Thursday, December 27, 2012

Soans Farm Karkala

The German legacy of horticulture under the stewardship of  Rev. Fishcher, a missionary based in karkala was passed on to Alfred Soans in 1928.  The experiment was to develop farms under the tropical climate which had laterite bed and shallow layer of soil.   The experiment succeeded with Pineapple crops. 

The Germans had to flee the land because of the looming cloud of World War on the horizon with Hitler gaining ascendency in Germany from 1933 onwards.  Allies which dominated the landscape were against the German interest.   They handed over possession of the farm to the local church who became the custodian, who were planning to sell the farm, but Soans convinced them to retain the farm and were given lease to develop the farm.  
100 odd acres have now been developed by Soans and the lease holders after 1947.   Many improved irrigation practices enabled diversification to new crops suited to the land with major crops such as Mango, Sapota, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cocoa, Cashew Nut, Coconut and Vanilla was possible with year round cultivation of the land.  

Soans farm has literally become a tourist destination with foreign cruise ships visiting this eco farm along with the their circular trip to Bahubali statute, 1000 pillar temple with a winding down at Soans farm.  Soans farm is on the way to Moodabidri from Karkala which is approximately 40 kms from the harbour town of Mangalore.

Seasonal fruits such as pineapple, pappaya, mango etc are also sold at the farm.  We were lucky to have the pineapple juice at the farm served by I V Soans in their neat cafe.

Chaturmukh Basadi, Karkala

This magnificient monument was conceived by Vira Pandya Deva in 1432 AD, who was the feudatory of the Vijaynagar Empire.  They were popularly known as kings of  Bhairav family who reigned the territory.  The monument with four symmetrical doorways was completed in 1586 AD by Immadi Bhairav II.  This Jain monument took almost 30 years to complete in lieu of the strife prevailing in the kingdom after the fall of Vijaynagar empire in 1565. 

The entire monument is built on a stable hillock near the Venur Bahubali hillock.   The basadi is dedicated to three theerankaras Aranatha, Mallinatha and Munisuvrata.  How to make full use of a trip to karkala for attending nephew's wedding reception at Hotel Sagar on 24th instant was our dilemma, and we really went whole hog in discovering tourist spots in and around Karkala along with +Avinash A Mulki

The edifice is propped up by 108 pillars and the priest incharge can be quite notorious seeking donation.  The temple was locked in the noon with priest keeping a vigil, and he acts as if he is doing a favour by opening the doors of the temple when the tourist arrive.   The temple is supposed to open from 6 am to 6 pm. but it is left solely in the hands of this greedy priest.

There are some wonderful sculptures on the pillars depicting various facets of human endeavour.  If one notices the roofing it is built to resist heavy rainfally with a sloping design, may be rain water was bein harvested in some form which is not visible in present day.  A huge compound wall has almost robbed the beauty of the edifice.

The identical statues of the teertankaras adorn on all four sides of the monument.

Chaturmukh Basadi is located in Karakala town outskirts, just under 2 kms before the Bahubali hillock.  One can visit this place and than proceed to the main edifice at Bahubali Betta.   It is located 52 km away from Mangalore, 45 kms from Mulki and 40 kms from Udupi temple town.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gulbarga Fortress

During the Vijaynagar times plenty of gems and jewellery were traded in Hampi bazaar.  The exploitation of gold mines of Hutti and Kolar and the world's best diamond mining in the Raichur Doab area were source of prosperity for the Vijaynagar empire, it invited not only jealousy but wrath of the surrounding Bahamani sultanate.  A conspiracy was hatched to destroy the Vijaynagar empire and it was realised in the famous battle of Talikota in 1565.  According to historians the wealth of  Vijaynagar empire was plundered for more than 6 months day in and day out.  Before the downfall of the great empire in the battle of Talikota due to treachery of a regiment, Tirumala fled with majority of the treasure to different directions.  It is speculated that the major treasure was diverted to Padmanabhaswamy temple at Trivandrum, and to other destinations such as Penkonda, Chandragiri, Gingee and Vellore.

