Badami Cave temples: ‘A fine balance of versatility and restrain’

After visiting Aihole and Bijapur, we started our journey towards Pattadakal, which was just 10 kms from Aihole. Ever since I read ‘Temples of South India’ book I was very curious and excited about these UNESCO World Heritage Sites and added it to my bucket list. Since we are travelling on our own it was quite easy for us to cover Bijapur-Aihole-Pattadakal-Badami stretch.

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Boothnath temple on the green waters of the Agastya lake…

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Temples build by Western Chalukyas invoke a sense of peace and tranquility by their systematic and symmetrical approach..

Bagalkot District of Karnataka is blessed with some amazing historical sites of Ancient Indian like Badami, Pattadakal. These places were the most important centers of Chalukyan Empire. These three places are located in the close vicinity of each other and with a bit of planning can be covered in a single day.

Places to Visit in Badami:

Badami can be best experienced simply, by a walk through the ruins. All the major attractions of Badami are located around the Agasthya Lake and sandwiched between two high mountain cliffs on its North and South. It is about 1km walk from the bus stand.

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The fort on the Northern hill-top is visible from the main road itself.

Archaeological Museum of Badami:

There is a stone statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull, at the entrance of the museum. The museum mainly comprises of pre-historic stone implements and sculptures, inscriptions etc. datable from 6th to 16th century AD.

Walking further, we reached to a beautiful lake called Agasthya Lake. This lake is surrounded by the Badami Caves, Red sandstone hills, Bhootnath Temple, small houses of Badami and the beautiful flight of steps (the ghats). The water in this lake is believed to have some healing power too. The sandstone steps (ghats) from three side of the lake make it more beautiful.

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There we are…posing for a pic

Badami in Hindu Mythology:

Legend says that there were two demon siblings in the ancient times, one is Vatapi and another one is Ilvala. The older brother Ilvala converted Vatapi in red meat and offered that to the poor souls living in the area. Unaware of the tricks, people ate that meat happily. Then, Ilvala re-converted that meat back into Vatapi who then emerges by tearing through the person’s body causing death. One day they did the same trick to the great saint Agasthya. But, the saint was able to digest the meat, thus causing death of Vatapi. This put an end to the misery of local people. These two hills in Badami to its north and south are supposed to represent the demons Ilvala and Vatapi.

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The lake between these hills was named as Agasthya Lake or Agasthya Tirtha in honour of the great saint.

Bhootnath Temple :

This temple is located at the Eastern side of the lake and is believed to be built in 5th century. These temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Inside the temple, there are lot of carvings on the wall.

Badami Fort and Adjacent Area: Again walking along the Agasthya Tank, we moved towards the northern hill through an access road adjacent to the museum. This hill has an amazing package to unfold for its visitors. Top of the hills are almost flat, full of shrubs and thorns, many walkable trails and houses, small water reservoir, some small temples with excellent carvings and Badami Fort. After visiting the Northern Side of the lake, we moved towards the Southern Hill, that houses the famous cave temples.As one walks along the lake,the road leads to an 18th century mosque.

Badami Caves:

Badami is famous for its four cave temples  all cut out of a monolithic (single) rock of sand stone on the precipice of a hill. First three of these temples are dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses and the last one is basically dedicated to JainTirthankars.

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monolithic (single) rock of sand stone on the precipice of a hill.

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The four cave temples represent the secular nature of the rulers then.

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Cave Temple 1 : Moving inside, a long flight of steps took us to the first cave. This cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This cave temple dates back to the 5th century CE and was built by Chalukyan King Pulkesin-I. There is a carving of the cosmic dance of Nataraja depicted with eighteen arms. With these 18 arms, Lord Shiva can make 81 dance poses or mudra of Natya Shastra.

 

Cave Temple 2 : The second cave temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his avatars (incarnations).

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The best carving in this cave is the image of Lord Vishnu in his Varaha avatar (Varaha the pig-faced, human-bodied Lord, half human-half animal). In this avatar, he rescued the Goddess Bhudevi (The Earth) from the demon Hiranyaksha.

