Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hoysala Trail continues

The Hoysalas were compulsive builders of temple edifices, which is proved by the fact that they built more than 600 prominent temples in the 4 districts of Karnataka Mandya, Hassan, Chickmaglur and Tumkur Districts. There is sketchy information on location on various temples, which triggered an inquistiveness in me to systematically and over a period of time explore all the temples. I have been partially successful to explore some of the exotic temples of the Hoysala period with a passion.

A learned villager, while i was on hoysala trail informed me that it was the hand of God that inspired and guided the artisans of the Hoysala Era to perfect the art of construction of an edifice, which symbolizes the blend of heaven, stone and landscape. Such architectural extravaganza is yet to exhibited anywhere in contemporary era. The miniaturization was perfected on stone, be it jewellery, animals, deities or pillars hoysala artisans had the technology as well as the fine art of sculpting. The chisel worked as a brush in the hands of a painter. The outcome leaves one gaping in astonishment of how a insignificant soapstone was transformed into an edifice of par excellence.


This ancient temple is located very close to Melkote and off the main road it is just 3 kms. The historical relevance of this temple is mixed bag, some say it is credited to the Gangas of Talkad and finished by the Hoysalas. There was a fort covering the entire town which has been erased from the topography. A beautiful tirumalsagara lake, which later converted to Moti Talab or Lake of Pearls after the adil shahi kingdom sultans annexed this place. There is a short cut to walk across the hill to the temple, one temple is completely renovated, which may have been a Hoysala temple. The main temple is Venugopalswamy temple or Namki Naryana swamy temple too. Here the hoysala king Bittideva was alleged to have converted to Vaishnava faith under the influence of sage Ramanuja charya. He adopted the name Vishnuvardhana after conversion to Vaishnava faith. The other temple is known as Gopalswamy temple which looks of Ganga origin but later the hoysala symbol of sala slaying the tiger is seen on the gopuram. This temple is built as a fortress with access to to upstairs of the temple compound. There are number of inscriptions in both the temples lying to be explored for historical students. One finds lot of villagers assembling on the Lake steps to pray for the local goddess of durga and shiva’s incarnation. A unique flag post like temporary prayer post is erected on the steps. One can relax on the small mantap erected to get a close look, boat ride is undertaken on coracles by local fisherman. The main temple has been completely renovated by ASI and the other temple is under Govt. of Karnataka. In both the temples poojaris are present. Majority of the idols seems to be taken away by ASI for preservation.


This beautifully well landscaped temple of Hosaholalu is known as Laxmi Naryana temple. It is credited to have built during the time of the Hoysala King Veera Someswara in 1250 AD. The outer façade of the temple is well decorated with various forms of Vishnu & goddess and elephants along with the platform typical of hoysala temples. The temple is built in the triangular form, also known as trikuta vimana syle. There are three statues of deities Venugopal, Naryana & Lakshminarasimha. We were unable to see the inside of the temple because it was locked by the poojary and we did not bother to search for him. It is very rare that inside the temple sanctum santorium one finds idols, which are mostly uninstalled or vandalized by smugglers of antiques. This temple is located close to K R pet town in Mandya district.

HEMAGIRI RIVER FALLS : This place is located 8 Kms from KR pet enroute to Kikere town or Govindhalli. It is better to take the route back, in view of bad roads on the same stretch to reach Kikere town. The river is in full flow during monsoon and it is a treat to watch. This spot seems to be a film shooting locale for some of the Kannada movies.


A real ancient temple located on the lake banks with water seeping into one corner of the temple where the idol was literally immersed in water. This Brahmeswara temple is one of the fine specimen of olden Hoysala style. It was built during the reign of Veera Narasimha I in 1171 AD. The façade is full of deities and animals. The workmanship is extra-ordinary. We have Nandi image sculpted in its glory with a verandah for seating outside the temple for piligrims. It is state of urgent need of repair and landscaping to prevent collapse and pristine beauty. The temple doors were locked and we had to jump into the compound to explore the heritage with a women cutting grass as caretaker. There are two more temple during the Vijaynagar era which has been literally painted with odd colours in the name of renovation and embezzling funds. I am sure if the temple had been maintained with basic water proofing and strengthening of pillars, it would have been a treat to admire. I hope the govt takes charge of such temples so that heritage is maintained.

Many local villagers know this place as Gavihalli and it is just 4 kms away from Kikkeri village. There is no prominent sign post or locale signifying the existence of this beautiful well maintained monument. One has to just cross the town limit of Kikkeri and take a left turn if one is approaching from Bangalore, on the right the road leads to Shravanbelagola. This is the only Panchkuta temple built during the Hoysala reign by the famous sculptor Ruvari Mallitamma almost the same time of Kikkeri temple. There are five shivlings in each of the inner chambers. The outer portion has various deities. It is better to carry and torch to have a look at the intricately carved statues inside the temple. The location has been beautifully landscaped and well maintained by the ASI. One can fall in complete in love with the serene atmosphere without the disturbance of the local population. I hope the ASI is able to maintain the public from encroachment unlike majority of the hoysala temples.


It is located 18 kms away from the famous Shravanbelagola town. It is located on the nagamangala route enroute to belur cross or mandya town. One needs to keep watch on the milege point after 16 kms to take a deviation on the left. If one approaches from Nagamangala it is approximately 14 kms and better to watch for left turn from 12 km onwards for the arch. Kambadhalli was famous Jain settlement of ancient times, with more than 30 basadis, which are all ruined or destroyed according to fable stories. Only this temple has survived and it derives its name from its pillar on the enterance. Kambha means pillar in kannada and halli signifies village. It is a Jain temple with statues strewn outside. At least one consolation is that they are located in a vantage point. ASI would do good if they renovate and maintain this ancient heritage of Jains. The bell on the Pillar signifies some errie bed time horror story. It is alleged when the bell chimes it signifies death of a local villager. It is literally a parody of for whom the bell tolls. It is more a believe or not fable. One of the naked thirtankaras statue is the main worshipped god.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bahubali, Lord of the Vindhyagiri


