Feb 28, 2011

Sri Kalakaleswara Temple, Gajendragad

I had stopped here on the way to Gajendragad Fort some time November 2010. Kalakaleswaragudi is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in a rock hill. The temple is about 4km from Gajendragad off Gajendragad-Nargund Road. The temple is a popular pilgrim center in Dharwad and Gadag districts.

The climb from the base of the hill to the temple is about 200 steps. About three-fourth way uphill, two 20 feet tall deepastambas stand. I guess these lamp-pillars are lit up during Sankranthi.

A Basavanna sits in a corner probably noticed only by little kids.

Unique feature of this temple is a waterfall. Water from a natural spring dives down from about 80 feet. Several plants have grown out the gaps in the rocks with aerial rots trying to reach down.

Water drips down two of the plant's roots and collects in a 8'x8' stone-walled tank.

The temple deity is enclosed by stone walls. The enclosure was crowded with just about 60 people. A board proclaimed 'No Photography'. I saw a Halegannada inscription here. The place is congested and I could barely get to see the deities. However I rang the bells, prayed and came out.

This hill range starts near Munvalli and passes through Saundatti, Nargund, Gajendragad and beyond.

In the picture above, you can catch a glimpse of Gajendragad Fort, built by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, sitting atop this hill. Some how this narration is half-hearted ...I hope these videos of Kalakaleswara Temple help. It's an interesting place, better seen when less crowded.

Kalakaleswara Temple Coordinates: 15°45'56"N 75°57'27"E


Feb 21, 2011

Sri Karikannamma Temple

October 2, 2010. On the way back from Apsarakonda, we had enough time. We decided to check out Ramtheeth and Karikannamma Temple commonly known as Sri Karikana Parameshwari Devastana. The temple is located on one of the highest peaks off NH17, about 12 kms from Honnavar. In fact the hill is visible clearly from the highway.

On the outskirts on Honavar, we turned off NH17 to our right. The road barely has any traffic... soon we were at a small village with an arch across the road going up the hill. We went up the twisty roads winding up the jungle covered hill. The road was pretty narrow and drivers need to be extremely alert. The road got steeper was we progressed and the air got cooler as we went higher. Soon we were in front of the temple gates. In the parking area heaps of dressed stones and sand were dumped ...signs of construction activity. Ours was the vehicle apart from two bikes already there.

First we saw a couple of large rooms scattered with cooking material, looks like a family conducted a pooja earlier in the day. in there we could see about 4 or 5 men chatting away ...probably after a nice feast. We asked these people for directions to the sanctum sanctorum ...just go ahead, you can see it on the right. We rang bells and a poojari came, opened the doors and did arti to the deity and gave us prasad.

The poojari closed the doors and went back to his company. We sat here for a while.

That's a two feet idol of a tiger facing the temple deity.

The temple must be about a hundred feet from the summit of this peak. The air was fresh and cool. It was silent and we could hear flowing water from the jungle below. We could see the Arabian sea shimmering... it would be warm and humid down there. We got a real-time comparison of two contrasting weather conditions.

A bunch of baby monkeys played on the rocks and branches of trees. They were mischievous... leaping, swinging, sliding, rolling... it was feat to watch them. One of them actually was hanging on to another's tail and swinging. The bigger monkeys stayed close by but gave the little ones enough freedom. There were a bit too far for us to take good pictures.

There's the Arabian Sea. Honavar is spread across the middle of the horizon. A small dot sits on the horizon, that's an island.

That's Basavaraja Durga.

We spent some time admiring nature and enjoying the cool air. I inquired if we could stay here over night. Yes, we could. I made up my mind to come and spend a day & night here some time. it would be fun to walk the hill road early morning.

Time to leave. We still had to go to Mirjan Fort and then to Gokarna to see sunset. We stopped half-way down the hill- it was warm here, we could feel the heat radiating from the tarmac below us.

If you are passing by or visting Honavar, do make some time to visit this wonderful hill.

