Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fortress Lohagad

Lohagad means Iron fortress, which was occupied by many dynasties and kings.  Lohagad is located approximately 7 kms on a steep drive or hike from Lonavala railway station.  One can see karla caves enroute to Lohagad.  

Lohagad was probably built during Chalukya times somewhere in 650 AD.  And later it was taken over by the Rashtrakutas and later to Vijaynagar Empire..  Frequently this fortress was subject to attack because of it s strategic importance.  Shivaji captured the fort in 1648 and he was forced to surrender the same in 1665.

The fortress was rapidly expanded by Shivaji, Moghuls and Peshwas.  Nana Phadnavis is credited to have built tanks and reservoirs on the fortress.  

I think people will be wasting their time here looking for treasures, which Shivaji seems have buried after he looted Surat...lot of attempts have been futile unless somebody happens to be lucky.
Lohagad can be good trekking destination for youngsters spending the entire day for going up and down including Karla can be slippery due to steep gradient.   Even if one wants to drive they have to make sure their tyres are in perfect condition.  
If one is driving around during rainy season it can be absolute pleasure with greenery around.   It is treaure trove for bird watches and nature lovers.....many avoid to visit fortress.

Fort Shanirwada Pune

The foundation stone for the fortress was laid by Peshwa Baji Rao I who was PM to the King Sahu on JAN10th 1730.  The basic structure was completed in 1732 costing around Rs 16.110.

The initial attempt was to build a residential palace but later it was converted into a fortress.  The teak wood was procured from Junnar, Limestone from Jejuri and Stones from Chinchwad.  

The fortress has 5 gateways located at vantage points and 9 watch towers looking in various directions with cannon posts for firing gunpowder on the enemies closing in.  The complex was supposed to have a durbar hall, dining place, and huge bedrooms for the residents.  The complex had a reservoir to supply water to the fortress.  
There are eloquent description of how the palace was beautifully decorated with teak carvings and panels embedded with ivory.  There was a treasure house of paintings and artifacts which were collected as war residues from conquest.  Precious jewels and coins were also stored.  The palace was surrendered to the British governor John Malcom in 1818.  A conspiracy took place and the palace was ignited to be destroyed, before time all the valuables were taken away to safe private custody.  Thus the legacy of loot continued.  Currently the fortress is maintained by the ASI.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kateel Durga Paramaheswari Temple

We dropped our cousin at the Mangalore Airport and were returning to Mulki vide Kateel route.  In between we got down and visited the famed Kateel temple.  Normally there is a huge rush in the temple but during the noon we found that the temple was empty virtually except a few priests and devotees liesurely praying and moving around.  This type of visit is really satisfying because one is not pushed away due to rush secondly one gets to see the diety in all its glory.  I somehow feel that this goddess helps one to ward off evil many a times.   We had to cancel ours too.

Location :  It is 29 kms from Mangalore on the Airport route proceeding towards Kinni Goli.  If one approaches this temple from Udupi one has to take a deviation from Mulki towards Kateel on the state highway proceeding towards Moodabidri.  It is roughly 18 kms from Mulki bus stand.  Another route is from Dharmastala via Moodabidri towards Airport.

The temple is supposed to be located in a small island in the midst of river Nandini, but the signs of isle maybe visible from the sky, but one does encounter a bridge with the river flowing in its majestic towards the aiport.  Now with the rapid urbanisation the traces of greenary is slowly vanishing roads are getting widened towards the airport. 

Legends :  Once there was a heavy drought, forcing the Brahmins to consume meat too in this region.  The Brahmins initially consumed fish that is how some of them remained fish brahmins even today, they were on the verge of giving up totally their principle, when the saint Jabali found out through his inner gyaan that a demon Arunasura was preventing people from performing yagna.  This caused the scanty rainfall in the region.

Jabali decided to perform Yagna to rid people of the sufferings.  He planned to take Kamadenu to perform the yagna, but the Lord requested him to take Nandini instead who was daughter of  Kamadenu who refused to accompany the saint.  He cursed her to take the form of a river Nandini on earth.  Nandini was grief stricken but sage Jabali said she would be freed with the help of the goddess Durga.  Later Durga goddess helped Nandini to take rebirth in midst of the river.  Thus Nandini was redeemed.

