Saturday, July 30, 2011

Karkala, Abode of Bahabuli

It is located hardly 40 kms from my mils place in Karnad. A direct road connects via Moodbidri to Karkala, enroute one comes across the church of Attur. One gets to pass via the Soans farm in Belvai, Moodbidri too. This farm is built on eco tourism concept. The details of Soans farm can be obtained from the following link :

History : This region was ruled by the Alupa king and Kadambas in ancient times. The local feudatories known as Bhairarasa Odeyas, who owed their allegiance to Hoysalas. Later they followed the patronage of Vijaynagar. Their kingdom extended from Sringeri, Koppa, Balehonnur and Mudigere. The first king Veera Bhairava constructed a number of Basadis at Karkala. A lake known as Ramsamudra was constructed in honour of his second son who died early.

King Veera Pandya commissioned the construction of Bahubali statue on the rocky hill of Karkala. He thus fulfilled the wish of his Guru Lalitakeerti, who was the pontiff of the Jain Mutt. The statue was consecrated to public on 13th February 1432 AD. The Brahma deva pillar was installed in 1436 AD.

The Bahubali statue is built out of monolithic granite raising upto 42 feet in height. One has to climb nearly 400 steps to reach the pinnacle. There is a steel railing installed for support, one can park their vehicles below the hillock. Once in every 12 years Mahamastabisheka is performed when the Lord is bathed in milk, honey, sandalwood, ghee and other anointments.

Chatarmukha Basadi : This basadi was dedicated to the Jain teertankaras and completed in 1586 AD. There are 4 teertankaras located in four directions and the sanctum sanitarium contains the Bahabuli. The construction is undertaken with prevention heavy rain in mind. An arrogant priest with a black specs take care of the basadi, please don t enter with an argument with him.

1000 Pillared Basadi : This basadi was built in 1431 AD according to a stone inscriptions found in the temple premise. It was built by the strong jain community and patronized by Devaraja Wodeyar of Nagamangala. The innumerable pillars add to the temples beauty. Photography is prohibited by the staff, but if one gives a donation to the temple than one is allowed to photograph. Please do not take the trouble of counting the pillars you can hardly find 200 pillars.

Chauta Palace : A wooden palace is located in Moodbidri on the premise of which a kannada film on sale of heritage was filmed. The palace was supposed to have a huge fort boundary which is in various stages of ruin. The palace has a watch tower and it is generally locked, one has to enquire for the caretakers to have a view, which cute structure. The palace is shrouded in mystery with alleged curse of the devi, which bought their downfall. One of the noble belong to the Chauta family Veeravarman was killed. The governance of the rulers came under cloud and the villagers seem to have boycotted the royalty. Earlier to 1855 AD the kings used to visit the local festivity such as kambala, football matches being the chief guest. They used to visit the temple and pay their respects to the devi.

Location :  karkala is located 380 kms away from bangalore, 40 kms away from Mangalore, 35 kms away from Udupi.  It is accessible from Hassan, Belur, Belthangady and Karkala.  The other tourist spots in and around Karkala are Moodbidri, Attur Church, Vennur, Anantsayana temple, Kallikamba Temple, Dharmastala, Jamalabad Fort, and Kukke Subramanya.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kuda Caves Discovery

When we took off on a drive, to escape the sound of  diwali fumes & fireworks, never did we imagine that we will end up discovering literally an exclusive group of  buddhist caves enroute to Murud Zanjira.

After crossing Revas danda from Alibaug we enquired on the cross roads which route we have to take and we were guided towards Murud via a hillock.

Suddenly i noticed a small ASI signboard way to a historical site, we parked our car away from the main road, and entered the barbed wire fence, which was set up to prevent vandalisers from entering the site.

The Rajapur creek seen from the hillock.

After a painstaking search i discovered that these caves were named as Kuda caves ( 26 Nos ) which can be dated prior to Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Most of the caves and its artifacts were being salvaged by the ASI meticulously

These caves did have frescos painted, but all have vanished due to passage of time, due to vagaries of nature.

One can check out the hillock nearby which is located on the Arabian sea, one can have a birds eye view of the Murud Zanjira fort from this hillock.