Chamunda Raya, a general with Ganga King, was impressed by the fabled Bahubali’s exploit and his renunciation of worldly pleasures and power over his kingdom. Bharata was crowned as emperor based in Ayodhya, but his brother Bahubali was based in the south as per succession plan of Rshabanath, who abdicated and took sanyas. Bharatha the younger son wanted to annex his elder’s brothers kingdom too by hook or crook. Both the armies were assembled face to face. The generals realized the futility of blood shed, they asked the brothers to have a personal duel to establish their sovereignty. Thus the battle of wits began Dristhi Yudda – looking at each other without winking, Jalla Yudda – sprinkling water at each other till one gives up and Malla Yudda – big wrestling match where one back is pressed to the floor in consecutive manner. All these battles were won unanimously by Bahubali. Yet the final move of trying to chop his brother’s head with a weaponry was also foiled. Even though Bahubali triumphed over his brother, he gave up his kingdom due divine intervention to give up worldly pleasures and follow the path of Dharma. This was an eye opener to his brother Bharata who started worshipping his elder brother akin to God. This fabled story was inspiration galore for general Chamunda Raya to commission 58 feet monolithic statue with the help of Nemichandra with great pomp and show.

Another reason for commissioning the statue in reverence of Bahubali’s exploits was because the wife of Chamunda Raya broke the bad news about his mother vowing not to drink a drop of milk unless a statue is built in memory of Bahubali’s exploit. Kalika Devi visited the sacred spot and stayed on the chandragiri hillock. She asked her son Chamunda Raya to fire an arrow to decide the spot on which the Bahubali’s image will be sculpted. The arrow fell on a huge monolithic rock on the Vindyagiri hillock, where the statue was sculpted with the theme of Bahubali’s meditative posture. Some claim that the image was already in existence from the time of Chandragupta Maurya who abdicated his kingdom and renounced the world in a true Jain tradition. Chamunda Raya had only discovered the idol and re-intalled the idol. But the age of the idol goes back to 981 AD, which disproves the fabled theory which tries to belittle the achievement of the general.

Chamunda Raya was obviously thrilled by his contribution to Jainism. He called for a great ceremony to be part of inaugural function. He wanted the priests to dedicated Bahubali’s statue to the revered soul by bathing the idol, with milk, sandal wood, honey, tumeric water, etc. The priest tried to bathe or anoint the idol, but all the liquids poured never crossed the naval part. This was fabled to be a lesson of humility to Chamunda Raya by the great saint.

An old lady Gullak ajji or Guli Ajji , who is fabled to be incarnation of Lord Padmavathi, bought a cup of pure milk in a lotus leaf and successfully drenched the statue throughout the body. From thereon the practice of bathing the Bahubali was continued with great fervour once in 12 years with 15 different combinations : 1. Water 2. Coconut 3. Plantains 4 Jaggery 5. Milk 6. Curds 7. Poppy Seeds 8. Golden Flowers 9 Silver flowers 10 Stone sugar 11 Dates which were symbol of common usage. Later the following aristrocratic items such as 12 Ghee 13. Almonds 14. Sandalwood paste 15 Honey 16. Silver coins 17 Cashew nuts 18 Saffron etc was added to the ceremony.

Shravanabelagola has been immortalized by this unique monolithic statute consecration on the 13th of March 981 AD. Chamundaya was the Yejmana, or the host of the anointing ceremony of the Statue of Bahubali, which is also known by the name of Gommateswara. Gommata in the vernacular mean a huge monolithic statute of Bahubali. In Sanskrit, it mean Manmatha or goddess Kamdev, who is supposed to goddess of sex. No wonder the naked figure of Bahubali has immortalized erotica before the Kamasutra were sculpted on Khajuraho. A sense of humility was achieved even in the naked form by its creator as well progeny.

Chandragiri hills was much more popular from the time of Mauryas, since Chandragupta Maurya, who had successfully repulsed the attack of Alexander the greats successor. Chandragupta gave up his worldly connection and went into a state of samdhi on the chandragiri hillock. The name stuck on as a dedication to this great emperor.

Subsequently the Gangas, Nolambas, Kadambas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar empire have all contributed their might in developing the area in around Sravana belagola. There are 14 temples or basadis. One particular basadi has a first floor too too which when explored gives one a sense of adventure and extreme humility of the grandeur exhibited. One can imagine the harmony that existed in ancient times.

The highest state of meditation is displayed in the form of kayotsarga pose , an yogic posture which symbolizes the ultimate control over bodily functions without mobility. The posture signifies complete control over the worldly pleasures, needs and wants, a world far away for grief and happiness, stress and tension and ultimate triumph over birth and death in this world. The smile on the face of the statue radiates the triumph over myriad mental conflicts in human mind. One is required to walk the entire stretch of the hillock on bare foot on both the hillocks. It is advisable to undertake the climb either early morning or towards sunset. The ascent to the Vindhyagiri mountain wherein the Bahubali or gommata statue can test ones physical fitness, which steep 600 odd steps, whereas Chandragiri has only 300 steps, which can be slippery during rainy season. But the ascent is very easy in many portions. It is advisable to first climb chandragiri, to practice and appreciate the triumph of human spirit and ideology of the Jains.

Both the Hillocks are photographers delight. I hope the history of Chamunda Raya will be subject of a bollywood flick some day for the world to realize how he fulfilled the dream of immortalizing Bahubali, the lord of ultimate renounciation. The Jain Mutt has been promoting the cause of Jainism which has accommodation and boarding facility for the pilgrims.

: Encyclopedia of Jainism


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Andaman Isle, live volcano,symbol of survival, freedom struggle and virgin beaches

Prolouge :

Andaman was literally beckoning us after the Tsunami tragedy, well in Nov 2005 we decided to take trip from Mumbai. We booked tickets in advance luckily and got a cheap package from Jet Airlines. The central govt. too withdrew freeze on LTC travel and were encouraging employees to visit andaman for aiding recovery of tourism post Tsunami in Dec 2004. Hotel and other accomodation naturally had dropped their rates. Now plenty of airlines provide an excellent LTC package with accommodation and boarding.  Air India was however charging full fares to recover from their losses i presume, and bookings were not available in their flights.

