Apr 27, 2019

What to see in Davangere district?

Davangere district came into being in the year 1997, it was carved out of Chitradurga district. It is surrounded by Haveri, Bellary, Chitradurga, Chikmagalur, and Shimoga districts. River Tungabhadra flows along Davangere-Haveri border. This district has six taluqas namely Channagiri, Davangere, Harihar, Honnali, and Jagalur with Davangere city as district headquarter. Davangere city is situated on Bangalore-Pune highway i.e. NH48.

The name Davangere has derived from the name of a lake called 'Danivina Kere' during Chalukyan times, travelers stopped here to for water. With passage of time, the name became Davan Giri and then Davangere. Davangere city is terrain is flat, like a huge playground. Davangere was a major commercial center with its cotton, grains and oil markets. Also, the town was known for its cotton mills. During 1990s cotton mills shut down, but it gained importance as an educational center. Farmers of this district cultivate paddy and sugarcane. There are not many historical monuments remaining within Davangere city but the district does have some interesting places. And, talking about this city, the conversation is complete only by mentioning 'Davangere Benne Dose' and 'Khara Mandakki'.

Bathi Hill seen from Kundwada Kere | Shamnur Anjaneya
Harihareshwara Devathana | Kunduwada Lake

Stone Balls at Uchangidurge | Channagiri fort
Kanakuppe fort | Davangere Benne Dose

