Jul 31, 2011

Shrimantgad Fort

April 30, 2011

The drive between Mundargi and Shrimantgad was interesting. Plenty of hills and roads flowing through the valleys. Most hills were covered with shrubs and trees. Few hills had windmills towering over them and we could see activities of setting up new wind farms. We took a wrong turn at Belavadi towards Shirhatti and ended up travelling a round about route. I realized my mistake- should have asked for Havalavvagudda instead of Shirhatti (shortest route from Mundargi to Shrimantgad is via Bannikoppa, Suganahalli and Belahatti). Few kilometers from Shirhatti, we took a turn towards Varvi, a village known for Muneshwara Matha. We stopped at the Matha for some time. It was around 12-30 when we reached Shrimantgad. Local people call it Havalavvagudda but officially it is Shrimantgad.

The drive up the hill is a short one. I stopped few times to take these 3 shots on the way up.

Google map grab of the fort.

A - Gateway
B - Havalamma Gudi
C - Flag Bastion
D - Secret passage
E - Water tank

We park the car close to the gateway and walked to the flag bastion. I wanted to walk the entire perimeter of the fort. I start off clock-wise. The portion where I'm standing on has been repaired. Thanks to the people involved in maintaining this fort. That's the flag bastion at the end of the wall.

Steps like these at regular intervals. Walls in this part of the fort are at the tallest.

As seen from the flag bastion.

A small passage. This is one of the 5 or 6 I could spot. I wonder why so many, they would compromise security. Of course they would be heavily guarded yet I fail to understand why so many. Chitradurga fort, a much bigger fort had just one known secret passage which eventually was used by enemies to enter and capture.

No that's not how thick the wall is, its 3 times wider than it appears. The outer side is higher than the inner side to shield soldiers walking on the wall.

I came out through that little passage.

Sad to see this fort crumbling away. Not an easy job to maintain forts but if taken seriously all our monuments could be preserved and protected. Perhaps our government can stop building Vidhana Soudhas and money could be spent on preserving our history.

Standing on one of the bastions... you can see a seat in ruins on the right.

Looking along the wall from the bastion.

That's Havalamma Temple in the background. The annual fair held here is attended by thousand of people.

The hill's gets narrower and steeper from here. The walls are not as high and stand on edges.

Looking back the way I came. Close to here the wall takes a U-turn.

Now I'm on the northern side looking at the tank to capture rain water. Close to this is the temple.

I was tired and uncomfortable after the walk around the fort. The break was welcome. At the temple a little boy showed me the way to a water tap. The wash freshened me up. The temple is small. During the pooja a man sitting in the temple played his drum as the poojari waved the holy flame at the Goddess. The sound of drum broke the silence of the place for a minute.

The little boy asked me to have Prasad. Right on time, I was hungry. Yellappa and I sat in a tiled roof hall right next to the temple and had anna-saru. Saru was spicy and tasty, I asked for a second helping. We washed our plates and put them back on the serving table. Said bye to the little boy and his father. They were in charge of serving Prasad to visitors.

At the temple office we inquired for a book about the place, no such luck. There's no information board about this place. Shrimantgad could have been under Chatrapati Shivaji... that's my guess. ...should've inquired with the temple priest.

Here's one of the two videos shot at Shrimantgad.

We head towards Laxmeshwar, the temple village.

Shrimantgad Fort Coordinates: 15°6'54"N 75°36'43"E


Jul 24, 2011

Mundargi Fort

I learnt about several forts within 100km from Dharwad- Mundargi fort, Shrimantgad fort, Savanur and Bankapur. My plan for the day was to visit all. The route planned was to reach Mundargi via Kundgol and Laxmeshwar but Yellappa (taxi driver) suggested we go via Gadag and Dambal. We stopped at Dambal to see the Chalukyan era Doddabasappa temple. Stop at Dambal lead to discovery of another monument called Jappadbhavi, an ancient temple built around a well. On the way to Jappadbhavi we happened by drive by a wall which happened to be Dambal fort wall. That lead to discovery of another fort.

We drive down from Dambal to Mundargi. That's the hill as seen from the town outskirts. The white tower is a water tank. It looks almost as high as the hill.

Mundargi Hill, Fort and a fraction of the town.

A - Kanaka Narasimha Temple
B - Anjaneya Temple
C - Passage in Fort wall
D - Gateway
E - Water Tower
F - Shivalinga Temple

Closer look at the fort.

We had idli-vade at one of the restaurants and then we drive around the hill and stopped near Kanaka Narasimha Temple. The crumbling walls of Mundargi fort...

Quarrying goes on full swing. God knows how many hundreds of tonnes of stone has been chipped away from this hill. And the activity does not seem to be legal.

Even the stones from the walls are plundered.

One of the good looking wall connects two bastions and has a passage close to one of the bastions.

