Friday, August 22, 2008

Monsoon Mania-3: Karkala

10 August 2008
Continued from Monsoon Mania-2

The first place we visited in Karkala was Chaturmukha Basadi.
Karkala was once a Jain center and one can see many Basadi’s here. Chaturmukha Basadi is on a small hillock.
It is in the form of a square with four identical doors on each side and hence the name Chaturmukha Basadi. The statues of three thirtakaras Ara, Malli, and Suyrata can be seen inside. This Basadi is supported by 108 pillars.

The Bahubali statue is on the peak of a hill. It was erected by the king Verapandya in 1432 AD.

The statue measuring 42 feet is one of the three main Bahubali statues in Karnataka. The other two statues are in Sravanabelagola and Venur.

From the hill, one can view the lake Ramasamudra surrounded by greenery.

To be continued…

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monsoon Mania-2: Lakya Dam, Kadambi and Hanuman Gundi falls

9 August 2008

Continued from Monsoon Mania-1

From Yelaneeru, we started our journey on Kalasa – Mangalore road. The forest department check post after Samse issues entry passes. One has to pass the check post at the other end by 2 hours. On the way, we passed through the Kuduremukha Township. The township posed a deserted look, may be because of rains or most of the inhabitants have moved out. I was wondering about the future of this township which was carved inside the National forest for KIOCL employees.

After Kuduremukha Township, one can see the mountains chopped by the mining on the left side. A little later is the deviation to the Lakya Dam. The Dam is constructed to collect the waste from the mining operations so that it will not flow downstream. In addition to mining, lot of forest land was destroyed to collect the waste. This dam is at the backdrop of beautiful shola mountains.

The entry timings are restricted in the Dam (Evening 4:30 – 5:30PM on normal days and 9:30AM to 5:30PM on Sundays). Since we were quite early, the forest guard refused to allow us inside. It was raining and completely covered by mist. I and Sankara had seen this place before and were explaining to Malli how great it would look during post monsoon months, the cloud cover on the surrounding mountains cleared. We asked again with the forest guard to let us inside for a few minutes. Looking at the enthusiasm, he let us go on the Dam.

The bad part is that the photography was prohibited on the Dam. Last time, I had a small digital camera and I took few snaps without the knowledge of anyone. This time I had an SLR camera and it was not possible to evade it from forest guard.

I pitied the forest guard when he asked for a newspaper of the day while we started to return back from Lakya Dam. It is a tough life for him in this heavy rain with no other means of entertainment.

It was a day of heavy rains and mist. I was behind the steering and the drive was fantastic. Never before I had an experience of driving in the ghats during rains.

Kadambi falls is seen from the road itself. It is great to see how rains change the way the falls look.

We were at the gates of Hanuman Gundi falls at 4:30PM. The forest guards were getting ready to close the gates and leave. They had to go to SK border and catch a bus to their village. We offered them to drop them at SK border it they allow us to see the falls for which they happily agreed. One must appreciate Forest Department for the way they are maintaining this falls. They charge an entry fee of Rs 20/- per head but have constructed nice concrete steps to the base of the falls and also railing to hold near the falls.

The falls was in full flow and with rains lashing heavily, it was a tough task to even take the camera out and click a snap. What a place!!

After dropping forest guards at SK border, we continued our journey towards Karkala. On the way, somewhere in the middle of the ghat, there was an accident between a car and lorry. The car had rammed into a lorry. The car was completely damaged but luckily there were no deaths. Since we had some space in our vehicle, we took two of the injured to Karkala and admitted them to a hospital there. It was then hunt for the place to stay. Locals referred to Hotel Prakash, and we promptly checked-into the hotel.

What an eventful day it was!!!!

To be continued…

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monsoon Mania-1: Waterfalls at Yelaneeru

9th August 2008

The plan for this trip was very simple. Drive down through Kuduremukha ghat and come back via Charmadi/Shiradi ghat. The great part of this trip was the rains that kept lashing for the entire journey.

Regarding Yelaneeru, I came to know about this place from
Rajesh Naik, a seasoned trekker of Western Ghats. Yelaneeru means “Tender coconut” in English. The name caught me and I was always eager to see this small village.