Here's the list of places of interest-
  1. Channagiri Rangappa Clock Tower - This clock tower situated in the old town is considered as a landmark. It is said to be built in 1930s, apart from that no additional information is available.
  2. Durgambika Devasthana - This is a popular temple situated in the old town area was built in the year 1932. Its is siad that the stone deity was brought from Duggatti village. The annual fair of this temple attracts huge crowds.
  3. Basaveshwara temple, Anekonda - This is an ancient temple, probably Chalukyan. Though the temple is heavily modified the original pillars are still an attraction. Anekonda was an important place historically, it is said that elephants were stationed here. Anekonda is situated on Davangere-Jagalur road.
  4. Vishwanatha Devasthana and Well, Anekonda - This is an ancient temple with an interesting well situated on eastern outskirts of Anekonda.
  5. Kalleshwara Gudi, Yelebethur - This is an ancient temple with its history going back to Chalukyan times. It is situated just outside the village which is about 6 kms from Davangere.
  6. Vishveshwaraya Park - This children's park is situated in the heart of the new town. During 70s and 80s, the park had a miniature township with streets, houses, police station and other amenities.
  7. St. Thomas Church - This is probably the most beautiful church of Davangere. Its facade is impressive with its twin towers, one with a bell tower. Right besides the church is Lourdes Boys School.
  8. Kunduvada Kere - Kunduvada lake is a great place to relax, walk or for a picnic. Trees planted along the foot path around this 250+ acres lake provides green cover and creates a peaceful ambiance. Also the lake water is supplied to Davangere city during summer months.
  9. Glass House - This is a unique building was constructed recently. It is situated close to Kunduvada Kere with a beautiful garden around it.
  10. Anjaneya Swamy Devasthana, Shamnur - Shamnur is a village off Davangere-Harihar Bypass road (NH48). The temple's huge statue of Hanuman attracts crowds. Also the temple has its own Kalyana Mantapa for public use.
  11. Jain temple, Shamnur - A small temple with a beautiful idol can be seen if you venture into the narrow streets of Shamnur. The village houses and lanes are well kept, people are friendly.
  12. Revana Siddeshwara Devasthana, Bathi Gudda - This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is situated on the slopes of Bathi hill. At the base of the hill is Bathi village. The temple is ancient, the old stone structure was removed and replaced with a new structure during 2000s. The hill temple has a peaceful ambiance and great view of paddy fields below. At the peak of this hill is the Dargah of Chaman Shah Wali. Close to the village is a pond named after the village. Bathi is about 5 kms from Davangere city. Also close by is Davanagere Dairy and a Nature cure hospital. 
  13. Kondajji Kere - Kondajji lake is a popular picnic spot. The lake is situated besides hillocks covered with woods. Close by a Scouts and Guides camping area. Kondajji is about 15 kms northwest of Davangere.
  14. Harihareshwara Devasthana, Harihar - Harihareshwara temple gives the name to Harihar town which is situated on Tungabhadra right bank. The temple was built in XIII Century by a Hoysala commander and minister serving under Vira Narasimha II. The deity of this temple is Harihara- a god which is half Shiva and half Vishnu. The temple is a architectural marvel and some of the largest inscription slabs can be seen here.
  15. Shri Raghavendra Swamy Devasthana and Matha, Harihar - This Madhwa temple and monastery is situated on the banks of river Tungabhadra. Within the premises is a beautiful idol of Lof Hanuman.
  16. Shrine of Our Lady of Health Church, Harihar - This church's history goes back to 1830s. Sources say that a Brahmin while taking bath in Tungabhadra fell into the swelling waters. As he was on the verge of drowning, happened to see a floating statue of Our Lady of Health which he caught hold of and reached the shore. After his miraclous escape, he dedicated himself to the service of Our Lady of Health. On his death, he was buried in his house, the house was converted into a church. The present day church looks magnificient with its Pagoda like spire.
  17. Uchangidurga - This fort is built over a rocky hillock surrounded by plains. At the peak is a temple dedicated to Uttangi Durga hence the name. Uchangidurga is about 30 kms northeast of Davangere.
  18. Kardidurga - is a smaller hill fort in the vicinity of Uchangidurga. Within the fort walls is a small temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Kardidurga is about 29 kms northeast of Davangere and from Uchangidurga it is 5 kms.
  19. Hosadurga fort - Also known as Uchangipura fort is about 14 kms east of Uchangidurga. 
  20. Kanakuppa fort - is a sprawling fort covering three rocky hillocks and the plain land between them. Close to the hills, on the plains is a Lingayath monastery named Kanakuppe Gavimatha. This fort is about 36 kms east of Uchangidurga via Pillagatte village.
  21. Kalleshwara Gudi, Halavagalu - Halavagalu was one of the important villages during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukyas. This temple dedicated to Kalinatha, a form of Shiva, was buiilt by Chalukyan rulers. The temple is listed on Archeaological Survey of India website. Halavagalu is about 31 kms north of Harihar.
  22. Garbhagudi fort - this hill fort is situated on the right bank of Tungabhadra. The small fort with many bastions and walls has a good view of the river and surrounding plains. Garbhagudi is about 32 kms north of Harihar.
  23. Bheemeshvara temple, Neelagunda - This Trikutachala temple was constructed during the last quarter of XI Century CE by Western Chalukyan rulers. Neelagunda (also spelt Nilagunda) was an important village during Chalukyan times and known for its soapstone quarries. Neelagunda village is about 36 kms north of Davangere.
  24. Kalleshvara Gudi, Bagali - Bagali also known as Balgali, was an important agrahara from the times of Western Chalukyas upto Hoysalas and Vijayanagara. The temple was constructed during the rule of the Chalukyan King Ahavamalla in 987 CE. The temple's pillars are truly complex sculptures, something to be seen with own eyes. Bagali village is about 50 kms north of Davangere.
  25. Rangayyanadurga Kondukuri Wild Life Sanctury - This sanctuary was established in 2011 to protect the four horned deer. This sanctuary is about 48 kms northeast of Davangere.
  26. Hanumantha Devasthana, Kogganur - The deity of this temple is beautiful. Kogganuru is about 14 kms east of Davangere.
  27. Shanti Sagar - Shanti Sagar, also called Soole Kere is the second largest irrigation tank in Asia. It was originally built in XII Century CE, some modifications were carried out in recent times. The tank covers an area of 6550 acres and has a circumference of 30 kms. This popular tourist destination is 54 kms south of Davangere.
  28. Ramthirth Pushkarni and Musafirkhana, Santhebennur - Karanji Mantapa is a historic monument of XVI Century CE built by a Palegara named Kenga Hanumantappa Nayaka. This is a large stepped tank with a tower at the center of the tank. The tower is built in such a way that it appears to be floating on the water. This red colored magnificent monument is considered one of the best in Karnataka.
  29. Channagiri Fort - This fort was built in 1770 CE by Keladi Chennamma. At the fort summit is a XVIII temple, the deity is Vishnu holding Chakra, Shankha, bow and arrow. The idol is like a hunter hence the name Bete-Ranganatha Swamy. Within the fort walls are two large pits to harvest rain water.
  30. Honnali - Honnali is known for two monasteries- 1. Raghavendra Swami Matha and 2. Hirekal Matha. The former is a Madhwa monastery established by Sri Raghvendra Swamy and the latter is a Lingayath monastery Sri Jadeshankara Shivacharya. The ancient monastery stone building is still in good condition. Honnali town is situated on Tungabhadra, its is about 43 kms from Harihar.
  31. Thirtha Rameshwara - This place is important because of its connection with Ramayana. As per legend, during Vanavasa (exile), a fresh water sprang from the ground where Rama shot an arrow. Sita performed a ritual by offering the water to Lord Shiva hence the name. It is said that water has been flowing every since. Thirtha Rameshwara is about 22 kms from Honnali.
  32. Sri Amruthalingamanikateshwara Swamy Gudi, Nandi Tavare - This is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Nandi Tavare is situated on Harihar-Honnali road, about 17 kms south of Harihar.
You may also want to learn about other districts of Karnataka-

