Aug 27, 2011

Nagareshwara Temple, Bankapur Fort

Nagareshwara Gudi of Bankapur is one of the important archaeological monuments of Haveri district. The other important ones are; Purasiddeshwar Gudi, Haveri; Galaganatheswar Gudi, Galaganatha; Chaudayyadanapura Eshawar Gudi, Ranebennur and Tarakeshwar Gudi, Hangal.

I could not see the inside of the temple during my first visit to Bankapur Fort. I was here by 5-30 and the gate was locked. This is all I saw.

During the second, May 27th 2011, I reached by 8 in the morning. It wasn't open yet. I walked to another temple nearby where I could see signs of human activity, found the poojari and checked if he knew who was in-charge of temple. I was lucky, the temple care-taker was around and poojari asked him to show the temple.

The temple is known by the number of columns inside- 66 or 68. I'm not sure which number is right. Anyway, the columns are beautifully turned, polished and adorned with lot of art.

Though most of the columns have lost shine, the temple is pretty well maintained. I wonder why it is below ground level. Was it buried in dirt to protect it from the marauding armies?

These formation of little pits could have been used to play some sort of game. Probably these were created in recent times.

A typical column.

Most columns have this artistic ring at the mid section. This looks like a bangle and I'm pretty sure jewelry designers would have copied this pattern.

Many columns had four of these around them.

A complex art work inside a dome.

Difficult temple to shoot. With my poor skills at indoor photography, I could not do better.

The outer columns rising from the sitting platform have octagonal cross-section.

A collection of sculptures lie scattered around the temple. I remember seeing 2 or 3 flat-topped Islamic tomb markers within the temple compound.

This is the bottom most layer of the outer wall of the temple.

This is the best shot I got here. The engineering precision is amazing. How on Earth did the sculptors manage this precision!?

Couple of not good videos but enough to show what's missing from the pictures above.

Nagareshwara Temple Coordinates: 14°55'32"N 75°14'58"E


Aug 20, 2011

Bankapur Fort

April 30, 2011, it was around 5-30PM when I entered Bankapur fort.

An elderly gentleman taking a evening walk pointed out the directions to the ancient temple. People generally refer to any ancient temple as temple built by Jakanachari.

Bad luck, the gate was locked and nobody in sight. I went around the temple trying to get glimpses of the inside. No such luck, it was already dark inside.

I went exploring in search of fort wall. The fort wall (which is more of a mound of dirt) and the moat is densely covered by Jaaligida.

I did not bother to venture far. I could hear peacocks were calling each other. Bankapur fort is the second largest peacock sanctuary of India. The fort also houses an animal farm for breeding cattle and rabbits. But I was little disappointed for not getting to see fort walls.

Google Map screenshot of the fort.

A - Fort entrance
B - Tunnel
C - Garden & open-air museum
D - Nagareshwara temple

Back at the point where we met the elderly person, I stopped to check the little structure which is supposed to be the entrance of a tunnel linking Bankapur fort and Hangal. The stench inside was overpowering, I backed off.

These stone slabs have Halegannada inscription on them.

I'd never seen a donkey sculpture until this one. I wonder what the idea is. Normally Shivalinga adorns the position but here a standing donkey! Of course, I've never seen a donkey lying down.

A closer look st the text.

This image would give ideas for a scary video game character to game developers.

A passerby asked us to check out the sculptures in the garden. Couple of elephants.

Lord Ganesha and five female characters.

The garden has a small collection of ancient stone sculptures. Its a mix of both Hindu and Islamic works of arts.

Jain temple of Amminabhavi has similar images.

Incomplete image of a four-armed Devata.

It is said that Bankapur fort was under Kadambas of Banavasi, Gangas, Cholas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Chalukyas, Vijayanagar empire, Adilshahis, Hyder Ali & Tipu Sultan. The collection of art works of different time periods definitely indicates that.

These are the only structures which are recognizable as parts of a fort. We are are at the fort's only entrance as of now.

A bunch of kids confirmed there's no other structures in Bankapur like the ones in the background. We said bye to the kids and the fort.

We went in search of a restaurant and stumbled on this tomb. It's a beautiful structure but neglected.

Bankapur Fort Coordinates: 14°55'24"N 75°15'3"E


Aug 13, 2011

Savanur: fort ruins and Baobab trees

Another day of five forts. I started with Dambal (Dambal fort was a surprise, I did not know it existed) followed by Mundargi, Shrimantgad, Savanur and then Bankapur. I arrived at Savanur from Laxmeshwar. We drive by Savanur lake, its almost empty, I could see excavators and tractor-trailers on the lake bed, some type of maintenance work being carried out. I could see remains of a fort gateway right next to the lake. If not for these remains one would not know a fort did surround Savanur.

A family have made their home under the wall. I inquired if there are more ruins of the fort. Yes, there's one more gateway in the town. The lady of the house told that Savanur actually has four lakes which seems like they have merged to become one.

Another gateway, this one is away from the lake. Looks like Savanur town was enclosed in a fort with four gateways. The right bastion.

Left bastion. I'm outside the fort.

The walls are decorated with art and Islamic inscriptions. Savanur was last ruled by a Nawab. The Nawab's palace, presently houses a government office is in town outskirts.

Other side of the gateway.

I inquired again if there's more of the fort wall. Yes, there one more gateway in the market area. We decided to skip it and move on to see the famous trees of Savanur. We got directions and followed them. The trees stand in the premises of Doddahunase Matha which runs a school and a college.

The three Baobab trees are protected by a fence. The trees are numbered, 1, 2 and 3, Boards provide each tree's height and girth of the trunk.