The weekend travellers guide published by Outlook gave us some insight into the history of the out of bounds Nawabs palace.  The Siddis ruled this terrain guarding their fortress and palace fiercely.  They claim descent originally from Abyssinia in Africa.  The Ahmedganj Palace belongs to the Siddhi Nawab, which is spread over 45 acres of Land, which contains moque and buried remains of two past rulers. The Palace is now under the Nawabs descendent and it is closely guarded for the fear of miscreants ransacking the premise in search of the fabled treasures.  Folklore popular among the people claim that untold wealth lies buried like the pharaohs tomb in Egypt.  

Siddi palace

This trip was one of the most fulfilling trips in my life time, which i will cherish for a long long time to come. This photoblog is 101 post in my blog and Indiblogger too.  What a coincidence. Guys if you want a detailed report on the Kuda caves please go through this link.

Ack : Vernacular Newspapers, Google, and Outlook.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tadapatri Temples

What the artisans from the Vijaynagar empire have attempted at Tadipatri is to been seen to be believed. Literally I had to reverse my vehicle and have an argument with my wife, who was reluctant that I should see these temples at any cost. It was worth the disagreement and at the end of the day she was happy that my instincts worked this time around for a change. We were delayed on reaching our sweet home by 1 hour but it was worth it.

LOCATION : Tadpatri is just 50 odd kms from Ananthpur on NH7 with a deviation from the town. But we approached this destination after visiting Gooty, Alampur, Ketavaram, Srisailam, Mahanandi, Yaganti, Belum and Tadpatri was a bonus on the return journey. Just imagine our luck we completed the trip despite the Petroleum Strike called by IOC Officers. This can reveal the dates of our travel for inquisitive readers.

HISTORY : Many a historians consider the two temples of Tadipatri as symbol of an era where artisans have perfected their skills in sculpting. Tiruvenkataswami temple is now known as Chintalaraya temple probably after Krishnadevaraya. This is the primary reason for scenes to be depicted from Mahabharat on the façade of the temple gopurams and citadel. However the balance of the gopuram was dislodged when a powerful lightening struck in 1851 AD due to the absence of earthing or grounding in the structure. The credit for building this temple goes to one Ramalinga Nayudu, a local feudatory of the Vijaynagar Empire.

Chintalraya temple has been resurrected by ASI considering the importance retaining the legacy of such fine piece of sculpting from Vijaynagar era. The Asthana Mantap is fine ornamented as it were with fine sculptures. It stands tall with 40 moulded pillars. The granite are in hues of grayish black. Some of the scenes depicted are King Dasartha performing Ashwamedha yagna, Hanuman talking to Ravana, Sita entering flames, Lord Krishna dancing on the legendary serpent are all depicting of the epics.

The Padmavathi Mantap was generally used as marriage hall for solemnizing marriages in ancient times. This temple can be compared to Virupaksha temple in Hampi but unfortunately the gopuram has collapsed due to elements of nature.

Bugga Ramalinga temple was never completed by the Thimmappa Nayudu due to invasion. Nevertheless Nature too conspired against this edifice by flooding in 1851 AD. The flood waters immersed the temple with waters from river Pennar and the southern tower collapsed under the weak foundation laid.

Bugga means a water spring in Telugu, due to which the temple name was christened as Bugga Ramalingeswara temple. The Linga on the temple premise is perennially fed by the spring.

The temple is built in typical Dravidian style with central columns supporting the roof and the pillars around providing the balance for the entire edifice. The Lion motif on some pillars add to the majestic appeal to the temple. The inscriptions speak of grants made by Achyutraya, Govindayya and Thimmaraya for maintainence and day to day expense of the temple.

Overall the visit to Tadipatri, which was originally a palm growing region due to which the name stuck is literally experiencing the finesse of Vijaynagar architecture. Check out the metaphor painting in black and white at Tadipatri temples.

Banavasi, Kadamba Capital

Normally the priests refrain from acting as a guide to the tourist, my wife took the initiative and requested the priest to spend a few minutes to explain the historical importance of this temple town.

Banavasi was known from the days of Emperor Ashoka. He sent his missionaries to Vaijantipura to spread the gospel of Buddha. The Shatvahana dynasty took over and reigned supreme for two centuries. Rashtrakutas too ruled over this territory for a period of 2 centuries. Sonda rulers too dominated over this territory for a brief period. The Chalukyas reigned with feudatories based in Banvasi, till Kadambas took over the reign. Thus the influence of all the dynasties is witnessed in Banavasi.

There was a huge fortress in Banvasi, which seems to have crumbled with elements of nature pounding the Fort walls. There are some signs of the fortress in the compound of the Madukeswara temple. The book written by George Moraes dwells into the history of Kadambas with the book title Kadamba Kula The is based on inscriptions deciphered.