It was real bad luck news that in chennai it was pouring cats and dogs, we were supposed to stay at my friends place in Chennai. We called him and told him that we won't make it to his place since we have to catch earlier morning flight to Port Blair. Indian Airlines offered us free dinner at Mumbai airport, and it took off around 12.15 am and landed at 2 am at chennai. We looked around for accomodation at airport, luckily we got the same by paying RS 600/- incl. tip. It is worth rather spending to and fro charges to city and hotel accomodation which would have costed more than Rs 1000/- for 5 hours. Luckily this intitutive decision paid off since there was no incoming vehicles plying to airport due to heavy downpour in chennai.

We had arranged booking at YMCA, Port Blair, for a double AC which costed us Rs 450/- per day. The room was small but it had attached bathroom. The manager was very friendly, and he invited us to attend a function next day too. Our friends Austin and his family were very friendly. They became acquainted because they are mumbaites, and from our hometown.

Mr Austin dropped us to the light and sound show at the Cellular Jail. It is a revelation of sorts for historical minded persons. The show details the struggle, torture and in human quality of food served at the prisons. Once the prisoners decided to protest and followed Gandhigiri and went on a fast for 36 days, when Gandhiji sent a request to put an end to the strike. Thereafter the quality of life improved for the tadipaar prisoners. The Cellular jail would have been demolished but for the spirited fight back by the ex freedom fighters, it stands as a National monument. Here the first Independent India flag was hoisted by Netaji, when the Japanese occupied the Isle. The sound and light show is presented by Amitabh bachchan in his usual baritone voice along with other presenters. There are two shows which should not be missed at any cost by visitors to the Isle, it will impart the true knowledge of the struggle for Indian independence.

Post Tsunami Tales :

We had the fortune of listening to Shine ( worked in YMCA )  who literally hung on to the tree top and was saved from Tsunami tidal waves. Nicobar isle were almost wiped out, the Indian Navy did a tremendous rescue operation despite loosing their own kith and kin. Kudos. This prompted us to visit the Tsunami village, which was really endearing, but a fantastic re-habitation program was envisaged, and people have forgotton to a large extent their tragedy of loosing their near and dear ones. The financial loss to Shine and his family was tremendous, because they were into business of video library and selling the sets at a decent profit. All their valuables were washed away literally in the tidal wave. He narrated how the tribals were forewarned and they vanished to the hilltops. Once the tidal waves vanished there was huge cache of tuna, king fish which were literally hunted by the tribals for their future consumption. The local villagers were amazed by this desperate hunting, later they realized this was their only food for survival. The jewellery were stripped from the dead for future security of the tribals.

We were treated to a lovely lunch by Shine’s mother at their house. It was a wonderful experience to have lunch at a refugee camp, but the love with which she served was really endearing. We never imagined that we would experience first hand the Tsunami victims travails. We gave some donation to Shine’s mother in reciprocation and wished them speedy recovery from the tragedy.

Shine accompanied us to Chidiyatapu on mount Harriet, It is a lovely spot, swarming with birds and bird lovers can almost spend a day over here snapping pictures to glory. The mount Harriet, is also embossed on the Indian currency notes. We had booked an auto, which was economical to move up and down from Port Blair. He charged us 150 rupees for a round trip to Chidyatapu.

We booked our tickets to visit BARREN ISLE, a live volcano after the Tsunami. Weekly only 2 trips are made, so it is advisable to book your seat on the ship for a night journey. They charge 150 each for seating and cabin is charged at 250 per pax.

The trip to Barren Isle was lovely since it is adventure in the night which begins at 10 pm and around 2 am one gets to notice the live volcanic flares from a distance, and at around 3 am the ship reaches the barren isle, and the full flow of the volcanic lava is visible to naked eyes. All the photographs from a distance and night is useless unless one has high end maybe a movie camera with Infra red. It is better to avoid photography with less zoom. An experiment shot with digital camera can be tried out. It is better enjoyed with naked eyes to the fullest. Till day break break the ship encircles the volcano from safe distance and once the day breaks volcanic flares vanishes and only thick cloud is visible. One can notice Dolphins swimming across too enroute. The ship travels away from Havelock isle which is famous for its pristine beaches and reaches by afternoon Port Blair in time for lunch. Food quality is average in the Hotels, of course home made cooking like what we had at Shine's home was delicious.  One day stay at Havelock isle is suggested but we gave it a miss since we have access to the best beaches in Konkan coast.

Sea food is the speciality of andaman, but availability after Tsunami has become rarity. One can find plenty of Bengali food and south Indian Tamil nadu food. There a number of mess, and low cost food joints along with luxury food joints. There is no scarcity of vegetarian joints on Aberdeen Bazaar road, which is the main road in Port Blair Town.  A chinese restaurant in Delhi Darbar too is a great place to have one's lunch or dinner.

Next day we decided to explore the Limestone caves of Baratang and mud volcanoes. As soon as one lands in baratang, one notices the mangroves, which largely have helped to reduce destruction of Tsunami of this area. It is a lesson for mankind to preserve Mangroves which can act as a barrier against lashing tidal waves. The boat ride to limestone caves are ultimate adventure. It veers into a narrow creek and sways in a winding trail and reaches the jetty, from where one has to walk across nearly 2 km but worth its effort. The cave was filled with slush which can put off any visitor so one has to remove shoes and socks to discover the wonder of nature. We visited nearly 1/2 km into the cave along with the jetty guide, who had a torch. The limestone caves are a revealation of nature's beauty. Next we reached the Bus stop, from there Mud volcanoes can be visited by JEEP, along with a guide. Once again one has to walk half a Km to witness the beauty of mudvolcanoes which are bubbling all over. Enroute back to Port blair we got to see the naked Jarwah tribes. People are not advised to feed them any normal foodstuff. One can give them fruits and vegetables which is good for their health. They cannot digest baked or fried items. Photography of Naked tribes are prohibited, one has to remember though. Permits are required to visit this secluded place which is protected,


Local sight seeing places are Corbyn beach, Acquarium, Gandhi Park, Arts Museum. One should not miss the sound and light show at cellur jail, it is worth waiting and watching. Other Isle visits to Ross Island which is also known as Paris of the East is a beauty, but destoryed due to earthquake of 1942. The viper islant is another revealation in terms of the gallows and jails. Coral Isle too is a part of the trip one can undertake. All the notorious and tough criminals were housed here. Veer Sarvarkar was hanged in this place. ( Veer Sarvakar was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment on case of sedition, and was transported to cellular jail on July 4, 1911  thanks to Srinath Vashista for correction )  Later, women freedom fighters were separately housed. There is a famous Timber factory known as Sathnam. ( Chatam )  Andaman is generally known for nil crimes in the ISLE because nobody can escape from here.

