Jul 30, 2016

Basava Smaraka, Basavana Bagewadi

The three most important places connected with life of Vishwa Guru Basavanna are-

  • Bagewadi - place of birth, affectionately called Basavana Bagewadi
  • Kudala Sangama - place of spiritual education and last days
  • Kalyana - where Basavanna served as a minister and started the social revolution, now called Basava Kalyana
I'd visited Kalyana and Kudala Sangama almost two decades ago but somehow my travels never went through Bagewadi. My maternal uncles has told that Basava's descendents lived there and his house still existed.

Jan 29, 2016
Finally the day arrived. I and Pushpa drove to Bagewadi after a short visit to Muddebihal to check out its fort ruins. It was around 2 PM when we arrived at Bagewadi. First thing we found a Lingayath Khanawali and had Jolada Rotti Oota and then headed towards Basava's birthplace. I was hoping to see an ancient house but what I saw a modern structure. Government has replaced the ancient house with a modern memorial. How disappointing! Anyway.. since we are here, might as well see what's inside.

Basava Smaraka's dome towers over its locality. As per legends, this locality was known as Agrahara, place where Brahmin families resided. It is said that Madiraja was headman of Bagewadi then. Bagewadi was also known as Ingaleshwara Bagewadi then.

The care-taker was away for lunch time. A short wait and the young care-taker arrived and open up the gates and doors. So this building was inaugurated on May 16 2010 by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. I asked the care-taker if there were any photographs of the original house. Answer was no :( At least the authorities can display one photo.

Inside its one single hall with a collection of statues of bronze and wall reliefs made of   wood, glass and granite. There works of art depict important moments of Basavan's life. The central item being the collection of 3 life-size statues of Guru Jatavedamuni, mother Madambike with infant Basava and father Madiraja. This is the happy moment after Guru Jatavedamuni awakens the infant from its sleep since the day of its birth. The parents are relieved to know their child was neither blind nor mute.

Around the hall are wall reliefs. Going in chronological order.

Mother Madalambika showing infant Basava in presence of his father Madiraja to their family Guru who is seen blessing the new born at their home which existed at this site. As per historic-legendary evidence Lord Basava was born on the most auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya (the third day in the light fortnight of the Hindu month of Vaishakh).

Young Basava refusing to participate in Upanayana ceremony. His thinking was different. he believed in kindness to fellow creatures rather than follow customs and traditions blindly.

Young boy Basava  rushing towards Kundala Sangama with his sister Nagamma and her husband Shivadeva.

Guru Jatadevamuni initiating Basava's spiritual training at Sangameshwara Devastana.

Guru Jatadevamuni imparting knowledge to Basava in Akka Nagamma and Shivadeva's presence.

Basaveshwara composing and recording Vachanas.

Here's the care-taker, a knowledgable young man.He could recite many Vachana's and quite formal in his speech, pure Kannada, no English words mixed.

Here are places connected to Basaveshwara's close relatives-

Jul 23, 2016

Haralayyana Paduke, Bijjanahalli

Haralayyana Paduke means Haralayya's shoes. Haralayya was a tanner by profession who lived in Kalyana, a contemporary of Jagatjyoti Basaveshwara and King Bijjala. Haralayya and his wife Kalyanamma were part of the Sharana movement lead by Basavanna. During one of the Sharana gatherings it so happened that Haralayya greeted Basvanna formally saying “Sharanu”  to which Basavanna responded by saying “Sharanu Sharanarthi”. Haralayya was awestruck by Basava's courteous greeting, who was a close aide of Kalyana's ruler King Bijjala. Haralayya felt that he had committed a grave sin because he had let a great soul like Basava had respected lowly person. To free himself of the sin Haralayya decided to make a pair of slippers from his won skin. Haralayya\s wife Kalyanamma said she had equal right in the deed and she too decided to give join the act. The couple cut off skin from their thighs, tanned and made pair of shoes befitting a minister. When the shoes were presented to Basava, he was awestruck, touched them to his eyes and placed them his head. Basava said the shoes had divinity in them, he could never even think of wearing them and returned them to the couple. This story is from the XII Century CE.

Nearly 800 years later the pair of slippers were rediscovered at Bijanahalli near Malked about 60 kms from Gulbarga. A small temple has been built for the divine pair of shoes. Few scientist have even tested samples from the shoes and confirmed they are made of human skin. Of all the ancient artefacts known, this is unique one indeed.

I was curious to see those ancient shoes, my wait of 4 years came to an end on..

July 2, 2016
Our journey from Hyderabad to Bijapur started early morning. Our first stop was at Sedam to see few ancient Hindu temples and a Jain Basadi. Next was Bijanahalli; as we approached Malkhed, on the highway, on the right was an arch of Bijjanahalli.

Its one straight road from this arch to the abode of Haralayyana Paduke; no forks in between. We reached Bijjanahalli around 11 AM; villagers were helpful; two youngsters lead us to the temple, where two more joined. The boy in white school dress is Shivasharanappa - its his family who is in possession of Haralayya's shoes.

Shivasharanappa, Ramesh, Srinath and Ambarish
This is an artistic depiction of the scene where Haralayya & Kalyanamma present their shoes to Basavanna. Having learnt that the shoes were made of their own skin, Basavanna places them on his head out of respect. Two ladies flanking Basava are his wives Neelambike and Gangambike.

So this is the little shrine for this extraordinary pair of shoes. They are placed in a locked wood-glass case.

Rituals are performed everyday by Shivasharanappa's family.

As seen from the front..

..and from the side. Watch this video of Haralayyana Paduke to see clearer pictures of the shoes.

We thank our young friends for showing us the temple.

We head back to Malkhed; we pass by its bus-stand which has an interesting theme.. modelled like a fort. Cheers to the architect who designed it and to the team who constructed it.

