Mar 31, 2018

Malkhed bus-stand

Of all my travels across interior Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, I'd never cared to take a second look at any bus-stands. But there's one exception- Malkhed, a small town with strong historical background. Situated on the left bank of river Kagini, Malkhed (originally Manyakheta / Mannakheḍa) was the capital of Rashtrakuta dynasty during IX century and X century CE. Malkhed fort has survived till day, mostly in ruins though and hardly any tourists visit it. However, someone made an attempt to preserve the town's history in a unique manner.. it could be a politician or a government officer or a businessman. Whoever's idea it was to model the town's bus-stand after a fort was a nice idea. The bus-stand was renovated recently and inaugurated in July-2016.

Feb 12, 2018
We were traveling from Dharwad to Hyderabad via Bijapur. We by-passed Gulbarga by taking Jevargi-Shahabad-Malkhed road. I just snapped these two pictures quickly while moving..

The bastions should've been twice the height, the structure would be more noticeable. Anyway, the idea is appreciated. Do read about Malkheda fort and, also the story of Haralayyana Paduke, a pair of slippers made by the XII Century Shivasharana.

Mar 28, 2018

early morning sky near Gangavati

Feb 9, 2018
We were traveling towards Dharwad on an emergency. The journey started late night, we approached Gangavati early morning. Lovely cloud formations hung over the town.

swirling clouds

diverging streaks

Mar 24, 2018

ನವ ಬೃಂದಾವನ ~ Nava Brindavana, Anegundi

August 14, 2017
After spending most of the day at Hampi, we came back to Anegundi. Our plan was to visit Navabrindavana while it was still light. Our home-stay owner assigned Thimma as our guide. Anegundi to Navabrindavana is approximately one kilometer and the path goes across the river. When the river's flowing, fully or partially, boats ferry people across the flowing waters. This season the river was dry, hardly any flowing water, we'll be able to walk the entire way, though we'l be wading through knee deep water.

We reached the river bank, stepped into the riverbed, passed by Sri Krishnadevraya's tomb, walked over sand mounds and reached the large rock bed on which was a small shrine dedicated to Suryanarayana,, the Sun god. Then we waded across a stream and reached another large rock bed with an interesting texture- wavy rocks of Tungabhadra. Then one more stream to wade across and we reached the island of Navabrindavana.. this is the western end. Beyond these rocks is the holy spot of tombs of nine Madhwa saints.

I named this as Rhino Stone.

A shallow circular pit seems like human creation. If yes, what's the purpose?

As we walk around the rock formations we pass by a cavern. On a hot summer day, this will be a cool place to rest. Since the island is not inhabited (except during particular season) some wild beast would have taken this place as its home, like boar, bear or porcupine.

Natural rock art by rainwater.. isn't it amazing!

We reach the highest part of the island.. so these are the Brindavanas of nine Madhwa saints-
  1. Sri Padmanabha Teertha (direct disciple of Shri Madhvacharya)
  2. Sri Kavindra Teertha
  3. Sri Vageesha Teertha
  4. Sri Raghuvarya Teertha
  5. Sri Govinda Vodeyar
  6. Sri Vyasa Thirtha or Vyasaraja
  7. Sri Sudheendhra Thirtha
  8. Sri Srinivasa Thirtha
  9. Sri Rama Thirtha

The yellow board here says this is Sri Raghuvarya Teertha's Brindavana. Not all were labelled.

A yellow line encircles the nine tombs.. general public are expected not to cross over.

These saints of various time periods have entered their while they were alive. These holy men when their time on this earth ended, so they had their tombs ready and entered it at the last moment.

Besides the Samadhi, in this premises are shrines dedicated to Ranganatha and Hanuman. I missed seeing both. Known as Avathaarathraya Hanuman, the idol is said to be installed by Sri Vyasaraja. It depicts Hanuman, Bheema and Madhwa in one form. I have to see this Hanuman during my next visit.

