Mar 31, 2012

Haalsiddeshwara Fort, Siddanakolla

Dec 16, 2011

I missed these ruins during my previous first visit to Siddanakolla. Today, my second visit, I leave my car near the temple and get directions from a farm owner on the way to his fields. Laxman is his name. I had to walk through a field, then clamber across a stone wall and  pick my way through a quarry to reach the base of the hillock on which the fort was. The slope ahead is riddled with thorny shrubs of all sizes and somehow they seemed to grow where climbing was easiest. After scanning the slope I located this series of stones which some what resembled a flight of steps. I decided to go up this way.

Almost five minutes and couple of scratches on my arms I stand here looking at the ruins of Halsiddeshwar fort. The collapsed walls and the small pillar on the bastion reminds me of Gudur fort.

Other side of the bastion.

Siddanakolla temple about 600m away.

The fort is located on the northern edge of  this plateau. Condition of this bastion and rampart walls are slightly better.

Of four bastions, three have collapsed. I managed to climb up a heap of stones, even standing here to shoot this picture was an effort.

A maze of stone walls divide the space inside into small rooms. I'm surprised that these thin walls have been standing for God knows how many centuries. All walls in this fort are carefully arranged stones, no binding material to hold them together.

Engineering seems primitive but how old is this structure?

A cactus fills up one of the smaller rooms.

Even with rough cut stones the engineers have managed to create a straight faced wall.

Even the corners are perfect right angles.

This isn't a boundary wall around an open well. I looked inside trying to get some clue what this could be. Was this used to store grains?

Close by was this stone which was a part of a larger stone with a dead conical hole.

I wonder if this fort was abandoned before completion. Stones heaped on the either sides of the walls are waste to be moved later?

This is the fort's entrance.

Walls on either sides of the entrance seem to have collapsed.

This trial of stones makes me lean towards construction abandoned theory. This fort is a puzzle now.

On the way back, I stopped to check out this rock face in the quarry I has passed through earlier. Nature shows off its talent.

Beautiful isn't it?

I met Laxman again. In fact he was the one who told me the name of the fort. Other wise I had known it as fort near Mangalagud. Laxman said there's another fort on this hill ...six kilometers walk. I guessed he was referring to Chikanal fort. After exchanging byes I head towards Aihole, about 6 kilometers from here.

Halsiddeshwara fort co-ordinates: 15°58'31"N   75°52'38"E


Mar 27, 2012

Sri Ranganathaswamy Gudi and Badami Museum

December 16, 2011

While driving from Badami to Banashankari, about a kilometer from Badmi to the left-hand side you can see a stairway going up the hill. those steps lead to am ancient temple- Ranganathaswamy Gudi. This time I wanted to see the hill temple. At 10-45 AM, it was really hot. I drove though the narrow dirt road towards the hill and parked my car near a school. Construction activity on the path to the stairway was in progress.

Its a short climb.

About 100 steps up, under a small rock shelter is a small open air temple. Two men and a boy had come to offer prayers. Badmi's extension areas.

This gap in the rocks is a natural formation.

Very close to the temple is platform & pillar. The small cave has a pond inside, a natural source of water in this rock hill.

There's the temple, it an ancient structure. For some reason every square inch of the exterior has been painted. Even though its a small structure it has two entrances, both in the front. I heard voices of two men speaking. One man was washing the deities while the other one was sitting in the front porch. To my questions about the temple's history there were no satisfying answers. However the sitting man asked me to see another cave few feet away.

Another source of water. Looks like this water is used for washing purposes. The temple is close to the summit. There a path leading out into the open but it was blocked by thorny bushes. Wonder where that lead to.

I was tired now. Decided to leave.

Google Map screen shot.

A - pillar and cave with water
B - temple
C - cave with water

Back at Ranganath's home, I had a cool-water bath, had three bananas and stretched out. About an hour later, Ranganath was back from college. We had lunch at a khanavali near KSRTC bus-stand and went to the archaeological museum near Agastyateertha.

