Discovering Telangana: A Fort Less Visited ‘Khilla Ghanpur’

On a bright Sunday morning, when we hit the roads to explore places around Mahabubnagar little did I know that it would mark a beginning to quite a few things in my life…. like my first outing with my new buddies while pursuing post graduation, my first time properly exploring Palamoor and getting lost in its mesmerizing beauty and then writing about it in my very first blog!!

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The secluded green valleys of Khilla Ghanpur hold Palamoor’s best kept secrets

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A quick weekend getaway to Khilla Ghanpur is best enjoyed when the sky is overcast, which makes the 30-km journey from Mahbubnagar delightful.

So we started our journey after finishing quick rounds at the Hospital we work at, around 12 noon ( yes you guessed it right, we are Docs!) and picking up some snacks and drinks for our journey to The Khilla Ghanpur, located at a distance of around 26km from mahabubnagar. We managed to cover the distance in about 30 mins with loads of enthusiasm and predictions about the place as we didn’t have much idea about it. Ghanpur is a small village and the roads were pretty narrow so we decided to park the car at a safe spot and start our trek to discover the fort. We managed to reach the top in another 40 mins with an amazing drizzly weather to increase the beauty of the hike.

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The varied hues of Nature and fresh air rejuvenated our senses.

It was a magnificent view indeed from the top of the rocks with remnants of fort wall, and a lovely pond underneath. We passed through a giant fort door, saw some great Flora and Fauna an absolute treat for a nature lover to finally reach the top. We were a little distracted in between though by a group of wild monkeys far away making gruesome noises. All this was soon forgotten after reaching the hilltop and capturing the scenic beauty of the less trodden fort in the memories forever!!

 A brief insight into the history of the fort

The Ghanpur Fort is a hill fort built on a rocky hill by King Gona Ganapa Reddy in early 13th century. He ruled this area as a feudatory to Kakatiya rulers. Gona Ganapa Reddy is son of Gona Budda Reddy who was famous as the poet of Ranganatha Ramayana, a pioneering Telugu Literature. Khilla Ghanpur also known as Ghanpur, Ganapuram, was named after Kakatiya king Ganapathi Deva. Since this Ghanpur has a Khilla (fort). The name “Khilla Ghanpur” became much more popular. There are several towns in Kakatiya kingdom with its name as Ghanpur.

Khilla Ghanpur  was built by joining two mountains by Recharla Padma Nayakulu and Gona Ganapa reddy in 1224 A.D. This fort has witnessed many wars between Bahamanis, Vijayanagara Kings, Bijapur Kings and Qutub Shahi Kings etc. The cannons which still exist have been kept on the top most side of the fort.The fort is spread on rocky and hilly area of 4 Sq kilometers and though its dilapidated  there are several remains of the walls and building blocks inside the fort. The fort has beautiful rockscapes and greenery with 2 ponds which were used as drinking water supply for the fort army.

People believe that there are two secret tunnels inside of the fort. One is connected with the village at the bottom of the mountain and the other one is connected to the Panagal fort. After Buddapuram war,this fort has witnessed a historical wedding of  Kakatiya’s last king Pratapa Rudra with Gona Ganna Reddy’s daughter.

Some of the beautiful Landscapes:

So that’s a take on its past but right now it’s a quiet and serene place which was a treat for the wanderlust in me and my buddies.

After spending a wonderful evening, when the sun was setting, we headed back to our car as the clouds were also getting darker indicating more rainfall. We Had dinner at our local favorite hotel 97 on the way back and reached our place to end the eventful day.

Guest post by Dr. Meghana Subhash

Temple Travelling: Kadiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple

Kadiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple is located in Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is said that devotees who offer prayers here get relieved of their sorrows, sufferings and sins. IMG_9467

History:-
The town got its name from Khadri, in Sanskrit, meaning Indian mulberry. It is believed that Lord Shri Khadri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy came out of this tree. The main deity in this temple is Ashta Bahu Shri Narasimha who has eight hands clawing open the body of Hiranyakashipu.  This was one of the ten avatars or reincarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Kadiri

The specialty of this temple is that after the daily obeisance known as Abhishekam is performed; the Lord Narasimha is seen to be sweating despite being wiped clean by the temple priests.

Narasimha means ‘Man Lion’ as that was the form taken by Lord Vishnu to kill Hiranyakashipu who could not be killed otherwise. It is merely a mention on how truth can overcome evil despite the difficulties. He is envisioned as a half man with the torso and lower body and the face and hands, that of a lion.

