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Shivagange- A land of tranquil temples and underground springs

Shivagange 60 kilomtres from Bangalore is a beautiful spot to spend half a day. The trek to the hill, temples enroute makes it a pleasant getaway. The article is published heredsc_2207

 

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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Karnataka, Shivagange, Uncategorized

 

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Reflection

Being one with nature is easy. Just breakout out of Bangalore traffic and head outskirts.
You will instantly feel one with nature as I did.

This Saturday headed out towards Nandi Hills. Our destination was not Nandi hills but it
was a small temple of Hanuman on the way to Nandi hills.
The smiling Hanuman stone statue, the distant hills and the rolling fields will transform
you to a different realm; i.e a promise.

Picture of serenity

Picture of serenity


Looking at the tilled fields you can sense the effort the farmer has put behind it. Here I
crib for a small kitchen work saying it is back breaking and there I can actually see the
farmer toiling day in and out to produce crop which we take for granted.
The fertile fields

The fertile fields


With this feeling came a sense of gratitude that to ensure our well being some unknown
person puts in his sweat.
After this revelation came a sense of peace and I simply watched the play of clouds and
sun in the sky above the fields.
Clouds covering the glowing sun

Clouds covering the glowing sun


Headed back to Bangalore walking on a railway track adjacent to the fields.
The walk brought our childhood memories in full force.
Really rejuvenated we headed back to Bangalore.
To reach this place: Follow the Nandi hills route taking the Bangalore- Devanhalli- Nandi hills.
Request: Please do not throw plastics and cans and destroy the peace of this place.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Karnataka, Travel Sojourns

 

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JanapadaLoka

Did you know that the ordinary bamboo is our life long companion right from birth until death?

I learnt the usefulness of bamboo when I visited JanapadaLoka some 40 kilometers away from Bangalore. There I heard this beautiful song “Biduru(bamboo)” from one of the guides. The song describes how bamboo is our life long companion. Starting from childhood it accompanies us in the form of swing, becomes a horse when we grow up, flute when we reach adulthood.  It forms the pillars of the marriage mantap and accompanies the bride in to her new home in the form of jewelery boxes. During old age it becomes the walking stick and when we die it forms a part of our last rites. Truly moving isn’t it?

JanapadaLoka was an eye opener in every sense. Though it showcases the rural life of Karnataka, its message is relevant in the modern world in all aspects. Before you feel I am traversing in unknown territory let me give you a brief gist on JanapadaLoka.

Janapada Loka:

Janapada Loka is a treasure house of folk culture of Karnataka showcasing folk art, culture and lifestyle of traditional Karnataka.  Spread over 15 acres of land near Ramanagara it has been a cultural hub for the past 16 years. Founded by Shri Nage Gowda the place is a show window showcasing

  • Lokamatha Mandira- a museum which displays the daily life of rural Karnataka
  • Chitra Kuteera: a tribute to the founder Nage Gowda and a photography exhibition displaying the different folk forms of Karnataka.
  • Loka Mahal: a two storied building displaying folk culture, yesteryear items, dolls, folk instruments etc.
  • Shilpa Mahal: displaying stone figurines of 10th century.
  • Dodda Manne: a workshop wherein you can see workers engaged in pottery.
  • Open Air Theater: done in Greek style and which can seat about 1000 people at a time.

Description of the place:

One of the major attractions of this place was Divaru Mane (House of Divaru). Divaru is a caste found in Malnad (western and eastern parts of Western Ghats) districts of Shimoga and Kadur. They also call themselves Billavas in some places.Divaru Mane, Janapada Loka

Divaru Mane, Janapada Loka

The house was efficient in every respect and took in to account the heavy rains of Malnad. Built of mud the house was very simple and compact.  The house was neatly adorned with beautiful Rangoli drawings. To avoid moisture and insect attacks there were openings in the kitchen walls to store grains like Ragi, rice, bajra etc. This prevented ants and other insects from having a feast on them.  There were also shelves and bamboo holding made at the top of the kitchen to hold cooked items and groceries.