Apr 20, 2019

gathering at Discovery Village, Kanakapura Road - part 2

..continued from Discovery Village, Kanakapura Road - part 1

Riding a bicycle after months, oh what a great feeling. Nitya, Sridhar and I rode ahead, paused after a kilometer to let Manju catch up.

The road was smooth, bikes were comfortable, it was warm but the air was clean, enjoying the silent ride..

Here's a short video of our ride towards a pond and a hill in search of birds.

That's our waterbody situated close to a small village. We parked and locked our bikes away from the road. Manju spotted a kingfisher and couple of other water birds. The kingfisher was perched on a slender stem sticking out from the water. Sridhar patiently stalked it and got a good shot. I caught a cormorant resting on a rock island. A heron and kite hovered around but too swift for our lenses. Sun was moving towards the horizon.. we decided to head to the hill. As we started riding I noticed a tall heron perched on a coconut tree. Can't ignore such a lovely creature, we paused, Sridhar got a good shot. Our winged friend took off before my lens focused on it. I was glad Sri captured it.

We rode a short distance and turned off the road into a narrow footpath. Bikes parked and secured with a chain lock we trekked the dirt path going along the rock littered hill. This is actually a group of two our three hills, all covered with dark colored igneous rocks.. this reminds me of Kappagallu near Bellary. Manju said this hill is known as Yogavana Gudda.

As we trekked, I spotted a big bird on a distant tree.. I alerted my team.. look, is that a peacock. Manju took one glance and identified it as Indian Kite. Indeed it was a Kite. Big fella he was. Both got decent shots before it dove out of view, seconds later we saw it pursuing another dark colored bird slightly smaller. Again Manju was resourceful. The other bird was an owl. First time I ever saw an owl and kite together. They were too swift for our cameras. Below is a collage of our captures.

Heron, Kite, Cormorant and Kingfisher
We had reached a point where we had to negotiate the path though the boulder ridden slope. The rock at the summit caught my attention, aimed my Canon and clicked few shots. Manju wanted to know what I was shooting.. my answer was the rock, the part which is sticking up. Manju smiled and said that I had shot a mongoose. Wow, that was one big mungsee! This hill is interesting!

The rocks and gaps were covered with dark ash. It seems dry plants was burnt recently, controlled forest fire. Anyway, the climb the summit was easy.

We made it on time to watch the sun set. Such a nice place this hill top is. Manju was carrying a binocular and a book on Indian birds.

A few silent minutes watch the source of energy of our Universe.

Suryadevaya Namaha.

I explore the hill top and found some animal droppings. Manju quickly analysed the droppings, showed the hairy bits and bones.. these were leopard droppings. Looks like the leopard had had a rabbit somewhere and pooped up here.

Wish we could explore the entire range.. we might have seen some interesting plants, insects and what not. Well, some other time hopefully. It was getting dim, we descended cautiously. The ride back was nice again, Hero ET-2 is an interesting mountain bike. I was seriously thinking of buying ET-3 for myself. Back at the resort, we parked the bikes and told our boys what a good time they missed.