Kadiri

The scriptures say that Lord Vishnu, in one of his incarnations as Lord Narasimha , in his rage descended down on to earth as Ugrarupa to kill Hiranyakashipu, who wanted to avenge the death of his brother Hiranyaksha . Hiranyaksha was killed by one reincarnation of Lord Vishnu as Varaha. He took the people to task and tortured the sages and the common people for praying to Lord Vishnu. The sages appeared before Lord Vishnu to end this terror. In the meanwhile Hiranyakashipu got a boon from Lord Brahma after praying fervently for a favour. The boon was that it would be impossible for any human to kill him. Ultimately, Lord Vishnu had to reincarnate as Narasimha to kill Hiranyakashipu, as he was about to kill his own son for showing allegiance to Lord Vishnu.

It is said that Lord Narasimha emerged from the Khadri tree to act his part in killing Hiranyakashipu at this place. The temple was built by one Ranganayudu, a Palegar of Pathariapattanam.

The Rangamantapam has been ornately carved with scenes from the Ramayana and further down, the Lakshmi mantapa has depictions of the Mahabharatha. There are inscriptions on what the rulers have given to the temple. The carvings and scriptures have started fading due to the vagaries of climate and weather.IMG_9463

Infotips: The temple opens at 6:30am until 12:45pm and then it will be closed at 12:45am and  it starts at 16:30hours in the evening and continues till 20:30hours in the night. The temple remains closed from 12:45 to 4:30pm in the afternoon.

Tuesday Talks: ‘The National Drink of India’

National drink of India: Chai a.k.a Tea. Chai is ubiquitous in our country. It is served on every street corner and on crowded train stations at all times of the day or night. It is quite a sight to watch a street side vendor pour a cutting chai. They take one full glass of chai and one empty one. The chai is poured back and forth from one glass to another a few times from about 3 feet up and split equally between the two glasses. And amazingly not a single drop is spilled. This also helps to bring the chai down to drinking temperature.

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How many of you agree with me that chai is national drink of India??

Discovering Telangana: Mannemkonda-‘The Palamoor Tirupati’

Being a Hyderabadi, I always had this two questions from people during weekends…

  • What do you guys do over your weekend?

  • Don’t we have any weekend gateways around Hyderabad?

In fact, I used to share few places which most of them are aware of it, I don’t really have many places to share to go out for a drive over the weekends from Hyderabad.

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My Beast: The car I drive say a lot about me

I could now realize the fact that most of us haven’t really explored the surreal beauty around Hyderabad. If you are nature lover, yes you have one now which is 2 hours drive from Hyderabad.

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Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises. -Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. -Albert Einstein

Mannemkonda is best enjoyed when the sky is overcast, which makes the 20kms journey from Mahbubnagar delightful. The varied hues of Nature and fresh air rejuvenated my senses. The secluded green valley’s surrounding the hold this temple best kept secrets.

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“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” – Kahlil Gibran

Before we arrived our destination, we had several stopovers to capture the nature at its best. I felt exactly like rolling greens spread like a carpet, floating clouds jealously hugged the Hillocks alongside and a seamless path ahead dotted with beautiful nature.

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For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree

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“Nature itself is the best physician” – Hippocrates. “

Manyamkonda is the hill where the Lord Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is located. This place is very calm, mesmerizing, beautiful and of course a perfect destination for devotees and tourists. It is believed that this ancient temple is more than 500 years old. This temple is located in a cave which is reportedly balanced on top of the three hills. It is considered as one of the important spiritual centres in Mahbubnagar District. Here pilgrims can have a glimpse of the ancient caves where the sages were believed to have practiced penance.Hence this place was called as Munulakonda (Munulu means Saints and Konda means hill) and later as days passed by it has been referred as Mannemkonda or Manyamkonda.

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Garuda Statue

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A view from inside..

On the heart of the forest and on the hilltop, Lord Venkateshwara Swamy could be found majestically. The shrine is located on a hill which is 915 m high and at a distance of 2 Km from the village.

  One can enjoy the nature’s splendour and scenic beauty at the temple. The temple has a beautiful Rajagopuram with the images of Gods and Goddesses carved on it. Very rarely we can find Lord Venkateshwara as a “Swayambhumurthi” which means self manifested. Seeing Lord Venkateshwara in the forest, with lush greens is truly a blissful experience.

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Spending time in nature is healing energy..

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Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem as if we were looking through the gates of Heaven. -John Lubbock

If you are a nature lover and wanted to spend time peacefully plan for a trip to Manyamkonda. Have a nice week my dear friends!!