To light up the mud house there were spaces craved on the walls to hold small diyas or lamps. Inside the house there was a small area to warm water for bath. Though the bathroom was outside the heating or the fire was lit from inside the house. The heated water in brass vessel was directly available at the bathroom. Quite innovative, don’t you think?

On the outside there were fishing and betel nut equipments hung. There were also tiny bells hung outside the house which were tied on the cattle when they were left in the forest to graze.

Divaru Mane, Janapada Loka

Loka Matha:

Loka Matha was equally revealing. It made me realize how complicated I had made my life with gadgets. There were nicely stitched Pooja trays, photos of goddess made in Ravi Verma style by early 20th century women on display. All were made from beads and pearls and beautifully done. Hmm… No Zee T.V serials for these women.  Then there were various hand fans on display. Some of these fans could be moistened to give cool as well as scented air. What an idea, right? These fans called as Lvancha fans are available in the nearby shops in Ramnagar and Chanapatna.

LokaMatha, JanapadaLoka

Then there were fruits baskets, jewellery boxes, sieves, churners, mortars etc. There were also large granaries to hold grains. These granaries were sealed from above with cow dung and the grains were scooped from the bottom. A novel way to store grains for months together right?

Graneries, LokaMatha

Another useful device I saw there was a noodle press and a plank. Rice noodles were prepared by this press. Cooked rice was pressed by this tool and the noodles dropped out through the small sieves or holes at the bottom of this tool. The noodles were then relished with sweetened coconut milk. There was also a plank to prepare thin noodles for making sweet rice pudding.

Apart from these there were salt containers of wood, bamboo and ceramic used to store pickles, spices etc. These containers prevented salt from absorbing moisture and so were ideal for storing pickles and other items.  There was also a portable wood stove carried by the travelers of olden days. They cooked their own food on the road and did not prefer to eat outside at all. Talk about discipline and being systematic!

Outside the LokaMatha there was a large corn grinder of stone which was operated with the help of Oxen or Buffalo to powder grains.

LokaMatha, JanapadaLoka

Loka Mahal:

At the Loka Mahal there were all types of dolls on display. There were dolls used for Dasara festival, Garudi dolls brought out during fairs and festivals,  MekkeKattte idols used in ghost worship in Kundapura etc. Toys of the olden days like chess, chanemane, and petlu were also on display.

MekkeKatte idols, Loka Mahal

For those of you who haven’t seen the “tala patra” or the pamphlets there is a display of 17th century Ramayana and Mahabharata(Kumar Vyasa’s works) in scrolls. These are called as Palmyra menus. To write on these palms a pen called Kantha was used which is also in display. In olden days such important documents were often rolled and stored in bamboo containers or Bidirande and hidden in bamboo lines of thatched roofs. Money was also hidden in such canes to avoid getting stolen. These can also be seen here.

Folk art too gets a mention in Loka Mahal. There are various Yakshagana art forms displayed here. The Thenkuthithittu, a south coastal Karnataka yakashagana dance form and Badagathittu north coastal Karnataka style are shown here. These both differ in their dance steps, costume design and have different styles of dancing.

LokaMahal, Janapada loka

Then there are masks. The Soma, both red and yellow with their entire attire is shown here. Somas are companions of village deities and these are worshipped in every village. Sacrifices are performed for Somas, boons granted and the dance of Somas continues throughout the night. There are also chau masks of North Eastern India which again is a performance of high jumps, violent movements and gigantic facial expressions.

Chau mask, Loka Mahal

Also shown here are certain tribes of Karnataka like Goravailya, Dasaiya etc. Their attire is truly stunning with shells and colorful patches in their costumes.

Numerous stringed and leather puppets are also shown here.  The stringed puppets are manipulated with 4-5 strings tied behind the puppets. These are very flexible puppets.Puppets, LokaMahal

Leather puppets, LokaMahal

Shadow or leather puppets on the other hand are flat figures cut out of leather. They are pressed against the screen and light source is placed behind them. The show begins with colorful shadows (created by light and figures) on the screen.

Some more things worthy of mention are red wasp’s nest on display which takes the wasp 2 years to build and water lamps which use water to cool the lamp to reduce the lamp’s oil consumption.

Wasp nest, LokaMahal

A truly mind boggling experience don’t you think?