Gulbarga was originally known as Kalburgi.  It was in existence from the time of  Emperor Ashoka ( 304 - 232 BC ) The Sannati edicts and stupa point out to the influence of Buddhism in this region.  Later Chalukyas and Hoysalas ruled over this territory.  In 1347 Hassan Gangu revolted against the sultanate and formed the Bahmani kingdom with hq at Gulbarga.  In 1520 Krishnadevaraya invaded Raichur and Gulbarga and razed the fortress to ground.  This shattered the Bahamani sultans who decided to re group to defeat the Vijaynagar empire.  The fortresses were rebuilt around 1550.

 The wealth plundered from the battle of  Talikota was used to spruce up the fortress with Jama Masjid which is rumoured to have been built by Moorish Architect, which has a huge dome.  This mosque is inspired by the Spainish Mosque Corbdoba.  This mosque has huge pillars and prayer area which is directed towards Mecca.  The mullahs guarding the mosque are quite possessive and they refrain tourist from wearing slippers and taking photographs inside the mosque.

This massive fortress needs to be spruced up by ASI since it is in a state of crumbling.   There are residential homes inside the fortress.  One can find traces of  temple pillars probably from the destruction of the Hampi temples and ruins of ancient temples in and around Northern Karnataka.

In the precints of Gulbarga fortress we find graveyards and tombs of sufis and royalty who lost their lives during the ancient times.  The fortress itself is surrounded by a huge moat running around the boundary walls.  In ancient times the fortress must have been a strategic place for the kings and their soldiers to take shelter.  

Ack : Wiki photo

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cruise Ships Calling on NMPT Panambur

Exactly after a century when Titanic sank after colliding with an ice berg at Newfoundland at 11.40pm ( precise ships time ) on 14th April 1912 the business of luxury liner has drawn passengers to experience the thrill of the ultimate entertainment on sea voyage.

New Mangalore Port which commenced operations in 1975 with its inaugration by than PM Smt Indira Gandhi begun operation as the 9th largest port in India.  This natural harbour was primarily designed to bring in Crude oil and Petroleum Products, for an Indianoil terminal and shipping Kudremukh Iron ore.  Huge granite slabs were subsequently exported to European and Middle East destinations.  After Kudremukh was shut down we had Bellary Mines shipping Iron to China and other far east countries, which almost destroyed the ecology in the surroundings.  Thanks to the supreme court ban, finally the air around the port town is breathe able.  The mining transhipment continued although vide wagon container for sometime.  NMPTC attracted imported teak logs from Burma recently, now it is becoming favourite destination for passenger cruse luxury liners. 

Royal Caribbean berthed on Mangalore 12th April 2012 almost coinciding with the 100th anniversary of  Titanic Sinking.   This cruise liner is packed with amenities such as Casinos, Pubs, Jacuzi, Swimming Pools, Theatre, Restaurants, Spas, Discotheque, Dining rooms, etc.  

Yesterday we had a fleeting vision of  another Adida Diva German Cruise liner berthing at Mangalore port.  The tourists were taken around the Mlore town in a Volvo Bus to visit temple and cashew processing unit.  This 7 storeyed luxury liner which began its journey from the land of  Pyramids will finally culminate its journey in Kochi almost emulating the Arabian traders journey to India. 

Some of the facilities on the cruise airliner which includes luxury swimming pool and jacuzzis etc.  Further the added attraction of  Casino for the tourists keep them engaged in gambling and making some bucks if possible.

The Modern day ships are obviously loaded with internet connectivity to the last mile with satellite based network.  Most of the passengers are aware of the exact temperature readings on the deck for them to venture out, since most of the cruise are undertaken during winter time.  The Indian coastal line offers an excellent landing facility starting with the tourist paradise of Goa, Mangalore and Kochi. 