During a particular season, lamp festival is held here. Thousands of oil deepas are lit by visiting disciples from far and near. I guess during that season there are rituals during the day for which temporary shelters are erected as a shield from blazing sunlight.

The is said to Vysaraja's Samadhi. Vysraja was the Raja Guru of six emperors of Vijayanagara empire including Sri Krishnadevaraya. At Hampi, close to Vittala temple complex is Vysaraja Matha.

I complete my one round the nine Samadhis.

One last look before we leave this sacred place 

On the way back we pass by Suryanarayana temple. A small structure barely six feet high. Inside a beautiful idol of Sun god, encircled in a ring flames,

Some feet away from Suryanarayana temple is this dolmen. No idea who or why this was made. In the background is a rectangular structure with lot of columns- that's Sri Skrishnadevaraya's tomb. Also, on the left is a white structure- that's Chintamani temple, the place where Lord Rama performs penance after slaying the monkey king Wali.

As we walked back towards Anegundi village, we collected several handful pebbles. Amazing shapes, colors and textures. Some were translucent.. if you wet them and held them up to light, they looked like gems. Its fun to collect pebbles :)

Back at our home stay, we had a refreshing cup of tea. Our day was hectic and we were tired.. cool bath, early dinner and hit the sack ...ZZzzz.

Mar 17, 2018

Navalingeshwara Devasthana, Kukanoor

August 15, 2018
After a two day-three night stay at Anegundi, we headed towards Dharwad. We left Anegundi early with a plan to visit Kukanoor and Itagi on the way. After Koppal, at Banapur, we took the right fork which goes to Yelburga via Kukanoor. The road was in good condition and barely any traffic, soon we were parking near Mahamaya Devasthana gateway. Navalingeshwara Devasthana, the temple of nine Jyotirlinga -is right besides Mahamaya temple. The entire temple complex was built during Chalukyan rule from VIII to XIII centuries CE.

The temple has at least eleven Garbhagudi if not more, nine Garbhagudi are dedicated to nine Jyotirlinga and one each to Kalleshwara and Mallikarjuna. Standing at the temple entrance, we are looking at two of the Shikharas. The temple architecture is Chalukyan, the stepped Shikhara which can be seen at Pattadakal.

The temple is poorly maintained, to be precise vandalized. Some ignorant people have smeared white paint.. who knows what fun they got by that act. On the other hand, well wishers have coated the temple interior with lime which actually damages the stone. Hope someone takes the initiative to wash it off.

Before we tour the temple, lets take a look at the list of Jyothirlinga-
  1. Rameshwara at Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
  2. Mallikarjuna at Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
  3. Bhimashankar at Pune, Maharashtra
  4. Tryambakeshwar at Nashik, Maharashtra
  5. Aundha Nagnath at Hingoli, Maharashtra
  6. Ghrishneshwar at Verul, Maharashtra
  7. Somnath in Gujarat
  8. Mahakaleswar at Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
  9. Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh
  10. Baidyanath in Jharkhand
  11. Kashi Vishwanath at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Of the twelve, nine Jyotirlinga can be seen at this temple complex. Lets start the tour of the temple. We started with Shri Ghushmeshwar, believed as the last or the twelfth Jyotirlinga. The original deity is near Ellora in Maharashtra. It is also called as Grishneshwar.

This is Rameshwar Jyotirlinga at Rameshwaram is the southern most of the twelve Jyotirlinga.

Next is Bhimashankar of Pune. These three Jyotirlinga are positioned around the central Linga whose name I cannot recall.

A damaged Nandi inside a Mantapa. The beautiful pillars have become an eyesore with the lime coating. Behind the Nandi is a doorway which connects to another part of the temple.

Here we have Tryambakeshwar of Nashik. Looks like a sculpted screen stood here originally. I'm guessing based on the elaborately sculpted arch seen here.

The Garbhagudi of Kashi Vishwanatha Jyotirlinga is shrouded in darkness. As seen daily rituals does not happen here, else the Garbhagudi would have been lit up by an oil lamp.