A hoopoe allowed me one picture and then took off.

As seen from the turret painted tricolor.

Another gateway.

The towering water tank.

This part of the fort is scattered with Jaaligida and littered with Jaali thorns. One more bastion standing... but may not be here for long.

On the left is a temple dedicated to Shivalinga and on the right is a shelter.

Back to the wall with a passage.

See how close the hackers have got?

Nothing left of the fort. No information about when or who built the fort. This reminds me of Hooli fort. Kind of felt bad to see the ignored monument. I decided to had back down. That's Anjaneya temple.

The two polished lines are a result of people sliding down. This brings back the memories of the time we spent at Ragigudda at Bengaluru.

Steps leading up to Kanaka Narasimha temple.

Hacked away without mercy.

One of the videos I shot.

We move towards Shrimantgad Fort.

Mundargi Fort Coordinates: 15°12'33"N 75°52'46"E


Jul 17, 2011

Keshava temple of Somanathapura

Somanathapura is situated on the left bank of river Cauvery. Keshava temple was built in 1268 AD by Somanatha Dandanayaka, an illustrious general of Hoysala King Narasimha III (1254 to 1291 AD).

Keshava temple is a perfect example of Hoysala architecture. It stands on a raised platform in the centre of a spacious enclosure having 64 cells. The temple is Trikutachala, meaning it has 3 Garbha Grihas (sanctums), 3 Antaralas and a Navarang. The 3 sanctums are located West, South and North, one each for Keshava, Venugopala and Janardhana.

All 3 are connected. Its an ornately carved temple of magnificient craftmanship depicting Vishnu, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, Rati, Manmatha and Mahishasuramardini. The ceilings and door jambs leading to the sanctum sanctorium are exquisitely carved.

The base of the outerwall is ornamented with friezes of elephants, scrolls, epic and Puranic scenes, small images with intervning turrets and columns with figures in between, number of Gods and Goddesses and their attendents. The lathe turned pillars and delicately carved sixteen different types of ceilings are the characterstic feature of the Hoysala art. Names of number of sculptors- Mallithamma, Masanathamma, Chameya, Bhameya, etc. -are carved on the pedestals of the images. It is observed that Mallithamma has not only carved the maximum number of images but also carved the Northern sanctum of Janardhana.

There are inscriptions engraved on a slab standing at the entrance, inside the temple dated from 1269 to 1550 AD that details the construction of the temple and grants made to it.

There's the inscription, it's right there as soon as you enter the temple gateway.

Three Shikharas

Temple's main door with Dwarapalakas on either sides.

Multiple layers in every section of the structure are aligned perfectly. The North Shikhara

and West Shikhara.

The ceiling looks like wood-work; is it just for aesthetics or does it have a function.

Perfectly symmetrical, straight lines and right angles. I wonder what type of measuring instruments engineers of those days possessed to achieve this precision.

Layers of the lower section, starting from bottom-
* battle elephants
* cavalry
* floral art
* foot soldiers
* miniature columns and figurines
* miniature shikharas
* miniature columns and panels in between

Guides say that no two elephants or horses or any of the characters are same. All are unique.

Looks like Vishnu in sitting position ...I'm not sure. On the left is a standing female drummer.

A woman with Chakra & Shankha. The conical buttoned object on the left looks like maize ear.

Looks like Lord Vishnu.

Lord Brahma.

No idea who this is. Do take a close look at the design below the elephant. It's amazing!

Of the hundreds of elephants, I picked these two because of the decorative covering on their backs.

The classic scene of Vishnu and Laxmi relaxing on Adisesha. like the way Adisesha's tail the sculptor has positioned. Notice various sea creatures depicted on the left. How did these sculptors fit so much of details in this much space.

Soldiers on horse-backs charging in a battle.

Looks like a precision machined made for a spaceship.

Art of creating illusions. I did not recognize this as a face until I saw...

from the corner. A scary face!

My love for wheels is the reason for capturing the following four scenes with ox and horse carts; a family traveling, a business man taking his ware to market, soldiers traveling in ox-cart and a archers in horse drawn chariots engaged in battle.

A mare and a pony in battle-field.


Soldiers with rectangular shields.

The temple has countless such floral art work. A close look you'll know they are all different. Each one them are unique. How did the sculptors keep track of such details?

I was captivated by this scene of Mahishasura's slaying. This is very close to the temple's main door. I must have spent 15 minutes here.

Folds on the bison's back look so real. So do the horns, nostrils ...everything looks so real!

The rakhshasa's intestines are ripped out. Even the gory details are depicted so well.

Signature of the sculptor, reads like Mallithamma.

Temple has so much details that one can never claim to have seen everything in this temple.

I could be wrong in guessing identities. Please do correct me if any.

Keshava temple Coordinates: 12°16′33″N 76°52′54″E