We experienced a bouncy ride to Barren Isle in Andaman Nicobar in 2005, but these modern Cruise liners have counter balancing computer operated fins which minimise the tossing at the sea.  The boucy ride on the sea surface without these gizmos to smoothen the travel could cause vomitting sensation.  Damania's used to operate catamaran service from Mumbai to Goa in 1996-1980 till it discontinued operation due to mounting losses.  Seabourn Odyessey is bound to dock on 3rd December 2012.  This cruise ship starts from Istambul via Greece and Egypt to Mumbai, Mlore, Kochi and disembarking at Singapore. 

Seven Seas Voyager with fully decked balaconies will be symbol of ultimate luxury which is likely to dock Mangalore on the 3rd December, hopeful cruise connoisseur will enjoy its journey.

ACK : Regent Shipping, NMPTC, & Wiki.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tripunithara Palace, Kochi

Many a times tourist to Kochi would get confusing answers if one asks about Tripunitara Palace. The best way to get around is to enquire about Tripunitara Museum which is away from the township of Tripunitara. This place is situated enroute to the famous temple of Chottinakara ( 6 km before the temple )

This palace is purported to be built on the hillock which is not very prominent in 1865 by the Kochi King Rama Varma ( 1864 – 1888 ) who completed the work begun by uncle Ravi Varma ( 1853 – 1864 ). A brief history of the Kochi kingdom would not be out of place to understand the lineage of the Kochi Kings.

According to keralamahatmyam ( 44th chapter ) King Vishravanas daughter Bala prayed to Parusurama and wished that a land should be created in her name. In keeping with her wish Lord Parusurama created a land out of the sea bed and called it Kochi. ( which later became Cochin ) There is another well known story that the last Perumal who reigned Kerala divided his kingdom among his nephews and sons and got himself converted to Islam and went to Mecca on a piligrimage. Keralopathi states “ The last famous Perumal King Cheraman Perumal ruled kerala for 36 years. He left for Mecca by ship with some muslims who arrived at Cragannore port and converted into Islam. Before leaving for Mecca he divided his kingdom among his nephews and sons “. The lineage of the Kochi kings is traced to Surya-chandra vamsha as per puranas.

During the 12th century Vanneri was the capital of the kings. Than the focus shifted to Crangnnore, present day Kodganallur since the maritime trade with the Arab world flourished. The Zamorins attacked this place and took possession forcing the kings to move towards Kochi and Tripunithara. In 1341 AD a massive flood wiped out Crangannore and the port was relocated in Kochi. It also created an isle of Vypin.

In 1555 the dutch palace at Mattancheri was built by the Portuguese and presented to the King Veera Kerala Varma ( 1537 – 1565 ) and later some extension and renovations were carried out by the Dutch in 1663 AD. The capital was shifted to Trichur for a long time. In the beginning of the 18th century Tripunithara started gaining prominence due to the constant fighting between the Zamorin, British and Portuguese. Around 1755 Thampuram family left Vellarapalli and settled in tripunithara. Thus it became the capital of the Kochi Kings and the palace was built in 1865.

The palace is housed in a terrain of 54 acres presently but in the past it must have encompassed a much larger area. The palace was taken over the by Kerala govt after independence and handed over to ASI in 1980 AD. It was converted into a museum in 1986 AD and thrown open to public. A famous Malayalam movie Manichitrathazhu was shot in this premise.

Currently the palace is under renovation ( 22/10/09 ) when we visited we found that the visit to the museum is banned due to renovation efforts. It is surprising the entire premises consisting of 3 enclosures is closed, which seems to be wrong planning. They could have closed one and left open the other two for public viewing. Further even after plenty of rainfall the landscaping was not undertaken, many of the plants looked dried up, which obviously points to the fact that proper manure or fertilizers are not being used to upkeep the gardens.

The heritage look of the palace is not present and a dull ghostly look is prevalent. There is a graveyard of Pareekshit Thamuran ( 1876- 1964 AD ) housed within the premises. Many of the buildings have not been occupied and it is strange that upkeep too has not taken place despite being under ASI for nearly 30 years. There is a heritage centre wherein the ASI office is located and a mural restoration school and conservation centre is housed in another enclosure. These areas are restricted to the public.