Banavasi was also known as Jaladurga, since the vardha river flowed in three directions of the city. The mighty river is now tamed due to lesser rainfall. It probably covered the fourth side too with its tributaries.

Madukeswara temple was built by the Kadambas. It was in honour of the Linga which was honey coloured found on the banks of the river Vardha. The name signifies to honour the Lord of the mighty forests which was surrounding Banavasi. The temple seems to be dedicated to Lord Shiva, with the other sect claiming it was originally a Vishnu sect but later converted into Shiva.

There is a Nandi ( bull ) who is consort of Lord Shiva guarding the temple as it were. His eye is directed at both Shiva and Parvathi temples which is located sided by side. The walls of the temple is adorned with dancing postures of devadasis, who used to dance inside the premises to please the Lord. Interesting Lord Shiva is known as the destroyer of evil. Probably the dancers were pressed into service to cool the Lords temper.

Some innovative sculptures point to a combination of cow and horse on the façade of the temple. One has to closely observe this phenomenon. There is a huge 40 foot pillar with a small Nandi at the enterance of the temple. When one takes a circumbulation around the temple complex, one can find literally small gudi or mantaps housing the snake gods, Rama, Vishnu, Brahma, etc from the hindu mythology.

On some days a Brahmin family serve food to the devotees by charging a nominal fee of Rs 5 per head, and if one is generous he can donate the rest of the amount on voluntary basis. Since it was dusherra time when we visited we found good number of visitors.

There is a small private museum outside the temple complex, which is absolutely free. But as usual a donation box is kept for visitors to donate with their free mind. The museum inside the temple complex too houses a lot of sculptures recovered from surrounding areas and crumbled temples. It was interesting to note that a tiles merchant has rebuilt a small temple besides the main complex since he prospered in his business. There is another temple which is privately occupied due to encroachment.

The highlight of the collection is that of a Stone cot, which is beautifully carved. This cot was donated by the Sonda rulers to the treasury. The remanents of Buddhist relics and viharas are found in and around Banavasi. Thus Banavasi is also considered to be ancient holy city after Varnasi in terms of age. The secular fabric of the temple town is retained.

One can reach Banavasi from Jog falls via Siddapura, which is hardly 35 kms with well laid out road. Banavasi was known amongst the Greek Philosopher and geographer Ptolemy, Huen Tsang, Alberuni and even Kalidasa who wrote Meghdoota a love lyric, too has been inspired by Banavasi. Huen Tsang called Banavasi as Konkanpura. He mentions that Banavasi was filled with temples, Buddhist viharas and monasteries. A huge sandlewood Buddha was installed in one of the vihars. The forest surrounding Banavasi grew plenty of sandlewood trees.

The design of the temple clearly indicates that it is constructed with a view to protect the temple from heavy downpour in the region. The western ghats is rich with flora and fauna. The king cobra territory ranges from Agumbe ghat upto Banavasi. We ended our trip paying respect to the Lord and giving a small dakshina to the priest and the women serving the food.

Gingee Fortress

My fascination for fortress will be everlasting. I had read so much about Gingee Fort and its strategic part played in the annals of history that i made up to visit the same on 25/1/10, clubbing the repubic day holiday. We had a packed program with checking out Vellore Fort, Tiruvanamalai temple and rushed to Gingee by bus. Our anxiety began when we came to know that there is no cloak room, so we quickly took a risk and deposited our luggage in a small tea hotel. We reached the ticket counter at Gingee Fort, which is manned by ASI staff and paid Rs 5 enterance ticket per head. If we had been a little late the counter would have been closed and so our effort of reaching Gingee. So the saying goes Fortune favours the brave, but i advice my friends it is better not to take a chance. Gingee fort tour takes up an entire day almost, better to arrive early and leave early.

Route : Gingee can reached from Chennai via Tindivanam by train and bus. The total distance is 160 km on a beautiful highway. If one likes to try an alernative route from Bangalore, it can be covered via Vellore, Tiruvanamalai and Gingee. The distance from Vellore to Tiruvanamali which is 70 kms and from there Gingee is another 40 kms. We took this route to cover Gingee.

