Pages

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trees Around My House - 2

Continued from Trees Around My House - 1......

Coconut Tree –

We have about 50 odd coconut trees around the house. As our ancestors have named it, indeed it is a Kalpavraksha – A tree from the heaven that can offer anything desired. Every part of the tree is made use of -Tender coconut to drink; the grown one for cooking or to make oil. The leaves are stripped to make broom stick and the rear end of the leaves can be used as fire wood or for children, can be converted into a cricket bat. After you rip off the outer cover of the coconut the coir is used to make ropes and mats. In older times we used to even tie the leaves crossed to convert it as a shelter, when shamiyana’s were not in use, these were the substitutes. Now we can’t deny the word selected by our ancestors to this wonderful tree, can we? I used to try climbing it and had rashes all over my leg once. It requires a very good skill. Every month we got the grown coconuts plucked and to me the worst part was to collect all of them and get to the common location where we stored them all. Every year we make oil out of the hundreds of coconut collected. First the coir is removed, and then the nut is cut into half, dried for several days until the nut is easily separated from the dried flesh which is called Kopra. Kopra is then sent to mill to make oil. When you break the coconuts, the ones that are very old would have sprouted and inside the nut we find an excellent, sweet and tasty growth that we call “Moonge”, which is still a treat to us. Even today my mother keeps them stored in the refrigerator until I arrive.

Tamarind Tree-


Tamarind tree has a story similar to the coconut tree. We use tamarind every single day for cooking sambhar. So it follows the same procedure. During a suitable time we pluck all the tamarind and then dry it for several days. Then we peel off the outer cover (Which for me is a boring job but forcibly done.) Amma, Ajji and Appa would separate the seeds out. The flesh is stacked for use during the year and the seeds are sometimes fried and eaten. The outer cover and some seeds are thrown out on the road. A belief from ancient time is that if done so there would be more tamarind on the tree during the successive year. Before the tamarind is plucked, several fall off and our neighbor’s kids come to steal them, so we had to be alert to chase them away. Ajji used to be our guard in such matters. “Yer Ambhey Aow” (Who is that man?) she would run shouting at the kids.

Palm Tree –


Several stories haunt me about these trees. Two beautiful palm trees stand even today in front of my house. When I was small, my sisters would fool me by saying stories about them; that they were ones lovers and a curse had them turned into trees. So they made me apply powder on the bark of the tree to heal their rashes. Well these fooling techniques are kind of hereditary. My elder sister would fool my second sister and my second sister would fool me; Anupama and I would fool her brother krish.

Another memory related to this tree is about a unique game invented by my Muslim neighbors. We would play cock fight with the fruit from the palm tree. The fruit is not eaten, so instead we assume that they are cock. :-) We would select the best fruit each and hit the opponent’s fruit as hard as we can. The fruit that rips off completely is a loser.

Sampige Flower Tree –



I have two memories related to this tree. When I was a kid, I used to wait for my mother to return from her party meetings (My mother was a politician). When I saw her coming, I would hide behind the Sampige flower tree and surprise her.

The second memory is with Vasu, my childhood friend. Sampige flower spreads a beautiful fragrance which some like and some don’t and my mother was in the latter group. Vasu’s mother on other hand loved the flowers, thus he would come home to collect them for her and in turn I would get to play with him for a while.

Jack Fruit Tree-



We use the leaves to cook “Mudde”. Jack fruit leaves are pinned together with sticks (left after peeling off Coconut leaves) to form a cup shape, into which the idli – rice batter is poured and steamed; the fragrance from the leaves blend with the batter to provide excellent taste. I don’t like the fruit a lot but my grandmother and father love it. We lend the extra ones to relatives and friends. I love the seeds though; mother cooks excellent sambhar from them. We have about 3 jackfruit trees. Out of them one is not at all sweet, so it is generally used for cooking curry’s or making papads. Ajji and mother make a paste out of the jackfruit after separating the seeds and they make papads out of it which are dried and stored and as and when required, fried and eaten. Even today every year, we use homemade papads, coconut oil and tamarind.