Share auto is common mode of transport along with buses; Sun rises quite early at 5 am. Long distance travel can be undertaken early morning and return to base same day can be practiced. Some tourists who prefer beaches can stay put a Havelock Island. It is better to carry a good digital camera with maximum zoom, to get hold of nice pictures of beauty of nature and beaches. If one plans a trip it has to be at least for 5 days otherwise one is bound to miss out after going such a distance. It is actually like traveling to Far East country.

The strategic importance of Andaman isle is tremendous for India. The bio-diversity in marine life in the form of corals is in plenty. But alas one cannot treasure it. It is prohibited and penalties can be huge. We had collected a brain shaped coral which was a beauty, alas we had to leave behind @ YMCA. Explore Andaman isle because it emboldens the spirit of human survival.  The amazing recovery from Tsunami despite lives lost is a real lesson to be learnt.  People have learnt to live with nature's fury and the tribals who are protected by the Indian govt have handled the Tsunami tragedy with aplomb.  Mangroves to a large extent have protected the isle from massive erosion and destruction.

Link on Tsunami Rehab by Srinath Vashishta

Tuesday, October 14, 2008



I happened to visit Hampi during 1978 along with my parents. In those time it was typical village with a rustic atmosphere. There was not much interest among localites nor tourist to visit this place, which was known as ruined city ( HALLU HAMPI in vernaclular language ) without any guide we wandered clueless. Moreover we visited in the peak of summer in an old Ambassador car, to add to our discomfort. The only distinct memory was that of Inverted Image Gopuram of Virupakasha temple and me driving the car nearly running over a chicken.

My history professor used to eloquently describe the architecture unleashed by the the regimes of Chalukya, Hoysala, Kadambas and Vijaynagar emperors.  I was unable to connect to the historical importance since we hardly got to glimpse the entire landscape of Hampi monuments.

After a gap of nearly 30 years I find that a new civilization has emerged. Perhaps after Hampi being declared a world heritage site in 1987, a mind blowing transformation has taken place at Hampi. It is as if history is being re-written, with guides, autorikshaw doing round trip, bike guides, and professional tour operators unleashing knowledge on the FORGOTTON EMPIRE to the tourists.


The history of Hampi during the Vijayanagar empire spans from 1335 upto 1565 for more than 230 years. Krishnadevaraya from the Tuluva dynasty reigned from 1509 upto 1529, during which time vijaynagar witnessed entered the golden era. I happened to visit Hampi during 1978 along with my parents. In those time it was typical village with a rustic atmosphere. There was not much interest among localites nor tourist to visit this place, which was known as ruined city, without any guide we wandered clueless. Moreover we visited in the peak of summer to add to our discomfort. The only distinct memory was that of Inverted Image Gopuram of Virupakasha temple. After a gap of nearly 30 years I find that a new civilization has emerged. Perhaps after Hampi being declared a world heritage site in 1987, a mind blowing transformation has taken place at Hampi. It is as if history is being re-written, with guides, autorikshaw doing round trip, bike guides, and professional tour operators unleashing knowledge on the FORGOTTON EMPIRE to the tourists. There are exists lot of similarities between POMPEII & HAMPI.

The common features are : 1. Road Network 2. Water Management 3. Temple construction 4. Public functions 5. Common Bath 6. Cultural Festivity 7 Art & Architecture 8. Well defined markets 9. Brothel Areas. 10. Diamond Bazaar. The world’s best diamonds were from India and it was openly traded in the bazaars along with other household articles. The royalty kept the best of the diamonds as their share for leasing the mines. Please refer to separate post on Hampi diamonds. Trading activities were carried out between various parts of the world during both the periods. We find gems & jewellery being traded in the bazaars. All household articles such as pottery, grains, vegetables, fruits, beetlenut, flowers etc were being traded. Finest Arabian horses were sold to the nobles in exchange for Diamonds. Further brothel lanes were located in the bazaar for the visitors and artisans from outstation.

Hampi is variously known as Pompei of the East, Open air Mueseum, Poetry in Stone, and architecture's paradise. Today Hampi is truely granted the status of World Heritage.

VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE : Our first point of visit was Virupaksha temple which was guided by a foreigner, because we ignored the offer to be guided @ Rs 400/- for a trip, which we thought was exhorbitant. We entered the Virupaksha temple without any entrance fee ( between 6.30 to 8 am it is free entry) The sheer grandeur started unraveling. At the entrance the temple tower is overpowering. On the left there is a sanctum which is occupied by tourists for changeover, which is really surprising. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is supposed to have been captivated by the dedication of Pampadevi. Lord Shiva consented to marry Pampa in his avatar as Virupaksha, the presiding deity. Behind the Virupaksha temple lies a room wherein we can view the inverted image of the main tower through a pin hole. It is application of Periscope principle. The bazaar in front of the Virupakasha temple is proposed to be shifted to another place to maintain the heritage look. The proposed shopping centre will be the main reporting centre for Hampi excursion. An organized trip with eco friendly mode of transport will be arranged. Further a fixed guide charges would also be ideal depending on no of spots toured or time spent concept.

Hemkunta Hill : After Virupaksha temple visit we walked across a lane adjacent to the right, just on a blinder, towards Hemkunta hill. Here one is astounded by the skills of rock carving work station. It is like a canvas on which artist exhibits his painting. The granite was the main raw material for most types of monumental construction at the site – which was abundant in and around Hampi for over 200 kms. Traditionally, granite blocks were split by first cutting rows of closely spaced cubical holes into which wooden wedges were pounded. When wetted, the wedges expanded, thereby propagating deep cracks through the stone which split as per dimension required by the artisans.

