Nov 29, 2014

ancient temple of Hebballi

In North Karnataka there are several places which are believed to have 101 temples and wells. The first place I heard about was Lakkundi, then came Laxmeshwar and Hebballi. Hebballi is 20+ kms from Dharwad. I wanted to check out if such a small village really had 101 temples..

August 28, 2011
On the way back from Thirlapur, we stopped at Hebballi. It was rainy season, village streets were slushy and messy. At the village square we made inquiries for ancient temples and were directed to this temple seen below. I did not note of the name of the temple.. but its a temple dedicated to Shiva Linga. The temple is definitely ancient, situated on the village outskirts. Note the Indo-Islamic arch of the entrance. Also the row of merlon like formation on the top.

The ancient gateway still stand while the surrounding wall has gone missing. Design of the pillars is similar to that of temples of Bankapur, Hangal, Haveri, etc.

View of the deity in Garbhagudi- a Shiva Linga. Absence of flowers doesn't mean ritual are no performed. The poojari has chosen to perform a simple ritual.. wash the deity with water and apply Vibhuti.

A strong looking Basavanna seated before his Lord.

Note the mesh like sculptures flanking the Garbhagudi doorway.

A slab with Kannada inscription.. wonder why it was smeared with lime :( Note the window mesh on the right, the design is commonly seen in Badami Chalukyan temples.

Close to the road was another inscription lying neglected. Some vandals have damaged the beautiful monument. Wonder if our people will ever realize the value of our heritage!

A small mob had gathered.. curious to know why strangers were taking pictures of their village temple. Extreme right is my cousin Vidya and next her is a friend Manju.

Folks said that Hebballi did have 101 temples and wells long time back but now most of lost with time. There was one good temple in the fields but reaching the place in wet conditions would be difficult. We decided to make it during dry weather. One of the boys asked to check out an ancient Matha inside the village. We negotiated the narrow streets and managed to reach the Matha. It had thick and tall walls like a fort. As we stepped into the Matha we were greeted by some ancient wood work.. sadly the place has not tidy, barres and stuff were heaped. Also, some youngsters were erecting a pendal for celebrating Ganesha festival. I skipped taking pictures.

Hope to come back some day and locate the temple in the fields and find out how many of the 101 are surviving to this day.

Nov 22, 2014

The Queen's Bath, Hampi

December 23, 2013

This was the thirs spot we stopped on entering Hampi.. we came from Kamalapur side. The Queens Bath is one of the most visited spots in Hampi.

A signage at the entrance describes the monument as follows-
The Queen's Bath is located to the Southeast of the Royal Enclosure, with its own separate enclosed space consisting of a complex of changing rooms and a bath. At present only the bath is extant. A strikingly, simple facaded structure in the Indo-Islamic style of Vijayanagara architecture. The interior of the bath is in total contrast with its ornate stucco and plaster work.
The structure is 30 sq. mts. Bath inside which is 1.8 mts deep. Pillared and vaulted corridors run all around with ornate balconies projecting into the bath. There is an inlet water channel to the east and a moat that runs all around the structure that ensured a constant supply of fresh water. There are steps leading down to the floor of the bath to the north, and the remnants of four pillars in the center which probably supported a pavilion.

What we see from entering the gate is the rear portion of the structure. We have walk around it to reach the entrance.. The bath house is surrounded by a moat which supplies clean water continuously.

Here we are.. the entrance to the bath house.

The doorway is arched, low and narrow

Try to imagine this place with water.. it would be cool even on a scorching summer day. Balconies projecting over the water.. where queens and her companions would be enjoying water games. Oh what a sight that would be.

Arched entrance to one of the balconies. Through the opening on the right, the water inlet channel can be seen.

Water flows through this channel into the central bath.. falling into the tank with a splash.. mind soothing sounds of water. BTW, the water is supplied from river Tungabhadra.

Architecture is Indo-Islamic. I guess engineers from neighbouring or far away kingdoms were employed to design and build these marvellous structures.

Various floral and geometric patterns decorate the ceiling domes.

 View of another balcony.
This is just one of the examples of luxuries royal members of the empire had access to. Another good example is the Octagonal Water Pavilion.. less than a kilometer from here.

You might also want to read about the Adil Shahis summer resort at Kummatgi, near Bijapur.