Almond Tree –

Well we do not own this tree, but our neighbor does. Nobody wants to break their head with the almond, because it’s a tedious job to peel of the flesh, then nut etc. The owners had abandoned it and we enjoyed the freedom; hit the Badam with stone until the shell breaks. The hard work isn’t very relishing. It is much easy to buy some Almonds from shops.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trees Around My House -1

Yes, I know that the title sounds like a topic given to a nine or ten year old at school. But I deliberately choose this as most of my memories with these trees are of the time when I was a child, the time I would love to go back to, in my thoughts. Some of the trees still silently stand and some no more decorate the front yard of my house, but they all have stories to tell about me and my childhood. So let me just pick the favorite of mine first.

The Guava Tree-


It won’t be wrong to say that I would be found more on top of this tree than any other place around the house. If I was bored, I climbed to the topmost branch and sat there to enjoy the cool breeze of air. If I was hungry, soon after lunch, there are always some guavas to taste on. I knew which fruit tasted the best. I preferred the ones which were half ripe. During exam times, if I needed privacy, Guava tree was the first priority. Subjects like Hindi, English and Social science where best suited to be studied on trees. :-)

My sister and I would choose a few guavas and book them for ourselves. We would cover the chosen one with a plastic bag to recognize who they belonged to. At times, when I was very desperate and could not find any good ones, I secretly ate the ones reserved by my sisters and leave the plastic bag intact. :-)

Chikku Tree (Sapota in Kannada) –


The chikku tree in our front yard had one special thing. Till today (20-25 years after it was planted) we have not tasted one single fruit from the tree. Few tender chikku’s were seen in the beginning but they vanished with time. Culprit – Squirrels.

But my memory with the tree has nothing to do with its fruits. Anupama (my cousin) & I had one favorite time pass during holidays - fooling her little brother Krishna. I would climb the Chikku tree and sit there, hiding between the leaves. Anupama would convince Krishna that she & I were friends with a ghost that lived on the Chikku tree and it would provide us diamonds and gold if made a wish. When did so I would slowly drop an artificial jewelry (Mostly the buttons from my Kurta which had some polished stone).
Krishna would be surprised, thrilled to know about the ghost. But at the end of the game always we got good scolding from the elders as he would complain crying to the elders that we scared him with such stupid stories. Anupama and I would then run away to escape scolding’s. :-)
Cashew Tree –



The cashew tree in our compound was my other favorite study place. I used to sit on one of its branches while studying for exams. This tree was right next to the path that leads to many houses around. So when our neighbors would pass by, I would drop a cashew nut or sometimes a stone next to them. Some spotted me and smiled or talked but some would just walk away picking up the cashew nut that they had received by chance, without knowing my presence. This was a nice break for me in between the rigorous studies.

Parijaata Tree-




The flower parijaatha makes its presence in stories of Lord Krishna. The fragrance of the flower is unique and its appearance lovely; Small white flower with an orange neck. My grandmother (mom’s mother) stayed in our house only once for a long period, which was during my thread ceremony. Early morning she would go to the tree and pluck flowers and make mala out of it. I used to follow her. Even today when I walk there and spot the flowers fallen loosely, unheeded, on the ground, I recall those moments with amma-amma (Grandmother).

Banyan Tree -

Banyan tree till date remains my favorite tree. My most relished childhood memories are with this tree. I used to enjoy swinging with the roots that break loose off the tree. The tree was at a certain height and we would catch hold of its root to glide and fall on to the ground. My sister and my relatives would cook dishes beneath the tree by stealing some oil and vegetables and they would even bake the already baked biscuits. :-) I was sad when tree was cut; they say the roots of the tree travel distance and may be dangerous to the foundation of the house. I was too young to notice such reasons, to me it was end of lot of fun; end of the pride with which I used to impress the little guests to my house.

Mango Tree –


We never seem to be lucky with mangoes though. We have two trees but never get to taste more of it. Pickles are made from them because they do not taste very good when ripe. I would go to my neighbors and borrow mangoes from them for lunch. I love to have sliced mangoes along with meals (A style I learnt again from my favorite Muslim neighbors). When I had to pluck some from our tree, I would climb up the roof and use what we call “Donti” – A long bamboo stick to the end of which is attached a knife or another sharpened bamboo stick. We have a bamboo bush of our own to make quick donti’s. But there were always many other options to relish tasty mangoes – by stealing from others garden, which I loved the most. :-)

To Be Continued.....

