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Friday, July 31, 2009

Kundadri hill

21st June 2009

This was the place that we managed to fit into our Agumbe waterfalls plan. 17 km from Agumbe is this mammoth monolith. A few years ago, the journey to this peak could only be accomplished by walk. But now a road is built which takes directly to top of the hill.


We were in a Maruthi Omni and last five km was tiring for the vehicle. The road was too steep and most of the journey had to be done on first gear. There were few autos running on the road but I did not see any of them on the top!!



There is a Jain Basadi on top of the mountain. A small pool adjacent to the Basadi forms a breeding ground for some fishes. The fishes are huge and similar to the ones we find in Sringeri.


The best part of Kundadri hills is the views from the top. It provides a 270 degree view of the surrounding areas. Our guide mentioned that it was a good spot to see sunrise and sunset. Since it the time of monsoon, we could not expect any of it. I am planning to come again during post monsoon to experience the sunset.


A place that should not to be missed if one visits Agumbe or Thirthahalli.

Trivial:
While coming back from Kundadri hill, we spotted a green snake. The best part was that it allowed taking some photographs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Madhugiri Fort

13th June 2009

I, Krishna and Subbu started at the wrong time to climb Madhugiri fort. It was a hot afternoon and we had just finished our lunch. With climb devoid of shade and sun beating mercilessly, it was an arduous task. But we decided to push our limits and climb as much as possible.


The initial stretch looks easy with the steps constructed are still somewhat intact. Within five minutes of climb, we could view the entire Madhugiri town. The fort was not maintained at all. The only “renovation” activity was painting few portions of the fort with limestone. Because of shabby work, the portion of the fort looks artificial.


The first part of the climb took us to a Kalyani. It might be used as a source of water during the prime time of the fort. A watch tower provides a nice view of the town. It is an amazing piece of construction which looks like an extension of the rock.



The next part of the climb was on steep rocks. Ledges were carved on the rocks but the iron railings constructed to support climbing was missing. Any place with shade ensured a long pit stop. The climb was too much for us.


Finally, we reached the last stage of the climb. It was almost perpendicular and seemed very risky. We also had to cross a point where water was oozing out. It was bit slippery and it formed a nice excuse for us to turn back!! A teenage couple who has climbed to the top got down in front of us. Even this could not kick up our spirits!!!! Anyway, we had covered enough to fill our memories.


An ideal time to climb this hill is early morning or evenings.

History:
While climbing, we didn’t care much about the history of the fort. There was very less information about it and all I got was that it was started in Ganga period but due to several reasons it was not completed. Later during Vijayanagar rule, Raja Heera Gowda who was a local feudal completed the fort. After the fall of Vijaynagar Empire, the control of the fort changed hands many times. Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultans, Mysore kings and British had all ruled the fort.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Maidenahalli Blackbuck sanctuary

13th June 2009


Maidenahalli, a small remote village would have been an unheard village like many others in India. But thanks to the omnipresent Blackbucks in that area, its name draws attention among nature lovers. Though it is near to Bengaluru, its remoteness and lack of facilities make it a rather unfamiliar destination among urban people.


Krishna who had been to this place earlier was looking forward for a second visit. Joined him were I and Subbu. Though there are several diversions all along the route, I had nothing to bother as Krishna still remembered the route!!

The change in the road conditions was palpable. A NICE road led to GQ, a diversion to State Highway, and then a district road followed by a village road which finally ended in a Kaccha road. There were numerous diversions, no boards anywhere and no people to ask at many places.

The entry to the Blackbuck reserve was sudden. I was wondering as we were in middle of the cultivated lands and villages, the sanctuary appeared from nowhere. There was a sudden change in the geography and a Blackbuck was visible immediately. We went further and parked our car and waited silently. There were blackbucks everywhere though they never dared to come near us. Resting under the shade to escape the heat, they were “hit” by our cameras. We felt the zoom of the camera was insufficient.