Back at my room which I shared with Prashanth and Subbu, I had a nice cool bath, refreshing it was. The gang had gathered around a bonfire in the courtyard next to the dining hall. Snacks were served, we prepared our drinks and glasses tinkled.. cheers! Our conversations touched school day antics, politics, personal experiences and so on. At one point someone sang a popular 70s Kannada movie number which lead to Daniel treating us with his singing. Then DM surprised us by singing a Hindi number. They took turns one after the other.. solo vocals concert in progress.

In this group, most of them have known each other since 1977. Daniel joined in '80. I joined the school in '79 as a junior to this gang. In '81 at the start of the term, I was given extra promotion and my seniors became my batch-mates. I was their classmate for just 9 months but the remained friends for decades. Long live this relationship.

The session ended with dinner around 11. Most of us were tired, ready to hit the sack. We said goodnight. Here's one special shot for the evening by Sri.

Being habituated to sleeping on hard surface I barely slept because the mattress and pillow were too soft. My eyes remained closed but the scenes and conversations of the day kept playing in my head. I got out of bed, freshened up and went for a walk. After a while I saw Satya and Nitya walking. We grouped, entered the cricket court, practiced throws and catches for a while. The plan for the morning was kayaking in a nearby stream. We had tea with DV team and prepared to leave for the stream.

This octagon wheel welcomes visitors to Discover Village. Yin-Yan and elements of the world we live in.

Eight of us ready for an adventure. Daniel and DM decided to catch up with sleep.

The stream was about 4.5 kms from the resort, on the other side of Bengaluru-Kanakapura road. Of course, the stream runs dry in this season but a check dam had formed a water-body approximately a kilometer long and 200 meters wide. This isn't flowing water, good for first-timers. There were 3 two-seat boats. DV team helped us wear life-jackets. Prashanth and Bhaskar decided to go with experienced DV guys while Satya and I wanted to go on our own. DV guides instructed how to use the paddle and what to do in case we went overboard. The life jackets could keep a man afloat for 8 hours. I felt safe since the team was knowledgeable and also there were two fishermen in a coracle within earshot.

That's Subbu and Nayak.

Satya and I took some time figuring out the technique to maintain direction. Initially we kept going in circles, no matter how well we synced our paddling. We would set some target and try to reach it. We did succeed after some 20 minutes of practice. That's me pointing at a fishnet buoy. Moments before earlier, we almost hit the shore, we managed to turn the boat around.

Sun was up and our energy levels dipped, we ended our boating session. Back on the shore, we got to know that Subbu fell into the water while trying to board the boat. He was rescued quickly. Good the incident did not dampen his spirit.

Back at the resort, we bathed and changed, had breakfast. DV team asked if we wanted to get into any other activity. No, we just wanted to chat around sipping coffee or water. After a while, we packed up and were ready for checkout. So, here's the DV team who made our stay pleasant and memorable. Thanks to them and also to the folks who are not seen here.

Pratima, Durga, Nayak, Kiran and Manju
The ten young dashing men who know each other since late 1970s to 1981.

Of the few resorts I've been to, DV has been the best, unique too. What made it special is its sensitivity to Nature and a touch of spirituality. DV gifted us all with a copy of Bhagavadgeeta each, could choose between Kannada and English versions.

Two most photogenic boys of this gang. These two mustache guys are Dwarapalakas, cool dudes.  Check out their stance.

Lot of sweet memories from this place.

Apr 17, 2019

gathering at Discovery Village, Kanakapura Road - part 1

It was quite some since I met Holy Saint School boys last, which was Aug-2016 at Krishna Rao Park. The idea of an overnight gathering was formed sometime mid-Jan with tentative date in Feb. After one or two iterations date and venue were frozen.. Mar-16th and 17th at a resort near Ramanagara. While the idea remained frozen, the list grew from 5 to 11. With less than two weeks to go the idea thawed suddenly.. an alternate venue was thrown in, discussions followed which resulted in changing the venue to a resort off Bengaluru-Kanakapura highway. The chief organizer Subbu struck the gavel and finalized the plan- check into Discovery Village on Mar-16th morning, spend the night there and check out Mar-17th.

The list had grown to eleven. Mar-15th final reminder was sent out, below is the original message from Subbu: For tomorrow
1) you are welcome to bring any snacks of your choice
2) plan on getting swimming shorts as there is a nice pool and you can get pedicure by small fishes 
3) kayaking is given to us as complimentary

The last point ticked off some excitement! Bring Your Own B****?