At the museum, we saw several interesting sculptures from various time periods and locations. One of important artifacts here is Lajja Gauri, a life-size stone sculpture of naked woman in child-birth position. The other attraction is a six foot wide scale model of Sidlaphadi. Having visited Sidlaphadi earlier during the day, I could notice a slight difference. Anyway, the model gives a good feel about the pre-historic site for those who cannot visit it. Accompanying the model are several paintings of groups of cavemen going about their chores. The museum is very well organized and a good source of information about Badami and other historic places nearby.

Photographs of prehistoric rock painting had caught my attention during the last visit. We spent some time looking at them and tried to learn about their locations. One of the staff gave some directions to Ranganath, it seems one was very close to the Kappe Arbhata Shasana, a Halegannada inscription. Other paintings were near Sri Ranganathaswamy temple. After a five minute rest, we went in search of the paintings. Ranganath located Kappe Arbhata Shasana.

This Shashana was composed by Kappe Arbhata, a poet in Pulakeshi's court. It describes Pulakeshi's character and maxim.

We scanned the surrounding rock surfaces for paintings. No such luck. We went up a flight of steps leading to a small temple. Nil. We decided to find a person who has actually seen them and take their help. Post-lunch jaunts are not always comfortable, especially in hot weather. We abandoned the search for paintings and went to Bhoothnath temple.

Ranganath wanted me to see a small stone shelter he used to visited during college days. It's within Bhoothnath temple complex. The shelter has a low entrance, we had to almost kneel down to get in. Inside was cool, we spoke about other monuments and future plans to locate the elusive paintings. Ranganath promised to join me in the hunt. I'll be back at Badami soon.

Ranganathaswamy temple Coordinates: 15°54'48"N 75°41'18"E


Mar 24, 2012

sights from Sidlaphadi

Ant nest on the way

Silver Cockscomb, near Sidlaphadi

A dry plant hanging on to its rocky base.

Close up of the plant. You see the tiny flowers? Wonder if its really dry.

Growing out from rocks.

This rock face is almost vertical. Plants are truly the most versatile creatures.

Brown igneous rock.

Looks like remnants of an ant-hill?

It's a unique rock formation. I've seen such formations only in Sidlaphadi. I saw few such formations, some were much higher then this one. This particular one looks like a fortification in hills.

Few more similar formations.

An embedded pebble. Looks like lava solidified around this egg-shaped pebble.

Our shadows on the cave wall.

To see Sidlaphadi caves, read previous post.


Mar 17, 2012

Sidlaphadi Caves

Aug 14, 2010. My first attempt to reach Sidlaphadi was aborted in two minutes. I decided the path was too rough to be walked on with sandals, for a four kilometer trek through rough terrain we need shoes. More over it was late to start the trek and I had no idea how to reach it. Few locals hanging around did not show any signs of helping us.

First week December 2011 I had my plan ready. I had checked the route in Google Maps and had a print out. I decided to stay overnight at Badami so that I can start the trek early. Dr.Umesh had introduced his school time friend Ranganath, a resident of Badami. If possible he would join me for the trek to Sidlaphadi. I would be staying at Ranganath's place.

Dec 16, 2011. I left Pattadakal by 6-30 and arrived at Badami by 7-45. Finding Ranganath's place was easy. I freshened up and as we chatted his colleague & friend Dhariappa Dharegonnanavar arrived. We went to KSTDC for dinner, food was good. I would have preferred a khanavali, we would have had better food at lesser cost. Back home it was decided that Dhariappa would accompany me for the trek. Though I was tired and not a single mosquito buzzing into my ears, I did not sleep well.

Dec 17, 2011. Woke up early. After cold bath I was fresh and felt energetic. As soon as Dhariappa was ready we took off. On Badami-Guledgudda road, just after hotel Badami Court is Konamma temple, I parked my car under a tamarind tree within the temple compound. Just across the road is the path to Sidlaphadi. It was 6-30. By the way I was in hawai-chappals :) somehow they seem to work well for me.

The uphill path was rough, scattered with rocks of various sizes. After a minute or so we were an even surface though a rough one. The stones were packed with cement, this looked like a foundation for a proper road this is road project was abandoned for some reason. Tire marks and displaced stones told us that loaded tractors plied this path often. We spoke of agriculture, IT and tourism.