Nov 15, 2014

Prehistoric stone tools factory of Hiregudda, Sanganakallu - 2

continued from Prehistoric stone tools factory of Hiregudda, Sanganakallu - 1.

We are exploring the western side of Hiregudda, i.e. behind Peacock hill. The eastern face was a tools manufacturing factory.. raw material quarry, shaping the tools, polishing them and also trading them - Rama Dasa says that all these activities had happened here. We are looking out for evidences of such activities- sources of raw material, semi-finished tools, chips, grinding stones, etc.

December 22, 2013
A layer of grey powdery stuff caught my attention.. I felt it was ash, probably prehistoric ash. When I mentioned it to Rama Dasa (my guide) he said it wasn't ash, it's soil. I tested the powder between my finger tips.. the powder stuck to my skin.. I felt it was ash. The presence of pottery pieces strengthened my opinion but I cannot be sure.

Close to the ash patch was this exposed section filled with stone chips from tool manufacturing. I felt this is a beautiful example of collection of waste material generated by manufacturing activity. These pieces of similar size must have been embedded at this spot for centuries with being disturbed.

These stones originally one stone, are relatively heavier and harder. A polished surface can be seen.. a polishing stone.

We come to a rock bed with three man-made concave surfaces.. marked A, B and  C. There were few more such pits on other boulders in the vicinity. They were either created by grinding cereals or stone tools.

The pits are shaped like mid-section profile of a chicken egg.. about 4½' and 2½' at its longest and widest points and 7" deep.

This is probably the cleanest pit we found. The black circle is dried lichen. Notice how smoothly the surface is polished.

One more polishing stone.. this was specially used to sharpen pointed edges like spearheads or axe-heads. This stone's unpolished surface is gritty, granular bits embedded in the stone form a rough surface.

Rama Dasa explains finds a good sample to explain how pointed  stones were created or how edges were sharpened.

These ridges were created while sharpening edges.

And the pits were used to sharpen pointed edges by twirling the piece.

A series of shallow circular pits form a square with two intersecting dividers.

Converging ridges created by sharpening edges. Wonder why grind only at this spot on such a large stone..

One of the smaller polishing pits.

A collection of semi-finished stone tools. A- axe heads. B - grain grinding stone.

Shallow circular pits arranged in a circle with a pair of perpendicular diametric lines.

A line of pits with a pair of zigzag lines. Rama Dasa says the zigzag lines represent a pair of intertwined serpents. You might have seen medical logos with a pair of intertwined serpents.. the concept is not really new.. its history goes back several millennium.

View of the standing stone. Looks like a dolphin nose.

In the plains below a stone-circle can be seen. That stone arrangement is prehistoric, probably a marker for place of burial. According to Rama Dasa several such stone-circles have been destroyed and lost while quarrying was active on this hill complex.

A pre-university college building of Sanganakallu. In the foreground is a group of boys playing cricket. In that ground is a spot which marks the position of standing stone's shadow's on winter and summer solstice days - marked by none other than our guide Rama Dasa. He religiously marks the position every year. He's been the shift in the shadow's position year on year. With his knowledge about astronomy and astrology he can talk about shift in planetary positions.. most of it I could not grasp :(

Having spent close to 5 hours under blazing Sun was tiring. We had had a light breakfast of dry snacks and running out of water. It was close to lunch time and we had to make to Jatinga Rameshwar hill top and Ashoka Siddapura before the day ended. We decided to head back to the base where our cab was parked.

An ancient shrine close to the base of Peacock hill. As you see, people still perform rituals here. In the background is the dolerite dyke with ancient petroglyphs.

Do check out the petroglyphs in these posts below-
Prehistoric Petroglyphs of Kappagallu - part I
Prehistoric Petroglyphs of Kappagallu - part II

And close to the base of the hill is an ancient ash mound-
Prehistoric Ash Mound of Kappagallu

I have to come back to explore the summit portion of dolerite dyke, there are hundreds of petroglyphs which we could not reach during our first visit. Thanks to our guide Rama Dasa for time, patience and effort.