Etymology : The name Gingee is actually pronounced as Genji, which in Tulu means Crab. Remember the main sponsorers of Fort construction were the Vijayanagar Kings. There are other versions such as the place is named after the Virgin sisters. Senjiamman temple is dedicated to one of the seven sisters. Another fable points towards the episode of Sanjeevi being procured by Lord Hanuman from these hillocks, to save Lord Laxman who was lying injured in the war against Ravan. The hillocks were known as Sengiri, which meant Red hills. Another tale relates the name to Singavaram, wherein Vaishnav diety is supposed to be headquartered. The most common accepted tradition is that of Senjiamman who is worshipped in one of the shrines located on the hillock. The name stuck as a dedication to this virgin diety who is supposed to have committed suicide to escape the tormentors.

Gingee FORT : The fort is spread over 3 hillocks with over 9 kms circumferance. This area being strategic was well endowed with water resources, granary, temple, barracks, Palace, Moat etc. It also contained paddy fields which were cultivated with natural rain water. There are two main enterance to the Fort, one is on the eastern side called as Pondicherry gate and other on the northern front named as Arcot or Delhi gate.

The fort is originally built by Ananda Kone around 1200 AD, who were the original chieftans of Gingee. Earlier to this citadel Cholas seemed to have a strategic interest in this locale from the 9th century, may be a watch tower to protect against enemy invasion. The first citadel at Rajagiri was built by Ananda Kone and later Krishna Kone built the second citadel in 1240 AD, who was the successor to Ananda kone. Later these chieftans became feudatories of the Hoysala empire under Virasomeshwara ( 1235 - 1254 AD ). The Ranganatha temple located on the Rajagiri hills seems to have been constucted during the Hoysala period. There is one more temple known as Kamalakanni Amman enroute to Rajgiri.

Venkatramana Temple : This temple was built during Vijaynagar times. It was built by Muthyalu Nayaka ( 1540 - 1550 AD ) This massive temple has a huge gopuram and a mantap in front of the temple where a pond would have been located in ancient times. After the fall of Vijaynagar empire in 1565 AD, many of the subsidiaries re-located with wealth to different places such as Penkonda, Chandragiri and Gingee. Gingee must have been a partial storehouse for the treasures accumulated by the kings. The Nayaks who were subsidiary of the Vijayanagar protected the royalty and continued to rule this territory.

Meanwhile Nawab of Arcot started gaining prominence with the headquaters at Arcot. Raja Desingh ( 1714 AD ) who ascended the throne at Gingee rebelled against the Nawabs and refused to pay tax to his overlords. He was brutally defeated by the Nawabs and the entire fort was taken over. The heroic Desingh was given a decent funeral with his wife committing sati on the pyre of her husband.

Some monolithic pillars well carved were taken away by the French to be relocated in Pondicherry to be used as decor for Dupleix statue, who was the governor during the French occupation of Gingee in 1761 AD.

Palace Complex : Who destroyed the palace complex at Gingee seems to be mystery which needs to be solved. In 1676 AD Shivaji maharaj captured the forts of Vellore and Gingee. Gingee served as Maratha capital for 9 years during the war period. Some of the wealth was obviously taken away by Shivaji to strengthen his empire. He installed Desingh ( Tej singh )who belonged to the Maratha clan. The Nawabs of Arcot, who were descendents of Bijapur sultans obviously occupied the Gingee after defeating Raja Desingh. In 1674 the sultans of Bijapur raided Gingee and almost destroyed majority of its edifices. It was a deadly blow to the sprawling capital of Gingee. The palace seems to have been destroyed during the warfare with French by the Nawabs with cannon fire. All the remaining wealth was looted by the French, some were salvaged by the Nawabs. The palace naturally became a target of vandalism by the French soldiers who conquered this place. The French handed over this territory to Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in 1772 upto 1790 they reigned along with the help of the Nawab of Arcot. Subsequently after the defeat of Tipu sultan, the British took over the FORT, and by 1823 due to insalubrity of this area they vacated the Fortress and it was in ruins by 1823. The British had a firm base in the form of Fort St George.
Venugopalswami Temple : This temple is located near the western gate of the Inner Fortress. Besides the temple is the Kalyana Mahal which is a multi-storeyed building with pyramid type of rooftop. This edifice was used to preserve grains in a dry condition in certain chambers. It was also used as resting place during the torrid summer for the royalty.
Venkatrama Temple : This temple is the largest edifice with the Gingee fort complex, and the temple was constructed by Muthyalu Nayaka ( 1540 to 1550 AD ). The complex contains number of Tamil inscriptions revealing the endowment to the temple. Many of the pillars were pillaged and taken away to decorate Dupliex statute in Pondicherry.