Cave Temple 3 :  The third cave is dedicated to Vishnu, and is the best and the biggest, and it has splendid giant figures of Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha.  An inscription found here records the creation of the shrine by Mangalesha in 578AD. There are some paintings on the ceiling and the style indicates maturity but has lost its original dazzling colour.

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Lord Vishnu statue.. All the statues in this cave are engraved in a vigorous style.

Cave Temple 4 : The fourth cave is Jaina which lies a little east of cave III. The sanctum is adorned by the image of Mahavira.

Tips from my perspective:

  • It is approx. 420 kms away from Hyderabad and 500 kms away from Bengaluru.
  • Timings: Daily except Fridays through the year from 10:00 Hrs to 17:00 hrs.
  • Ticket Price: INR 5 for Indians and INR 100 for foreigners.
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Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is an auspicious festival of Hindus. The Festival is observed as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. He is the elder son of Shiva and Parvathi.  A ten-day festival, it starts on the fourth day of Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in Gregorian months of August or September. The festival is marked with installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stage). People most pray him for the lord of art, wisdom, studies, and sciences. His devotees called him Ganapati or Vinayaka.

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Eco-friendly Ganesh Idol at my home

Vinayak Chaturthi History & Significance:

The reason behind Ganesha’s birth is that Goddess Parvati created Ganesh with the dirt of her body while bathing. After that, she told him to guard near the door and said not to allow anyone inside. So at that time, Shiva returned home without knowingly Ganesha stopped him. So Shiva got angry and served Ganesh head. Later Parvati was enraged and Shiva promise Ganesh will live again.

Shiva order Devas to search for north facing the head of a dead person but they would find nothing. At that day Devas suggest to fix elephants head, and Shiva fixed Elephants head to Lord Ganesh and brought his life back. So this year it is celebrated on August 25, which is the fourth day of Shukla Chaturthi and end on the 14th day of waxing moon period.

On that day people celebrate with a lot of joy and do the festival with a huge budget. It is the main festival for all Hindus. They are many things you can learn from Lord Ganesh on this Vinayaka Chaturthi.

Lord Ganesha is our mentor and protector. May He enrich your life by always giving you great beginnings and removing obstacles from your life! Wishing you lots of happiness and get Lord Ganesha’s blessings on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Enjoy the festival.

Sasivekalu and Kadalekalu Ganesa, Hampi

 

 

 

 

Silent Sunday: Mannemkonda-‘The Palamoor Tirupati’

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Go forth under the open sky, and list To Nature’s teachings. -William C. Bryant

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Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift. Albert Einstein 

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It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top. -Arnold Bennett

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In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. -John Muir

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Dono Paulo: A Pristine beach with a Tragic Love story

The bay of Dona Paula in Goa lies at the meeting point of the Arabian Sea and the Goan rivers Mandovi and Zuari. Dona Paula is located in the suburbs of the capital Panjim. Originally a fishing village, Dona Paula attracts its fair share of visitors and tourists who come to marvel at its pristine beach, its natural beauty and the romantic legend associated with it.

The Dona Paula Beach is a pristine beach with a tragic love story to its name. It was named after the Portuguese Viceroy’s daughter Dona Paula de Menezes. This young, innocent girl fell in love with a local Goan fisherman. Of course, this match was unacceptable to the Viceroy who forbade his daughter Dona Paula to ever see her young lover again.DONO PAULO (1)

Distraught with love and sorrow, Dona Paula could not bear a life without her lover and threw herself off a cliff into the unforgiving Arabian Sea. Left with nothing but his daughter’s memory, the Portuguese Viceroy named the area Dona Paula, as an eternal tribute to his stubbornness and forbidden romance & love.

Today, there is a black stone statue of the young Dona Paula and her Goan lover on a rocky promontory jutting into the sea with a sweeping view of the Marmagoa Port in the background.