Krishna Temple : The Krishna temple was built by Krishnadevaraya., it is one of the most beautiful monuments located close to Virupaksha temple. The gopuram is vandalized to a large the Sultans robbing its deities and ornaments. The entire royal family members were massacred in this temple. Blood flowed in the temple premise, women and children were set on fire. The burn marks are visible inside the temple. Luckily after looting the enemy soldiers diverted their attention to grab wealth from many other temples, and spared mass scale demolition. Free entry

Hazaar Rama Temple : One gets to witness the epic of Ramayana depicted on the façade of the temple. The outer boundary walls is filled with battle scenes displaying the royal army in its full splendour. The pillars inside the temple are beautifully finished. The temple has not suffered much of the destruction unleashed by the Sultans. Free entry

Mahanavami Dibba : This place had been the public parade ground for the Dusherra festivity. The Kings had a beautiful stage on the Mahanavami Dibba to witness the procession and various acts enacted during the 10 days festivity, which replicated in the form of Hampi Utsav during Nov every year. During the ancient times puppet show, dance, drama, fireworks and fancy dress competition were enacted to enthrall the Royalty and commoners alike. Many of the monuments are demolished in this area. An underground meeting place for the king and the commanders is also built. Water duct is one the architectural wonder seen leading to the stepped tank. An amphitheatre seems to be destroyed too. Free entry

Vittala Temple : Stone Chariots and musical pillars are the prime example of the perfection of the artisans during the Vijaynagar era. Many a films were shot in this premise in vernacular language as well as Bollywood. The famous Myth movie of Jackie chaan too has been shot over here. Unfortunately the musical pillar temple has collapsed and nobody is allowed inside this premise. The ASI is planning to resurrect this temple, which is a mammoth task.

Lotus Mahal : Lotus Mahal is supposed to be queen’s palace during the summer. The entire momument is beautifully ventilated with privacy for the the women folk. This Mahal is having a Indo-Sacrcenic influence. The royal palace is demolished in front of the Lotus Mahal. This place needs tickets for visiting, which can be combined ticket with Vittala temple. Photography charges are separate.

Elephant Stable : The royal herd of elephants were stationed in the elephant stables. It is a majestic structure which still survives in pristine condition. Some film songs have been shot with dancing scenes picturised above the stables roof. Combined entry fee is charged.

Jain Temple’s Behind the Lotus Mahal enclosure one finds small jain temple signifying that Jains too had influence in Hampi.

Sasvekallu and Doddakalu Ganesh : The lord of knowledge Ganesh is adorning these temple, a portion of his stomach has been destroyed by soldiers of Sultan. The destruction seems to have halted in the midst for reasons unknown on this statue. Both the idols have survived and their Parthenon like structure is amazing.

Urga Narashima and Badavi Linga : Urga Narashima has been the symbol of Hoysalas and Vijaynagar empire. One can see a partially destroyed statue of Urga Narashima ( Lion headed Diety ) enroute to Hazaar Rama temple. This has become the official symbol of the Vijaynagar dynasty. The Shiva Linga seems to have built by a poor lady in honour of the King. This place is always immersed with water. Some people try to throw coin to perch on the linga for good luck and wishes to come true.

Underground Shiva Temple : A marvelous archicteture with water channels routed to the temple, to keep the place cool. This temple is immersed with water, without a clue by the present archeologist, whether it was a faulty construction or breach of water channel. The entrance to the temple is beautifully landscaped. The underground shiva temple has Nandi statutes inside, which is filled in water most of the times. Free Entry

Royal Zenana : The bathing place for the queens of the sultans has been beautifully constructed near the Underground shiva temple. It is now a lovers den to have privacy. There is no water standing in this place, which is surprising. How we wish that we are transported to ancient times with water being present in this premises. Free Entry

Anegundi : This place was the first capital of the Vijaynagar empire and which was later transformed Hampi into their primal capital. This place is across the Tungabhadra river and boasts of some ancient temples and beautiful rocky patches, which are used for adventure rock climbing sports by foreigners and Indians alike.

T.B. River : Coracle ride is taken across to reach Anegondi by tourist, to explore the monuments and hilltop. One can see a temple Mallikarjun being under resurrection by an NGO. A bridge across the T.B. river was discontinued due to the advisory of the world heritage body.

Muesuem : Kamalapur has a beautiful museum of the left over monuments which have been destroyed by the Sultans. These monuments are only partially recovered majority of them seems to have been smuggled to Europe by the britishers. Entry ticket

Bear Park : Doraji Bear sanctuary is supposed to be 14 km away from Kamalapur. Honestly I was not interested in visiting this place for spending more time @ Hampi. Some foreigners stay months undertaking research or trying to feel the rustic atmosphere of Hampi.

T.B. Dam : A beautiful dam is built across the river tungabhadra to harness the energy unleashed by the river. The dam has a beautiful garden and musical fountain is played during the night. Entry ticket for the gardens is charged. Old Bridge : An old bridge across the T B river which was supposed to be replicated has been stopped by the World Heritage committee, if one wants to witness and get the feel one can notice the same enroute to Jaggan chakki falls near Shivasamudram.

Tips to travellers:

Guides are available at the Virupaksha premises. The charges range from Rs 150 to Rs 500/- per family. On guided KSTDC tour the charges are Rs 100/- per head for entire trip of 3 days. The temperature is extremely hot, visit during the rainy season or winter season is advised. In case one likes to travel during summer vacation it is better to carry an umbrella and sunscreen. Drink plenty of water since one skin can become dehydrated with loss of water. If one has the habit of sweating then it is between to consume salt and sugar added water to replenish loss. It is better to have mosquito lotion as a precaution. The river bed at Tungabhadra is extremely slippery, I was personal witness to another co-tourist having a toss into the river, luckily he escaped unhurt. Do not undertake coracle ride during rainy season it could be dangerous.