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kambla

I had not been to Mangalore for more than 2 months, so I decided to go home last weekend. My father had sent me the Kambla timetable by post and Kadri Kambla happened to be right at the same time while I was there. Kambla – means Buffalo race. It’s very popular in south canara district. First the paddy fields are turned into a muddy water pool, and then the lanes are created using coconut leaves tied in a form of mat which act as partitions. The first few hours are spent on tug of war and running race. The latter half of the day is the actual Kambla. I had never been to a Kambla before and I was very excited to be there. This particular kambla happens every year only few steps from my grandmother’s house. My cousin and I went there at about 4:00 PM and the game had already started. I enjoyed standing exactly in front of the lanes to click several pictures.



Every run is timed and the fastest wins.

On the way back home, in the bus, I got into a conversation with a fisherman. He shared his stories about life in the sea. He works for a company that own about 12-15 fishing boats. They spend 2-3 weeks in the sea, several miles away from the shore. For every 2 lakh worth of fish he brings back, he would get an amount of RS 3000. Sometimes the owners ask him to take half the money and the other half next time, which is a difficult situation for them. He visits home only once a month. He also shared how they track any obstacles such as rock or even the nearest shore through a device in the boat. He shared with me how they lay net and drag the fishes along with the boat. Sometimes the ropes get tangled on to the fan and he being an expert in underwater swimming takes up the opportunity to show his skills. Two drivers run the boat on shift basis and four others help them in fishing, cooking and preparing ice to store fishes. Once the diesel falls to reserve, they have to return no matter how much fish they have in hand. He demonstrated how they need to tackle the waves; they cannot speed or neither can they slow down infront of huge waves, if they slow down the boat would turn upside down; well this requires special skills, he adds. I sensed his eagerness to share all this and talk non-stop; he must have been terribly bored by limited conversations in the boat, I thought.

Picture Taken At Thanirbhavi Beach, Mangalore.

I returned back with a good dialogue with the Fisherman and I wondered how has this changed me? Quick reply from my mind was – Tomorrow if I am sitting by the beach and see a fishing boat sail over, appearing close to the horizon at the backdrop of setting sun, I know that it means much morĂ© than a picturesque view; the emotions let out by it perhaps can never be captured by any photograph ever.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sawariya V/s Om Shanti Om

I wanted to watch Sawariya out of the two because it’s from one of my favorite director – Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB). His previous films have been great examples of creative excellence and I did expect the same from the director this time too.

But, When the two films released, the critics happily took the side of “Om Shanti Om“(OSO) They thought Sawariya was boring and dull and on the other hand OSO as colorful and entertainer. I never go by the reviews in a newspaper from one person who does not necessarily represent the entire population. But when viewers too said the same I was slightly disappointed and thought that out of the two OSO is a winner.

My friends obviously turned towards OSO and I too thought that it might be good to catch some laugh as it claims to be an entertainer. I watched OSO and returned back with an headache. It was horrible, as I had expected. Only nice thing about the film is Deepika, fresh and bright. I should also mention one scene in the movie where I laughed a lot; Sharuk’s Tamil actor imitation with a stuffed tiger. The last time a scene had brought tears in my eyes before this was a scene of frog’s death in Shrek-3. But other than this the movie had a very boring plot. After Chak De I had a little more expectation from Sharuk to do meaningful roles. Most of the time I felt, everyone was overacting; the colors and emotions were too loud

Anyway, nothing much remains to be told about this movie. Finally I decided to watch Sawariya and saw that they were disappearing from the theaters. Finally got a ticket and watched it last weekend. And I loved it.

The movie is different in the way the story has been narrated or shown; probably that is why people did not like it. It takes you to an imaginary town where every corner has beautiful architecture. The color of the movie is blue….everywhere it’s blue, probably to depict the mood of the heroine, I guess. I had predicted the ending based on this choice of color too. Green was the second color in line, which I think, defines the character of the hero.



Ranbir and Sonam are too excellent performers. I do not consider them glamorous but they surely will come up based on their acting skills, they have it in them.