Sri Karikana Parameshwari Temple Coordinates: 14°21'4"N 74°30'24"E


Feb 14, 2011

Gulbarga Fort

My maiden visit to Gulburga, the hottest district of Karnataka. January 29th, the final day of my four day visit of Bijapur, Bidar and Gulburga. We stayed 28-29 night at Heritage Inn, a minute's walk from Gulburga Fort's main entrance and a stones throw from the south-eastern wall. I woke up early and went out for a tea. The only place active was a street vendor, the owner had just preparing the first batch. I was his second customer of the day, tea was just too good ...I had two glasses. I had bath and ready to face the day. While I waited for my 3 uncles to get ready, I went up to the terrace to get few of shots of the fort.

To the left.

To the right.

Water in the moat is covered by a layer of water plant commonly seen in our lakes.

A board close to the Fort's main entrance. The temple in the in board is Sharanabasaveswara Temple, 10 minute walk from here. Another ASI board gave some useful info about the monument.

Gulburga Fort- The Fort in Gulburga, the capital of Bahamani Empire between 1347 to 1424 AD, was probably built by Raja Culchand of Warangal and afterwards strengthened by Ala-ud-dir Bahamani, is occupying an area of 74.10 acres and a circumfrence of 3 kilometers and consists of two rounds of fortifications. The outer wall is os lesser height while tinner fort wall is of greater height. There is s 30 feet deep moat around the fort. The fort carries tene (or Kanguras) at regular intervals and has 15 bastions and 26 guns. One of the cannon is about 29 feet long. the Principal gateways on the Wastern and western sides consists of pointed arches with openings flanked by bastions, approached by bridges across the moat. There is a continous parapet of merlons, raised over gateways, provided with narrow openings in them, through which muskets were fired. Though the palace and other structures inside the fort are in ruins, the Jumma Masjid which is still well preserved is noteworthy.

The main gateway to Gulgurga Fort.

Moat and wall to the left of gateway.

I've marked four places we saw in this screen shot of Google map.
A. main gateway to the east
B. central bastion, the command center
C. 29 feet cannon on a bastion in the western wall
D. Jumma Masjid

The central bastion. The gate was still locked. On request the caretaker let us in. One of the kids, Zuber, living in the fort, there are about 50 houses within the fort, got friendly and offered to be our guide.

We asked Zuber if he could read inscriptions, he said he cannot since there are in Arabi. Zuber went about narrating things about the fort and Bahamani kings ...I regret n\for not recording his narration. Zuber studies at a Madrasa in Hyderabad and he was here for a vacation.

The ruins have seen plenty of repair work. Thanks to ASI.

The bastion could be 80 feet high. It gives a commanding view of the city and it's surroundings.

Three cannons rest here. Centuries ago they must have seen plenty of action.

This is the largest of the three canons. Also one of the best preserved ones ever seen. Even the swivel is in working condition.. only we need men strong enough to push it around.

From here he pointed out few other monuments on the western side of Gulburga like Chor Gumbaz, Sheikh ka Roza and one more I cannot recall. We decided to check out the tall minars of Sheikh ka Roza later. He would be our guide for the day. He would also take us to the famous Khwaja Bande Nawaz Durgah. Zuber lead us to the 29 feet cannon.

Considering the extreme weather conditions here, the cannon is pretty well preserved.

Jumma Masjid or Jamia Masjid as seen from the central bastion.

Western wall of the mosque.

An ASI board has some useful information.
Jumma Maszid Gulburga- Jumma Maszid, also know as the Great moasque, was built and completed in 1367 by Rafi an architect hailing from Kwajwin province of Iran, during the reign of Mohamad I. it has a length of 176 feet (north-south) and can accomodate 5000 worshippers. It has neither a courtyard nor a hauz that were found in a traditional mosque. Supported on 140 pillars, it has 250 arches and five large domes of which the central dome is 80 feet in diameter and its interior surface is decorated with flowers and creepers. Ther are 63 smaller domes also. Persian architectural traditions and Indo-Islamic architectural features are seen in this mosque. Considerign the plan of this mosque it is usually said it resembles the famous mosque of Cardova city in Spain. But Yazdani opines that this mosque followed the plan of the Turkish mosques stylistically contemporary to the Byzantine.

A chandelier hangs from the main dome.

Zuber was talkative and seemed to have so much knowledge his fort and this mosque. He even knew a Urdu term for the perspective created by the intersecting lines of the arches. I forgot and now regret for not noting taking notes.