Nov 8, 2014

Prehistoric stone tools factory of Hiregudda, Sanganakallu - 1

March 7, 2013
During the first visit here, my friend Rama Dasa from this village showed us ancient petroglyphs of Sanganakallu. Rama Dasa shared the knowledge about this hill which he's been exploring since childhood days. We saw hundreds of rock etchings depicting humans and animals such as bulls, horses, elephants, tigers, serpents and birds. I must mention the bull-axe wheel, a complex drawing consisting of 5 axes and 5 bulls. Rama Dasa said that every drawing had a meaning, they connected our world on this planet to the cosmic world. The 5 hour tour clambering up the dolerite dyke was a tiring exercise. By 1 PM it was too hot for comfort, we ended the tour.

December 22, 2013
The second visit. We- Mohan mama, Rama Dasa and I -arrived here quite early, it was winter solstice, an important day in astronomy. Rama Dasa had gone to a field behind this hill to mark the shadow of this hill's peak - he marks the position of the shadow every year to study its movement. With that observation Rama Dasa understands the relative position of Earth and Sun. In this picture below, the moon is positioned just above Peacock hill, few minutes after shooting this picture the moon sank behind the rocks. Being here on Winter Solstice Day was a coincidence, objective of this visit was to see the Neolithic tools factory atop this hill i.e. the summit between Peacock hill and Dolerite Dyke.

Rama Dasa was bare foot again! Last time he climbed the blistering rocks barefoot and this time he's walking over thorn littered surfaces. In the background is the top portion of the Dolerite dyke. The spot we are standing on is about 150' above the plains. This spot is supposed to be stone tools grinding place i.e. rough cut tools were polished to get the required cutting edges.

A small area of plain land between the the three peaks of Hiregudda. Ramadasa believes that a stone dam existed here to capture rain water.

One of the flakes located by Rama Dasa. This piece of rock was created while manufacturing a stone tool - its a waste product back then but today its an important piece of evidence for that ancient activity. Only a trained eye can identify such stones.

Mama listens to Rama Dasa's explanation of stone tools manufacturing activities here. Some years ago quarrying was active which disturbed prehistoric evidences to a great extent. In the background is one of the peaks with a partly damaged standing stone - thanks to quarrying work.

A small collection of stone tools and flakes. Top left piece could be an axe while the top right piece could be an unfinished pounding or grinding stone. The rest are flakes of chips.

Close by I happened to see a large stone with a smooth concave surface, it looked manmade. This is an ancient grinding stone.. grains were ground into flour using a shaped stone with a gently curved surface which would fit into our palm.

We cleared off the shrub trying to get a clearer view of the ancient grinding mill. In the act of cleaning we discovered the second grinding stone right besides the first one. This is evidence that neolithic people worked in groups.. because they lived in groups.

A short demo by Rama Dasa-

Rama Dasa demonstrates how a man would have worked the mill. In his hand is the grinding stone which would go round and round crushing grains in the pit.

We located a third stone too, a much smaller though. Note how smooth the surface is yet it is rough enough to catch grains and crush them.

The grinding stone had multiple purposes, not only it was used to grind grains but it could also be used to sharpen tools. For instance this is a well formed stone axe but its unfinished. The edges would be rubbed patiently until they become smooth cutting edges.

We climb little higher.. in search of raw material for manufacturing tools. We take a short break under jaali-gida shade; we have a breakfast of dry snacks and water. In this picture below, the white circle marks the location of an ancient stone dam. The wall created a small tank to capture rain water.

A wider look of the valley.. and the plains of Kappagallu village below.

Mama and Rama Dasa inspecting one of the sources of raw material for stone implements. This rust colored stone is hard; well suited for making implements. I think its the effect of oxidation that has formed a rust colored coating on the originally dark brown stone.

A closer look at the standing stone.. and the western valley on the hill.

This is the second source of raw material for stone implements. These stones come in shades of grey, different compared to the brown stones.

Close to the standing stone, standing over a rock bed, I was trying to cool off in the breeze. I noticed a row of circular shallow pits. The line pointed towards the Pitalappa shrine in the Dolerite dyke across the valley - Rama Dasa confirmed the alignment of the line. About 20' away there was another similar row of pits at a slightly different angle.. no idea what it pointed.

View of peacock hill from the standing stone... some day I want to explore that rock formation. Might find a rock painting or two there.

From the standing stone, we move to the western face of the hill. On this face of the hill we found remains of a stone circle.

This article will continue.. do check out the following post - Prehistoric stone tools factory of Hiregudda, Sanganakallu - 2.