ACCOMODATION : One of the recommended places for stay is Shanbaug Towers, which is located close to the bus stand. The rooms are neat and clean. They have a bar facility and restaurant. Hot water is available with geyser fitted into a double room. There is a photo studio Konica for fast processing. Other hotels are Mallige, Pai Hotel and KSTDC Mayura hotel. It is recommended one stays a Hospet which is convinient from all angles.  Jungle Resorts has opened up an exclusive resort @ Sloth bear Resort.  You can contact me for booking the same 9844308466 or 9844410633

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Hoy meant strike in old Kannada language, It is fabled that Sala the founder of Hoysala dynasty, killed a tiger with a dagger. The priest Sundatta had urged Sala to slay the tiger, thus the folklore was immortalized in all Hoysala edifice. This emblem was popularized by Vishnuvardhan after defeating Gangas @ Talakkad. Basically Hoysalas are from Malad region and inscriptions refer to them as ‘ Lord of Male’

The Hoysala reign began from 900 AD and ended in 1343 AD when Veera Ballal III was killed in the battle of Madurai. Vishnuvardhan, who was a jain, moved his capital from Belur to Halebid in 1116 AD. Hoysala’s were earlier feudatories of Chalukyas, Veera Ballal II freed Hoysala’s from sub-ordination of Chalukyas in 1187 AD. Some of the famous kings ruled the Hoysala empire were Veera Ballala ( 1102-1108) Vishnuvardhan ( 1108-1152) Narasimha I ( 1152-1173) Veera Ballala II ( 1173-1220) Vira Narashima Ii (1220-1235) Vira Someshwara ( 1235-1254) Narasimha III ( 1254-1291) & Veera Ballala (1292-1343).

During the Hoysala reign three famous philosophers Basavana, Madhavacharya and Ramanujacharya left their imprint. Basavanna preached religion without caste system, he believed in work is worship philosophy.

Temple architecture :

The pedestal on which the Hoysala temples were built most star shaped and were meant for circumambulation. The deities, legends, war scenario were carved on the façade of the temple at eye level. The craftsmen were aided by the soap stone, which lent itself for fine carving just like the goldsmiths. The finesse of the artisans Dasoja and his son Chavana were exhibited in Belur, Kedaroja was the chief at Halebid and Jakanachari at Somnathpur and Amruthpura.

Pierced window screens, Knowledge of light and shade effect on the temple walls was fully exploited by the artisans. Natural lighting and ventilation was aim of the archictects. The element of Sun, Stone and Sky blended well with landscape. The roof design took care of the rain, lightening and sunshine to have the least effect on the structure. The life style of era such as dancing, dressing, hunting, warfare and worship are displayed on the façade. Some erotica are filled in the form of busts and scuttle sculptures.


Lakshmi Devi temple Doddagudvalli Vishnuvardhan 1113

Chennakesava temple Belur Vishnuvardhan 1117

Hoysaleswara temple Halebid Vishnuvardhan 1120

Bucheswara temple koravangala Veera Ballal II 1173

Amruteshwara Amrutpura Veera Ballal II 1196

Vir Naryana Belvadi Veera Ballal II 1200

Nageshwara Mosale Veera Ballal II 1200

Chennakesava Mosale Veera Ballal II 1200

Ishwara/Shivalaya Arisikere Veera Ballal II 1220

Mallikarjun Basaralu Veera Narasimha II 1234

Someswara Haranahalli Veera Someswara 1235

Lakshmi Narasimha Haranahalli Veera Someswara 1235

Lakshmi Narasimha Nuggehalli Veera Someswara 1246

Chenna Kesava Arleguppa Veera Someswara 1250

Lakshmi Naryana Hosaholalu Veera Someswara 1250

Yoga Lakshminarasimha Javagalu Veera Someswara 1250

Kesava Somnathpur Narasimha III 1268

Apart from the famous Chennakesava temple of Belur and Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid. Hassan district boasts of multiple heritage places such as :

Nuggehalli : There are two ancient hoysala temples at Nuggehalli one is of Laxmi Narasimha and another Kesava temple. Both these temples are in pristine condition, but various signs of vandalism are visible to naked eyes. This beautiful temple with gopuram and various statues on the temple façade is just a feast to the eyes. Nuggehalli is approximately 15 kms from Blore-Mlore Highway, with deviation near KEB office on the outskirts of Hirasave town. There is no sign board. Of course after Chennarayapatna town there is a sign board showing the direction to this destination, which is an alternative but longer route from Bangalore.

Arisikere : This is an important railway junction and trading centre at Hassan District, the number of tourist attractions in this town are multiple. Enroute, we missed visiting Hulikere Hoysala temple near Gandasi on Arisikere Tiptur route. Enroute to Tiptur from Nuggehalli there is Anathi, which has an ancient Jain Basadi and few monuments on the lake bed in various stages of ruin. Hopefully the new temple under construction on the lake bed may house some of ancient statues which are lying scattered.

a) Shivalaya : This temple is pretty unique in construction, a dome like structure with pillared verandah which has seating place for piligrims traveling the distance to visit this temple is unique. There is a Nandi on top of the temple instead or normal Sala slaying the tiger, which is symbol of Hoysala reign. It obviously indicates that the temple of is of Chalukya origin rather than Hoyala reign. The landscaping around the temple is one of the best after Halebid and worth admiring for its simplicity and grandeur. All the elements of nature, Stone, grass and sky has been used to its maximum effect in this edifice. Some of the temple statues have been vandalized. The locking technology using the iron clamp to prevent the structure from crumbling can be witnessed in this temple. There is an urgent need to have police post in this edifice to protect from further vandalism.

b) Jainalaya : Most of the statues and other sculptures of this edifice is under safe custody of Shravanbelagola trust according to the priest. This basadi is under renovation, with its priest staying in the compound. If one visualizes the original edifice, it would have been beautifully adorned with statues of all the jain Thirtankaras which have been installed at Shravanbelagola, hopefully after the renovation is complete we can see some of the original edicts and statues being re-installed.

c) Ranganathswamy Temple : This temple seems to be erected during the times of Vijaynagar empire, with Madhav Nayak the feudatory being credited for this fortress temple. The distinct signs of fortress is evident but amazingly, it seems incomplete for reasons of decline of vijaynagar empire. This temple is perfect example of the heritage being totally destroyed with modern usage of distemper and emulsion painting. ASI and state govt. would do us a great service if they can get rid of the painting and ensure that in future none of the monuments face the scourge of vandalism in the name of utilizing temple funds. One the temple premise the backdrop of the Melkalu Tirupathi hills is a beautiful sight. It is best experienced if one scales the temple boundary wall with steps and circambulate the entire premise.

