Oct 29, 2016

Aravattu Kambhada Gudi ~ 60 pillar temple, Navagi

I'd read about Nagavi few years ago while researching Ashokan edicts of Sannati. The place marked 'Nagavi' was described as an ancient university.

July 2, 2016
We reached Nagavi by noon; our first stop was Shree Nagavelambika Temple; then we proceeded to Sanjeevini Hanuman Devasthana; next we explored another temple with a stepped well followed by the ruins of fort; finally we arrived at the 60-pillar temple. By the time we arrived here, we were famished; we grabbed our lunch bag and water bottles and settled down in the shade of young trees within the temple compound. Items on the menu were - sajji rotti, madaki kaalu, cucumber, tomato, curd, shanga-chatni and shenga-holige. The moment we started eating, a thousand flies appeared out of no where.. we had a tough time keeping them from settling on open items. Somehow we managed to finished our lunch and packed up. With our hunger taken care of, we turned our attention to the temple.

As you see, its a simple structure, built on a platform. The structure measures approximately 50' x 60'. This east-facing temple has only one entrance.

Above the door-frame is painted "Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara." This temple is dedicated to the three lords of the Hindu religion. The care-taker told us this is one the few temples in which Brahma Linga is worshipped,

As we step into the temple we see the entire hall is filled with pillars, they are about 60 of them hence the name "Aravattu Kambada Gudi." This temple is said to be built during Chlukyas' time. This temple was restored recently, job well done.

A diagonal view of the interior. At the centre is a square pit and exactly above the pit is an opening in the roof. We'll come to that later.

This is the Garbhagudi; the pedestal is wide and on it are three Linga; one each dedicated to Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Protector and Maheshwara the Destroyer. Rituals are performed daily hence the temple is clean, though it has a lingering odour of bats.

So that's the pit I spoke about earlier. The pit is deep enough for a person to bathe in it hence wondering if water was poured in from the opening in the roof. Well, the pit could be a simple water tank also.

Among the sixty plus pillars, four are different size & design. They are slightly larger than the remaining ones. They form the outer ring of the central pit.

Two parallel rows standing hundreds of years. Cheers to the temple builders of those times. Long live their works of art.

Having done wit the interios we come back to our lunch spot to collect our bag and water bottle. So this little obelisk has inscriptions on all four faces. My assumption that script was Old Kannada was wrong, the care-taker said its Nagalipi. It is said that Nagalipi is one of the oldest scripts of India.

The place a peaceful ambience and very convenient spot for a picnic except for the bothersome houseflies.
A closer look at the inscription where the scribe has paid respects to Sun and Moon before engraving the message.

The stone is dark and hard, hence the engraving still visible. Care-taker said the temple and insciption  are from II Century CE.. need to verify that.

Here's a short video of the temple.

A 2 minute walk from this temple is a temple with a fresh-water well called Nandi Baavi. I did not step into the temple, here's a picture of it.. Sadly the temple's well is being misused by local youth. When I was present a local Muslims man let his dog dive into the well for a swim and group of same community boyts cheered after him as though it was a great feat. For them this is just another pond, not a temple. :( Had this been their place of worship they would not have behaved so...

I'm guessing this temple's deity is Lord Shiva's mount Nandi. You can find pictures of 4 to 5 feet Nandi in this short video of Nandi Baavi.

Having covered Nagavi briefly, we move on to our next and final destination.. Firozabad fort near Jevargi.

Oct 22, 2016

Ruins of Nagavi Fort

Nagavi fort was the most recent addition to my list of forts. It was discovered while scanning Nagavi site ..a part of the site was marked with the word 'Kote.'  The fort's perimeter is approximately 1.7 kms around its 36 acres of plain land. Within the fort are ruins of houses, water tanks and soldiers' barracks. So, it was a citadel ..a small fortified town.

Jul 2, 2016
We started our tour of Nagavi with Sanjeevini Anjaneya Mandir followed by the temple-mosque complex with a stepped well. Next we walked towards the fort. The path between Anjaneya temple and the fort is well tread ..mostly by cattle herds and shepherds. There were two-wheeler tire tracks too. We walked along the fort wall which at places is more of dirt mound. The fort entrance is recognisable, thanks to walls which have managed to withstand the forces of Nature and humans.

Pushpa lead the way shooting the way with my mobile phone.

There we are.. arch of Nagavi's east-facing main entrance The arch design is Islamic, similar to the ones at Gulbarga / Bidar forts. This arch would be constructed during Bahamani rule but the fort as such was originally built during Chalukya's time.