Overall a visit to Gingee fort will unfold history like never before, from the Jains,Hoysalas, Vijayanagar emperors to Nayaks, Desingh, Shivaji, Mughals, Nawabs of arcot, French, Tipu Sultan and the British. One requires to be prepared for a hard trek uphill, better be prepared with Sunscreen, Salt and glucose and bites to recoup. Umbrella and cap would protect one s skull from being overheated. The entire area is desolated and reminds one of the numerous wars fought in the surroundings

Srirangapatna, legacy of Tipu Sultan

Shrirangapattana is an ideal one day picnic getway from Blore. It is located on the old Mysore highway approximately 120 kms from Blore. One has to travel via Bidadi, Sholay’s Ramanagaram, Chennapatna, Maddur, Mandya and reach this place. The drive on the two laned highway is beautiful, but can be perilous for those who overspeed, many a accidents have occurred due to intermittent U turns in the middle and lorries swerving to the right due to bullock carts blocking their pathway in the morning and evening times. The road too tends to skid due to fine sand particles which are deposits from sand quarrying trucks from Mandya, which is the real downer.

The ideal breakfast halts are Ramnagaram Lokruchi Kamat, Maddur tiffin house, Amravathi Mandya, Sree Devi Mandya, and many more joints including Kadu mane which is before Bidaddi. Our favourite dinner spot is Shivu’s Dabba in Ramnagaram and a new Taj hotel has come up in Ramnagaram, which is not to be mistaken for the famous Taj group of 5 star hotels.

Historical legacy :

The real architects of Srirangapattna were rulers from the Nagamangal feudatories of the Vijaynagar Empire. Thimmanna Hebbar who under the patronage of Vijaynagar Emperor Devaraya II commissioned the construction of a mud fort in 1454 AD. In 1610 AD the wodeyars ( Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar ) shifted their capital to Srirangapatna, who were instruemental in fortifying the citadel in 1654 AD.

Hyder Ali became a defacto ruler of Srirangapatna in 1761 dislodging the sovereignty of weak wodeyars. Tipu Sultan succeeded his father in 1782 and gained command over the region till he succumbed to the British in the IV anglo-mysore war in 1799.

Tipu Sultan utilised the services of the French architects to reconstruct the Fort in keeping with the Gun powder technology of war fare. The Fort walls were built with granite stones and with may gateways on the boundary of the river cauvery. The prominent gateways were Delhi gate, Bangalore gateways, Krishna gateway or Jibi gateway near the krishna temple.

Srirangapatna has been inhabited from ancient times with neolithic mankind flourishing due to abundance of water from the Cauvery basin. The migratory birds have found an idealyic habitat at Rangantitu which is now converted to a bird sanctuary by the govt of Karnataka.

 Ranganatha Swamy Temple :

An inscription dated 894 AD mentions Thirumalaiah, the Ganga dynasty chieftain was instruemental in construction of this massive temple. The Hoysala king Veera Ballal in 1200 AD made grants for maintainence of the temple. This was a centre of traditional learning for priesthood, which was sponsored by Hoysala and Vijaynagar kings. The temple has seen successive renovations under various rulers who ruled the area.

A myth is associated in the form of Sage Gautama performing a penance ivoking Mahavishnu to bless this region with his presence. The serenity of the surrounding seems to have lead to the belief that Lord Vishnu appeared before him in the reclining posture known as Sheshashayi.

The huge statue of Lord Ranganatha in reclining posture on the coiled serpant with its hood raised is a magnificient sight. The lord is served by goddess Kaveria and sage Gautama. The temple has association to sage Ramunajacharaya and Deshikacharya who all belonged to the Vijaynagar era.

The figures of Lord Vishnu is embedded on the pillars in the courtyard, there are nearly twenty four forms when compared to the traditional Dashavataram. The main gopuram is in the typical Vijaynagar style which may have been commissioned by Deva Raya II ( 1424-1446 AD)

The enterance has the Gaurda pillar, which is now known as Patalankana which was commissioned by Hyder Ali. One will find a big temple chariot outside the temple premise. In one of the corners of the pavilion housing the chariot there are stone rings embedded in one corner outlining the skills of the artisans of the time, which is a tourist attraction.

