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Friday, December 23, 2011

Hooli

8th October 2011

Hooli is a small village in Belagavi district which is about 10km from the religious place of Savadatti. It was once a great place of learning and art. It was a site of nearly 100 Temples!! That is history. Most of these Temples were looted, destroyed or neglected. All that remains now is Panchalingeshwara Temple which is well maintained by ASI. All other Temples are in ruins.
 
The Panchalingeshwara Temple was a welcome respite in the dusty village of Hooli. As mentioned earlier, it is well maintained Temple complex. As the name suggests, the Tempe has five garba gruhas.


The Temple complex also has a sort of museum where the sculptures restored are kept for public viewing.


The gate keeper of the Temple seemed to be knowledgeable about the history of Hooli. He gave a good description of the Temple and also listed other Temples and places to see. On hearing it, we felt that it was not a good idea to just plan little less than an hour for Hooli. Anyway, weather was hot and we were extremely hungry. I was tempted to visit few of the ruined Temples that were spread across the base of a mountain. But he mentioned that there is nothing to see there and “you have to close your nose” to reach those Temples at the base of the hill.


So, we went to the lake from which we could see a lot of Temples in ruins. Looking at the glory of Panchalingeshwara Temple, this place would have been one of the great historical site if all other Temples were intact (or restored).


There is also a fort near Hooli. But sadly we had not planned for it and the heat and hunger was taking a toll on us. So, we did not visit them. Hooli is a little known place but definitely worth a visit for its Temples.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Navilu Theertha

8th October 2011


This place turned out to be an exceptionally great place. Initially, we had no plans of going to Navilu Theertha where Malaprabha Dam is constructed. All along the way from Sogala->Munavalli->Savadatti we were seeing the backwaters of the dam. And then we came to know that the dam is very near to the main road we were travelling. “Why not just look into the place” we thought.


Next to the board “Welcome to Malaprabha dam” was a board “Entry restricted”!! Completely confused I asked a local guy whether normal people like us can enter the place. After his affirmative reply, we entered into the gate. The dam was still a km away and we were still seeing the boards “private vehicles restricted” and “No entry” boards. Being a law abiding citizen(!) I stopped my car thinking the next course of action. And then a private bus full of tourists passes ahead leaving a cloud of smoke on us!! I promptly followed the bus. I feel that the Government departments get some satisfaction by putting such nonsense boards.


But the flower garden at Navilu Theertha was simply great!! Kudos to people who have maintained it so well. My kid loved it and was we. We spent a good amount of time seeing those beautiful flowers.


Visitors are not allowed to go to Malaprabha dam but they can see it from the top. The dam is constructed at a place where the river from the plain enters into a gorge.


One of the gates of the dam was opened which gave a different perspective of the surroundings.
A nice place to spend time!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sogala

8th October 2011

The beauty of Sogala lies in its approach. After travelling for a long time on plain land, the view of the hills come as a respite. And a waterfall suddenly appears as we enter the Sogala village. A pool as large as a lake is formed at the base of the waterfall. It was much more than expected and we were positively surprised. We started from Belagavi in the morning and had to reach Dharwad by evening. A nonstop journey would just take an hour and hence we decided to take a detour and visit nearby places.


For people who are not aware of this place, Sogala is a religious destination in Belagavi district. It is famous for its Temple the prime being the Someshwara Temple. It is at a distance of about 60km from Belagavi via Hire Bagevadi and Bailahongala.


Coming back to our trip, our joy of seeing the falls was short-lived. The filth of this place was revealed as we got down and went near the pool. It was sad to see people using this place for attending nature calls. People were least perturbed that it was a religious site. We then decided to look at the Temples. Since the Temples were located on the hills we started climbing the nicely paved steps. As expected, the views from the top were nice. The Renuka Sagar backwaters (Malaprabha dam) could be seen.


But unfortunately the place is maintained badly. It was filled with leftovers of previous day feast. We could not manage to stay there for long. A small waterfall lies on the top of the hill which is used by devotees to take bath. A deer park is also maintained in the complex.


Sogala has all the potential of being a nice place if maintained well.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Amboli

5th - 7th October 2011

Amboli is a hill station in Sawanthawadi district of Maharashtra. Being close to Belagavi (70km) it attracts lot of tourists from North Karnataka region. Amboli is famous for its waterfalls and viewpoints. While monsoon is the best time to visit when waterfalls are in full, the post monsoon season provides some nice views.


A plan was hatched to visit Amboli and nearby areas during Navarathri. Hotel booking were made in advance to avoid last minute tensions. The drive from Bengaluru to Belagavi was uneventful. It took me 6 hours to cover the distance of 500km. That includes a break of one hour for breakfast at Chitradurga and refueling at Ranebennur. Not a bad timing for Indian roads. Thanks to Golden Quadrilateral. After having an early lunch in Belagavi we headed towards Amboli. Very soon we entered into Maharashtra. The difference is easily noticeable!! No more English boards. Even the numbers are written in Marathi. But road quality was same as in Karnataka.


The distance from Belagavi to Amboli is about 70 km which took us 2 hours to cover. Being at the beginning of the Western Ghats, Amboli resembles more like Agumbe in many aspects. The highway and few building on either side of it make this place. The silence is shattered by occasional sound of vehicles passing on the highway. I had made a prior booking in MTDC hotel. It turned out to be a good choice. It is a simple resort with nice rooms and gardens.


The long journey of 580 km had made us tired and we took some much needed rest. In the evening we visited Mahadevgad view point. It is about 3 km from the main road though dense forests. The place was completely empty. Steps are constructed to the edge of the cliff. It provides a nice view of the plains below and the forests of Western Ghats. It formed a perfect evening to spend. With no soul around the place was for us. We liked that isolation!! My daughter started running all around making us run behind her. But when I took to the edge of the cliff she was scared!!


As we departed back, the entire area was covered by mist. It remained so for the remaining of the night. Being Navarathi time, Dandiya was played in a nearby Temple. We spent some time watching it.


On the next day we visited Kavlesad view point. The road from the main road passes though area filled with flowers. In spite of long weekend, there were no visitors. This view point turned to be much more beautiful than I had imagined. It provides a complete view of the valley. Several waterfalls can be seen on both sides of the valley. This must be am amazing place during monsoon. Even during the month of October I could spot eight waterfalls!! This was something that I had not seen elsewhere. My daughter decides to spend a long time playing in a nearby stream.


We then came back to the main road and proceeded further towards Nangartas waterfalls. It is just situated next the main road and beside a temple. Here water flows into a deep hole. This is a waterfall different from others.


We then went to Hiranyakeshi Temple. It is situated in amidst forest with peaceful surroundings. Hiranyakeshi River originates from this place.


It was then time to visit Amboli waterfalls. It is just next to the main road. This was the only place in Amboli where we found people and there were lot of them. I have not seen any photograph that has only this falls. It is always filled with people. Steps are constructed to the falls. People take bath and spend a long time under water.


Evening was spent at sunset point. There were few other places like Parikshit point which needs some amount of trek. I did not visit as I had promised my family not to go for these solo treks.


Some information:

There are several buses to Amboli from Belagavi. The options to stay are few but are decent and economical. As mentioned before, we stayed at MTDC resort which can be booked online on their website. Food is not a problem. It needs one day to cover all the places in Amboli.