The next two Garbhagudi are also dark and no names painted, I do not know which Jyotirlinga these are.

This is Kedarnatha Jyotirlinga. It seems pooja is performed on weekly basis.

So we have seen eight Jyotirlinga shrines. Not sure if I missed the ninth shrine. Probably the Shivalinga seen in the first few pictures could be a Jyotirlinga.

Here we have a Nandi mounted on a pedestal. This design is commonly seen in Chalukyan temples. Behind Nandi is an inscription.

This inscription is in Kannada, seems like temple records from Chalukyan times.

There are two more inscriptions.

Close to the inscriptions are two more shrines dedicated to Mahakala and Markandeshwara.

A well preserved Nandi decorated with a chain of bells.

This is the present day entrance of the temple. The structure had been restored recently. On the right side is the outer wall built of sandstone. Most Chalukyan temples of VIII cntury are built of this stone.

Damaged sculptures.. Ganesha seems to have bent to right to escape the blow which damaged the arch around him. Slightly lower, on the right is a rectangle with diagonal lines within. I can't remember seeing such mural anywhere else.

Aagh.. pretty sure this is handiwork of some young people. Wondering what instigated them. Well, I'm trying to ignore the damage and admire the beautiful little window. Chalukyan temple builders loved to experiment window designs. One should visit Aihole and Pattadakal to see the experimental models.

Thanks to Chalukyan kings for creating this Jyotirlings center but present day people have neglected it. Wishing government takes interest in restoring and protecting such historic monuments.

From here we move on to Itagi to see the marvelous Mahadeva temple.

Mar 10, 2018

wavy rocks of Tungabhadra, Anegundi

August 14, 2017
The last item for the day was Nava Brindavana. Normally at this time of the year the river would be flowing and a trip to the holy spot would involve a boat ride from Anegundi or Hampi. However this year with less rainfall, water was being stocked at TB Dam and there was hardly any flowing water few days back. Our guide Thimma from Anegundi village said dam authorities released water 2 or 3 days back, we were lucky to be seeing flowing water. Water wasn't deep enough for boats, so we will be going by foot. From Anegundi, would be a 600 meters trek on the riverbed.

The path has three landmarks- first we pass by Sri Krishnadeveraya's tomb, then a big rock bed on which is Suryanarayana temple and a dolmen. Next comes the second rockbed which has is silvery white color. More than the color its surface is breathtaking.. like sea waves.

The sight is amazingly beautiful. It was around 5 PM, sun was still high. Wonder how it looks when Sun is low, say 7 in the morning. The golden red rays would have a magical effect.

In bird's eye view the rock is an obtuse triangle, about 120 meters at its longest and 40 meters at its widest. Treading barefoot on this surface was a new experience for me.. smooth, slippery and piercing.

This is the first time I'm seeing such a surface, makes me wonder how this was formed. Obviously water movement but there are so many places where water has sculpted rocks but nothing quite like this. Besides waves there are deep grooves too. Simply amazing!

The grooves are parallel, flowing in one direction. Was it sand-water mixture that  carved these grooves and polished these surfaces?

Then there are pits too. Is this stone softer compared to other stones? The color of this stone reminds me of Mudgal granite. Mudgal is a historic village in Raichur district. The stone is covered with horizontal lines, as thought lot of rectangular blocks were joined together.

The largest pit of this rock. The pit's bottom wider than its mouth. The pit's bottom was sandy. I guess the bottom is not flat but curved, like a bowl. Oh the creations of Nature.

In this view, the ridges' are darker, brownish. This reminds me of Google Terrain map.

Pair of grooves form a row of teeth.

It would be interesting to see water flowing on this rock.. graceful turns and twists, creating its own ragas. Imagine the sight in moonlight.. it would be mesmerizing.

A row of similar shaped pits. Next time when I'm in Anegundi, I'll shoot these stones in all possible light. If possible I'll plan a trip during full moon.

Hampi and Anegundi, hope to see you soon.