The palace is constructed with Mangalore tiled roof to prevent the effects of heavy rainfall. The central citadel consists of first floor with a beautifully carved wooden staircase leading to upstairs. The palace must be filled with antiques which we could not see, there was one elephant statue in wooden which was covered with plastic sheets and a wooden cot in one of the rooms.

The palace landscaping is built on three stepped enclosures with a road leading upto the palace, which seems to have been modified according to the British style. The steps leading from the enterance upto the palace is quite unique. There is a deer park behind the palace. A beautiful dinosaurs is carved in wood and installed to the left of the palace.

Enclosure near the dear park looks to be horse stable where the horses may have been housed along with a small pond located adjescent to this place. There are other places which are restricted and kept under lock and key. They may be definitely housing the antiques in view of the renovation work.

At the enterance there is another huge pond which may be harvesting the rain water for usage of common public and the staff of the palace. There are number of shade providing trees and a few flowering plants in the premises. Two water fountains in a ruinous state is found. For some time the british seems to have occupied this palace, because the fountain concept is purely a british legacy. The statue adorning the fountain seems to be some English character. There is grave yard of one of the kings within the premises.

Entrance ticket of Rs 10 per head is charged along with Rs 25 for still camera, which seems strange even when the palace museum is closed. The worst part is that a premium is charged on the books sold by the Dept of Archaeology. Normally such books should not cost beyond Rs 100 to Rs 150, considering that gods own country is expensive, it is priced at Rs 300/- and the staff add their own commission by charging Rs 50 above the MRP. It is better they streamline their act and instruct the staff not to blackmarket the books of heritage to the tourist.

Overall a visit to Tripunithara palace reveal the recent heritage almost just covering 150 years. Once the renovation is complete we might get to see its glory. Obviously photography is not allowed inside the museum. We hope to have a glimpse of the same through their books in the coming years. It gives me an impression that the royalty were a puppet king mostly under sovereignty of the Dutch, Zamorins and the British.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Veerabhadra Temple Nijagal

I had learnt that Nijagal was literally a fierce battleground for the raiding Marathas alongwith the support of  Madakari Nayak defeated Hyder Ali's army in 1777.  We wanted to cover this massive fortress located adjacent to NH4 on the return, but with the day light fading rapidly we had to compromise with visiting the Veerbhadra temple which is situated at the ground level of the Fortress.

Brief History :  The Nijagal fortress appears to have been built by feudatory of  the Vijaynagar Empire, later captured by Hyder Ali and strengthened to withstand the enemy assault.  The fortress was well endowed with multiple layers of security, moats filled with crocodiles, and granary which had a capacity to store food grains for two years.  Sardar khan was appointed as the general to protect the territory under Nijagal fortress by Hyder Ali.  He had garnered sufficient revenue and secured his loot inside the fortress.  How the fortress was captured will be a matter to be discussed in the later post.

Location : Hale Nijagal is the right description of the fortress on NH4, which is approximately 60 km away from Bangalore.  One will find the Kamat Restaurant on the left towards Tumkur and the fortress is visible right in front across the railway line, but one has to travel further and cross the under bridge at Old Nijagal to reach the Veerabhadra temple.

One can park their vehicle at the bottom of the hillock and ascend around 100 steps to reach the temple premises.  A Shiv Linga is installed inside a cavern wherein one can seek blessing of the Lord.  Than proceed towards monolithic Veerabhadra ( son of  Shiva ) carved out of the rock face.  The priests do conduct prayers for the devotees well being with right earnest.  It is soothing prayer one may find repetitive,
but bearable.

After completing the dharsan at both the temples one can take a hike towards the rocky pedestal on which Nandi is housed.  The scenery from this vantage point is quite pleasing.  One can have a sneak perview of the fortress too.  But the coverage of the fortress is kept pending for another day.  It was almost 7 pm and light was fading, we rushed to the Reliance Bangera foodcourt and had dosas and than proceeded back to the pavilion.

