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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ramalingeshwara group of temples, Avani

Apart from the hill, the main attraction of Avani is Ramalingeshwara group of temples. It was built in 10 century by Nolamba dynasty who ruled over this area. It was later renovated by Cholas. Now it is under the maintenance of ASI.

Ramalingeshwara groups of temples seen from the hill
As we entered into the temple complex, our SLR cameras attracted the temple people who were chatting on the platform. They told us that we are not supposed to take pictures. For a moment I thought that I might have entered a very sensitive or secret or military area!! But when I saw people taking photos with their mobile cameras, I was bit relaxed. It is only the big camera that attracted their attention!! 

Ramalingeshwara temple

And then came a question from them. “Will you post the videos”? I said that we are not from press or from TV and they need not worry about. That hurt them a lot and they became defensive says that they had not done anything wrong and they are worried about anyone. Typical attitude!!

Lakshmanalingeshwara temple
Since there was no board mentioning about the restriction, we ignored them and continued taking photos. 

The hall inside a temple
There are four main temples dedicated to Rama, Bharatha, Lakshama and Shatrughna and other smaller shrines with Lakshmanlingeswara temple being the most ornate one. ASI has done a good job of putting information boards in front of each temple. 

Temples
My trips to Kolar started only couple of years ago and I am very impressed by the attractions. Avani is one of the most beautiful place in Kolar.

Nandi statue in front of Shatrugnalingeshwara temple
Not so trivial
While moving out of the parking lot of the temple, we had accidentally put one of our lens on the roof of the car. When I started taking reverse, a Good Samaritan drew our attention towards it. He was just in time before the lens would have fallen off!! 

The temple complex
Information

Avani is about 100km from Bengaluru. The temple opens from 10AM (or 9AM?) to 5:30 PM. There is small parking place for vehicles. Expect to spend about 30 minutes to one hour in the temple.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Trek to Avani hill

Sankara had planned for a birding trip to Hoskote lake. It was on the other end of the world (pun intended!!) and hence I felt we need to utilize the effort spent on crossing KR Puram by visiting other places. Avani in Mulabagil taluk was in my backlog for sometime and we decided to visit it too.

View from the top of the hill

It rained heavily on the previous night in my area. It was still pouring when I got up at 5:30 in the morning. I messaged Sankara about the rains and slept again. After sometime the message from Sankara woke me up. Apparently it was not raining at his place in North Bengaluru. Reluctantly, I got up. Since it was still raining, my mother was not very happy with my travel.
Start of the climb to Avani hill

Rains indeed subsided a bit when I reached Sankara’s home in HMT layout but only to increase after we crossed KR Puram. It was drizzling when we reached Hoskote lake. We decided not to open our camera and just watch the birds at the lake. We spent couple of hours at the lake. We promised ourselves to come back after few months. It was a good place for birding.

Steps to Avani hill
By then, the sky was clear and we decided to visit Avani. With breakfast at Kamath hotel near Kolar, we headed towards Avani. A deviation before Mulabagal and 6 km of ride on village road brought us to Avani. The Ramalingeshwara tempe welcomed us at Avani but we decided to first climb the hill and visit Sita temple on the top.

Green fields seen from Avani
A local lad Sreenath came to us and offered his service as a guide. He looked like a nice guy. We felt that having a local is beneficial even though the path to the top of the hill was clear.

Rocks
It was an easy climb with steps being laid. The steps were recent addition, Sreenath told. It appeared so, as we could spot many quarrying places on the way to the top. 

View of Sita temple
At couple of places which required to go over the rocks, railings were provided. In that way, it was possible for anyone with basic fitness to climb this hill.

Rocky path
We reached a place which was called Valmiki temple. We learnt that the entire hill was filled with places linking to Ramayana. It is said that Valmiki stayed at this place. Sita also lived after being abandoned by Rama. Places where Lava and Kusha were born and raised can also be seen. Interesting!!

Inside a cave
Very soon, we reached a plain land with a pond. It was a beautiful place to spend some time. The serene atmosphere added to the mystical feeling to that place. We spent some time photographing while Sreenath was trying his luck with fishing!!

A small pond on the way
It was a short steep climb and we were at the temple. It was a beautiful place with nice scenery all around. We spent some time cooling down. Since no one was present at that time, priest also came out and talked with us for some time. He said that the temple was the place where Sita went into the earth.

Sita temple at the top
We visited few places that claimed mythological importance before starting down. A huge rock with hollow base provided some shade for us to rest and relax.

Time to rest!!
While coming down, Sreenath took us through an alternate route avoiding steps. It turned out to be bit adventurous when we had to walk down the rocks. The recent rains had made it slippery and we had to be very careful. I removed my shoes and walked barefoot as it provided more grip on the rock!!

Ramalingeshwara temple seen while climbing down
It was time to visit Ramalingeshwara temple at the base of the hill.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Tipu Sultan Summer Palace, Bengaluru

I had seen this place from outside while visiting the Muzrai office at Kalasipalyam for Manasa Sarovar subsidy. It looked nice from outside and I thought about visiting this place. Since it was in Bengaluru, I did not put give much importance!!

From the balcony
Couple of weeks ago, it suddenly came to my mind that I need to visit this place. And the same evening I made a plant to visit this place!!