Finally few stone figures of ShilpaMahalStone Figures, Shilpa Mahal

Stone Figures, Shilpa Mahal

With our culture being so rich don’t you think it is time we introduced this to our kids too. Let them too know about Yakshagana, puppetry shows and dolls. Introduce them to the rich heritage of Janapada culture and you will definitely have left our kids a valuable heritage.

So how to get there?

This place is 45 kilometers from Bangalore. Just travel on the Bangalore Mysore highway until you reach RamaNagar. After some time you will see the Janapada loka at the right side of road just next to Kamat LokaRuchi hotel.

Where to eat?

Try the famous Kamat hotel located close to the Janapada Loka. You are sure to enjoy the local delicacies that they dish out.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2010 in JanapadaLoka, Karnataka

 

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Chikballapur at close quarters

Wish to break free from the concrete jungle of Bangalore? Then why not head towards Chikballapur some 60 kilometers away from Bangalore? What to see there, you ask? Then here is a brief glimpse of this place.


Few facts about the place:
Chikballapur is a popular district famous for its silk industry. Surrounded by five hills it is a must –see destination for hikers, trekkers and not to mention walkers. The place is enclosed by all sides with rolling hills and mountains. These hills five in number are known as Pancha Giris and go by the names Nandi Giri, Chandra Giri, Brahma Giri, Hema Giri and Indra Giri. There is also another very popular trekker’s hill called as Skanda Giri
The district encompasses 6 taluks BagePalli, Chikballapura, Chintamani, Gudibande, Gowaribidanur and finally Shiddalgatta.
Last weekend we had a chance to visit two noteworthy places in Chikballapura; Muddenahalli and Rangasthala. Here is a brief description about them.
Muddenahalli: Ever heard of Sri M Visvesvaraya? Definitely you would have. He was the architect of the famous KRS dam at Brindavan, Mysore. He was also responsible for Mysore University, State Bank of Mysore, Mysore chamber of commerce etc.
Muddenhalli which is 7 kilometers from chikballapura is the birth place of this famous engineer.  His residence is now a popular museum showcasing the life and work of Sri M.V. Some of the things which is sure to catch your attention at the museum is the

•    Legendary Bharatha Ratna which was awarded to him in 1955.
•    His passbook of State Bank of Mysore which is the statement and proof of his simple, unpretentious living.
•    His numerous awards and laurels like Knight Commander, Doctorate, Kaisar-i-Hind, fellowship by IISC etc.
•     A very ancient dictionary gifted to him by his principal which he used for 80 years, his passport, books and horoscope.
•    A glimpse of his routine. He lived healthily for 102 years and he was a strict vegetarian plus a teetotaler.
One thing that I learnt from the old newspaper cuttings of Gazette was that he did not confirm to the views of Mahatma Gandhi. He was always of the opinion that industrialization is important for the development of a country which was contradictory to Gandhi’s view that Industrialization hampers the growth of a country.
The place also has a tomb or Samadhi of this great yet simple person.

Even if you aren’t a great fan of him visit the place for its scenic beauty and countryside.

After all with the majestic Nandi hills as background it sure is a nature lover’s paradise.

The place also boasts of Sathya Sai Gram which is a beautiful campus housing school, college, temples etc. There is also a clock tower which gives you a panoramic view of the country side.
For lack of time we did not visit this place. We were busy heading towards our next destination Rangasthala you see.
How to get there: To reach Chikballapur take the NH-7 Highway crossing Bangalore, Yelahanka, Devanahalli and finally Chikballapur. The distance is 56 kilometers and takes about 1-1.5 hours if you are driving. Once you reach chikballapur ask for Muddenhalli. On the way to Muddenhalli you will pass SJC institute of technology on your right and after some time a big yellow sign board showing the directions to Sathya Sai Gram. When you follow this route you will soon see a sign on the right for the museum too.
The timings of the museum are 11-5 P.M

Rangasthala:Rangasthala, the abode of Lord Ranganatha(Vishnu in sleeping posture) is a beautiful location situated at the North of SkandaGiri hills. This Dravidian style temple with its beautiful pillars and stone carvings is an architectural marvel.