Ranganatha swamy overshadows all other temples which are located nearby. At least 3 other temples which are in various state of neglect due to the absence of tourists visiting them. One of them must have used as a school for upcoming priests in olden days. Foreigners love to visit this temple which is unfrettered by artificial barriers. Guides throng the premise for dishing out historical, mystical and fanciful stories which may be amusing sometimes. It would be greek and latin to foreigners. Some guides do manage to speak English with aplomb. How much would you pay for the guide services is better to be bargained at the beginning rather than haggling in the end and cutting a sorry figure.


As one enters the fort premises the first monument in sight is Jumma Masjid. This was constructed by Tipu Sultan in 1787 AD. The Masjid is adorned by two majestic minars on the corner of the Masjid edifice. There is pond for washing the feet in the premise. The Islamic archway is combined with beautiful floral designs on the ceiling of the Masjid which is two storeyed. The inscriptions on the walls contain extracts of Koranic verses. The minar is generally closed for public which has 200 steps to reach the balcony. Currently the premise is used as a madarasa to teach the younger generations. There is no enterance fee for this Masjid.


When the wealth of the vanquished can sponsor the construction of a palace why not build a beautiful one. The Daria daulat bagh was built in commemoration of the victories of Tipu Sultan in the Konkan region. Daria Daulat is literally translated as Wealth of the Sea. The monument is built in classic fashion with landscape in plenty which may be precursor to the Lal Bagh in Bangalore. The palace is constructed mostly with Teak Wood. It is single storied rectangular shaped structure built on raised platform. This palace was considered to be summer palace for Tipu.

A mezzanine portion of the palace has two staircase which is built in a darbar fashion. The ceilings are beautifully painted in floral and geometic designs which are rich in colour and vibrancy. The western walls adorn with paintings of battle scene wherein Hyder Ali is shown riding an elephant. The second painting shows Tipu sultan along with French platoon on the battlefield. The third painting shows the victorious scenes in the battle of Poliluru. The fourth painting displays the Nizam army arriving late in aid of British. After the death of Tipu sultan the British general Arthur Wellesley occupied the palace from 1799 to 1804.

Museum : Currently the Daria Daulat Bagh houses a museum, which is on the ground floor which exhibits paintings, sketches,coins, medallions, costumes, furniture, arms and ammunition etc used by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The british wanted to seen as heroes in the battle with their paintings adorning the palace. The storming of Srirangapatana an oil painting was commissioned and Robert Ker Porter executed it in 1800 AD. This was historical painting along with Robert Home painting depicting the capture of Tiups sons Abdul Khaliqu and Maiuddin along with Ghulam Ali Khan the trusted Vakil of Tipu are on display.

Tipu seems to have renovated a number of Forts and built many at Strategic locations. Many are displayed on the walls of the palace in Pencil sketches. Some of the Forts I have not been able to personally decipher. Maybe liesurely I will make a visit to jot down the details. Jamalabad, Manjarabad, are typical forts which signifies Tipu’s contribution.

The eco-friendly feature of the palace is the huge landscaped garden with maintained grass turfs. There are huge trees adorning the centre of the gardens with boundaries too filled with trees. It would have also been an ideal setting for the king to throw Dawat parties to the royal entrouge during the times of Id celeberations.


A gumbaz or Mausoleum was commissioned by Tipu sultan in honour of his parents between 1782-84 AD. It became a resting place for Tipu too after his death on 5th May 1799 AD. There are number of other tombs which may be of the nobles connected with the Tipu Sultan family. The Gombuz edifice is elegant built in the Islamic architecture. An ornamented doors adorn the mauslem. A Mosque too built in the complex for those who want to pray for the departed soul and Allah.

TIPU s Death Plaque :

A small memorial is built on to the eastern boundary of the fort, where Tipu was felled by a bullet in the battle of Anglo-Mysore on the 4th May 1799. Tipu was valliantly trying to ward of the intruders issuing order to the soldier to fire the cannons and Tipu rockets on the enemy positions. He tried to cover the sieze by jumping over the water gate. The gateway was sealed by the advancing enemy, which seems to be treachery of sorts. Tipu was betrayed by his own commander Sadiq. Tipu thus was cornered by advancing army and was wounded among the heap of soldiers. His body was found among the heap of soldiers. He thus lived by the sword and perished by the same. A simple memorial symbolises the greatness of Tipu who died fighting the British.

Malabar Dungeons : A huge Dungeon was commissioned to imprison the British soldiers who were defeated in the first two wars. The dungeons were later used to imprison the war prisoners. There was a cannon firing point which was used as a surprise during enemy attack.