Summer palace
For people preferring public transport, this place is just two minutes walk from KR Market metro station. For people coming by cars, there is a parking place opposite to the palace. Though it looks bit unofficial parking place, there is a person looking after the place and he charges Rs 30 for parking.

Wooden structures

From outside, the palace looks beautiful. ASI has maintained it well. The palace is small but looks elegant with mostly wooden (Teak) construction. The pillars and balconies are nicely done. 

From balcony
At the ground floor there is a small museum that provides some information about Tips Sultan. An inscription on the stone mentions this place as “An adobe of happiness and envy of heaven”. 

Museum entrance
The balcony on the first floor is beautiful with small rooms at the corners. It is said that Tipu Sultan held his durbar here.

Summer palace
It is good to know about timings. It opens between 8:30AM to 5:30PM on all days. A small fee is charged (Rs 15/-, Foreigners are charged 10x times Indians!!) for visitors. No camera charges. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Trek to Handi Gundi betta

It was a long time since Subbu, Krishna and me had gone together on a trek. The last time was in December when we trekked to Shingani Gudda and Udaya Parvatha. We managed to get a Sunday for ourselves. When I looked at the places that could fit into a day plan, Handi Gundi, a small hill near Ramanagara looked promising.

From the top of Handi Gundi
Driving to the base of the hill was simple. Handi Gundi is seen from Bengaluru-Mysuru highway just before Ramanagara.  At the deviation to Basavapura, we exited the highway, crossed the railway line and reached the village. The locals guided us to reach the base. We parked our vehicle near a temple and started walking. 

Handi Gundi betta
The initial path was not clear. The locals asked us to go in a particular direction which we followed. The area was rocky and steep. We walked in the general direction of the peak.

Initial stretch
As we climbed up, the surroundings opened up. The hills nearby and Ramanagara town was now visible. The new layouts announcing that the area was “developed” were seen!! But the view on the other side was hill was greener with some small lakes. The recent rains had made the area green.

On the "greener" side
Unlike many hills near Bengaluru, Handi Gundi had lot of greenery. At midway, we just stopped and relaxed for some time enjoying the scenery. It was pristine and beautiful. It looks like there were no visitors in recent times. 

The last stretch
The path though visible sometimes was not clear. We just had to climb up looking at the direction. It was not difficult as the hill itself was not very large and chances of missing were slim. 

From the top of Handi Gundi
After walking for about 45 minutes, we had reached the top. A lone pole indicated that we had reached the highest point on the hill. The total elevation gain was about 800 feet. A simple but a beautiful trek.

Subbu looking at Ramanagara town
On top of the peak was a flat land and we spent nearly an hour relaxing and chitchatting. The Bengaluru-Mysuru highway and railway line was visible. Few trains passed as we just relaxed on the hill. The Ramanagara town looked big from the hill.

View from the top
While getting down we took a different path. Anyway, there was no defined route in that place. The climbing down was faster and within 30 minutes we were back at the temple. And we were back in Bengaluru for our lunch!!


Cactus flower on the hill

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Halasuru Someshwara temple, Bengaluru

While I travelled to various places to visit architecturally beautiful temples, there was one in Bengaluru that I completely missed. I had once stayed in Halasuru where the temple within few minutes of walking distance but I did not visit this place!!

Someshwara temple, Halasuru
Now that I am staying in other side of Bengaluru, the prospect of facing traffic did not encourage me to visit this place. Thanks to metro connection, the eastern part of Bengaluru is much more “accessible” to me!!

Carvings on the wall
Situated amidst the crowded narrow lanes of Halasuru is the Someshwara Temple. It is said to be dated to Chola period but most of the structures have Vijayanagara Empire influence.



There was some renovation going on during my visit. The gopura was covered which did not look nice.



The pillar stands in front of the entrance.



The carvings in the gopura resembles typical architecture during Hoysala and Vijaynagar days. 

Carvings in gopura
Once you cross the gopura, you will see the large temple area. The open space in front of the hall gives a nice feeling though the new constructions might change that in the coming days.

Temple entrance
The hall consists of several pillars with some nice carvings. The sanctum is surrounded by a narrow passageway.

Main hall os the temple
The pillars are very typical to Vijayanagar architecture.

Pillars in the hall
Overall, a nice place to visit if you are interested in temple architecture. The temple opens from morning 6:30 to 12:30 and evening 5:30 to 8:30. Four wheeler parking is a challenge in this area. You can either park at some of the malls nearby. A better way is to take a metro to Halasuru station.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Vintage cars of Prague

At a high level, all cities look similar but deep inside they have their unique identity and differentiators. One of the interesting thing about Prague was the vintage car tours. As I walked from location to another, I spent some time in looking at these vintage cars and photographing them.




They are mostly suited for families and couples who want to give a different feel to their visit.


There are horse drawn carriages too.



Oops!! This has nothing to do with tours!!!! The battle tank was just placed in front of a museum.


I was curious about the cost of the tour. While I hesitated to ask the driver for the fear that they may pester me to get into the vehicle. But finally, I got the answer!! 


There was also a limo.




Finally, my mode of transport!! The tram that is part of the public transport in Prague!!