Lakshminarasimha Temple, Nittur

We were returning after visiting Choudeswari temple tiptur, suddenly on the right we found an arch mentioning Lakshminarasimha temple. My wife suggested we take a detour and explore this unknown destination.   The road leading to the hillock was well laid, so it literally tempted us to take a chance and check out.  Suddenly we found the road gradient was almost 45% degree angle.  A vehicle with bald tyre would definitely skid down hill because some portions are cement road.  It is better to park a little distant away considering there is hardly space for 4 vehicles to be parked on the hillock.  Weak hearted drivers may find this a challenging barrier to cross over.  It is better to carry stones inside car to stop the skidding if it happens.  Driving on first gear is the only way to ascend.

The exact location of the this temple is approximately 120 kms from Bangalore, via Tumkur on the state highway leading towards Tiptur.  The temple is hardly 8 kms away from Nittur town.  On the return journey it is located 20km away from Tiptur towards Tumkur.

Despite SC & HC order illegal mining continues to thrive around this area.  I hope the vigilante from the forest department are pro active to stop such mining.  The panoramic view from the hillock gives one the idea how much illegal mining has spread its wing.

The temple is under re-construction.  The ancient architecture is difficult to replicate.  Meanwhile the Yoganarasimha statue etc have been relocated to a makeshift temple below.  Looking at the temple arch it looks as if the temple is built during the reign of the wodeyars with brick stone.  One can hazard a guess that the temple must have been constructed around early 1800's after the fall of  Tipu sultan.

Overall it is worth spending 1 hour in this temple premise praying to the goddess Lakshmi and having a panoramic view of the surroundings.  It is better to visit the temple in the monsoon and winter season, the summer month heat is searing and with mining fields, it adds to the hot atmosphere.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Betta Bhaireswar Temple, Saklespur

It is one offbeat destination one can cherish being with nature and heritage trail.  There are no trails on the net regarding this destination.  We took off from Bangalore towards Hassan on a Swift ( 23/3/2012 ) enroute we dropped in at Shravanabelgola.  After lunch we took a steep ascent of 626 steps to reach the historic Gommateswara statue on Vindyagiri hillock.  Even though it was summer the evening climb was not so tiring, thanks to the cloudy weather and increased fitness levels.  After seeking the blessings of  the Lord we proceeded towards Sakleshpur town via the Hassan bye pass.  After 4 kms on NH47 at Sakleshpur,  a right turn leads towards Hanbal village and from there we proceeded towards the resort Hills, which around 8 kms. The total distance from Bangalore is 260 kms.  We were pleasantly surprised by the serene forest type of atmosphere in the resort.  After having a nice tasty buffet dinner, we hit the deck in our elevated
wooden Indonesian cottage


After a nice hot water bath we dressed up for a trek to Pandavara Betta.  This is located 7 kms away from the resort where we stayed.  The road is rugged in patches till one reaches the destination of  Betta Bhaireswar temple.  The road is steep in pockets and requires a special driving skill lest the vehicle stalls.  It is better to travel in first gear on this steep hillock route.  One needs to park the vehicle at the Betta Bhaireshwar temple complex and take a trek of a kilometre to reach the Pandavara Betta.  It is speculated that Pandavas during their exile spent some time in the forest surroundings.  The view point from the peak covers the beautiful western ghat consisting of  Bisle ghat, Chikmangalur and Shiradi Ghat.  The trek transgressing the two hillocks takes around half a hour with good fitness levels.  After clicking photographs we returned to Betta Bhaireswar temple.

Betta Bhaireswar temple seems to have been built during the Vijaynagar times by local chieftain.  The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva during his fiery avataar.  Since the temple was originally located in the forest atmosphere it seems to have lost it sheen.  We can safely speculate that people around the region used to sacrifice chicken, goat etc to the Lord, to gain his blessings.  There is a separate enclosure for the serpent goddess too.  This temple has been renovated by the tourism department after its long neglect.  It has been handed over to a priest family, who was nowhere to be seen.  The dept. would do the tourist a favour by at least displaying the priests cell number on the gate or door.  There is neatly built toilet facility for the tourist to freshen up.  Eventually I am sure some sort of accommodation for priest in the vicinity of the temple will be in place citing tourist inconvenience.