Baileys Dungeon : This dungeon was used to imprison High ranking officers and royalty from the Maratha empire. This is known as Thomas Immam’s Dungeon which was discovered in 1895 AD. There are two Cannons inside the dungeon which is strange occurance, one cannon seems to have fallen into the building while construction and so it was retained there itself. Other cannon must have been provided for as an artistic feature to complete the architecture of a royal prison.


This palace was originally belonging the Wodeyars which seem to have been renovated to be known as Lal Mahal. The visitors sing lavish praise on the construction and its interior designing. One such visitor Mr Francis Buchanan visited Srirangapatana in 1800 AD, which was after the death of Tipu Sultan left a glowing account.

It is mentioned that the verses of Koran were painted in gold, with tiger stripes adorning the walls, with zenana for the queens to bathe and live. The palace seemed to contain a mezanine floor too housing the king. It is obvious that all the wealth of the palace was systematically looted and taken into the personal possession of the invaders and conspirators.

Wodeyars Museum :

The small museum is located next to the demolished palace of Tipu Sultan. It houses a number of beautiful sculptures and artifacts belonging the Ganga dynasty. Visitors can visit and enjoy the collections of the Wodeyar family. The exhibition guard will act as a guide if one is interested.
The death of  Tipu Sultan signifies the end of  Indian resistance against the British Empire which was only plausible due to betrayal of the Nizams and Marathas.  Tipu even though seen as a villian in coversion by Hindus and vandaliser of Churches will be remembered for upgrading the technology of warfare with his missile type rocket bomb  quote u.k.derebail
One full day is required to cover all the spots in Srirangapatna, which include number of ancient temples inside the Fortress, Obelix, Nimishimba temple, Cauvery sangam, Ranganthithu bird sanctuary, etc

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hampi Diamond trading history

HOW DID HAMPI LOOSE IT DIAMOND TRADING CHARM? Many of us wonder if Hampi was the diamond trading capital how did it loose out on its primacy. My research took me to culling out information from various sources.

The diamond district in ancient times was located in the basin of Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers known as Raichur ( doab area ) The ancient rocky surface dating back to 3600 millions old was rich in precious stones such as gold and diamond. As early as 500 B.C, diamonds were discovered in deccan plateau.

Another interesting lesser known fact is that Indian diamonds were considered to best in the world from the ancient times. Kings were the main patronisers, who gave lease for diamond mining in Vijaynagar empire. Mining rights were given to nobles, under the condition that all diamonds above 34 carats will be surrendered to the king immediately as royalty. The monarch used to deploy spies and stooges in the mines to report discovery un-officially.

Van Linschoten, a Dutchman comments on Bisnagar ( Vijaynagar mis spelt) system of diamond lease, “ If anie man bee found that hideth anie such, he looses both life and goodes “ Forgotton Empire quote In this manner royalty ensured they had the possession of all the precious stone discovered, lesser carat diamonds were sold in the open market of Vijaynagar. The royalty used the diamonds for jewellery, rewarding loyal subjects, purchasing horses and weapons. Some of the finest diamonds were gifted to courtesans for their services rendered They adorned it as rings and necklaces depending on their patrons. It also ended the misery of courtesans, who committed suicide when they became old and unwanted. No wonder diamonds are classified as women’s best friend.

The Vijaynagar empire bought exclusive rights for trading in horses from the Portuguese after paying them a huge royalty. In turn for the finest horses and guns they gave them liberal trading terms on spices, sandalwood and precious stones. This helped the Vijaynagar ruler Krishnadevaraya to conquer most of the spice growing belt and trading harbours inorder to hold monopoly over all the produce exported from India.

Kohinoor diamond is fabled for its curse, was discovered in Golconda mines. It originally weighed more than 300 carats. It was later refined and cut to its present size of 240 carats. The british queen came to possess the prized jewel from East India company, who had in turn seized it from Maharaja of Patiala. Earlier Nadir used the turban trick exchange to take possession of Kohinoor “ meaning mountain of light”. Kohinoor has bought bad luck to all the men who possessed it in a gradual manner. Fable has it that only women can possess this diamond, without much adulation and grandeur. It should be worn occasionally, the british monarchy was aware of these facts. Only Queen Victoria & Elizabeth have lived long enough to escape its curse. The discovery of Brazilian diamonds changed the scenario in 1726. These diamonds were of slightly inferior variety, Portuguese traders bought it to GOA and started trading them in European markets as Indian diamonds. The discovery of Kimberly diamonds changed the equation in 1866. DE BEER’s cartelized diamond trading to reign in prices.