We started quite early from Bengaluru on Sankara’s car, lunch was at Kalasa and then we set out for our first spot of the day Yelaneeru. A deviation from the main road at Samse on Kalasa-Kuduremukha road leads to Yelaneeru. The initial stretch of tar road turned to a mud road. At one point, we thought it would be too much for the car to handle the road and we promptly parked the vehicle and started walking.

The road continuously goes through series of hairpin bends and then leads down to the village. Yelaneeru village is in a valley surrounded by mountains with two beautiful waterfalls. As soon as we get down the valley and just before the first house is Mavinasasi falls. This falls is just next to the road.

A villager passed at that time, and I enquired about the other falls, Badamane Abbi falls. He showed us at the opposite hill where we could faintly see a white line covered by trees. Badamane Abbi falls is a single step falls, where after the first step, water cascades down through several steps, crosses the road and finally makes a small jump before joining the Mavinasasi stream. To view the first step of the falls, one has to climb the steep hill for 15 minutes.

The villager told that it would be a tough task to climb the hill during monsoon. It was raining heavily and the path would be slippery. But he volunteered to show us the path to the top. We walked for couple of minutes on the road and just before the point where the stream crosses the road was a small path.

The path was indeed very slippery, but since we were climbing up we managed to ascend. Within ten minutes I was at the top where I could see the side of the falls. By this time leeches were all over my legs. I hurriedly took couple of snaps and started moving downward. Leeches deterred me from further exploring the place.

Problem started while climbing down. I cannot describe anything but my body was not in control. Mindlessly, we had climbed up without even thinking on how to descend. The pathway was so slippery; I fell down and started skidding downwards. With nothing to support, I scrambled to get hold of something. I could halt at some place, but I knew that moment I leave that spot I would be skidding again. Hoping that I could manage better with bare foot, I removed my slipper. Nothing improved and with no control, I started falling down. My clothes, raincoat and even my camera bag were covered by mud. But luckily, I had no injuries.

Even Sankara and Malli were in same situation. After coming down, we spent a good amount of time in cleaning ourselves and also taking out the leeches. They were all over our bodies and had a nice time. It was an experience to remember for long.

One thing that strikes in Yelaneeru is silent atmosphere with the only sound of waterfalls. For a visitor who just sees the falls and return back, this place would like a heaven. But if one gets confidence of villager, he would tell the issues that they face daily.

To go to taluk headquarters Beltangadi the villagers have to travel 110km. There is a path which is just 30 km. But part of this road goes trough Kuduremukha National forest. The forest department did not heed to the request of the villagers to open the road. So, villagers worked in the nights and made a road. Forest department people were shocked that such a thing could happen without their knowledge. The villagers were then harassed by Forest department people. But currently villagers are allowed through National Forest unofficially though.

I knew this before but now I was hearing from the villager himself. To make things complicated Naxals are trying to fish in troubled waters. There are reports that they have caught some fishes in the village!! It is a delicate issue. Today, if villagers are allowed to take the road through National forest, there would be similar demands from other people as well. A small Jeep track would eventually turn into a tarred one and may be widened for Lorries and buses. An example for this is the National Highway connecting Sringeri to South Canara which passes through Kuduremukha National forest.

There is another waterfalls called Bangrebail 7 km from Yelaneeru inside Kuduremukha National forest. Post monsoon would be an ideal time to visit that falls, provided if there are no hassles from Forest Department side.

To be continued…..

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

2nd August 2008

Last Saturday, I visited this Temple while returning from Chikmagalur. Though I have been to Belur several times, I never had camera with me.

The construction of the Temple was started by Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD. Well, there is enough information about Belur in web. So, I will not get into the details of the Temple. The details given to each stone carving is excellent.

Here is the front portion of the Temple.


Darpana Sundari (beauty with mirror), the most popular Shilabhalika.

Raya Gopura, which was constructed later by Harihara II of Vijayanagar Empire. This has been recently renovated.

A damaged idol

Stone carving depicting that during teenage even donkey looks beautiful!!

An Idol inside the Temple.

More photos of this Temple can be seen here.