Formerly this place was known as Avanti. Later on when Lord Ranganatha along with his consorts Bhoo and Neela devi appeared before SapthaRishis the place came to be known as Rangasthala. It is said that the SapthaRishis or the seven sages did penance here for a number of years to please Lord Vishnu.

Rangasthala temple

The stone statue of Lord Ranganatha is in a sleeping posture with the snake Adishesha spreading his hoods on his head.  His consorts Bhoo and Neela Devi sit near his leg. Lord Vishnu is surrounded by all gods, goddesses and the SapthaRishis.

The idol is quite beautiful not to mention blissful. The entire idol is four feet and is carved out of a single Saligrama stone.  The design of the Garbha Griha or inner sanctum is in the form of a basket. The sculpture’s imagination was that the beautiful idol in the basket was gifted by Vibhishana to Lord Ganesha.The construction is also a scientific marvel with the sun’s rays first touching the Lord’s feet during Makar Sankramana.

The outer premises of the temple are in sharp contrast to the peacefulness of inner sanctum. The stone pillars have varied carvings of wild animals like lions, elephants, man eating tigers etc. There are also different stone figures mounting horses in each of the 13 pillars. The significance of all these carvings is this;” Let man not fall prey to his senses which can bring nothing but disaster. Instead let him surrender to God which is bound to bring him closer to the blissful state of Lord Ranganatha.”

There is an old pond nearby which is the Shanka and chakra theerta. Unfortunately this theerta is in a very neglected state with creepers and plants surrounding the pond.
Sadly this temple though having a deep history has not been maintained properly. The renovations and the building of outer gopuram are still taking place.
But if you ignore this fact and just go for the darshan of God then you can probably pray in peace. The hills overlooking the temple are also quite spectacular and will make up for the lack of cleanliness in the surroundings.
You can expect the drive from Bangalore to be very pleasant. At this time of year grape vines, yellow, pink marigolds, golden brown corn fields will greet you at every step once you cross the Devenhalli airport.

MariGold magic

So be prepared to be reinvigorated in mind, body and spirit.
How to get there: Ask for directions for Gauribidanur road once you reach Chikballapur. Once you take the road after some 5 kilometers you will see a sign board on the right pointing towards Rangasthala. Turn right until you reach the dead end. You will soon see the main temple gopuram with a pond nearby.
Where to eat: Best to alight in NH-7 highway for food as there were no good restaurants near the places we visited.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2010 in ChikBallapur, Karnataka

 

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Wayanad – The Land of Paddy Fields

We wanted to visit a place which was cool, peaceful and in some ways connected to nature. What we had not bargained for was that we could get a lot more when we decided to visit Wayanad 282 kilometers from Bangalore. We did not in our dreams anticipate that we will trek the hills, go back to Neolithic period and completely get rejuvenated visiting temples amidst Brahmagiri hills.

Wayanad which literally means city of paddy fields welcomes you with coconut, tea, coffee plantations and off course the paddy fields. The spice filled air is enough for you to sense the mystery and adventure here. Located amidst the Western Ghats it is quite a popular place yet not much toured like Ooty or Kodaikanal.

Few facts about Wayanad:

Out of 7 lakh population of Wayanad 32% are tribes. This large population of aborigine people comprise of old tribes like Paniyas, Adiyas, Kattunayakans, Kurichiyans. Their settlements are mostly in deep forests and in kurvadweep islands.

A little peep in to the history of this place provided us with wonderful insights that Wayanad was ruled by Rajas of Veda tribe, Pazhassi Rajah of Kottayam dynasty, Hyder Ali and Tipu and finally the British. These rulings have left traces in Wayanad. The British for example built roads and introduced tea and other cash crops. The sultan Bathery near Wayand was the ammunition dump of Tipu and Edakkal caves in Wayand is living testimony to the Neolithic era with its strange and sinister symbols. Pazhassi Rajah’s tomb located at Mananthavady is the place where the Rajah took refuge until the British captured him.

If this is not enough, you will also see a Lava-Kusha temple in this place. This has a pond near it which is said to be Sita’s tears. The tears were said to have fallen in this place when Ravana, King of Lanka forcefully abducted her and took her to Lanka. It is believed that Rama also visited this place when he was returning back to Ayodhya.