March 16, 2017
Shyam messaged the group that he was down with cold, dropping out. Hmm. Daniel picked me up on Richmond Road. By then the boys had already having breakfast at Krishna Grand, BSK II stage. We were behind schedule.. Subbu called Daniel to check.. Daniel answered that he wont be making it because relatives had landed at his place.. with the phone on speaker.. Subbu was disappointed and became emotional.. what Daniel, you can't do this, you are the key to this plan.. Daniel carried on with his bluff.. what can I do when relatives turn up, have to attend to them.. so damn convincing he was! To end Subbu's plight I stepped into the conversation, told we would be joining in minutes. We had a good laugh at the breakfast table when Subbu said he knew Daniel was bluffing :) Besides the confirmed group of ten, we met Dinesh S and Mahesh, neither were joining us. The former was with his relatives and latter had come to say hi to us. Done with breakfast, we were ready for the 26 kms journey.

It was around 11-30 when we stepped into Discovery Village, the reception area was cool, greenery everywhere, plenty of antiques to marvel at, and DV team was friendly. The place's ambiance is is really relaxing and photo friendly, so many subjects to shoot. Some of the antiques are not display items like the cycle-rickshaw and the 3-wheel wooden barrow. I'm the pillion while Daniel's the rider. DM and Prashanth check out the barrow. 

Satya takes over the rickshaw while Prashanth and Nitya are his fares. You must have noticed the boat in the background and the surrounding greenery.

The rickshaw is working condition, you can actually pedal it. DM checks it out as Sridhar aims his Nikon.

Subbu had handled the check in. Oh let me introduce properly.. left to right.. Sridhar, Satyaprakash, Subramanya, Nityannda, Dinesh Magar (DM),  Daniel, Prashanth.. hmm.. two boys are missing.. Bhaskar and Venugopal.

Having checked in, it was time for welcome drink. The amount of greenery amazed me, I admired the management's attitude towards Nature. I thought of Krishnae Ficus.. I must mention it to the staff here.. Looks like Subbu read my thoughts, he pointed me to the Krishnae Ficus. Wow, what a pleasant surprise! A well grown ficus it was. I fell in love with DV. You can see the thick dark green cup-shaped leaves in the foreground. The divine connection is that Lord Krishna ate butter from these leaves.

This is the second surprise with Subbu and Krishna Ficus. The first surprise was on Dec-27-2014 at Lalbagh.. Krishnae Ficus at Lalbagh.

The young man in yellow tee is our host-in-charge, his name is Manjunath Ambigyar. I was happy to learn that his home town is Anegundi, an important historic site in Karnataka. DM amuses the group with some story.

Manju offers us to take a quick tour of the resort. We found one of the missing boys- Venu -his stripes are outstanding.

The resort has almost everything a vacationer expects.. swimming pool, volley ball court, cricket ground, football court, obstacle course, rock-climbing, cycling, etc. etc. Besides the usual stuff, DV has a fish manicure pond attached to the swimming pool, outdoor badminton court, mini golf course, archery, amphitheater, clay modeling & crafts studio and kayaks too. I might missed out few, you can discover them during your visit.

So that's the cool blue pool and manicure pond. We were to the end of our tour..

Manju suggested us to take a group picture at this photo spot. Nine Holy Saints here, Bhaskar is still missing. It seems he was taking calls from his office. We were thirsty now, decided to head to our rooms for some refreshments.

Here's a collage of few interesting things seen around the village.. clay cart and elephant, sheet metal oxen and wooden pot, wooden truck and a stone sculpture.

This is our living quarters, the entire building of four rooms was occupied by us. Here's the missing boy Bhaskar, in yellow-blue tee. Mercifully his office people have left him alone now. Plan was to settle down for a mini session but the plan changed since lunch was being served and closes at 2-30.

Lunch was decent. We settled down for a session, which lasted until 4-15 or so. Time to get moving again, we had plenty of options.. cricket, swimming pool, cycling, or trek.

We headed towards the amphitheater. Tea & snacks were being served. A hot cup of tea was super refreshing.. matter of habit. Bhaskar in action now.

Quick look at the amphitheater. Looks cool and comfortable.

Daniel and Subbu take a short break to catch up with messages on their phones.