We enjoyed full freedom as there was no one in the area. There was a newly built forest guest house but thankfully it was empty!! A couple of view points provided a bird’s eye view of the area.


There are about a thousand blackbucks in the reserved area of about 300 acres. We ourselves saw a hundred of them. It looks like they are taken care by the surrounding villages. That alone can explain the prosperity of black bucks in this area. I hope there are no “Salman Khans” in the area!!

Let this place remains the same for the years to come. Long live Maidenahalli blackbucks!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Melukote

17 May 2009

Melukote is a small town about 140 km from Bengaluru. The route is Bengaluru->Mandya->Melukote. Ideal time to visit the place is during early mornings or evenings.

History of Melukote
The 12th century was the time of great rivalries between Shaiva and Vaishnava sects in South India. Vaishnavas were persecuted by the Cholas, who were the rulers of Tamilnadu at that time. Sri Ramanujacharya, the leading preacher of Vaishvism had to escape from Chola rule. He was allowed to live in exile at Melukote by then Hoysala ruler Vishuvardhana. Influenced by Sri Ramanujacharya, Vishuvardhana who was Jain converted to Vaishnavism.

During 14th century, defeat of Hoysala Kings against Muslim forces saw the destruction of Melukote. The town was plundered by the invaders. It was later restored during Vijayanagar rule.

The trip
We (I, my wife and daughter) started from Bengaluru at 12 noon. Since we had decided to visit Melukote in the evening, there was no hurry to reach the destination. Lunch was on the way at a newly opened “Kamath Upachar”. After Mandya, a diversion to the right leads to Melukote. The roads were good all the way till Melukote.

We first went to Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple. It was closed but it didn’t stop us from exploring the Temple from outside.

The main attraction in Melukote is Raaya Gopura. It is one monument where innumerable number of movies has been shot. We climbed up the steps to see a panoramic view of Melukote and surrounding areas. There is also a Sanskrit institute nearby.


Dhanuskoti, which is at one end of Melukote is said to have significance with Ramayana. One needs to hike for half a km here. The views are simply great.


Akka Tangi kola is just next to the Raaya Gopura and Sanskrit institute. It is said to be constructed by two daughters of the king. Even though they are next to each other, one of the ponds looks dirty. There is some strange story associated with it.


The view of Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple dominates Melukote. It is one top of a hillock. Vehicles can go halfway and rest of the journey has to be covered by steps that are well maintained. It is a nice place to visit.

The main Kalyani in Melukote is huge and supplies water to the town. It is another landmark for the movie shooting. It was a relaxing experience to just sit at the Kalyani.


For people interested in Pujas, the opening times of the Temple in the evening are:
Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple: 4 PM
Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple: 5:30 PM


Last but not the least is Melukote Puliyogre and one must not miss it. It is very tasty!!


More photos of Melukote can be seen here.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Waterfalls of Agumbe

20,21 June 2009

Agumbe, popularly known as “Chirapungi of south” for receiving the highest rainfall in Karnataka also has some good waterfalls. My desire to visit those falls materialized couple of weeks ago with my friends Girish and Krishna joining me.


Our first visit was to Kudlu theertha. After traveling about 30 km on a van, we reached the starting point of the trek. The falls is a five km trek from that point. After crossing a narrow bridge over a stream, it was a three km walk on a good Jeep track surrounded by forests. A 30 minutes of walk, we reached an open area with nice view of the hills around. An unknown monsoon waterfall seen on a distant hill was amazing. A few houses also dotted the area.


The next part of the trek was through a narrow path. Leech territory begins from that point. After crossing a stream, it was a continuous climb for another 30 minutes. The falls was then suddenly visible.