ದೊಡ್ಡ ಹುಣಸೆ ಮರ
ಈ ವೃಕ್ಷವು ಬಾಂಬುಕೆಶಯ ಎನ್ನುವ ಕುಟುಂಬದ ವರ್ಗಕ್ಕೆ ಸೇರಿದ್ದು ಮೂಲತಃ ಆಫ್ರಿಕಾ ಖಂಡದಿಂದ ಬಂದಿದ್ದು ಜಗತ್ತಿನಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಅತೀ ಬೃಹತ್ ಆಕರದಲ್ಲಿ ಬೆಳೆಯುವ ಮರವಗಿದ್ದು. ಗಿಡದ ಬುದವು ಉಬ್ಬಿದ ಬಾಟಲಿಯಂತಿದ್ದು ಬಹಳ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗಾತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಬೆಳೆದು ಮೇಲ್ಬಾಗ ಕೂಡಲೇ ಮೊಣಚಾಗುವುದು. ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ಜಾತಿಯ ಕೆಲವೇ ವೃಕ್ಷವು ಇರುತ್ತವೆ. ಪೌರಾಣಿಕವಾಗಿ, ಈ ವೃಕ್ಷವನ್ನು ಭಾಗವನ್ ಶ್ರೀ ಕೃಷ್ಣನು ಆಫ್ರಿಕಾದಿಂದ ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ತಂದನೆಂದು ಉಲ್ಲೇಖವಾಗಿದೆ. ಆದರೆ ಇದರ ಫಲವು ಔಷದ ಗುನಧರ್ಮವನ್ನು ಹೊಂದಿದೆ. ಗಿಡದ ಬುಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಇತ್ತ ಪದಾರ್ಥ ಕೆಡದೆ ಏರುವ ಶಕ್ತಿ ಹೊಂದಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಈ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಹುಣಸೆ ಕಲ್ಮಟದ ಆವರಣದಲ್ಲಿ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಹುಣಸೆ ವೃಕ್ಷ (ಗೋರಖನಾಥ ವೃಕ್ಷ) ಗಳು ಅನೇಕ ಶತಮಾನಗಳನ್ನು ಕಂಡಿದ್ದು, ಇವುಗಳ ನಿಖರ ದಾಖಲೆಗಳು ಸದ್ಯ ಲಬ್ಯಾವಿಲ್ಲ.
೧ನೆ ವೃಕ್ಷದ ವಿಸತರ್ಣ ಸುತ್ತಳತೆ ೧೫.೭ ಮೀಟರ್ ಎತ್ತರ ೧೫.೫ ಮೀಟರ್
೨ನೆ ವೃಕ್ಷದ ವಿಸತರ್ಣ ಸುತ್ತಳತೆ ೧೨.೯೨ ಮೀಟರ್ ಎತ್ತರ ೧೬.೪ ಮೀಟರ್
೩ನೆ ವೃಕ್ಷದ ವಿಸತರ್ಣ ಸುತ್ತಳತೆ ೧೨.೬೩ ಮೀಟರ್ ಎತ್ತರ ೧೫.೭ ಮೀಟರ್

These trees, originally from Africa belongs to the subfamily Bombacoideae. The tree is one of the biggest and its trunk looks like a bottle. According to mythology, these three trees were brought from Africa and planted by Lord Krishna. Parts of the tree is said to have medicinal properties. It is also believed that food kept under these trees do not get spoiled. These trees having been around fr few centuries. Currently they are the Dodda Hunase Matha.

Tree No.1 girth is 15.7m and height is 15.5 m

Tree No.2, girth is 12.92m and height is 16.4 m

Tree No.3 girth is 12.62m and height is 15.7 m

These trees look slightly different from the baobab trees in Africa.

I made a short video walking around the trees.

I heard a voice asking me to check out Ganesha in the tree. There it is- a portion of the roots resembles Lord Ganesha's head and trunk. The voice belonged to a teenager, Vinay.

Vinay asked me to take a picture of his and few friends. All four have just finished 9th standard and stepped into 10th. They were here for summer vacation tutions conducted by the Matha. Second from left is Vinay. The soft spoken fellow asked me to see the inside of the Matha.

The fruit is kept along with Vibhuti, leopard skin and a pair of wooden slippers.

I was allowed to hold and feel it. It must have weighed around two kilograms. Extract from Wikipedia page- The fruit is nutritious, possibly having more vitamin C than oranges, and exceeding the calcium content of cow's milk. The dry fruit pulp separated from seeds and fibers is eaten directly or mixed into porridge or milk, and is also known as "sour gourd" or "monkey's bread". In Malawi, the fruit pulp is used to make a nutrient-rich juice. In Zimbabwe, the fruit is known as mawuyu in the Shona language and has long been a traditional fruit. In the coastal areas of Kenya, baobab seeds are called mbuyu and are cooked with sugar, colored, and sold as a snack. Mabuyu is also the term used in Tanzania for seeds of the calabash gourd, which are prepared in a similar fashion.

A picture of the tree with leaves on.

A Baobab sapling.

Savanur is about 10km off Bankapur cross (between Haveri and Shiggaon) on NH4. Baobab trees are rare in Karnataka, the only other two known trees are in Bijapur.  It is said that Baobab saplings were brought to India by Sufi saints. They were planted by the saints as they travelled across the country. The saplings which survived to become trees can be seen are mostly in Gujarat, Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh. Hyderabad and Chennai are home to at least one tree each. Check out the Hathiyan of Golconda.

Check out the list of baboab trees across India.