because of kerosene smoke. Light would reflect and make pictures hazy. I decided to shoot without flash but that's not easy... hands have to be rock-steady. The little tripod came in handy.

Though orange dominates the picture, these images give a better feel of the place. This is the five headed Nagappa.

The star-shaped fire-pit. Few feet from the pit to the right is the meditation chamber.

Self-portrait of the ascetic.

Wish I had a bigger tripod... This image is shaky. Our artist-ascetic was definitely skilled in carving stones. Arches in doorways were symmetric and decorated floral and geometric motifs. In fact the ascetic was a good civil engineer with a great sense of architecture.

Part of the Basavanna can be seen here. Shiva Linga was behind me. behind these guys the doorway which opens to the hall.

We are in the center of the hall. See the arches on the ceiling

Thanks to the junior swami for the tour. I don't think he missed any of the details. In the beginning a bat zipped past us. Veeresh asked if they attack to which this Swami said "No, they are harmless. They too are lives like us."

End of the tour I asked the Swami to play the tamburee... he chanted Om Namaha Shiva with the tamburi's twang in the background. The Trishul looks deadly.

I placed a 50 rupee note on the platform, in front of the photo. According to Hindu tradition, when one meets holy men, food grains or money should be donated to them. I wish the money is utilized sensibly.

Shiva bhaktas like the one here are known to use ganja (marijuana) on a regular basis. We plucked 3 little branches with the beautiful five-pointed leaves to take home. Personally I feel Ganja is better than alcohol, Ganja makes a person introvert while alcohol makes a person extrovert. Ascetics smoke Ganja to turn their minds inward... towards inner-space.

Do check out one of the ... Aminbhavi Cave Temple videos.

I liked the cave temple, it' on my list of places to visit again. The name Aminbhavi roughly translates to Amin's Well. It's said the well is huge. Also Aminbhavi's Jain Basti is well known ...we'll come again for these two. We moved on since we had to cover two more places on our itinerary- Parasgad Fort and Hooli.

Cave temple coordinates: 15°32'2"N 75°3'30"E


Dec 13, 2010

Hampi story in Light & Sound

Last Friday I read about the show in DH. I called Sudhin to check if he was in Dharwad. No, he was at Bekal Fort near Kasargod. He asked me attend the shows. Two shows were organised- Saturday and Sunday. He told me to get in touch with Hari Krishna, in-charge of the team and the sets. Sudhin asked me to check out the sets when it was still light.

Saturday morning I spoke to Hari Krishna and at 5-45 PM Suresh mama, Praveen and I were at the venue R N Shetty Stadium. We met Hari who was understandably tense awaiting government dignitaries Jagdish Shettar, PWD Minister and Darpan Jain DC, Dharwad District and few others. While we waited, we could see the crowd build up. By 7-15 the stadium was packed. We were comfortable on the first row in the front, the best place to watch a light & sound show. The dignitaries arrived and after a low-key opening ceremony the show started at 7-30. The speakers blasted out sounds that could drown out every other sound... at times we could not hear ourselves talk. I recorded about 60 minutes of the 66 minute show.

The crowd just loved the colorful spectacle and sound effect was mind-blowing. Youngsters would cheer and whistle when the entire set lit up... all lights blazing away at the same time. It was one hell of a show. Later both mamas and me went out for dinner at Hotel Ream Land near Tegur cross, about 15kms from Dharwad.

Sunday morning I was back at RNS Stadium to see the sets. It takes 12 trucks to move all this material and another 6 vehicles to move the 60 crew members. Lot of logistics involved which means lot of problems to tackle. Good work by KK, Sudhin and rest of the team. This program is organized by the Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka and executed by Innovative Lighting Systems Corp., Bangalore.


Lotus Mahal

Virupaksha temple and other ruins

Sasive Kalu Ganesha

Stone Chariot

Elephant stables

Virupaksha temple

Gateway to Virupaksha temple.

The powerful lamps which make the sets come alive.

Scaffolding which hold up the images.

One of the two speaker towers. Maximum output from the speakers is 50,000 Watts.

The mobile control room. I should have taken a picture of the two mobile generators too. No pictures of the crew since most had been out.

Link to Hampi Light and Sound Show videos.

KK, Sudhin and team have also executed Rani Chennamma Light & Sound Show at Kittur during Kitturu Utsava. Wish them all the best for their future projects.