Sep 27, 2014

Channagiri fort

About 20 years back I had had a glimpse of the fort from the state highway passing through the town, while driving towards Chitradurga. Time a constraint that day, so not stop by.

About the fort on Channagiri town website: Channagiri has a hill fort of about 1770 A.D. with a Ranganatha temple inside it, which rises to a height of about 200 feet to the west of the town consists of a single soft dark covered with earth which commands a wide plain. The fort consists of two rubble walls defending by moats, the chief gate being on the north where the gradient is lowest.

On the peak stands a temple  dedicated to Sri Ranganatha. It is called Bete-Ranganatha and depicts Vishnu standing in Samabhanga holding Chakra and Shanka in his back hands and arrow in his front hands with a low Garuda pedestal below him and a consort in relievo on the Prabhavali on each side.

March 16, 2014
I left Dharwad early morning, first stop was at Chitradurga fort, followed by Chandravalli. Next was Channagiri. Reaching the fort was easy, car could a short distance on the hillock until a locked gate. Its a short walk to the summit past low rampart walls.

Past the gateway, on the left hand side is a large pit to store rain water.

I walk along the recently repaired wall towards a smaller gateway and a bastion.

The wall is not really tall however the fort has another line of defence- a moat runs along the base of the hill.

One of the two surviving turrets. This sits at the south-east part of the hill. The other turret is at the hill top.

View from the turret: the wall, a gateway, a platform on the left.

This is the southern wall, moat is visible on the left.

View of the turret as seen from outside.

Highest point of the hill: turret and Ranganatha temple. Rituals are performed daily in the temple.

Another view of the highest point of Channagiri fort: right besides the turret is Ranganatha temple.

Continuing along the wall.. going towards the western side of the fort- the steepest part of the hill.

Afternoon sun lighting up the western wall and slope.

Behind the temple is a deep pit with fresh water. This water is still used for daily rituals at the temple.

This is the south-west part of the fort. This probably is the tallest wall of Channagiri fort.
The pit. The deep dark pit. A steep flight of steps descends into it.

Looking up towards the highest part of the fort. Concealed behind the tiled roof structure is the temple. To my right is the fresh water pit.

Wall design is similar to walls at Uchangidurga.

The temple chariot. Looks ancient, could be made 500 to 800 years.

Signage at Channagiri fort: This place was in possession of the Gangas under Asandinadu, then it became part of Nolambavadi 32000. During the rule of Chalukyas of Kalyana, Subsequently ruled by Pandyas of Uchchangi, later this place passed on into the hands of Keladi rulers in XVII century. The place was named Channagiri after Chennammaji who built the fort here.

The fort is to the west of the present Chennagiri town. The layout comprises of two masonry walls set in mud mortar defended by moats and the main gate is towards north. Roughly ovalish, the fort wall is punctuated with as many as 7 bastions and two circular watch towers. There is a depression at the top for collection of rain water, towards north-east is a rock and pond with stonecut steps. At the top several basement of secular structures. There is a temple having the image of Vishnu as Bete Ranganatha Swamy.

Close to the fort gate, also close to the deep dark pit is this little cave. Perhaps some animal must have occupied it.

Having done with this fort, I went in search of an unknown hill fort south of Channagiri near Mavina Hole. Day was coming to an end, I had no hopes of reaching the unknown fort however, I found the name from few villagers. The hill fort is said to be Hanuma Durga. I'll have to come back some time.

Channagiri fort coordinates: 14°1'19"N   75°55'18"E

Sep 20, 2014

Lakshmi Narasimha Devastana, Bhadravati

Bhadravathi is one of the towns named after a rive. Most probably it is the only town. Bhadravthi is situated on the Bhadra river bank. The little town was known for its steel and paper mills which were established by Sir M Vishweshwaraiah in 1923 and 1937 respectively. Both factories are situated on the left bank of Bhadra. Besides these factories Bhadravathi is known for its 800 year old temple - Lakshmi Narasimha Devastana. The temple was built by Veera Narasimha, grandson of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. It is a east facing Trikutachala built on a Nakshtra style ~ star shaped platform with only one entrance. Inside the temple are images of Sri Krishna, Purushottama, Ganesha, Sharadamba. The temple is under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