We head to our next destination Nagavi near Chittapur. Historical sources say that India's second university existed at Nagavi.

Jul 16, 2016

squirrel, pigeon and parrot at Lalbagh

Dec 26, 2014
Found these lively creatures having breakfast of grains.. rice, wheat, maize, ragi, jowar.. There are spots in Lalbagh which have become feeding spots. Morning walkers from surrounding localities bring bags of grains and drop them at the spots. The largest spot is dominated by pigeons. Then there are smaller spots where parrots, crows and squirrels are also seen. These creatures spend time peacefully, rarely they fight over sharing the grains. Here we go..

sweet little squirrel nibbling at a grain of maize
looking for some buried stuff
pigeon dropped the maize, not edible? not tasty?
a short stroll and..
searching for grain on a tree, perhaps something in the valley
a parrot wishing it had reached a moment earlier
pigeon's feet slips and flaps its wings to regain balance; parrot is startled
regains its composure; looks at the pigeon having breakfast

waiting patiently for the pigeon leave..
Found my favourite tree from childhood days, I did not know its name back then but I imagined them as drum sticks.. the type which are used in pairs to bang both sides of the big drum.. boom boom boom


Jul 9, 2016

Cannons of Chowmahalla, Hyderabad

Chowmahalla or Chowmahallatuu is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad. Mahal is an Arabic word for palace and Mahalat for palaces. This palace complex has four palaces hence its name Chowmahallatuu. These structures are said to be replica of Shah's palace in Tehran, Iran. Its construction began in 1750 CE, initiated by  Salabat Jung and completed by 1869 during the period of Asaf Jah V the fifth Nizam. Chowmahalla was the seat of Asaf Jahi dynasty and official residence of Nizams of Hyderabad. All official state events were held here. The palace complex consists of Khilwat (Durbar hall), four palaces, two courtyards - northern and southern, clock tower, Bara Imam (long corridor of rooms on the eastern side and Shishe-Alat. The four palaces are Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal.

February 27, 2016
Chowmahalla is open to public between 10 AM and 5 PM, Saturday to Thursday. We reached around 12-30, it was a warm day. The entrance gateway opens up to the northern courtyard. The central pool & fountains and greenery create a peaceful ambiance. At the end of this courtyard is the Khilwat, the grand hall where the Nizam held official meetings. And right next to Khilwat is the elegant Khilwat Clock Tower. Coming back tot the courtyard, around the central pool are six cannons, they are no ordinary guns, I mean not the simple cast or forged steel cannons. The engineers who designed these guns had worked hard on the aesthetic aspect of their products. The guns' handles are a pair of fish, each of the guns has a unique These guns are made of a special alloy.. a mixture of non-magnetic metals which does not heat up even on the hottest days.

Here we go.. starting with a pair of cannons close to the palace complex entrance. They are similar in size and design. However the pair of fishes on the guns are different- while one is scaly, the other pair is smooth.

There are three (or four) more cannons bigger than the first two. They are opposite Khilwat (the Durbar Hall), These cannons are about 6½ feet long and their bore is around 6". Though similar in build and size, each cannon is unique in terms of aesthetics. The paired handles are different in every cannon; fish with twisted tails and lizard like creatures. Here they are..

Both cannons have embossed Sun along with..

..inscription in one of the Islamic languages.

 These guns reminiscent of cannons at Basava Kalyana fort and the Malik-e-Maidan Tope at Bijapur forts. They are also artistically decorated, made of non-magnetic alloy and do not heat in even when exposed to blazing Sun throughout the day. One more five-metal gun that comes to mind is a four feet cannon at the museum inside the Qutb Shahi tomb complex near Golconda fort. It seems these guns were manufactured some place in Madhya Pradesh.

Jul 2, 2016

Mudgal Fort's North Gate

Dec 25, 20154
My first visit to Mudgal fort. Starting from the eastern gate, we spent close to 4 hours exploring the formidable fort. The fort is built on a rocky hillock and the neighbouring plains. The rock hill itself is a prehistoric site; we discovered a natural rock shelter with a small painting and musical stones. The fort was originally built by Hindu rulers and later occupied by Muslim rulers. Having spent hours under the blazing sun and heat radiating rocks, we were exhausted. We just wanted a shady place, sit and have lunch in peace. We lunched our guides. They suggested us we check out the northern gate as well but we were in a rush to reach Jaladurga..

Jan 23 2016
One of the routes connecting Hyderabad and Dharwad passes through Mudgal. For today's drive, we'd taken this road and stopped by Mudgal fort's northern gate. Sun was blazing down fiercely (definitely hotter than Dec 26 2015). Pushpa decided to sit in the car; I ventured out with my camera. The North gate itself has two entrances- one facing east and other facing west. The gateway is complex, has a zig-zag path to slow down enemy entry. Here's the smaller east facing gate.

Map of Mudgal fort showing Eastern and Northern gates.

View of the inner gateway trough the eastern door. In through the gateway and turn right to see north door. Thsi gate is called as Fateh Darwaza.

This stairway next to the inner gateway takes us to a turret.

A damages cannon sits atop. This was the cannon our guide Shah Rukh wanted us to see.

Here's the broken remains of a cannon which probably was 18 feet long originally. I remember seeing a similar cannons at Raichur fort summit but that's in pretty good shape.

Originally a moat surrounded the perimeter on plain land. Even to this eastern part of the moat has water. View of the moat from the northern gateway.
Another view of the inner gateway.

Close to the northern door on the wall is this engraving- lion leaping at an elephant.

These walls are close to 800 years old and standing to this day. Cheers to the engineers, stone dressers and masons of that period.

Fateh Darwaza coordinates: 16.0140715N 76.4350337E