The journey en route:

We did not know all this of course when we set out from Bangalore. We were taking the route Bangalore-Mysore-Gundalpet- Sultan Bathery. The 5 hour drive was pleasant with no traffic jams at all. En route we passed through Jnanapada Loka the city of toys, Ramnagar the silk city and sugar city Mandya. Rows of hibiscus and different colors of bougainvillea like pink, yellow and white smiled at us from either side of the road.

When we reached Gundalpet we were greeted with rows of fresh vegetables. Farmers were selling it just in front of their fields. After some time the air became cooler when we entered the Bandipur sanctuary area. Project tiger has ensured a lot of tigers in Bandipur and it is also home to around 5000 wild elephants. We were lucky to see tuskers and deers when we passed through.

As our home stay was in Mepadi we crossed Sultan Bathery and reached Kalpetta the main town in Wayand and then finally Nadumuttu our home-stay in Mepadi. This home stay was set amidst tea estate and was surrounded by mist covered hills. The view from our room showed a church on top of the mountain, a mosque and the faint background of Chembra peak; one of the highest peak in Wayanad at 2100 meters covered with mist.

After a sumptuous lunch of papads, bitter gourd pakodas, dal, curry and pickles we set out to see soojipura waterfalls.

Soojipura falls–> The 15 minutes short drive was beautiful with tea and coffee estates on either sides and yellow wild lily on the hills. During December you can see both white as well as yellow lilies here. In fact we saw an entire hill covered with these flowers.

In soojipura we walked 1.5 kms to the water fall and the roar of the falls could be heard when we reached near it. Though this waterfall is not the largest nevertheless the sight of it inspired us no less. When we got down to have a view it was as if thousands of pearls were falling down the rocks. Cascading through the rocks it joins Chaliyar river and then from there to Arabian Sea in Calicut. After an hour or so playing in the waterfalls we headed back.

Going back we had fresh tea from one of the shops. I say fresh because I believe that the tea was prepared from the tea estate just next to me. It was a memorable experience what with the mist covered hills front of us and the scent of tea leaves overpowering our senses. We ended the day by having a walk around the tea estate. In my eyes only one word to describe those tea estates; awesome.

[Tea Estate]

All the different varieties of tea that we drink be it Assam, Darjeeling or other varieties comes from a single plant Camellia Sinensis. First these beautiful tea leaves are spread in the rack to reduce moisture, then they are rolled to break their juices, and then the fermentation process starts. After that to lock the flavor they are passed through hot air chambers and finally they are graded. Wow so much effort for my 1 cup of morning tea. The walk in the tea hills regenerated me just as a hot cup of ginger tea would have done

On reaching our home stay we realized that the owners had their own coffee estate. Their plantations like all others in wayanad had pepper and coffee beans together. Tea on the other hand has these silver oak trees in between it. As they had their own coffee supply we decided to have coffee and our decision did not go waste. Every drop of the coffee was worth it.

[Chain Tree]

After having a sumptuous breakfast of Idli, sambhar and chutney we set out to see Pookut Lake.

On the way we saw the famous chain tree which was supposed to be the abode of a guide’s soul who was killed by a British. As the soul was causing a lot of trouble it was chained to a tree. Travelers drop in a penny at this place.

Pookut and Banasura dam –> Pookut Lake is a fresh water lake surrounded by dense forests and hills on either side. Boat ferrying, children’s park and shops selling various artifacts are the other attractions here. In these shops you get gooseberries dipped in pure honey and spices like lavancha root (Vetiveria) which can be added in water to aid digestion. There are also bamboo crafts made by tribals.

After the scenic water body and walk in the woods we set out to visit Banasura dam. Banasura is the second largest earth dam after china. Made of mud the dam is one of the successful earth dam projects. Here too you need to walk 2 kilometers to the dam. But the walk in the woods is worth it.
[Banasura Dam]

Banasura Lake is a catchment area for water coming from the surrounding steams and water falls arising in the hills. There are 32 small islands here which you can see when you speedily go in the speed boat. The scenery is so beautiful with lake surrounded by hills on all sides. Nearby there is a park full of jackfruit trees and wooden swings. A swing here gives you the feeling of being a kid again with no worries. After all where is the time to worry when watching the lazy swans in the deep blue waters and swinging to your heart’s content?