I happened to see additional info about this mosque on Wikimapia. The mosque is also known as Masjid-e-Husham, constructed during Sultan Feroz Shah Bahmani's reign, the successor of the Bahmani Sultanate founder Hassan Gango Bahmani.

The inside of the mosque feels wonderfully cool.

A bunch of kids were here attending a Maulvi's classes. They were excited to see visitors this early. Few kids asked for pens... Zuber told me "angrez samajthe aapko" :)

We bundled into our hired Tavera, including Zuber and headed towards our hotel. We all had breakfast, checked out and then set out towards the other two destinations- Sheikh ka Roza and Khwaja Bande Nawaz Durgah.

Gulburga Fort Coordinates: 17°20'26"N 76°49'51"E


Feb 7, 2011

Gajendragad Fort

It's been a long time wish to see this hill fort... since college days. I heard about Gajendragad Fort from my engineering classmate Abdul Wahab.

October 2010.

I was one a day-trip with one of my maternal uncles, places for the day were Nargund fort, Sudi, Gajendragad Fort, Naregal and Annigeri. At Nargund we saw Sri Venkateswara temple, had breakfast but skipped the fort. We stopped at Sudi to check out it's lovely temples. About 4 km to Gajendragad town, we stopped at Kalakalesawara temple for almost an hour. At Gajendragad, we had pass through the busy market street to reach the base of the hill. We parked the cab close to the Gorphade mansion, the only way to climb the hill is by foot. The steps leading up the hill looked daunting to mama, he stayed back in the cab.

It's been a while I'd climbed but I went up slow, almost non-stop.

The bastions. The entrance is hidden from this view.

Well used steps. I could see kids and ladies with baskets climbing. I wonder what's their interest was.

Lord Hanuman's idol in the small whitewashed temple about two-thirds way up.

Almost there. The other side of the hill.

That's the entrance to the fort.

Simple but lovely art decorates the doorway.

A five headed snake.

Two lions facing each other.

Architecture typical to temples and forts of Maharashtra. This fort was built during Chatrapathi Shivaji's reign. The Gorphades were the rulers of Gajendragad.

More art work.

Inscription in Marathi ...that's my guess.

Inside the fort, looking towards the gateway. I went up the steps.

A tank carved out in bed of rock. This would be used to store rain water for soldiers' use.

Elephant head. Gajendragad = Gajendra + gad = elephant + fort. Was it supposed to mean as the fort was as strong as an elephant? But what's the idea of this idol in the tank wall. There was no information available, not board or a guide I could see.

I went walking along the wall.

Stopping to admire the view.

Gorphade mansion which had seen better days. Even though it was sunny, I could not feel the heat much because of the constantly blowing wind.

I wonder how workers moved these heavy stones so close to the edges.

The wall went on and on. I'd had a light breakfast and was getting hungry now. I decided to cut my tour of the wall and headed towards the center which is more or less flat open field. The Durgah caught my attention. I prayed, paid some money to the care-taker and got a spoonful sugar as prasad. Now I know why people come here. Few Muslim ladies were picnicking in the shade of a small tree close by ...visitors to Durgah.

A little mosque.

Close to the Durgah was this Deepastamba. From here I could see Kalakaleswaar temple.

From the Durgah I walked towards some ruins which looked like a small fort within the fort. Probably it housed the commanding officer's residence and office. Another water tank carved out of the rock.

The inside of the fort with a fort.

Looks like work some art work was abandoned. I cannot stop marvelling at skill and talent to shape stones back then. I was getting more hungry with every passing moment. I decided to head back.

Another long time wish was to see wind mills real closely. This visit made that wish come true. I spoke to the shepherd from a village close to Belgaum. I was shooting a video, the shepherds dog happened to get into the view, he was so happy to see his dog in the video when I played it for him :)

I said bye to him and then to the fort. I descended much faster then I had ascended. Back at the car I got a good wash and then gulped down water and headed out of Gajendragad towards Naregal. Two dhabas we passed by were closed because of Deepawali. Great! We had control our hunger for another 30 minutes until we reached Naregal.

Gajendragad Fort videos.

Gajendragad Fort Coordinates: 15°44'28"N 75°57'55"E