Arunasura fled elsewhere and acquired a boon that he will not be killed by any human being or animal.  He started harassing the people of the area once again.  This time around goddess Durga took the form of a beautiful lady to attract attention of Arunasura, than later transformed herself into bees, which stung him to death.  The wild bees to this date are not supposed to be disturbed, they can sting one very badly.  We had experienced this in Byalkuppa, the tibetian monastery.  Luckily we were spared but the watchmen and the buddhist monk were very badly chased and bitten.  I had applied mosquito lotion and was carrying zorrik anti rust spray. 

The power of the goddess Durga who eliminates evil doers is still very strong in this temple.  Some do pray here to get rid of their enemies.  The goddess does help in getting rid of black magic effects too.  I do believe in this fable sincerely.    Lord Durga do bless us and guard us.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Churches at Old goa

Prologue :   The idea of discovering Goa from various angles, each time one visits Goa is novel.  We deliberately avoided the beaches of Goa, regular haunts such Dona Paula, Dolphin watch bay, Science Museum, River cruise, etc and concentrated on Forts and Churches of Goa.  I have already penned travelogue on Bom Jesus Bascilica, Se Cathedral, Augustine Tower, St Francis of Assisi Church, but apart from these world heritage churches there are innumerable number of ancient churches wherein some are disbanded for masses while others are retained for their antiquity.  Let us now explore them from the angle of our visit, rest of them i will list out for my next outing in Goa. 

This is the first church one can witness as we enter Old Goa which is close the ferry wharf located nearby to cross the Mondovi river, unfortunately there is no mention of the church name nor any clue anywhere if somebody can identify the church it would serve the purpose.

St Peters Church Sao :  This church is located close to the river bed, it was constructed in 1543 at the expense of Public treasury.  It was one of the 8 old parish in Old Goa.  This church was declared a national monument in 1930.  It is more closer to Panjim and close to a river ferry point.  It caters to a small segment of Catholic family who were believers in St Peter ( prince of Apostles Sao Pedro ) who was one of Apostle’s of Lord Jesus.

There is a small symbol mentioning it is a old monument, whether it was a palace or a mosque is subject to speculation.  But this has been totally demolished and only the barracks remain in its place and its gateway.

There are some ships which are anchored on the banks of this premises which is now used to ferry sand and other commercial activities connected with fishing etc.

 Ferry sets sail to the isle nearby.  It is a lovely area situated in Tiswadi enroute to Old Goa

Gateway of the College of St Paul :  Situated the South OF St Cajetan’s Church on the main road leading to Ponda, is the gateway which formed the enterance to the College of St Paul’s Which was St Francis Xaviers.  The college was completed in 1542 and collegiate Church was consecrated in 1543.  What now remains of the facade in the shape of an arch is the gate.
On either side of the arch is a column of the Corinthian order on a raised plinth.  The structure is built of leterite stones and lime plastered. 
The  college was said to have built on the ruins of a mosque of which nothing remains today.  It was established to impart knowledge of seminary to converts of all religions and nationality.  For some time St Francis Xavier stayed in the college premises.  The outbreak of the an epidemic in 1570            forced the inmates to vacate the premises, leading to abandonment.  However it continued to be principal institution of Jesuits in India.  The govt of Portugal ordered the demolition of ruined building in 1832 and transported tthe materials for construction to Panjim.  The existing ruins of the gateway was constructed in 1542. 
St Paul’s college site is a centrally protected monument situated to the west of St Paul’s Gate in Old Goa.  It was proposed to carry out a small trial of excavation to expose the buried structure to throw light on the layout.  There is plenty of coconut trees grown in the site. 

Chapel of our Lady of the mount Mary :
One has to proceed towards the mount off Se Cathedral up the hill for 2 kms, towards the north of Cross.  The road leading to the hillock on which a commanding panaromic picture is present is the situated the our lady of Mount Mary.  A series of steps leads to the chapel which is built of laterite stones and plastered with lime mortar.  It has three main altars dedicated respectively to our Lady of the Mount, St Anthony and St Andrew.  The Chapel was built under the orders of Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510.  It was re constructed twice and reinforced.  The church is in disuse and no prayers are conducted here.