The best part of SLB is the narration, which is very poetic. The scenes are creative and that supersedes all the other elements; 10 sweet little songs (Mostly short) describe different emotions. Rani rocks in even a very small role.

Yes the script is weak, but still I think it’s far far better than OSO kind of movies. I could at least cherish the director’s brilliance and creativity to take us to an imaginary world and to say several thoughts in form a song or expression rather than words. The first song were the actor cheers up a bunch of prostitutes speak more than what is heard. His conversation with the old land lady tries to express few more thoughts. Sawariya is more HUMAN.

To me Sawariya undoubtedly, is the winner.


Pictures - Courtesy - IndiaFM

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mumbai Vacation

This time our trip in Maharstra was a holy trip to several temples. My sister’s family, uncle’s family and I set off on this journey on a Saturday morning. My cousin and I enjoyed the back seat discussing the game - Age of empires which is my latest craze. We first stopped at Ranjangav which has one of the Asta vinayaka’s. Maharastra has 8 udbhav (Naturally formed) Ganesha idols.

We had good delicious Prasad as lunch at the temple.

From here we drove to Shani Shinganpur. This is a very sacred place. A stone symbolizing lord Shani is worshipped by devotees. We performed few puja and then drove to a near by temple called Renukamatha temple. This temple has interiors covered with glass. The temple was built in 1954 and the glass work was done in 1988. It also houses a Yajur Veda school.

Our next stop was Shirdi. We reached there by 9:00 PM and booked a hotel. All the lodge owners say any rate that they wish; we have to bargain a lot for a decent price. Since it was late in the night, we hardly had any difficulty in getting darshan at temple.

Next morning, my cousin and I walked back to the temple and saw the museum, Chavadi – were baba used to live and sacred fire lit by baba that is not let to die off till date.



We then drove to another of Asta vinayaka at Wojar. It’s a beautiful place at a bank of some river.



A Nice Lamp Post At The Temple

Our next stop was another of Asta vinayak at Lenadri. This place is really cool and the main shrine is in a cave on top of a mountain. It was a good hike.




From here we drove to Bhimashankar temple. The drive is simply amazing; through the Western Ghats; truly mesmerizing views. On the way we saw Bheema dam.



Bhimashankar Temple is 800 years and has beautiful stone carvings and also is famous for the Jyothirlinga.



Rest of the days I relaxed at my sister’s house in New panvel. I took a bicycle ride around panvel one morning and most of the time just relaxed my mind; watched “Jab We Met “and liked it. I Tasted maharastrian food like Dhabeli, Vada Pav and many more dishes that my sister prepared.

Few Observations –

New Bombay has good wide roads and the infrastructure is well planned.
There is a mall craze here; lots of small malls.
Deepavali is loaded with crackers, much more than anywhere I have seen.

This trip was much relaxing one for me to be with my sister and her family. More than that, I enjoyed exploring myself even more. Silence conquered me and mind began to wash away my issues. Few breaks like this where one can just simply think the least about all the tensions and allow it to dissolve themselves is a very good medicine I think.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mysore Dasara

Krish and I decided to attend Mysore Dasara this time. Mysore Dasara is one of the most famous event and people from all over the world want to take home some glimpses of this event. Since a week we have been planning this trip. Events lists downloaded, train and bus timings verified, hotel availability discussed among friends who have lived in Mysore; and all things finalized by Friday evening.


On Saturday, the 20th of October 2007, Krish, Seb, Chandra and I met at KSRTC bus stand, Bangalore and we left to Srirangapatna, a place only 15 kms from Mysore. We were told by the sources that it is impossible to find rooms in Mysore thus we thought of this alternate plan.
We reached Sriranapatna at noon. Booked a hotel room; the rates were high here too. We managed to bargain 2 rooms for Rs 650. Which is not a good deal but anyway we had our tight constraints.

After lunch we booked a Tanga (A cart driven by horse) He said he would charge only Rs 40 per head and show us the entire town. We gladly boarded and began an excellent ride. Srirangapatna is a fort town, the entire town lies inside the fort which now is in ruins. We stopped at the Ranganatha swamy temple. The amazing architecture here is worth a visit. And the magnificent idol of Lord Vishnu sleeping on a Kalinga with Godess Lakshmi by his feet is a beautiful sight. The huge idol is decorated gorgeously.