Temples of Pattadakal: ‘Enchanting Beauty and Magnificence’

Pattadakal is located on the left bank of the Malaprabha River in Bagalkot district and is 22 km from Badami, 10kms from Aihole and 400kms from Hyderabad. It was once the capital of the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka between the 7th and 8th centuries is the cluster of ten beautifully carved temples which represents the high point of an eclectic art which achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern(Nagara) and southern(Dravidian) India.UNESCO in 1987 included Pattadakal in its list of World Heritage sites.

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Beautiful Sunset at the Pattadakal group of Monuments.

The sculptural art of these temples is marked by classiness of the Chalukyan dynasty. Pattadakal emerges as a heavenly site with its superb architectural marvels in a picture-perfect lane.

An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen there. One masterpiece from the group stands out – the Temple of Virupaksha.

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Sangameshwara temple, Papanatha temple and Virupaksha temple Complex, Pattadakal.

Chalukyan rulers are great patrons because of them, their artisans did experiments and innovated a new dimension in temple architecture. . It is in their period that transition from rock-cut medium to structural temples took place.

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Artist at work, Pattadakal, Karnataka.

Out of all, four temples are built in Dravidian style, four in Nagara style and Papanatha Temple illustrates a perfect blend of both styles of architecture.The important ones are discussed below in detail.

Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha temple is the largest and grandest of all temples in Pattadakal built in 8th Century, built by Queen Lokamahadevi (Trilokya mahadevi)in 745 to commemorate her husband’s victory (Vikramaditya II) over the Pallavas of Kanchi. This temple has a sanctum, an inner passage, pillared navaranga and triple entrances from the north, east and the south porches. It has a massive gateway in front from the east and a small gate behind. There are inscriptions and imposing stone carved figures inside the stone mantapa. It has a beautiful Nandi Mandapam with a large Nandi statue gazing in the direction of the Lord. The Kailasanatha temple at Ellora was built based on the model of Virupaksha temple.

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Papanatha and Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal.

Mallikarjuna Temple

Mallikarjuna Temple is a smaller version of the Virupaksha temple and was built by Vikramadiyta’s second queen Trilokyamahadevi in 745. This temple is also was constructed by Rani Trilokyamahadevi to celebrate the victory (by Vikramaditya II) over the Pallavas. The Mallikarjuna temple was built immediately after and close to the Virupaksha temple (It has a similar plan), with a 4 storeyed vimana with a circular griva and shikhara. Mallikarjuna temple in Dravidian style. It is in close proximity with the Sanghameshvara temple in design, construction and sculpture, but smaller in size. The porch has a beautiful image of Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu and two female idols. Here are two grand images on both the sides of the entrance to the navaranga. The eighteen pillars of the navaranga have figures pertaining to Ramayana, Mahabharatha and those representing social conditions of those days. On the ceiling are beautiful figures of Gajalakshmi and Shiva-Parvathi with Nandi. On the external walls are sculptures like Shiva, Nandi, Lakulisha, Nataraja, etc.The temple is celebrated for its artistic sculptures.

Papanatha Temple

Papanatha Temple is the only temple that has been designed on both north and south Indian styles of architecture. Containing a Nagara styled Vimanam, the temple dates back to 680 AD. Initially, the construction was started with Nagara style, but later it was switched to Dravidian style. The temple is famous for its sculptures that are imbibed from the scenes of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

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Papanatha Temple Gopura,Pattadakal.

Jain Temple

This Temple was constructed by the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta. Built in the Dravidian style, the temple comprises really beautiful sculptures. Perhaps, it was erected either by King Amoghavarsha I or his son Krishna II in the 9th century.

Kasivisvesvara temple

It was the last to be built in early Chalukya style. This temple was built by the Rashtrakutas in the 8th century.

Kashi Visveswara temple & Galaganatha temple, Pattadakal.

Kashivisveswara and Galaganatha temples, Pattadakal.

Sangamesvara Temple

Perhaps the oldest temple in the group, Sangameshvara Temple was built by King Vijayaditya Satyashreya during 697 -733 AD. This incomplete temple appeals with its colossal structure.

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Sangameshwara Temple (was called Vijayewara) is The oldest temple in Pattadakal, built by Chalukya King Vijayaditya Satyashraya ( 696-733), it has no sukanasika.