March 17, 2014
It was after a long time I was visiting Bhadravathi, last visit was during an industrial tour when I was doing engineering. It was even longer the last time I visited Lakshmi Narasimha temple, probably 1976 or 1975. On this visit it was as good as seeing the temple for first time. The temple is about a kilometer and half from the main road, goes through the narrow streets of old town. Unlike other ancient temples, this temple is a regular pilgrim center. Even an annual fair is held here.

As you see, the temple is assembled on a star-shaped platform which is 3' high. The temple has a small Mukhamantapa with Sukhanasi flanking the doorway. 

The temple is located in a residential but its well protected.

This where the temple priest is usually seated after finishing with rituals, reading holy scriptures.

Going around the temple clockwise. A slab with Kannada inscription - this is the only one in this temple.

The platform is very convenient for those circumambulating the temple. There were few other visitors here performing rituals. On the left, behind this wall is one of the Garbhagudis.

That's main the main Garbhagudi- abode of Sri Laxmi Narasimha, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.

A closer look at the structure reveals scars of vandalism. Our people, will they ever realize, why cant they just leave these monuments alone. The temple is relatively simple, meaning not much of decorative sculptures. Parts of second level looks quite bare. Was the temple work abandoned before completion?

Sculptures on second level- gods and goddesses accompanied by performing musicians and dancers.

Few sculptures are target to rituals here- worshippers apply vermilion, turmeric, burn camphor and even pour oil. Stone absorbs oil and softens it. I wish people give up such damaging practices.

Sculpture of a man with a serpent.

Here we have three sculptures blackened by effects of camphor I guess. The dark sculpture on the right is Sri Krishna in the classical pose of playing flute.

The temple is situated on the river Bhadra's right bank. If you are coming from Tarikere or Chitradurga side, you need not go across the river. If you are coming from Shimoga side, you have go across the bridge and turn left immediately.

The other Hoysala temples nearby are Amruteshwara temple near Tarikere and Sri.Chintamani Narasimha Sri.Rameshwara at Koodli, the place where Tunga and Bhadra merge to form Tungabhadra.

Coming back to Bhadravati, I would like to tell about a modern day monument- St. Charles Borromeo convent schools. The two schools- Kannada and English -were established in 1960. The schools are imparting education for the past 54 years! Even children from Shimoga are students here. The school has a hostel for children from far off places. The school building is a stone structure in Gothic architecture.


Sep 13, 2014

Akka Nagamma Aikyasthala, Yenneholae, Tarikere

Who is Akka Nagamma?
Akkanagamma aka Nagalambike was the sister of Jagatjyoti Basaveshwara and only daughter to her parents Maadarasa and Maadalambike of Bagewadi in present day Bijapur district. She had great influence over Basavanna. Naagalambike was married to Shivadeva, their only son is none other than Chennabasavanna. Akka Nagamma was one of the leaders of Lingayath community. She was popularly called Akka ~ elder sister. Akka was a guiding light to Basaveshwara who served as a minister in King Bijjala's kingdom in Kalyana (present day Basva Kalyana in Bidar district).

What was Akka's contribution to the Lingayath community and society?
Akka was an active participant in Sharana meetings and spiritual debates & discussions at Anubhavamantapa and Mahamane. Akka was instrumental in protecting Vachana Sahitya and organizing Sharanas escape from Kalyana when Bijjala's army rises against the Sharanas.  Akka along with hundreds of Sharanas leaves Kalyana, travels south towards Ulavi, then a part of  Kadamba kingdom. Akka, Chennabasavanna, Gangambike and Dohara Kakkayya lead group is chased by Bijjala's soldiers. Sharanas and Bijjala;s soldiers engage in a battle at Kadrolli, soldiers lose and retreat. Gangambike attains Aikya in Malaprabha river near Itgi village. Dohara Kakkayya is injured in the battle, he proceeds towards Ulavi via Alnavar route. Akka and Chennabasavanna lead another group towards Dharwad where they camp for few days at Basappana Gudda, presently known as Ulavi Basaveshwara Gudda. After a break they continue their journey towards Ulavi where Chennabasavanna camps. Akka continues her journey southwards towards Banavasi.