We then set out to view Lakkidi the gateway of Wayand which is situated at an elevation of 700m. It gets the second highest rainfall in the world. From here you can view the narrow winding roads cutting across mist clad hills.

After the panoramic view our next stop was Kurvadweep an island of 950 acres of forest and Kabini River flowing near by.
[Kurvadweep]

Here if you are lucky you can view some rare varieties of birds. If you love to be cut off from the world and would like to spend your day rowing in boats and rafts and crossing some 19 small islands then this island is for you. You can happily walk through the woods, listen to the creaking of bamboos, walk on wooden bridges, see tribal settlements and bath in the river streams and spend about 3-4 hours here.

Thirunelli –>Our final destination for the day was Thirunelli temple which is situated in between the Brahmagiri hills and is actually a famous Vishnu temple. This temple has many interesting legends connected with it and it is believed that lord of the creation Brahma dedicated this temple to Vishnu the savior.

As this temple opens only at 5.30 P.M we set out to have some snacks nearby. We had some tasty ripe banana pakodas and ended it with the famous Wayanad light tea. We then set out to see Panchatheertha in Thirunelly. 5 streams from hills come down via rock channels and joins to form pancha (meaning 5) theertha (lake). These five theerthas are represented in the centre of the lake as 5 parts of Vishnu namely Shankha (conch), Chakra (wheel), Padma (lotus), Gada (mace) and Pada (Vishnu’s feet).

Further up the Thirunelly hills there is a cave temple called Gundika Siva temple which has a small pond nearby called Gundika theertha. It is said that sage Agastya stayed in this cave and did his penance. Higher up you have the steam Papanashini flowing down the hills. It is said that a dip here releases you of all sins. A wild squirrel high above the trees signaled us to go wash our sins in the water and we did just that. The cool water was very refreshing and calmed our tired senses. We then set out to see the Thirunelli temple.

[Brahmagiri Hills]

Some interesting legends: The story behind the temple is an interesting one. Once when Brahma was passing by he was impressed by the beauty of Brahmagiri hills. He saw a Vishnu idol in a gooseberry tree and when he closed his eyes and opened them again the idol had disappeared. When he meditated he got the answer from Vishnu. The god said, “Please establish a temple here. As long as the hills and rivers exist my presence will be here”. So Brahma established the temple and did the first pooja there. Even today before the closure of the temple the head priest will arrange for all the pooja materials and it is believed that Brahma will do a pooja there in the midnight.

The story behind the name Thirunelly is also interesting. Once upon a time three Brahmins were traveling for many days to visit the temple. After walking a lot they were tired and hungry and they prayed to Vishnu to help them. The god showered them with gooseberries or nelli in Malayalam. So they called the place “Thirunelli”. Another important legend associated with this temple is that of Parashurama. Parashurama killed his mother when his father bade him to. After her death he was besotted with grief and wanted to purify himself. He performed many poojas and visited many holy places. But his grief did not lessen. Finally when he dipped himself in the waters of Papanashini it is said that he was finally at peace with himself.

So visit this temple not only to see the beautiful idol of Vishnu but also for all its legends, mysteries and scenic beauty. Surrounded by beautiful hills you will be mesmerized to see the flora and fauna in its entire splendor. Further up the hills you can see Pakshipathalam, a 7 hour trek which is a beautiful place full of birds. You need a permit to get up there though.

Edakkal caves –> The next day our plan was to cover Edakkal caves and head back home. So after a breakfast of traditional puttu a dish made of rava, rice and coconut we headed out to Edakkal caves. On the way we stopped at Wayanad heritage museum. It is a place worth visiting with its display of tools and artifacts from 14 century AD. There are hero stones, dancers, writers, goddess of fertility and Nandi the bull of Siva displayed here. You get to see the beads, ornaments of tribals, bow and arrows used during hunting in the stone ages and some beautiful pottery too. All in all a worthy place to visit which takes you back to 14th century AD people and their lifestyle.