Battle of Talikota in 1565 totally destroyed the diamond trading centre of  Hampi, all the wealth accumulated was quickly disbursed to different parts of the country by the Vijaynagar emperor, rest of the wealth was plundered by the Bahamani sultans.  Unfortunately India lost the glory of trading diamonds and precious stones to foreign countries particularly Belgium and South Africa.

The EAST INDIA COMPANY, started systematically taking possession of all the treasures by paying some royalty to the earstwhile kings. In fact when Robert Clive was recalled from India as Governor General he remarked in his impeachment trial “ There was so much to take from India, I regret that I have taken so miniscule “ DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, without the treasures Hampi still manages to attract, tourists from all over the globe for its grandeur. Maybe someday someone may still manage to discover the hidden treasures of HAMPI on the rocks. More and more tourists try to re-live the era of Vijaynagar empire by witnessing Hampi Utsav.

ACK : Picture from Cultured diamond & wedding diamonds

Treasure Trove of Travancore Royalty

When Tutankhamun's treasure was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter and George Herbert it received world wide press coverage.  But the media interest in the discovery of the treasure trove of  Travancore kings  at Padmanabhaswamy temple is surprisingly very muted except may be in the vernacular press and channels in Kerala i presume.  The initial reports suggested that the treasure may not be more than 5000 crores, but there were more than 5 more vaults yet to be opened.  Now the booty has skyrocketed to more than 75,000 crores.  The antiquity value of some of the finds may be geometric in value escalation and may exceed 10 lakh crores if auctioned in Sotheby's.

How did the royalty and the priests maintain such secrecy of the hidden treasures is a big mystery and sing praise for their integrity.  Consider the syphoning of wealth from Sai Baba's treasury or Yajur Mandir to Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasure.   There are so many theories emerging for the source of accumulation of wealth for the royalty.

1.  The travancore kings were trustworthy custodians, which must have prompted all the surrounding kings in Kerala and Tamil Nadu to deposit their treasury in the safe vault of the temple in wake of attacks by Tipu Sultan, Shivaji and hordes of  foreign invaders.  They must have acted as olden days custodians or bankers.

2. The unsurpassed wealth adorning the Vijaynagar empire,  had to be transported to safe haven after their defeat in 1565 to Bahmani sultante, to various places such as Gingee, Chandragiri and Travancore kingdom.  The travancore kings must have received a huge deposit of the treaures for safe keeping from the emperor of Vijaynagar empire.  His wealth was in one place and he sought shelter in various hideouts starting from Penkonda,  Gooty, Chandragiri and Gingee.

3. Wealth earned during the spice trading with China, Arabia too from ages must have contributed to the treasure trove accumulated at the temple vault.  The low value of the trade, which was mostly in barter in olden days, but later in currencies could not have been the only plausible source of such huge wealth. 

4. Travancore kings raiding the neighbouring kings and looting their wealth seems to be highly improbable, considering the fact that they were too a large extent peace and pleasure seekers, looking at their palaces in Kayankulam, Alwaye, Tripunithara and Trivandurm.

I hope all the treasures recovered is duly recorded for posterity and deposited in a secure museum.  It would attract more tourism to God's own country.  The ideal place to showcase the treasure trove is Napier Museum or Tripunithara Museum.  Let us hope the transperancy of the kerala govt. will unviel a new chapter modern India to safeguard the heritage, and be a model for other states to follow.

The Vijaynagar empire held sway over entire south India from 1356 to 1646.  When the battle of Talikota culminated in the defeat of united Vijaynagar empire in 1565, and the lone survivor Thirumala Raya left Hampi ( capital ) with 550 elephants full of treasures to Penkonda ( second capital ) wherein he entrouge was not safe, again they fled to Chandragiri ( Tirupathi ) Vellore & Gingee and ultimately major portions of the treasure got deposited at Padmanabhaswamy temple vaults.

Many would question the above theory on the basis of treasures found.  The major clue proving that the treasures belonged to vijaynagar empire are the diamonds.  The world's best diamonds were only available with Vijaynagar emperors.  Gold and other precious metals can always be melted and altered, it is speculated that some were converted into currencies of the British and local rulers.  

Ack :  Newspaper reports of  Deccan Herald and TOI dated 2/7/11 & 3/7/11 & Raja verma painting from Enchanted kerala

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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.