Where is Akka's Aikyasthala?
Akka travels further south and attains Aikya at Yenne Holae near Tarikere in Chikkamagalur district. Legend says that Akka camped at a temple next a stream. There was no oil for the lamp but Akka used stream water instead of oil and lit a lamp. Hence the stream is known by the name Yenne Holae. Yenne means oil and Holae means stream or river.

Having visited Aikyasthalas of Basavanna at Kudala Sangama, Chennabasavanna at Ulavi, Gangambike memorial near Kittur, Neelambike memorial near Tangadgi and Dohara Kakkayya temple near Kakkeri I wanted to see Akka's Aikyasthala at Yeene Holae too. I heard about it from Dr. Manjunath. Also, Mom had told me Yenne Holae is on the outskirts of Tarikere but she had not seen the place herself. I had imagined a temple next to a stream..

March 17, 2014
I had camped at Badhravati at MPM Guest House Paper in Paper Town very close to our first home. The colony had hardly changed, I saw our house, the trees, our street.. it was like time had stood still there. Plan for the morning was to visit Tarikere to see Amruteshwara temple and Yenne Hole.

The state highway connecting Badhravati and Tarikere is in excellent condition, the drive was a breeze. At Tarikere, locating Yenne Hole required some effort because few people seem to know such a place existed. With a small mistake in inquiring I almost went to Yenne Hole Matha, a Brahman matha. Anyway we managed to locate the place following the directions of an elderly person. First I wasn't sure if this place was the right location.. a small temple is pitiable condition.

To add to the plight, the shrine's door was locked. I decided to check it out; first I tried the door - no us.

Then went to the side, a window, through it could see a Shivalinga on a pedestal. Good to see the inside was clean and tidy, fresh flowers said that pooja was performed in the morning. Hope pooja is done daily, not just Mondays.

This is a Shiva temple, fine but how do I know this place is indeed Akka's Aikyasthala? I looked down at the stone tablet, hoping to get some confirmation. Yes! The tablet does say this is MahaSharane Akkanagamma Shivayoga Samadhi Kshetra.

That's Ravi the cab driver. He too felt bad about this place. Very close to the temple was a Bilva Patri tree. Close to it were idols of Ganesha and Shanmugha, installed on pedestals in the open (see inset).

Akka's Aikyasthala is situated next to areca plantation and a mango orchard. Open space in the foreground is paddy field, barren during summer months.

On the way back, I took a shot of the board on the main road, pointing direction to Akka's Samadhi.

Having done with the two spots at Tarikere we drive back towards Badhravati, I was eager to visit my school - St. Charles Borromeo Convent.


Sep 10, 2014

Amruteshwara Gudi - scenes from Ramayana

Amruteshwara temple is situated in Amrutapura village, about 6 kms from Tarikere town in Chikkamagalur district. This Hoysala temple was built in 1196 CE by Amrutheshwara Dandanayaka during the reign of Veera Ballala II. Amruteshwara temple is a Ekakuta has a richly decorated interior and exterior. On the exterior walls are sculptures of stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata Purana.

March 17, 2014
models of temple shikharas
Lakshmana, Rama and Sita see a very attractive golden deer
Rama shoots an arrow at the golden deer which reveals its true form- Miricha
Rama conferring with Sugreeva about Vali
Rama shoots an arrows through seven Saal trees
Rama shoots at Vali while he's engaged in a duel with Sugreeva
Two warriors engaged in a archery duel
monkey soldiers harassing a rakshasa from Lankan army
Hanuman fighting a rakshasa
fight between Indra and Shanmugha?
Arjuna burning Kandava forest

These are few I could capture in the time I had. Amruteshwara temple has one to two hundred such panels.