Archery was something I wanted to try for a long time. As a kid, I used to make bows with sticks and twine, shot parkekaddi. I realized everyone in the group wanted to be an archer here. Manju explained us how to position the arrow, pull the string, aim & release the arrow. Someone in the group mentioned William Tell, his story was one of the English lessons.

That's Daniel marking his target. Most of got the hang of it in few tries. It's a good sport for developing concentration. The other sport that fascinated is rowing, somehow I never chased it. Anyway, we had plans for kayaking tomorrow. We had a good time with archery, great experience!

Next we headed towards the pool. Some wanted to play in water but some were hesitant to enter the pool.. I was one. I'd rather go for a trek and Sridhar wanted to shoot birds. He's a pro at shooting metal birds too. I've seen his pictures of aircraft in flight at the recent Aero Show.

Venu, Satya and Nitya get their feet nibbled by fish :)

Here are a few candid shots.. Sridhar checking a shot in his Nikon, Subbu our Mestru, Bhaskar is captivated by some creature and Nitya's expression at a surprise shot.

While some got ready for the pool, I inquired for a sunset point. Manju suggested one about 1.5 kms away. We could either trek or cycle to the hill. Sridhar, Nitya and I settled for cycling, bird-watching and trekking expedition. Manju would be our guide. We selected four brand new Hero ET-2 mountain bikes. In fact, we were the very first riders!

will continue in gathering at Discovery Village, Kanakapura Road - part 2.

Apr 13, 2019

temples of Shamanur

Shamanur is my grandfather's origin. Five decades ago, Davangere and Shamanur were separate town and village, 4 kilometers separated the town and village back then, the road was flanked by a mix of barren land and paddy fields. Mid 90s Davangere-Harihar bypass road was built which cut through the fields, passing right next to Shamanur village. Then the sleepy little village changed into a busy place, lot of economical development. As a result, the village's ancient shrines were renovated.

As you enter Shamanur from Davangere side, you'll see a wide open yard i.e the village square which serves as a bus-stand and parking area. Adjoining the square is the ancient temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya. The temple's deity, a six feet 800 year old stone idol of Anjaneya is said to be installed by Vysaraja. The temple's renovation was completed in the year 2000. The temple receives a steady stream of visitors through the day and Saturdays its quite crowded.

The temple's Gopura with the handsome idol of Hanuman.

Right opposite Anjaneya Devasthana is Ishwara Devasthana. This too is an ancient shrine. This north facing temple's renovation work is still in progress.

Then there's the third temple.. Basavanna Gudi. This is an east facing temple.

Besides these three temples, Shamanur also has an ancient Digambar Jain shrine with a beautiful idol of Parshwanath. Also, there's a hero-stone adjoining a house behind the Basavanna temple. It was a nice to have set foot here, the soil where our forefathers footprint lies buried.

Apr 6, 2019

Revana Siddeshwara Devasthana, Doddabathi

January 17, 2019
We were traveling to Dharwad. Our plan was to stop at Bathi, visit Bathi Siddappa Gudi, have breakfast there and then continue our journey. Earlier we had to climb up the hill to reach the temple. Between 2008 and 2012 a motorable road was constructed. Now cars can be driven right upto the temple. Also, the flat area around the temple has been expanded to accommodate larger groups of people.

Banni-Mara and Deepa-Stambha.

The temple has a Sabha Mantapa. The collapsible grills and sheet-shelter are a recent additions. These arrangements are helpful for special occasions.

This is the Sabhamantapa. The original temple was slightly smaller in terms of width and depth, few feet have been added during the renovation. Check out this post to see an older picture.. Bathi Hill.

Another view of the hall. The door linking to the inner temple was locked. Had we come little earlier, we could have got a proper Darshan.

An ancient hero-stone with Kannada inscription.

Recently planted Alada-Mara. Good thing of this hill is its slopes are covered with trees. Thanks to Karnataka forest department.

Naga-Shilpa at the base of Banyan tree, looks like a recent creation. The gundkallu ~ round-stone is an ancient piece for sure.

After breakfast of bread and tomato curry, Amma is enjoying a peaceful moment by herself while Pushpa and I pack up the picnic basket.

We continue our journey towards Dharwad with the next planned stop at Utsav Rock Garden between Shiggaon and Hubballi.