d) Melkalu Tirupathi : 1250 steps trekking to the peak, is quite physically demanding but worth its effort in gold. The special trick to climb this hillock is to crisscross ones leg and climb, which has been beautifully captured by an video of 65 year old priest demonstrating the same. Please see the link.The scenic beauty enroute with rocky formation, landscape, vision of the lake beds, and various insignificant sculptures enroute creates its own aroma. This seems to be incomplete venture of Madhav Nayak, the temple on top belongs to Lord Venkateswara in its simplicity. Generally the trudge takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes under sufficient resting condition. It is better to carry a pinch of salt and candies to avoid dehydration and muscle sprain. The penis like rocky formation if observed closely on the temple boundary is a connoisseurs delight. Once again modern painting has robbed the original charm of the incomplete temple. It is better to undertake journey in the morning after informing the temple priest, there is no demands from the priest, but a tip of Rs 50/- would be inorder for the priests effort.

e) Mutts & Important Jain temple : There are at least 6 mutts, Sharada Mutt, Siddeswar Mutt, Kodi Mutt, etc in and around Arisikere Town. If two days halts the entire circuit can be explored and maybe one can discover further ancient heritage, which are unknown to the cyber world.

f) Harnahalli : One has to literally hunt the priest who holds the key to the temple. We were guided by the villagers to the priests house to unlock the gate and doors of the temple. A tip of Rs 20 to the priest will be in order. Landscaping work is yet to be complete. This town is located 8 kms from Arsikere town. The architecture is splendid for both the temples, once is under renovation. The someswar and keshav temples must have been a beauty to cherish for art lovers.

g) Garudangiri hill & ruined fort : This place boasts of ruined fort and a beautiful hillock, one can definitely venture out in the mornings to explore undiscovered face of ancient heritage. It is located on the banavara route approximately 15 kms away from Arisikere town.

h) Kwaja Mosque & Javagal Mosque : A rocky mosque enroute Banavar on the roadside is visible for the Islamic brethrens.

ARIKERE : This falls enroute to the Javagal from Banvara route. We would have Missed this ancient hoysala & chalukya heritage prior to Javagal temple. This Temple is located amidst a Rural village just off the main route. Once again we had to take the help of Local villager to compel the watchmen to open the temple doors. He was a Person who wanted to blackmail us to cough money for photography and showing the Interiors of the beautiful temple. We ended up paying Rs 10/- and warning him not to undertake such blackmailing tactics in future for any tourists.

JAVAGAL : A beautiful Lakshmi Narashima temple is located just inside the town, along with a Jainalaya and desolate Jain Basadi. This temple is unique in architecture with Jain pillars and other monuments pointing to the unique blend. The temple beauty is destroyed by distemper. The elephant motifs at the enterance are really adorable, and one structure is just embedded in the pavement. One can see the local boys spending time playing cricket, probably to honour our own Javagal Srinath whose ancestors house is located nearby to the temple.

BELAVADI : This wonderful place in the border of chickmaglur district houses approximately 11 kms from the famous Halebid monument. A beautiful Yoga Narashima temple with blend of Jain & Vijaynagar architecture is featured in this temple. There are 3 goddess in this temple precincts, they are Venugopala, Veer Naryana and Yoganarashima. The blending of the elements can be captured beautifully on the camera, sun rays, garden, horticulture, stone sculpture, etc are finest of the hindu age. This unparalleled combination of nature can rarely be seen in other monuments. Elephants adorn the temple premises in strategic points, it has beautiful resting verandah for piligrims. There is a poojary who is more attentive and responsive to tourist needs. He was the only poojary, who came on his own and opened the temple premises to show us all the gods with light, without any rancor or prejudice. How we wish all other priests and caretakers of the temples under priests are similar in nature.

Halebid Eroticism : Four innocuous looking panels display the intrinsic porno knowledge of the times at Halebid. Some of the menakas and apsaras are well busted and their pose has been tantalizingly portrayed. The Jain statue too boldly displays the cultural heritage of times. Looking at the historical perspective, I am compelled to surmise that Hoysala porn heritage is older to chandela’s at Khajuraho . The landscaping and the display of architecture in various forms of Lord Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh has been mindboggling. The incomplete edifice is now in the delicate phase of collapse, it has compelled the ASI to undertake water proofing on the terrace. There is a open air museum on the premise of Halebid which is veritable collection of all the recovered sculptures. This is only a drop in the ocean as far as I understand, considering the litters strewn. Some villagers claim the lake bed opposite known as Dhorasamudra contains a veritable treasure dumped into the water bed.

The landscaping of Halebid is still under massive expansion to utilize the space available. It will be the place to visit and adore, for those who would like to explore the rural settings, there is Mayura shantala government guest house without much luxury settings unlike Hassan. If one takes a sunrise walk on lawns of Halebid temple it is marvelous awakening of senses. One has to just walk in and experience the chirping of the birds to awaken the lord himself. Unfortunately the priests do not have early morning habit to open the temple @ Halebid. The statues inside are a treat to watch. The guides do demand exhorbitant fees even from a domestic tourist view point. There seems to union of sorts to exploit the tourists among the guides stationed here. The government of Karnataka and ASI should step in to regulate with a composite fee of Rs 25 per head for adults inclusive of all facilities such as parking, toilet, shoe stand, visit to temple, museum, camera etc. It is shocking when there is no enterance fee charged for entry a guide should charge Rs 125 for a couple, Rs 200/- for a family and Rs 300/ to foreign tourists. The parking fee is Rs 30/- Shoe stand charges are Rs 2/- per pair. The government official stationed in the shantala guest house does not have much work. Employment generation to the locals is of prime importance which can generate at least 1000 jobs in Halebid alone which can be used as a Hub for Hoysala heritage trip. Another major infrastructure development required is to have good accommodation facility for tourists visiting Halebid. It should be in between Belvadi and Halebid so that both the destinations are given tourism impetus.