Soon we were looking up at a cell phone tower- that's an important landmark. Dhariappa is facing we should be taking.

Silhouette of a rock overhang. A wikimapia user had marked this as Sidlaphadi. This spot is just 1.25km from the main road.

Happy with the progress we trekked on. After the sharp left and sharp right turns near the tower, the path was more or less straight and level. We could see evidence of quarrying on these hills. Not long back what were beautiful rock formations are now broken up and look like sour wounds. The path we trekked on had a layer of fine red dust- that means regular vehicular traffic.

Around 7-15 I felt we were close to our destination. The path turned right and shrubs straight ahead looked as though there no path ahead. The map confirmed there's no right turn here, so we went straight ahead and then a left turn and there it is.

I was ecstatic to be so close to this cave which was home to humans tens of thousands of years ago. We had to climb down into a shallow, narrow valley. If not for bird songs and leaves rustling the place would be totally silent. I was trying to imagine this place ages ago.

Google Map screen-shot

A - Sidlaphadi
B - small cave
C - cave with a window
D - cave 10 feet above ground level

At the cave entrance. The cave resembles a single arch bridge. The roof has three holes. Scientific research says these holes are cased by erosion. Local legend says they were caused by a lightning hence the name Sidla-phadi.

Length could be 50 feet and depth could be 30 feet. Height of the roof at its maximum could be 15 feet.

We spend few minutes in the cave and go out to the other side. It's a small open field with small trees and thorny bushes. People from surrounding villages come here to gather firewood. That's the reason the cave and its surroundings are free of bushes.

We discover this little cave, marked B in the screen-shot. Dhariappa called it a single room cave. This little cave has a small inner chamber which could be used to store food. Another extension to the left can be also be seen.

The level field ends here and a slope rolls down into a wide valley. Close to this point is another cave.

Cave with a window, marked C in the screen-shot. This cave reminds me of Phantom's Skull Cave eyed skull cave. Its quite spacious inside. Close to this cave I found an interesting plant- entire plant has dried with flowers on it.

We go up to explore the cave top. We avoided stepping close to the edges. I feel long back the cave had much more interior space. Part of the roof might have collapsed. For instance, if you see the curved edge on the left, it might have been a straight line.

Holes in the roof.

A closer look. Notice the dry plant? It's stems are standing even when its dry. Proud little plant.

We discover another cave, marked D in the screen-shot.

This cave is a good 10 feet above ground level.

Other end of the valley. After a good downpour water would flow down in streams here.

Shadow on the left is Dhariappa's.

An inscription on the southern wall. I scanned the walls with a hope to see some paintings. No, nothing. Dhariappa pointed out to red colored shapes but they turned out to be stains of mud-water. An ASI book on Pattadakal refers to Sidlaphadi- Neolithic pottery, chert (a semi-precious stone) and microliths were found here. However there's no reference to pro-historic paintings of any sort.

From this angle I could cover half the cave. Try to imagine cavemen living here. Perhaps I should come here with a group of people & cavemen costumes and enact the scene.

Cave D as seen from ground level. To reach that cave we had to negotiate a steep rock face. I'm not going to try anything this time. The valley floor was sandy at places- that's proof for flowing water.

This unique rock formation reminds me of a portico.

Dhariappa found this unique stone and I kept it as a souvenir :)

 I wanted to be here some more time but Dhariappa had to be in the college by 10. Anyway, I had plans to visit again. Dhariappa ans I shook hand for successfully locating Sidlaphadi.

We walked back the way we came. We saw many such rock formations resembling an inverted icecream bowl. This one had a little cave it in, perhaps a fox hole.

Our breakfast was a pack of six Britannia oat cookies shared equally and little water. I'm not sure if it was oats that kept us charged. Our trek back was equally effortless.

Since we were familiar with the trial we took few short cuts. My feet had a thick coat of red soil. Luckily at the temple we could wash our feet and get into the car fairly clean. We went straight to Dhariappa's college on Badami-Banashankari road. It was 10 O' clock when I stopped near the diploma building.

Another place in Badmai on my wish list was Ranganatha temple. I wanted to finish it off before heading home.

Sidlaphadi Coordinates: 15°56'37"N 75°42'4"E