Jan 30, 2016

Mother's Rock and Swami's Bench, Ramakrishna Ashram

September 10, 2015
Ramakrishna Ashram was the last item on our Saturday morning sight-seeing tour of Basavangudi. It was around 9 AM when we came here. The Ashram was peaceful as always. We sat in the meditation hall for a while and then strolled towards the Mother's rock and lo there was a surprise. A mantap with a beautiful idol of Swami Vivekananda's seated on a granite slab. During my last visit I remember holy men of this ashram performing a pooja on this very spot.. so it was for this mantapa. The idol is recent but the slab has a history.. its a monument in its own right.

About this monument
When Swami Vivekananda arrived in Bengaluru during 1892 from Belgaum, he stayed at the Kalappa Choultry in the Majestic area for a few days. During that period he sat and rested quite a few times on a stone bench attached to the front wall of the house of Sri Sugappa, a jeweller by profession. After discovering later that the sannyasin was none other than Swami Vivekananda, Sri Sugappa and his descendants preserved it carefully with all respect, as a valuable monument. This stone-bench-slab, which was sanctified by Swami Vivekananda, was officially handed over to Ramakrishna Math in January 1997. 

Swami Vivekananda had stayed in Ramakrishna Ashram at Belgaum fort in 1892.

 Just besides this mantapa is the spot which is known as The Mother's Rock.

About The Holy Mother's Rock
Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi stayed in this Math for four days from 24th to 27th March 1911. During this period, one day she sanctified this rock by sitting here in meditation, enjoying the sunset. Therefore all the visitors are requested to maintain the sanctity of this rock and its surroundings. 

This is one of the most peaceful spots here.. its like a being in a jungle.

the meditation hall of Ramakrishna Matha
Ramakrishna Ashram has an amazing collection of flora. Here's one lovely flower, the NagaLingaPushpa. The flower's core resembles a snake's hood sheltering a Shiva Linga. The flower's mild but sweet aroma has a nice effect on the mind, especially early mornings. NagaLingaPushpa tree's English name is canon ball :( wish it's renamed with something pleasant.

Here's another amazing flower whose name I'm not aware of.


Jan 23, 2016

Dodda Basavanna Gudi, Bengaluru

Basavangudi is one of Bangalore's oldest localities, its named after Dodda Basavanna Gudi aka Big Bull Temple, a 500 year old shrine dedicated to Basava, Lord Shiva's mount. Inside the temple is a large stone bull measuring 4.5m in height and 6.5m in length. It is said that the bull came into existence during Kempegowda's rule. The story behind the bull goes like this: long time back, in this area farmers grew groundnuts. A bull living in the vicinity would raid the fields and feed on groundnut plants. One day, a farmer loses patience and chases it with a stick but the bull escapes. The farmer gives up the chase because it was dusk. The following morning the farmer along with fellow farmers go in search of the bull and to their surprise they see a large stone bull at the spot where it was seen last. The farmer believe that it was the bull he had chased had turned into stone because of his mistake and starts worshipping it. Farmers start a groundnut fair near the temple. The fair known as "Kadalekai Parase" continues to this day.

September 10, 2015
A pair of big horns welcome visitors to Big Bull Temple.

The temple has a Gopura and a large doorway with massive gates.

The temple has a open Sabha Mantapa.

The Garbhagudi is slightly elevated. Basavanna is its usual position.. lying down on its belly with its right leg bent and raised. Its head is turned slightly to left as though it wanted to see who's standing in the front. On the head is a trident; it is said that the head was nailed to stop the idol from growing.

I think the bull was originally white; for some reason they are smeared something dark and made black. Its the same with Basavanna at Chamundi Betta and Nadihalli. However the Basavanna at Lepakshi is still white.

Basavanna is decorated with garlands of tinklets and a bell.

A dressed block with two line Kannada inscription.. one of the words is Basaveshwara.

The warm glow of the orange flame.. this brass oil lamp looks quite old. The image on its back is similar to Mysore Sandal Soap logo.

black and white Shiva Linga and a brass Anjaneya.

A small Basava too.

 Every Shivalinga will be accompanied by a Basavanna. However, this Basava doesn't seem to have a Shiva Linga.. Here's what I think; if you look in the direction Basava is facing.. go beyond Bangalore.. see towards Tumkur.. what do you see? Shivagange hill which looks like a giant Linga.