The view point gives us the exact location of the Augustine tower that is how we landed at the right place.  The entire area with the river the river flowing and coconut gardens gives us a lovely and soothing view.  Though the landscape maybe a little hazy due to humidity it is still a soothing scenario to enjoy.
There are number of other Churches, Convent and Seminaries located in Old Goa, which we just whizzed past maybe liesurely we might be able to cover in our next visit.
a)  Church and Convent of St Monica : 
b)  Church of the Carmelities
c)  Convent and the Church of St John
d)  Royal Chapel of St Anthony
e)  Convent and Church of the Cross of Miracles
f )  The Pillory
g)  Church of St Cajetan

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Church of St Francis of Assisi Old Goa.

Prologue :  This church should not be confused with St Francis Xavier’s Church nor his body is housed in this complex.  This Church is located next to the convent, which is now converted into a world class ASI Museum.  If one intends to visit this Church one should remember portrait of individuals with Alter background should not be shot with a camera.  One would be penalised for violating the sanctity of the church.  I just witnessed and a couple getting into trouble because of the violation of the rules.  The body of St Francis Xaviers is located in the opp Church is known as Bom Jesus Bascilica. 

The origin of this church can be traced to arrival of Franciscan friars in 1517, secured the rights over few houses from the Governor which belonged to the deceased Thanedar.  They constructed a small Chapel in the premises.  This Church was dedicated to the Holy Ghost and consecrated in 1521.  The present church was built on the same spot after pulling down the old Chapel in 1661 retaining the old entrance of the earlier Church. 

Once again ASI had to get into the act of resurrection of this Church with extensive repairs and salvaging carried out.  There is sign board which mentions that ASI has been on the job from past 150 years outside the Augustine Church complex.  The exterior walls were repainted with waterproof cement.  The damaged panel paintings were dismantled and reinforced with marine plywood and the walls were replastered with a combination mortar.  The panel paintings were than refixed on the the wall.  The cracks on the ceiling were grouted by epoxy resin after inserting copper dowels and finally replastered.  The gutters and drainages to channelize the rainwater was replaced. 

The cellar and arched openings below the museum was replastered.  The entire cellar was opened to ensure free circulation of air and allow ventilation to reduce humidity levels inorder to preserve the paintings.  Aluminium sliding shutters were incorporated to protect the structure and paintings from heavy showers and downpours. 

The entire church is built with Laterite blocks and generally lime plastered.  The church is west facing, and consists of 3 chapels on either side.  A choir and two alters and the main alter adds to the sanctity of the church.   The exterior of the church is built on Tuscan order and Manuline style.  The main alter is Baroque with Corinthian feature.  The main alter contains frescoes showing intricate floral designs.  The statue of St. Michael stands out as niche in the alter.  The statue of Lady of Miracles is bought from Jaffna peninsula in Sri Lanka.  The wooden statue of St Francis of Assisi adorns the pedestal bearing emblem of Franciscans. 

Above the main alter is the statue of St Francis of Asissi and equally a large statue of Jesus on the cross.  Beneath the two figures are inscribed three vows of the saint namely Poverty, Humility and Obedience.  The a wooden ribbed alter on the side walls of the Church  The alter is richly carved with four evangelists. 


cannons ready to fire

About Me

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Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Basically i am down to earth, take friendship to its logical end. It is my endeavour to create a wealth of co-operative ventures. Basically being a marketing man i have the acumen to spot winners. I am privileged to travel the length and breadth of the country, courtsey my father, who was with Indianoil, my employers such as Nutrine, Kurl-on, Hindustan Pencils, Prestige, Crystal, Bell Ceramics, Pentel, Sezal, Commander. Currently i am involved in Tourism, Booking Air Tickets, Agent for Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited and Taj Group of Hotels and a numerous hotels across India. Depending on the needs of a traveller i would recommend the destination and accommodation best suited to their budget. Humour takes me on. Let us have a win win situation for all. I love travelling for sake of adventure, photography and discovering the heritage. Life is a journey and let us enjoy our drive. Come share your travel experience on indiabackpacker.