 

When you are in Dona Paula, you must visit the ruins of the Cabo Fort, erected in 1540. The Cabo Raj Niwas is one of the most elegant governor’s residences in the whole of Goa.There is also a 180 year old English cemetery, open to the public along with a chapel, which has a memorial tomb of Dona Paula de Menezes with her history engraved on the tombstone.

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According to a local myth, Dona Paula is entombed in the Cabo Chapel, the residence of the Governor of Goa and is supposed to be seen during a full moon emerging from the moonlit waves wearing only a pearl necklace.

In Dona Paula, you also have the National Oceanography Institute which was opened in 1960 to study the local Goan marine life alongwith the Marine Biology Museum. A little further (around 9 kms from Dona Paula) is the famous Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, in the island of Choro by the side of the Mandovi river and named after the famous Indian ornithologist. The Bird Sanctuary is spread over an area of 2 sq km and is a delight for bird lovers.

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The Dona Paula beach itself is one of Goa’s best beaches for water sports such as windsurfing, water skiing, para sailing, motor boat rides etc. There are also several organised water sports facilities on offer in Dona Paula. 

Source: Google

Mahadev Temple: ‘The Emperor of Temples’

The 12th Century Mahadeva Temple at Itagi in Koppal District with splendid sculptures is said to be one of the finest examples in the country with respect to the magnificence and decorative details. The Mahadeva Temple at Itagi was built circa 1112 CE by Mahadeva, a commander (dandanayaka) in the army of the Western Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI.  Itagi is about 22 miles (35 km) east of Gadag and 40 miles (64 km) west of Hampi.

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Western Chalukyan art speaks volumes about the taste of the Chalukyan Artisans.

The well-executed sculptures, finely crafted carvings on walls, pillars and the tower make it a good example of complete Western Chalukyan art which speaks volumes about the taste of the Chalukyan artisans. An inscription dated 1112 CE in the temple calls it “Emperor among Temples” (Devalaya Chakravarti).The temple has a special place on the tourist map of Karnataka. The monument and sculptures that adorn the walls of the temple have a rich architectural value. This temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva.

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Aesthetic Sense is found in this beautiful temple..

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An inscription dated 1112 CE in the temple calls it “Emperor among Temples” (Devalaya Chakravarti)

One can have a glimpse of the high-towered Mahadeva Temple and a cluster of small temples around it while travelling on Koppal-Yelburga Road. It takes a few hours to watch the remnants of the temple and the architectural skill that glitter in daylight.

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Towards the north of the Shivalinga, there are five temples, of which two are dedicated to Murthinarayana and Chandraleshwari, parents of Mahadeva. There are 13 temples with Shivalingas around the main temple.

The east-faced main temple comprises a shrine with an antechamber, a closed hall with porches on either side of it towards north and south, and openings on either side with pillared halls. The temple roof is supported by 68 carved pillars. Of them, 26 are on the floor and the rest on the stone bench surrounding the hall and carrying the sloping eaves.

The carved columns are symmetrically arranged. The slabs on the central part of the ceiling have “Makaras” which spring from the jaws of “Kirtimuka” masks.

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Sojourn in time..

The walls of the inner hall are adorned with rich sculptures. The pentagon-shaped sanctum sanctorum and its outer walls have beautiful carvings. The 15-foot high main tower of the temple has carvings and projecting cornices.

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Beautifully carved…

The Mahadeva Temple is also known for its erotic sculptures. The temple has a “puskarani (teertha)” on its front side, which is still used by the villagers.

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Puskarini..

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The pillars in this hall bear similarities to the porch pillars at the Dodda Basappa Temple at Dambal and the lathe-turned pillars (whose rounded sections are lathe-turned) at the Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi.

The Mahadeva temple is officially protected as a national monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. This Temple has a history that is older than Hampi. The temple and its surroundings have been neglected for the past few centuries. The sculptures around the temple are in shambles. Hope Karnataka government takes proper care in protecting these Chalukyan architectural wonders.

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Art historian Henry Cousens called this monument the “finest in Kannada country after Halebidu”. These Western Chalukya monuments, regional variants of existing dravida (South Indian) temples, defined the Karnata dravida tradition. 

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.

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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.

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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??