Monday, May 12, 2008

St Mary's Isle, virgin Island

The Virgin Isle, St Mary’s Island, Malpe

Vasco de gama landed in one of the many isle’s located in the vicinity of Malpe in search of spices from the Konkan coast. Malpe is one of the oldest fishing harbour on the west coast of India. It is situated 70 kms from Mangalore. If one wants to reach Malpe from Mangalore catch a Bus, since the roads are in various stages of repair from Mangalore to Udupi. Get down at the border of Udupi bypass, Kinimulki and then catch an auto who will charge you Rs 70/- to take you to the Malpe Jetty which is 10 kms away. Alternatively one can catch a local bus from Mulki sururban bus stand. If one wants to drive down then deviate on the NH47 the goa highway after hotel Sarovar to the left and travel straight to reach the gate of Malpe fishing harbour. Pay an entry fee and proceed near the yard, and turn left and reach dead end on the right there is Nandini Milk booth where the tickets for ferry is sold for Rs 70/- per head for up and down trip.

A ship building yard is located on the Malpe harbour and plenty of fishing boats are parked at the entrance to the harbour. If one is lucky he can get fresh catch at auction.

The journey to St’ Mary’s Isle is adventure filled with scenic beauty of distant Lighthouse Isle, the water is blue because of low pollution. One has to change ferry midway, and jump into smaller ferry. We have noticed there are no life jackets in the ferry, which I hope authorities will make it mandatory. Remove your shoes or leather slipper when you get down, one is filled with knee deep water.

“Look at the unique geographical formations, known as basaltic rocks which is a splinter from the molten lava. The unique hexagonal formation of the rocks is a very rare natural phenomenon. It is as if nature has carved a monument to celebrate the birth of human life on earth.” I consider St’ Mary’s Isle a virgin Island.

The name is derived from El Padron de Santa Maria, a Portuguese dedication to Mother Mary by Vasco de gama when he stepped foot on this isle in 1498 before landing on calicut coast. Mother Mary is hailed as Virgin mother, therefore I consider it as virgin Isle. Lol

St’ Mary’s Isle is a popular film shooting spot for kannada film crew. Puttana Kanagal introduced St Mary’s Isle to the world through his film Shuba Mangala. Puttana Kanagal is credited to be the first kannada director who took to large scale outdoor shooting and exposing the beautiful locales in all its glory. In the words of yesteryears actress Aarti “Kanagal will be always remembered by many, as he had a penchant for introducing new faces and many people who are big names today in Kannada industry owe their success to him. I have acted more than ten films with him which was an unforgettable experience for me. Kanagal was also among first to introduce outdoor shooting in Karnataka, and had an uncanny eye for spotting the most beautiful locales. “

I strongly feel that KSTDC or ASI should take charge of these beautiful set of Isle and begin landscaping the Isle to bring in more greenery on the Isle. The heat is sapping one needs to carry moisturer and sunscreen other one is bound to get sun burnt in Summer.

The rocks are slippery so one has to carefully trudge, never step on the wet spots one is bound to slip. There are some safe areas for swimming stick to those spot only otherwise the tide can sweep one off the feet. There are many tragic deaths in the past. One should be aware of the danger.

One should definitely venture and discover the Virgin Isle, St’ Mary’s Island @ Malpe along with visit to Sree Krishna temple @ Udupi. Accomodation facility is available on the NH 47 and Udupi town. Carry plenty of water and Juices. Enjoy your trip with lot of pictures and videos. The trip to these Isle does not cost much and it is ideal for family and friends to discover the wonders of nature.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Talakkad a fabled curse

Talakkad was an ancient capital of the Gangas. The earlier capital of Gangas was Avani @ Kolar district. The cholas invaded Avani and defeated the Gangas who were forced to retreat more than 200 kms into Talakkad. After the decline of the Gangas, Talakkad was ruled by Pallavas, Cholas & Hoysalas. Vijaynagar emperors too left their mark in this place. Till the independence the Wodeyars of Mysore reigned supreme. Talakkad is blessed with Kabini and Cauvery rivers forming its boundaries.
Once upon a time Talakkad was fabled to have more than 300 temples, some temples got buried under the sand dunes, and others became dilapidated. The ASI keeps digging out newer sites which lay buried.

Curse of Talakad : The feudal lord of Talakad Srirangaraya lived along with his wife Alamelamma. They used to send their ornaments every Friday to the Ranganayaki temple @ Srirangapatna, to decorate the goddess. One Friday, when she was not feeling well, she forgot to send the jewels. The King of Mysore was annoyed at not receiving the ornaments, he sent his army to fetch the valuables. Alamelamma refused to part with the jewels. She tied all the valuables to her Sari and jumped into the river Cauvery near Malingi cursing the King and the Land. The curse surprising is working on the kings and it has turned the land barren.

“ Let Talakkadu become sandy,( desert type ) Let Malangi become a swamp, Let the rulers of the Land become Issueless “ Since then Talakkadu became a land of sand dunes and Wodeyars were cursed being childless. Talakad was fabled to be filled with more than 300 temples, one can see traces of the same, with temples scattered all over the territory. There is Mallikarjuna temple on the hillock and one can see the river cauvery in all its splendour from the peak. The vehicle can be taken almost to the peak by road. One has to climb a few steps to reach the temple. The priests in the temple are young ones. It is fun to witness the pooja and archana being performed by young budding priests. Talakkad is filled with temples, Panchlinga or 5 Lingas is fabled and sacred. In these temples too Young priests perform the pooja. There is Veerabhadra temple by the side of the Panclinga temple.