To reach the base of the falls, we had to walk on the stream for a short distance. Due to rains, the boulders were very slippery. We removed our shoes and walked barefoot. That would give a good control over rocks. But then our worries were of different kind. Broken bottles and glass pieces made us to walk with almost care. Beer bottles were plenty and not to say about plastics and other stuff. Vijay Mallya would have jumped with joy seeing this scene in middle of the forest:-(


Locals blame Manipal crowd for the mess created. There is no problem if people drink in their rooms or confine themselves to pub. I don’t understand the logic behind coming to pristine forests just to create nuisance to environment and general public.

It looks like during summer months this falls may be a crowded place. Since monsoon had arrived the ‘crowds’ had vanished thanks to leeches. I firmly believe that leeches do help a lot in environment conservation, though in a very strange way!!
The falls forms a nice pool ideal for swimming. Surrounded by steep hills on three sides, we felt like we were inside a well.

We came back to the place where the vehicle was parked and had our packed lunch next to the stream. I saw a poster displaying the photos of Naxals. Rewards were promised for the people who would provide information on those anti-social elements. I had not seen such a poster during recent times and clicked a snap only to find such posters at every bus stop!!

The next place of visit was Jomblu theertha. Here Seetha River flows through a series of rocks creating strong swirls and cascades. It looks like a miniature of Hogenakkal falls. What caught my attention was the serenity and peaceful atmosphere of the area. It looks like a paradise with white sands resembling beach.
But here we found some evidences of immoral activities!! Also, the place might be crowded in the summer months and Sundays.


The day ended by taking some snaps at Agumbe sunset point. We then just roamed around Agumbe and killed time.

The next day started with a visit to Barkana falls. It is about 4 km walk from the main road. We walked non stop for 45 minutes to reach the falls. It is a view point where Barkana falls can be seen as a thin line from a long distance. Few years ago, I had been to top of that falls while trekking to Narasimha Parvatha.


One can also go the bottom of the falls. It would need a full day but Girish who had been to the base of the falls earlier told it not worth the effort to go down.

Another falls we visited was Jogi Gundi. It is difficult to locate the falls as the water drops from the side and cannot be fully seen. The pool formed by the stream is huge.

Post lunch, we went to the last falls of the trip, Onake Abbi. It is about 3.5km walk from the main road. The entire path is leech infested and we felt that we were walking on the leech bed!! We quickly covered the distance in 30 minutes. The forests were very dense and we had bypassed a few fallen trees. Concrete steps were constructed at the last point. That led directly to the stream.

Actually, we were at the top of the falls. We had to go to the edge and lie down to see the falls. It was very scary and dangerous thing to do during rains. The rocks were very slippery but still I managed to go and take a snap!!


There is also a way to reach the bottom of the falls. I have decided to do that post monsoon.


More photos of the trip can be seen here.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Madhukeshwara Temple, Banavasi

18th April 2009

Banavasi, a small town near Sirsi was once the capital city of Kadamba rulers who were known to be the first royal dynasty in Karnataka. Established in 345 AD, they ruled the areas around Banavasi for nearly 200 years. Later, they were reduced as the feudal lords under the Chalukyas and Rastrakutas for another 500 years.

It was during Kadamba rule that Kannada was first used as an administrative language. Origins of Kannada language also point to the time of their rule.

Coming back to Banavasi, though its history dates back to few thousand years, it is mainly known for Madhukeshwara Temple built during 9th century.


The Temple itself was renovated and new structures were added by later dynasties. Hence it forms a mixture of Kadamba, Chalukya and Hoysala architecture.


The Sankalpa Mantapa in the front is said to be added by the Chalukyas. The Nritya mantapa was constructed during Hoysala rule.


Like in all older Temples, there is a big Nandi statue. The deity of the Temple is a honey coloured Linga and is worshipped daily. So, in addition to the history lovers, it attracts a lot of religious people.


An elephant statue at the entrance greets the visitors.


Karnataka Government organizes the cultural festival “Kadambotsava” in Banavasi every year. I think it is held in December.


There is also a museum in Banavasi that is supposed to be good. But when i went there, for some unknown reasons it was closed.

More photos of Banavasi can be seen here.