Our next stop was Edakkal which literally means stone in between. The cave is formed by a heavy boulder causing a fissure in the rock. Light enters the cave through a gap at the right hand corner of the roof. It is said that lord Krishna shot the boulder of rock an arrow from the opposite hill causing a great rift.

The special engravings on the walls of the cave will hold you spell bound. The oldest writings are in Sanskrit and date back to fifth century AD. There are strange symbols made by new Stone Age people which have similarity to the rock cravings found in Styrian Alps. These mysterious engravings have caught the interests of archeologists from around the world. Swastika, sun symbols, magic squares, men and women in head gear, tigers etc are depicted here. Did devil worship go on here? Or was it some kind of meeting place? Or do all those symbols point towards something else? These mysteries are yet unsolved.

[Edakkal cave]

To reach the 2 major caves of Edakkal you will have to walk 2 kilometers or so and trek for an hour up the hill. Major shops in Edakkal sell beautiful bamboo crafts, coffee studs, rain makers (bamboos making a pitter-patter sound similar to rain fall) etc which are yours at a low cost if you know how to bargain.

Other places which you can see are Jain temples at Sultan Bathery, Sita temple at Pulpally, Pazhassi tomb, Meenamutty falls and of course the wild life sanctuary at Muthanga or Bandipur. Due to lack of time we could not cover these. A trek to Pakshipathalam and Chembra peaks is something which you should not miss either.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head out to this beautiful destination which is guaranteed to be a complete holiday package. The essence of a holiday in Wayand remains even after you return from this place sometimes for months together.

How to get there?
You have plenty of KSRTC buses from Bangalore to Kalpet or SultanBattery both of which are major towns of Wayanad.Or you can get down at Mysore and catch a direct bus to Wayanad.

If you wish to travel by train then you must book a train to Kozhikode railway station which is 110 kilometers
from Wayanad. From here you can book a taxi to help you reach Wayanad.

If you plan to drive then take the Bangalore mysore highway pass Gundalpet, Munthanga and finally SultanBattery.

Where to stay:
Check out wayanad home stays to experience Kerala culture in true style. The home stays are warm, friendly and provide yummy home food which is much healthier than the restaurants of Wayanad. Check out
http://www.wayanadhomestays.com/ for more details.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2010 in Kerala, Wayanad

 

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Talakad – The Land of sand dunes

Talakad sand dunes

Talakad sand dunes



Did you know that deserts are not the only place where sand dunes exist in India? Did you know that there is a place in south Karnataka where there are mounds and mounds of sand and some 30 temples are buried under it? Did you know that this place is also called as kasi of the south?

The place I am referring to is situated on the banks of river Cauvery, near Mysore and goes by the name Talakad. Legend has it that Tala and Kada two hunters struck a tree with an axe and blood gushed from the tree. On the saying of a divine voice they applied the leaves and fruits of the tree on the wound and the tree got healed. The divine voice was none other than the deity Vaidyanatheswara (Shiva; The lord of physicians) who suggested the remedy for his own illness.
The place came to be known as Talakad on account of the two hunters. The blood which oozed out mixed with the mud and got the name ‘Moolamrithika’ and is believed to cure all diseases.

Brief history of Talakad:
Talakad was the capital of Gangas when they ruled in Karnataka. Then Talakad was ruled by Cholas, the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara Kings and the Maharajas of Mysore. The effect of all this is seen in the architecture of Talakad temples.

Talakad temples

Vaidyanatheshwara temple

Temples of Talakad:
The Vaidyanatheshwara temple is one such magnificent temple which is built of granite in the Dravidian style. Most of the structure was built under Vijayanagar kings and several features have been added by the Hoysalas.

The temple has beautiful sculpting on its outer walls. It is east facing and two colossal Dwarapalakas (bodyguards of Shiva) approx 10ft guard the temple entrance. Towards the right of the Dwarapalakas there is a beautiful statue of Vijaya Ganesha seated on a horse as well as a mouse.