It is better to hire a guide to take a tour of Talakkad. We were fortunate to hire our Guide, Madiah, who is 50 plus and is full of stories. It takes a full 2 hours to take a tour. Madiah tells the fabled story in his own style, explains the architectural importance of various temples. The ASI has recently discovered an ancient house of the Ganga period near the sand dunes, it is kept a top secret by the department, since it is not fully excavated.

One gets to see the magnificent temple under reconstruction, which was buried under the sand dunes. The ASI was able to resurrect one temple, and the other temple is being meticulously being pieced together, once it is completed it may a wonderful edifice retrieved. One gets to taste cashews enroute to the temple. The cashew fruits seems intoxicating. The amount of granite stones carved out for completing the temple is mindboggling. The missing links are being assembled, with each piece being numbered and serially laid out. One has to just move it like a jigsaw puzzle to reconstruct. Talakkad may become an important tourist circuit once this temple is completed.

Cauvery river which is situated approximately 2 kms away is a beautiful spot for bathing. The water is flowing and clean, one has to watch out not to cross the boundary, where the curse of Alamellama can drown the frolickers. There are number of coracles if one wishes to take a ride in the swirling cauvery river. It can be an adventure on its own. But one is cautioned to look out for the whirlpool which can be fatal which can overturn the Coracle boats.

Talakkad can be reached from Mysore via Somnathpur or from Blore one needs to deviate at Maddur to reach Talakkad which is 35 kms away from Maddur. Talakkad is a great weekend getaway and if one plans to stay over one can look for options at Resort and Mutts or alternatively at Shivsamudra.

For further reading on Talakkad : by K N Ganeshiah

Somnathpur Temple, finest architecture

Thank GOD, Somnathpur temple is under the care of ASI and there is no priest performing mumbo jumbo. ( No insults intended, since I myself am a Hindu) This is perhaps the primary reason why the temple is maintained in pristine condition. The landscaping is excellent and it attracts more foreigners than domestic tourists being closer to Mysore. Vandalism is minimum on the temple. Some portions of the missing link have been replaced by ASI.

The artisans who were unemployed after the Belur & Halebeed temple needed work so it seems, the general thought of bettering the design and concept of his masters. Somanth, who was a general wanted his name to be remembered in the annals of history, he commissioned the construction of this magnificient edifice during his period ( 1254 – 1291 AD ).

Soap stones have been used to carve out the magnificent statues which have been embedded inside the temple. Images of Venugopala, Keshava and Janardhana are installed in three different chambers. The beautifully carved pillars form the support structure for the edifice. Ceiling of the temple is intricately carved with lingas ( phallus shaped ) which is unique feature of the temple. The art of compression and miniaturization is seen to be believed.

The grandeur of the Hoysala era is exhibited on the outer panels of the temple. Various scenes from the epics are depicted. The battle scenes are intricately carved adding to the grandeur. One gets a sneaking inkling that this temple dates back to the Ganga period which seems to have crumbled and the premise seems to have been reconstructed by the general to propagate his fame.

Mallitama, Masanthamma,Chameya, Bhameya etc are few of the artisans who have engraved the magnificient somathpur edifice. One of the most drawbacks of planning authorities is that the Guide fees fixed seems to be extremely unreasonable. ASI should infuse some discipline so that all the visitors are motivated to use the local guide. Rs 25/- would be a reasonable fee for a family for a bus group of 30 members Rs 200 would be ideal.

The heat is extremely unbearable if one visits the spot in summer, but we were lucky to have benefited cyclonic weather. It is better to finish the trip before 10 am. A coir matting roll would be ideal if it is rolled across as if it is a red carpet. Visitors are advised to carry an umbrella, it protects oneself from sun, rain and wind, elements of nature.

Somnathpur is just 37 kms from Mysore, do not miss this wonderful heritage at any cost. It signifies the penultimate artistic talent of our artisans during the hoysala era. Entry fee Rs 5/- Still camera free, Video Rs 25/- Parking Rs 10/-

Check out this video clip on Youtube :

Historical Perspective :

The primary reason for selecting Somnathpur as a location to build the Keshava Temple by Somadandnayaka in 1268 AD was perhaps it happened to be his native village nearby, secondly plenty of availability of  Soapstone, thirdly it was located almost close to the banks of river Cauvery and fourthly he wanted his name to be immortalised in the annals of  history as patroniser of art during his era.

Construction of the temple signified that the hoysala rulers and their noblemen, commanders were rolling in wealth due to mining, trading and conquest from neighbouring kingdoms.  The lifestyle to a large extent is potrayed on the facade of the this temple.  One can find the god and goddesses are intricately adorned with plenty of  jewellery in the form of necklaces, waistbands, bangles, ear rings, leg pendants, etc.

Many historians have missed the erotica in the hoysala temple architecture. In Somnathpur too if one observes closely the panels on the side wall of the temple one can find a series of erotic postures.  Invariably the sculpting of  erotica was authorised by the rulers or sponsorers of the temple construction.  It reveals that Indians had accepted openess in sex education, it was partly to educate the siblings and teenagers in a scuttle manner.  The missionary posture is missing whereas the reverse is potrayed in one of the panels.  Erotica is partially promoted perhaps due to expose to the world and remind that we are the inventors of  Kamasutra, which is followed in the West in a reinvented fashion.

Link on Hoysala research by Sreeram Manoj Kumar


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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.