Close look at the self-supporting arch. An amazing piece of construction this is.

The arch as seen from inside. We just followed the foot path from here..

We reached this dilapidated structure. One of the online sources refers to this as Kali Masjid. Since the structure has one minar, I'll name it Ek-Minar Masjid.

The entrance is decorated with an arch and an elaborately sculpted door frame. If you check the door frame'd head closely, the sculpturing has been defaced. Probably it was Gajalakshmi. Then there are other pieces of sculpturing which are typical to Hindu temples. This structure was a Hindu shrine originally built during Chalukyan time and Muslim rulers who took over the place converted this into a mosque.

This is one portion of the temple premises. Even this structure displays characteristics of a Hindu temple. Probably this temple had a Shikhara which was replaced by the Minar. In the same compond there's another smaller structure built in similar style/

Rear view of the shrine. Dresses Shahabad stone blocks have been used in most structures here ...temples, wells, rampart walls, gateways and arches. Wonder what's the original name of this stone.. i.e. before Shahabad came into existence.

The foot path went further into the fort but we decided to end our tour here since we still had to see Aravattu Kambhada Devasthana and then reach Firozabad fort well before sunset. So we head back towards Anjaneya Mandir where our car was parked. Just before the temple, there's a bastion, I could climb over the ramp formed by the rubble.

We were hungry and tired. Good thing we carried our lunch only thing we needed a good spot to rest and have lunch peacefully - that would be Aravattu Kambada Gudi, a short drive from here.

Here's a map showing places of interest in Nagavi. For reader's benefit- distance between Yellamma temple (1) and fort Sanjeevini Anjaneya temple (6) is approximately 800 meters.

Nagavi fort Coordinates: 17°6'17"N   77°5'5"E

Oct 15, 2016

Temple-Mosque Complex, Nagavi

July 2, 2106
After Sanjeevini Anjaneya darshan, we were scanning the surrounding area. On the eastern side was temple-mosque complex.. two stepped-Shikharas and one domed minar stood out from the complex. The entire complex was enclosed in a wall built of Shahabad stones. Good rains had fed the soil from which lot of vegetation thrived. Since the place is frequented by shepherds and probably priests to perform rituals footpaths were created. We went along the paths..

First we stopped at the stepped well, not a deep one. Water was clear and seemed quite fresh. Thanks to rains.

So this the twin Shikhara temple. Online sources say these temples were built during Rastrakuta rule when Manyakheta was the empire's capital. All these structures are built of Shahabad stones. Local people have covered them in sunna ~ lime.

Adjoining the temple is the mosque like structure but the saffron color door indicates this is another Hindu shrine. Normally Muslim structures are green. The ambience was peaceful, perfect place to have lunch. It was cloudy and windy yet warm.

Another view of the spot. Notice the statue on the right ..this kind of reminds of totem poles of Red Indians. Its a unique sculpture.. something totally new to me. Its a male character in a very compactly seated, body erect, so are neck and head. Face looks peaceful with eyes cast down. Arms are held together as though holding on to a short stick. The idol is beautiful. Need to find out more about it.

This long hall must be a shelter for pilgrims visiting this shrine. Like the nearby Nagavi Yellamma Gudi, we see Islamic architecture here also.

The halls's exterior. This could also been a prayer hall. If the structure on the right was a mosque, probably this was an extension.

This definitely looks like a mosque ..the minars an arch over the entrance. However inside its more a Hindu shrine than a mosque.

The mosque's dome painted in gold. However I think below this dome there could be a Hindi shrine.

Having done with this monument, we decide to move on.. As we head towards Nagavo fort gate, I noticed stone slabs jutting out from the ground. Probably long time back an earthquake must have dislodged slabs which tore out of the surface. In this region its pretty common to see vast sheets of plain stones coveirng large areas/ At times its hard to believe its natural formation, it seems as though these sheets were laid out by masons.

A stone's throw from here is Nagavi arched fort entrance.


Oct 8, 2016

Sanjeevini Anjaneya Gudi, Nagavi

July 2, 2016
This is the recently built arch of Sanjeevini Anjaneya Sukshetra. From here the temple is about 400 meters.

So this is Sanjeevini Anjaneya temple. This was recently restored by members of local Brahmin community. Its a simple structure built of Shahabad stones. Notice the flooring around the structure? Its natural formation.. a huge rockbed measuring approximately 20000 square meters. The temple stands alone in the open, away from the hustle bustle of Chittapur town. Local people come here to spend some peaceful moments.