Jan 16, 2016

Penukonda fort ruins

Penukonda was the second capital of Vijayangara, it became the capital after the fall of glorious Hampi. Penukonda was a flourishing city too, its fort spread over hills and plains. Within the fort are several temples, tanks and wells and even a summer palace. About 30 kms south of Penukonda is Lepakshi, the home to largest Nandi, a huge Shiva Linga and Maha Ganapati. Lepaksi's Veerabhadra temple is popular for its exquisite sculptures and the unique designs on it\s incomplete Kalyan Mantap. It is said that Lepaksi was built by the prime minister Thimmarasu. Due to misunderstanding Thimmarasu and his family were wrongly accused of conspiring against the king and swindling the kingdom's treasury. Thimmarasu was blinded and imprisoned in a jail which is located at Penukonda fort, very close to Gagan Mahal the summer palace. Within the fort in the plains is a Jain Basti too.

January 3 and October 11, 2015
During two of my journeys between Bangalore and Hyderabad, I'd stopped at Penukonda. During the first visit I'd entered via the fort's eastern entrance, saw Gagan Mahal from outside, Kashi Vishwanatha temple, Ramaswamy temple, Thimmarasu jail and Narasimhaswami temple on the hill. During the second visit with Pushpa in company, I could see the inside of Gagan Mahal and discovered two more monuments the water tank, Basava Bavi and also the northern entrance to the fort. So here's the northern entrance to Penukonda fort, flanked by bastions. Within the gateway is a temple.

The gateway is isolated from the main structure to make way for incoming and outgoing traffic.
These rampart walls are original walls, built during Vijayanagara times.

The eastern entrance is similar to the northern entrance but there's no gateway as such, not even ruins. On the walls are several inscriptions in Kannada.

Kannada epigraphy on dressed granite blocks.
Another view of the rampart wall. Large dressed granite block fir into each other perfectly. 

Many parts of the fort area is occupied by homes, especially the walls are conveniently used to support shelters for cattle.

This crumbling structure is probably the highest part of the fort on plain land. What seems like a flag bastion is a part of the eastern wall of Penukonda fort.

The fort on the hill is accessible by two ways- by foot and by road. If you wish to climb the fort by foot, the path starts near Gagan Mahal. One day I really want to climb here which leads straight to the highest part of Penukomds fort.

I took the road, drove up the recently formed twisty dirt track. On the way I could see ruins of walls and gateways.

The ruins include post Vijayanagara construction too. The wall seen here seems like it was built during Hyder-Tipu rule.

The road ends at Narasimhaswami temple. The peak of Penukonda fort is a kilometer from here and can be reached by foot only. A third visit to Penukonda fort is pending just to reach the highest point.

On the way down, I noticed two badly damaged Mohammedan tombs. Probably members of Hyder-Tipu family ot some high ranking military personnels'.

This is a rocky hillock marked as Babaiah Konda. At its summit is Dargah of Hazrath Baba Fakruddin a Sufi saint of 12th century. It is said that he was a king of Sistan and Shahpur in Iran before he came to Penukonda. Even this climb should be an interesting one. Hopefully someday I should be able to climb this too.

Penukonda fort coordinates:  14°4'49"N   77°35'12"E

Jan 13, 2016

Team Outing at Leonia Resort - part 2

...article continued from Team Outing at Leonia Resort - part 1.

April 4, 2015
Our team rooms were on the 8th floor, I think. Rooms on one side of the aisle has a great view of open land. The terrain was flat as far as eyes could see. Close to the red sloped roof building is the swimming pool complex, movie theatre and go-cart track.

The resort campus has small trees, perhaps if the management plants saplings of Banyan, Rain tree or Silver Oak.. the place will have a wonderful look and feel when the trees are fully grown.

Morning was lazy, people were slow to wake and come down for breakfast. The only activity for the morning was cricket. Here we are- team divided into two teams. There were folks who wouldn't be playing.. one would be an umpire, I would be shooting pictures and rest watching.

There we go, the action beings.. batting, umpiring and bowling.

..end of an over the roles change to wicket-keeping.

Batsmen awaiting their turns are part of the audience at the moment.

 A bouncer.. goes for a four.

Teams switch sides.. now the chase to catch up with the score starts.

Fielding was tight, pressure was building.

Furious bowling to keep score under check..

While the game is heating up, we have two cool dudes relaxing in the shade.

Batsmen grabbing runs consistently..

The game is hot; captain exerts pressure on bowlers..

Even the batsmen are under pressure. Now its hit out or get out time. Every ball has to be aimed at the boundary..

With few balls to go, the target was reached. Winning team celebrating the victory. The two cool dudes somehow managed to get into the celebration :)

The losing team booing the winners..

Team heads back to the main building. Time to rest and then head for indoor games.

The indoor games place was part of the swimming pool complex.. a pool table, table tennis and carrom. No takers for carrom; most the group hung around the pool tables..

..while four of them occupied the two TT tables.

The umpire had floated away to dream world.. blissfully on his own :)

Afternoon session was rather dull, most were tired, hungry and looking forward to returning home..