KAEDESWAR TEMPLE : This is another great edifice built probably during the Vishnuvardhan era to compress the time frame of construction unlike Halebid hoysaleswara temple. There is an element of Jain architecture signifying conversion of the emperor. As per Hoysala tradition this temple too stands on a pedestal, with the lake bed acting as a boundary. There was a pond at the edge of the temple which has been sealed. BASADIHALLI : The architecture of this temple is pure Jain style. In recognition of Jainism the emperor has built a testimonial to the contribution of Jain philosophy. There is 14 feet high Parsvanath idol inside the temple, and another temple consists of Linga. There is a strong linkage of Shiva with Jains. A beautiful stupa exists in front of the Shivalaya, which is a unique feature. The roofs of the temple are beautifully carved. The landscaping in the premise are quite appealing. Many of the idols from this temple seems to be missing, either they must have been shifted to Shravanbelagola or to the museum. One which is kept on the lawns of Halebid temple seems to be definitely shifted from this temple.

HULIKERE KALAYANI : This is a beautiful, temple pond with 12 mantapas surrounding the tank bed. It is fabled that Tigers were frequent visitors to this village and one such Tiger was slain by Sala who is the founder of Hoysala dynasty. Some people in modern times pray for procreation in this pond. The landscaping around this monument has restored its dilapidated condition. It is better not to attempt stepping into water, one can be drowned.

DODDAGUDVALLI : This temple is on the Belur highway near Kirkere, a small poster indicates the presence of the monument. The temple is built on the lake bed in a unique fashion, one can find the Hoysala slaying the tiger symbol and the Khalasa on the dome of the temple. There are 5 gopura’s in the main temple. The uniqueness of this temple is that one should not kneel in this temple. If one does he shoes his foot to one of the goddess. There are 4 goddess surrounding if one stands and watches from the centre ramp. There are two demonic figures potraying the slaying of the victims. ASI has done an excellent work in restoring the crumbling edifice. The aging of the structure indicates that the life of this edifice is nearing completion. We hope the preservation efforts and regular maintainence pays dividends. The guard backs up as a guide, it is worth tipping him Rs 10/- for his knowledge. The road access to this temple is narrow, not many vehicles can be parked over here.

KORVANGALA : This temple is located near Hassan approximately 8 kms on the Arisikere route, there is a short cut route too which may cut the distance by 2 kms according to natives. This temple was built during the time of Ballal II in 1173 AD according to the inscriptions found in the temple. There is the famous Hoysala stamp with Sala slaying the tiger on the gopuram and the khalasa on the top. In front of this neatly maintained temple, there lies a ruined temple, which seems to have been encroached up by unauthorized construction of a community hall, which is surprisingly financed by Canara bank. The local village authorities have colluded to destroy the heritage. Such blatant violation of regulations by a powerful lobby is sad. I hope the state government takes a serious note of violations. The guide Venkatramana was lamenting that the authorities have shown no inclination to punish the violators who may be involved in stealing the artifacts and surreptously using it for construction activity.

SHANTIGRAMA : An ancient temple has been renovated, with no respect to the heritage with painting and other modern amenities like water supply passing through the outlet is astonishing. A huge water tank is laid on the mantap giving it a ugly look. This temple is the finest example of converting the heritage into a modern mockery. The gopuram is fully painted. It is located just before Hassan Town, a short cut exists from Koravangala to reach this place. ANEKERE : It is another hoysala heritage located close to Chennarayapatna town, one can go by a shortcut enroute from Shantigrama too. But it is advisable to avoid the short cut, if one looses the track it can be disaster. The main road is faster on the highway. The Khalasa at the roof top is beautiful, this temple has been renovated by the Shravanbelagola trust. The priest nearby to the temple holds the key to the temple.

OBSERVATIONS: The trail of Hoysala temples architecture may be an eye opener in many ways for lovers of heritage. Except for Belur and Halebid temples many of the other edifices built during the era, is crumbling and requires initiative from the Govt, NGO’s and other charitable trusts to protect the rich heritage. The scale of isolation and neglect of the monuments at Hulikere, Korvangala, etc speaks volume. They must be heaven for smugglers and anti-social elements to make a fast buck. However Hegde’s of Dharmastala have done their might in restoration and maintainence of the temple at Anekere, which is really appreciable.

1. Statues and artifacts littered and installed in the villages.
2. Stones from the monument or forts used for household construction.
3. Vandalism of the valuable art, and probably smuggling or sale to outsider for a small price.
4. In accessibility or improper directions for reaching the heritage sites.
5. Main Door Keys of the temples are handed over to priests staying nearby or to a watchmen who are most untraceable or unconcerned about tourists.
6. Absence of security to protect the monuments.
7. Monuments are in various stage of collapse due to lack of proper maintainence.
8. Unauthorized constructions particularly close to monuments such as Korvangala temple premises financed by Canara Bank surprisingly.
9. Lack of parking facility in most of the monuments.
10. Guideline for guides and their charges are lacking along with a composite formula.

ASI & STATE TOURISM CO-ORDINATION : It is vital that ASI and state tourism act in unison with a single purpose of preserving the monuments of Hoysala heritage from being smuggled or used for construction of local buildings. In case ASI is falling short of budget, they can always invite private institutions of repute to contribute and maintain the sites for 99 years, with free and unlimited access for their corporate promotion. There is an urgent need for protection of such monuments which are lying in distraught condition. The monuments are located not only in Hassan district, but also in Bijapur district near Aihole, and other places. 1. Police posts or beats are essential in all such monuments, which will protect the monuments from further vandalism.
2. All monuments which are lying in ruins at Hulikere, Korvangala should be immediately taken possession and stored under strict vigilante. A proper record of all the recovered statues, pillars, and important décor items should be maintained.
3. No fresh constructions near the heritage sites should be allowed within 500 meters, so that adequate space for landscaping, parking and tourist facilities can be installed in future.
4. A co-ordinated effort to promote tourism of Hoysala heritage can be organized by improving road access, widening of road on one side by relocation, proper marking with sign boards.
5. Holiday packages to develop awareness of various other destinations of hoysala heritage along with nominal fees levied for guide, parking, shoe stand, toilet facility, drinking water and entry which should not be more than Rs 20 per head. So in effect a family of 5 members spend only Rs 100 maximum.


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.