Tips from my perspective:

  • It is open from Sunrise to Sunset.
  • Entrance Fee to the Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) – Rs. 10 per head. Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head.
  • There are no Hotels available in Pattadakal. If you are planning to stay, the best option is to go to Badami where you can find a lot of options.
  • Aihole is 10kms and Badami is 22kms away from Pattadakal.

Walking tour around Kalighat Kali temple, Kolkata

Street Vendors across Kalighat kali temple, Kolkata, West Bengal are selling several snack items, fruits, coconuts, beverages and ice cream, along with other non-edible items such as jewellery, clothes, books, paintings and some souvenirs like goddess Kali mata idols etc.,

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Beautiful souvenirs..

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Souvenirs which resembles the things which are used for Prayers…

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Kali Maata & Durga Maata Idols..

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Commonly known as Water Apple or Java Apple in the rest of the world, Bengal knows this fruit as the good old Jamrul. Much much smaller in size than a pear.

 

 

Aihole: The Cradle of the Ancient Hindu Temple Architecture

Aihoḷe is a small village in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka and located 400 kms from Hyderabad. It is known for Chalukyan architecture, with about 125 stone temples dating from 5th century CE. It was the cradle of ancient Hindu temple architecture. Experimentation with styles was undertaken by the artisans of Chalukyan Empire. The artisans worked on the rocks to create the earliest rock-cut shrines. The artisans graduated to the full-fledged Chalukya style of architecture. The early Chalukyas inherited architectural styles largely from their neighbors to the north and south of their kingdom.Iphone aihole (23)

After visiting all the must see places in Bijapur. We started to Aihole which was 110kms from Bijapur(via Nh 133/SH66) road till Ameengal was good and the last 10kms stretch was not drive friendly. Within an hour and so we’ve reached our first destination. We got surprised by seeing flocks of tourists. Then we realised that it was Sankranti/pongal (An Indian festival) Holiday season.Iphone aihole (16)

The prominent temple groups at Aihole are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group of temples, although historians have divided all the temples into 22 groups. Three temples are referred to as the ‘Kontigudi group of temples’. One of these is the Lad Khan temple (the oldest at Aihole is the Lad khan temple dating back to the fifth century, named after a mendicant that lived in this temple in the 19th century, another the Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya math.

Durga temple: With a Curvilinear Shikhara

It is the best known of the Aihole temples and is just along the entrance to the temple complex. It is apsidal in plan, along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded adisthana and a tower – curvilinear shikhara. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamantapa and the sabhamantapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings. The temple appears to be of the late 7th or early 8th century.

Lad Khan Temple consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The shrine bears a Shivalingam. The mukha mantapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. The sabhamantapa in front of the mukha mantapa has pillars arranged in such a manner as to form two concentric squares. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs. The temple was built by the Chalukya kings in the 5th century. Ladkhan Temple is to the south of the Durga temple are the temples of this group. The Ladkhan temple, so named, as a general of the name had lived here, consists of a square mantapa, a mukha mantapa and the sanctum, built against the backwall. The central square has a flat roof. In the centre Nandi is installed, and just above Nandi, there is a damaged nagara shikhara, appearing to be a later addition. The period of this structure is about 450 A.D.

We had a quick tour of all the other prominent temples of Aihole which includes Suryanarayana temple, Triyambakeshvara Group, Gowda temple, Huchimalli (gudi) temple,  Kontigudi group of temples, Rachi gudi, Gaudara gudi, Badigere, Huchappayya (gudi) temple & Museum. Because of a huge number of tourist we skipped some of the other prominent temples like Ravanaphudi temple and meguti jain temple. I made my mind at that moment that I am not done with Aihole yet. 😛

All the temple complexes have different style of construction that indeed indicates that Aihole was the place for early experiments in Chalukyan style of Architecture. This place simply took us back into the time. Aihole is not in the list of UNESCO World heritage places. It has a great potential to be included as a UNESCO World heritage site. Then we left to Pattadakal(Yet to post) which was 11kms from Aihole.

Monday Monochrome Mania: Monuments of Bijapur with Quotes

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 Life is architecture and architecture is the mirror of life. – I.M. Pei

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Architecture is an expression of values. – Norman Foster

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Architecture is inhabited sculpture. – Constantin Brancusi

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Architecture is the reaching out for the truth. – Louis Kahn

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As an architect you design for the present with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown. – Norman Foster

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One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time it is like life starting all over again. – Renzo Piano

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Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness. Frank Gehry

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Even a brick wants to be something. – Louis Kahn

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I call architecture frozen music. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To know more about these monuments and my trip to Bijapur click here