Mar 30, 2013

Dammur fort

This fort was discovered while scanning the hill on which the fort is situated... I mean Wikimapia. I marked the ruins as a fort and named it after the nearest village- Dammur. On the same hill are two more forts; Gudur and Hanamasagar forts.

November 24, 2012
From Hanamasagar, to reach Dammur we drove along the hill's northern face at varying distances. Finally we arrive at Dammur by 3-30 PM. The fort was visible, sitting at the edge of a plateau. An old woman gave us directions, take this dirt path next to the pond, you'll reach Didigina Basavanna temple, then take the steps leading to the hill top. The dirt path gave way to a cement path which went up the hill. The path got narrower, as though squeezed by the trees on either sides.

This place immediately brought memories of Varavi Siddeshwara near Munvalli. Both had waterfalls and streams gushing over the rocks under the cover of Honge trees.

Sadly, we are looking at a waterlessfall. That's a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga.
That's Didigina Basavanna.
Next to our Basavanna is this man-made cave like chamber. I guess it was a temple, can't remember it clearly. Rough-cut stones placed delicately serve as steps to reach the plateau above.
We are on the plateau now, looking back the way we just came. Hidden below the clump of trees is the  notch and the temple. We found a rock (see inset) with modern inscription in Kannada; Om Namah Sivaaya, Ramachandra Gu and the letters Ka and Da.
The fort came into sight. This place will be a paradise during rainy season. Notice the texture of the stone right in front of us- pebbles embedded in the host rock. A had to cross another notch here which begins near the tree.
Beautiful blue sky with silver clouds.
While Malatesh is lagging behind shooting videos, Ravi finds a way into the fort. The construction is similar to Gudur/Halsiddeshwara forts but this looks slightly advanced.
A closer look and a long look at the walls.
This small fort has 5 bastions. Within the fort are remains of what were once living quarters. I guess wood and mud was used for roofing.
That's the gateway.
Notice the fort entrance is a right angle path. Modern forts such as Shivaji's had curved paths. A rough cut pillar erected at the fort gateway.
More ruins of houses outside the fort.
The fort had additional security from strategically placed watch towers. Malatesh and I were standing at the edge of the slope, one rock bed. I happened to notice a circular pocket- see inset -we agreed its a natural formation.
That's the dirt road leading to Dammur village. Another bastion sits alone at the base of the hill. The presence of the bastion is an indication of a way up to the fort here. The path we took to climb the hill was the back route. In fact I was looking for a way down here but the terrain wasn't friendly.
Turning to the right, Dammur Kere comes into view.
We head back to the fort and catch up with the shepherds who were at higher ground when we entered the fort. That's Shekappa Yamanappa Juttal, his son and a relative.
The boy on the left reminds me of Vishnuvardhan in Nagara Haavu. He's got the look of a honest, brave, stubborn, determined , angry young man.
Our new friend suggested us to take the gully going down right next to the fort. So this is the third route to the fort. However, he cautioned us to be careful while steeping on rocks because they are smooth and slippery. The path was well tread, its a regular cattle route. Perhaps centuries ago, in this gully would be a stream flowing round the year. We reached the pond, I was in a mood to play.. chuck stones.
What started off with pitching stones gave way to long distance throws and finally ended in loud splashes by throwing large stones. It was fun to shoot the splashes.. and call them nuclear explosions!

Here's a video of Dammur Kote:

And you must see Dammur Didagu in full glory:

Dammur fort coordinates: 15°55'35"N   75°57'55"E

Mar 27, 2013

Chandaalingeshwara Gudi, Bilagi

November 24, 2012

This was the second surprise discovery of the day; we noticed a sign pointing the direction to Chandaalingeshwara Kshetra. We did not know what to expect here because we had no clue about this place. The terrain was interesting- hilly and wooded, not many people around but we did see few barren fields. The temple stood where the road ended. This is the temple's Mahadwara ~ main entrance, built in a pit. Three steps descend into the gateway, then an aisle flanked by seating platforms. I guess the gateway pit used to be filled with water so that visitors could wash their feet and then enter the temple.

To the left of the Mahadwara are columns and beams... seems like an incomplete shelter for pilgrims.

And to the right is a shelter and the unique walls which create a fort like look.

The gateway as seen from inside.

A short walk thorough a sandy path to the next gateway. This temple seems to be built in the path of a major stream- I say that because of the presence of sand here. Rain water might have washed down sand from the hill next to this temple. In fact the temple is situated in a bowl at the base of a hill.

A temple has been built in the outer wall. A badly damaged but a very interesting sculpture of Trimurthy on the lintel. Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. As you see Shiva is dominating in the form of Nataraja. Parvati, Nandi and Ganesha are also present. The character riding the elephant could be Indra.
A close look at the top part of the outer wall.
The inner gateway. I wonder why people are obsessed about painting stone structures.
This is not just one temple but a complex of many temples. This orange-pink coated structure is the main temple. It's a Shiva temple.

The poojari told if rains are normal, the Garbhagudi was be water logged. Right next to this temple is a closed well with a flight of steps leading into it. Water was clear and odor free. A very interesting place, it was very peaceful. Every surface of the temple interior is covered in oil paint. Madness. Anyway, the poojari performed Arati and even allowed Malatesh to made a video.