Talakad

Dwarapalakas

Several depictings of Shiva and Vishnu adorn the walls of the temple. Interesting carvings are done on the pillars and walls of the temple. One such carving is two rings of stone latched together in the form of a snake on the right side of the temple. Behind the temple there are a line of Panchalingas (5 Shiva lingas). Here too a lot of sculpting has been done.

Other small temples:
Located 3 miles away from Talakad on the hills of Mudukothore is the Mallikarjuna temple. It is a beautiful temple and the sight of river cauvery from the top of the hill is quite pretty. In this temple there is an imprint of the feet of Kamadenu (cow) on Shiva’s head. The stories of Shiva purana are depicted on the walls of the temple.

Arkeshwara, Maraleshwara, Pataleshwara, Gokarneshwara, Chamundeshwari, KirtiNarayana are other small temples located in Talakad itself. The Shivalinga of Pataleshwara is said to change color 5 times every day.

The significance of Talakad:
Every 7 and 13 years, in the lunar month of kartika thousands of devotees visit this place to worship the panchalingas or the five sacred lingas. The Vaidyanatheshwara temple along with Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna constitute the panchalingas (5 lingas) here. These five lingas are said to represent the five faces of Shiva. It is said that a devotee who performs this worship of five lingas is freed of all sins and attains the fruits of the famous Aswamedha Pooja.

The river cauvery flows in four streams in this village. It is said that Shiva appeared on the northern stream as Arkeshwara and removes all the troubles of the devotee. Similarly Shiva appeared on the eastern stream as Pataleshwara to Vasuki (serpent) and appears evil in five different colors. He is said to remove ill effects of poison and serpents. On the bank of southern stream Shiva appeared to Lord Brahma and Saraswati as Maraleshwara and is said to remove the sins of even Brahmahatya (Killing of Brahmins).On the banks of western stream he appears as Mallikarjuna and grants all the wishes of devotee. At the centre of Talakad he appeared as Vaidyanatheshwara and on account of the two hunters he became visible to all.

Every 12 years a special worship of panchalingas takes place in Talakad. During this time all the temples are excavated from the buried sand. As said earlier during this worship a devotee reaps the benefits of Ashwamedha sacrifice and is removed from all sins.

Talakad sands

Talakad sands

Curse of Talakad:
There is an interesting story behind Talakad’s sand dunes.
“Let Talakad become sand. Let Malingi (a village near cauvery) become a whirlpool and let the Mysore kings not have any children”. This is the curse uttered by the wife of a defeated viceroy of Vijayanagar Empire on Raja Wodeyar of Mysore 400 years ago.

The wife of viceroy the queen Alamelamma who was a widow was a great devotee of the goddess Ranganayaki at SriRangapatna. She used to send her ornaments every Friday to decorate the goddess. On a certain Friday she did not send the diamond ornaments and the King of Mysore sent an army of men to bring the ornaments forcefully. It is said that he had an eye on the diamond jewels.

Being helpless the queen tied all the ornaments to her saree and jumped in to the river Cauvery near Malingi uttering the curse. As she did not want anyone to take the ornaments, she cursed that Malingi become a whirlpool and to prevent the soldiers from reaching her, she cursed that Talakad become sand. To this day Talakad is full of sand and every time there is the panchalinga worship to be done temples are excavated from the sand mounds.

Interesting legends, beautiful and ancient temples and the sparkling river cauvery makes this place a must see for everybody. Besides this boat riding and trekking is also offered. All in all it is worth a day’s trip to this serene place.
How to get there?
Talakad is 185 Km from Bangalore and 45 Km from Mysore. It is just 20 kilometres from Sivanasamudram.
Car rentals, Buses to Mysore are easily available. It is just a 3 hour drive from Bangalore.
Lodging is only found at Mysore and Bangalore.
Where to get down for food:
Talakad does not boast of any good restaurants. You will get some good hotels on Bangalore Mysore highway like the Shivalli hotel, Maddur Tiffany’s etc.
Other nearby excursions which you can plan
Please refer Shivanasamudram for the places to visit. The route taken is the same.

This article has also been published at
http://www.deccanchronicle.com/supplementary/ancient-temples-buried-sands-talakad-050

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2010 in Karnataka, Talakad

 

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