During monsoon the entire environs maybe more welcoming but trekking up the hillock may be a little risky.  Tourists can cover this destination from Mudigere which is connecting point for Chickmaglur, Hornadu, Sringeri or Belur.  It is worth spending a night in forest like environs and be with nature.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Horsley Hills

Travelling down the memory lane, my encounter with Horsley Hills was in Mid Eighties.  I remember we travelled from Chittoor one saturday evening to play cricket match at the famous Rishi Valley School.  We had M L Jaisimha in our team playing for Nutrine against the school team.  I remember i opened the innings against the school and managed to score 20 odd runs and in came the Lion and scored a blistering 60 odd runs.  We managed to set up a total of more than 200 odd runs which the school team fell short by 20 odd runs.  It was a wonderful feeling staying in the school hostel and experiencing the cool atmosphere at the hill station.  We celebrated victory on the way back since we restricted from having liquor in the school premises.

This time around after visiting Kadri temple we quickly rushed to Marimaru baniyan tree and than moved towards Horsley Hills.  The location is named after the collectorate W.D Horsley who was the collector of Cuddapah district during the British rule.  He visited this location in 1840 and was charmed by the environs and he ordered for building a summer residence, which is currently serving as Governor's Bunglow.  The AP tourism has built a number of cottages and rest houses in the premium category.  A double room is minimum Rs 2200 per head.

The beauty of this hill station is that it is maintained with a pristine condition which is not found anywhere in India as per my knowledge.  There are not many commercial establishments in this hill station.  I hope it remains so with pressure for commercial exploitation.  It is located 1290 meters above sea level.

Tourist Attraction :  One of the major tourist attraction is the winding drive upto the peak amidst eucalyptus  and gulmohar trees.  Environmental park is located in a separate complex, which has enclosure for few birds, and rabbits.  Adventure sports such as trekking and rapelling is conducted by the department.  A good swimming pool complex is located wherein a air ballon can used to roll across the waters. Apart from this there is lake and museum to add to the tourist attraction.

Horsley hills can be reached from Bangalore Via Chintamani, Madanpalle 160 kms.
It can be reached from Hyderabad and Chennai too via Chittoor and Palamneer. The nearest airport is Tirupati.

If one wants to live with nature in peace for a day Horsley hills is highly recommended.  It can be treated as one day getaway from Bangalore too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gorantala Madhavraya Temple


This temple is located just before one reaches Kadri Lakshminarasimha temple.  The temple can be easily missed in the melee to reach Kadri.  We stopped at Gorantala to have cup of tea and to our pleasant surprise we found this ancient temple which is resurrected and maintained in good condition. This temple is named as Madhavaraya temple, built in the Vijaynagar style.  The nautre and elements are beautifully combined to provide the temple with plenty of wind and solar energy.  The architecture of the temple has a combination of Chola lion symbol.  The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

The sculpture on the pillars are finely carved with Ugra Narasimha and dancing posture of artisans of the period.  The life style prevalent during the times have been well portrayed.  However the artefacts on the of the temple wall is missing either due to vandalism or kept in safe custody of the museum.

The gopuram of this temple is incomplete, even the unfinished monolith speaks volume of its size and conception.  In the case the edifice was complete it would have been a wonderful and famous monument of its era.  The landscaping obviously is of recent origin.

I was lucky to capture all these images without the help of flash in the camera due to bright sunlight.
I am sure travel buffs will enjoy visit to this place which gives an idea how an ancient temple was conceived and executed to combine all elements of nature.

Location : This temple is located approximately 130 kms away from Bangalore.  One can reach this destination from Bangalore NH7 towards Bagepalli, and take a right deviation on NH7 towards Kadri, One reaches a junction point wherein one has to take a right turn towards Kadri just 2 kms at the bus stand one can find this temple at Gorantala.



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.