Opposite the temple is Basavanna... he looks chubby :-) A pair of Ganesha sculptures were places at Basavanna's feet (see inset).

This white structure is the second largest temple in this complex.

I went around the inner wall. Some how this place reminds me of Mahakoota. A sculpture leaning against the inner wall looked like a Jaina image.

Yes, its a Jain image.

Images of two ladies.. they could be princesses. Notice the pattern of the skirt. Thank God, the painters have spared these two sculptures.

This is exactly behind the structure housing the Basavanna ~ Nandi.
Ths row of 24 small temples is along the Southern wall of the complex. I remember seeing a sculpture in one temple- see inset. The sculpture depicts a couple sitting cross-legged. The man is bearded and wearing a heavy looking turban. A Shiva Linga is floating over the woman's head.

Few more small temples. most of them were labeled with names of the Gods they were dedicated to.

The temple poojari could not tell us what period the temple belonged to. Neither did any of the boards placed at the temple entrance. Since the temples are built in sandstone and reminded me of Mahakoota, this could be a temple built during Badami Chalukyan rule. Do check out the video of Chandaalingeshwara Kshetra.

We were hungry but decided against the idea of having lunch at the temple. We drove a kilometer or so and found small tree next to huge rock bed. The spot was deserted, silent, clean and light breeze blowing away the heat. Great! We had a relaxed lunch, menu was katak rotti, madki kaal, cucumber, tomato, curds, chatni...

Few weeks later we happened to read an article on Chandaalineshwara in Samyukta Karnataka. The article states the temple is a Madami Chalukyan creation and mentions the presence of a partly damaged 7-line Halegannada inscription dated 1345 BCE. According to the inscription, land had been donated by two people named Bhandari and Hegde Maramayya. Also another name Nandi is mentioned. However, it is not clear as to who these people are. The article also mentions this might have been a major Jain center.


Mar 23, 2013

Hanamasagar fort & Abhinava Tirupati

November 24, 2012

It was noon when we arrive at Hanamasagar fort. This place is known more for Venkateshwara temple rather than the fort. Folks refer to the place as Abhinava Tirupathi. There are two ways to reach this fort from Hanamasagar town: one is by footpath and the other by road. This is the gateway to the fort (as seen from inside) and Venkateshwara temple is located within the walls of this fort.

That's the temple. The stone in the foreground is a grinding stone, I have no clue why its kept in the open here. In the inset is the top part of a small structure opposite the temple. This temple originally was a small structure, what we see is recent construction. The inset is a small structure opposite the temple, it is similar to minarets of Adil Shahi architecture.

A shelter has been made in the front yard for visitors' benefit.

The temple priest was about to lock the doors as we reached. We got a good Darshan of Lord Venkateshwara. Here's a board which states this place's history in brief.

Here's a rough translation: This temple has history dating back to the time of Bijapur Adil Shahi's rule i.e. about 400 years ago. Katapura was a small kingdom ruled by Shrimanta Timmappayya Desai who was a devotee of Lord Venkateshwara. Every year Desai would visit Tirumala temple (in present day Andhra Pradesh) without fail. During those days people going on pilgrimage would walk all the way. As Desai aged he found it difficult to carry out his annual pilgrimage to Tirumala. He was worried about not seeing his Lord's image. One night Desai had a dream in which his Lord orders him to visit Hanamasagar hill and look for a sleeping cow and an image of his feet. The Lord also commands Timmappayya Desai to worship his feet and not travel all the way to Tirumala. Timmappayya Desai along with family members finds a cow sleeping on a pair of feet as seen in his dream. Desai was happy to see his Lord's feet. He starts living on Hanamasagar hill spending his time in his Lord's service. Some time later, Desai begs to see the full image of his Lord because he's not satisfied by just worshiping his feet. As an answer to his prayers Lord Venkateshwara commands Timmappayya to search for his murthy on a washerman's stone at Kalabhavi village near Kushtagi town. As directed Deesai finds his Lord's image, brings it to Hanamasagar hill, installs it there and gives a name to the place as Abhinava Tirupathi. Later a small temple and a kitchen were constructed.

The priest locks the temple doors and off he goes. Malatesh and I go exploring. Hanamasagar Kote is a small fort and mostly in ruins. We walked along the walls on the north; as you see the walls have collapsed. Construction style is similar to forts of Gudur, Chikanal and Belur. We found a small dolmen close to the wall (see inset). It is a known fact that Hanamasagar hill is a prehistoric site. Some where close to this hill in the plain below is a prehistoric stone arrangement which I'm trying to locate for quite some time now.

Now we are outside the fort walls.
Malatesh checks out the surroundings.

Part of Hanamasagar town.

We are the tip of the hill, looking in the south-easterly direction.

That's the inner fort; rectangular in plan and comprising of four bastions, one at each corner. Close to where I was standing I saw a stone with an unusual texture.

Closer look at a well preserved bastion.
Another bastion as seen from the outside.

Efforts have been put in to restore some parts of the fort.

A short video-

We were hungry and the place was peaceful, we almost decided to have lunch here however, we decided to head towards Chandaalingeshwara temple near Bilagi.

Hanamasagar fort coordinates: 15°52'34"N   76°2'49"E