This is the view from the entrance. Ancient pillars going strong. Wonder why our people paint them :( Wish they leave stones alone,

The interior is simple; a Sabha-Mantap and Garbhgudi. There's space around the Garbhagudi for Pradakshina.
A lotus in the ceiling. Notice the binding material between the blocks.. this was not the case of our ancient builders. Anyway, this temple has been nicely restored.

Niches in the outer wall.. one on the left is Islamic design. So these blocks are ancient too?

View of the entrance and the Deepastambha. At the centre of the Mantapa formed by four pillars, there's a small square for performing Homa ~ sacrificial ritual for fire god. One thing.. this is a south-facing temple.

This definitely is an ancient oil-lamp pillar. The pillar will be lit up during major festivals.. probably during Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navami. The pillar design is common through North Karnataka and probably some parts of Maharatsra.

Lets turn our attention towards the 'flooring.' Like I mentioned earlier, this temple is situated on a rock bed measuring about 200 meters long and 100 meters wide. I've seen such a rock bed near Alampur village in Andhra Pradesh, Usually such rock beds are found near streams. Even this is the path of a stream. With a good rainfall water would be flowing here for months.

A close look at the rock bed.. there's a clear demarcation between each layer.

Looking back towards the temple. A crow quenches its thirst from a puddle. Probably it was hungry too.. that thought did not occur to me then :(

between the temple and the main road is another ruined temple with a mantapa. The Shikhara is stepped. Seems like Chalukyan architecture. All temples of this design on this site must have been built during the same period.

This is the side view. I liked the sloping parapet above the entrances.

Rear view of the temple. Its another simple structure yet its beautiful. This must be product of temple builders' experiment.

A stone's throw from this temple is am ancient wall which covers around 30 acres. The wall is not high enough to be called a fort but possesses the look of one. Inside the compound are several smaller walls.. probably this was a ancient township. There's so much more to learn about Nagavi.

Next we head towards Nagavi fort. Pushpa had read about Nagavi and also chatted with the temple priest. it seems the town within Nagavi fort was destroyed by rain of fire. Makes me think if a massive thunderbolt destroyed an ancient town..


Oct 1, 2016

Nagavi Yellamma Devastana, Chittapur

July 2, 2016

Day 1 of our journey between Hyderabad and Dharwad; our plan was to stop at few historical spots of Gulbarga district and reach Bijapur by nightfall. We has visited Bijjanahalli to see the 800 shoes made for Basavanna by his disciple couple Haralayya and Kalyanamma. Then we spent few hours at Sedam to see Panchalingeshwara Gudi, Kottala Basaveshwara Gudi and Jain Basadi. Next on our list was Nagavi near Chittapur. At Nagavi was the second ancient Hindu University. Though the place is hardly known, it has a long history. So we reach Chittapur town and head towards Nagavi. The historic spot is south of Chittapur town; its 10 minute drive. As you approach the ancient site, first thing you'll see is Shree Nagavelambika Yellamma Devasthana on your right hand side.

Here's the temple gateway, this is the inner side; the outer side is pretty much similar. At the entrance are two open wells, both seem ancient. It was midday, not many visitors at the temple.

Looks like the structure was painted recently. This temple architecture is quite different. It seems more like a Muslim shrine.. Its a big four sided structure, with 3 open faces having graceful arches. The Garbhagudi has a narrow entrance facing North; one has to bend low to pass through. This must have been renovated during a Muslim ruler's time hence this architecture.

Opposite the shrine are three lamp pillars ~ Deepastambha. It seems like instead of one tall pillar, three smaller ones were created.

This is the open hall where pilgrims wait for their Darshan of the Devi. Below the arch is a small doorway of the Garbhagudi.

Inner dome of the open hall. Designer have beautifully transitioned from square to circle. This design can be seen in some of the ancient mosques and tombs of Gulbarga. Here ancient builders skill and present day artists' skill mingle. Old design covered in new paint. Lovely it is.

A shrine dedicated to Matangi.

Around the shrine are shelters- lodges for temple care-takers and pilgrims. I'm being candid here- the temple premises is untidy; dirty floors and holy trash lying all around. For some reason, even Saundatti Yellamma Devasthana is also not clean. Wish temple care-takers serious note of the condition and take steps to educate pilgrims about cleanliness.

Talking about Muslim ruler's sponsored temple renovation, about 100 meters from the temple is an ancient Islamic tomb built of Shahabad stones. No idea who's tomb this is.

We move on.. our next stop would be Nagavi Snjeevini Hanuman temple, about 800 meters away.