From here we reached Tipu’s Dungeon, were he used to hold captured British soldiers. The sight of the peacefully flowing Cauvery River from here is a famous view point. We then took a ride along the town saw few places like –Palace of Tipu which now is in ruins after a fire completely destroyed it; place where Tipu died and a place called water tank which is the route from where few disloyal men of Tipu showed British the way into the fort. Fort could have been entered only through the river side and this route was shown by two of Tipu’s men themselves; also visited Jama Masjid, which has a nice architect.

Jama Masjid

We then went to Tipu’s summer retreat palace. The palace is magnificent and the walls are painted completely with stories of Tipu. Inside the palace which is now a museum are several old paintings.



We then left to Mysore. Directly went to the palace. The palace looked beautiful as ever. We watched some folk dance for a while and then came to know that the program we were looking forward to has been moved to another location due to the rain. We quickly took an auto to Maharaja College grounds. I noticed that the auto drivers are not as rude as the Bangalore one’s. They did charge extra but not more than a limit and were very kind and soft spoken.

Dance program by Hema Malini is the program we did not want to miss. The program started almost an hour late but was worth the wait. Hema Malini is a wonderful dancer and she performed stories of Sati, Parvati and Durga.



We left to Palace at 9:30 PM. We did not want to miss the lighting. The sight of the palace lit up with millions of bulb was a spectacular sight. These pictures speak for itself.




On the way back our bus hit an auto rikshaw and the sight of a woman being dragged by the auto was very horrible for me. Luckily no one was hurt. In no time we had replacement of bus through KSRTC. I am always impressed by the Goverment Transportation arrangments. They are very punctual, at least here in Karnataka.

We came back to the hotel at 12 and crashed to bed.

Next morning I took an early morning walk around the town and watched Srirangapatna wake up. Later we left to Mysore and watched it get ready for the procession. Seeing that there was enough time, we took a bus to Chamundi hills. But the driver was too slow and it took a lot of time to reach there and even up there it was terribly crowded. We struggled to find a decent shady place to sit and returned to the palace. Again we witnessed terrible crowd here too. People were sitting everywhere, on the road sides, top of every building, vehicles and it was hard to find a place. We managed to find some place but could not wait long.



The procession was not that great either. I did not find it very interesting though. Decorated elephants were a beautiful sight but otherwise rest was not that interesting. We lost one of our friends in the crowd too.



We returned early and took a Volvo back to Bangalore. Government had arranged plenty of buses for this occasion and it is definitely an appreciable effort.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Exploring Kolar -2

If You haven't read the first part of this post go here - Exploring Kolar-1

Oct 14th Sunday –

We left home at 8:00 AM. Did a triple ride on Gour’s bike and went to Kolar amma temple. Its again built by the Chola’s and has excellent art works.



Just next to this temple is another temple called Someshwara temple which houses a magnificent entrance and a beautiful temple with a kalyana mantapa (Wedding dais) Someshwara temple in Kolar city is one temple that is a “must see” I would say.





From here left to Antar Ganga, also referred to as Dakhsina Kashi. A natural spring on top of the hill is the main attraction here. Our ancestors were so brilliant I thought, they identified such pure forms of water and built a temple around and named it sacred so that people did not miss use it but the so called modern Generation like us, who are more confused about our own cultural heritage have failed to recognize these criticalities. People were washing clothes, taking shower and even collecting this water and selling them down at the city.

I wanted to take a picture of the entire Kolar city and for which I had to climb a little more higher since from where I stood, I could only see Nilgiri trees. I asked an old man for a right spot from where I could get a glimpse of the entire city. He pointed me towards a path which when followed took me to top of a rock from where I got an amazing view of the Kolar city. The first picture in post one is the result of this desire.

On the way to the top, we met a villager. He said that there was a village on top of the hill. I was surprised how they traveled daily? He happily answered – We have bus facility since last two years. What before that? I asked. He said they used to walk. They have farms and grow their own vegetables. I wanted to visit the village but it was too far and we did not have time to fit in this unexpected plan. So we returned back to the bus stand. Thanked Gour and said good bye to him.

We took a bus to Bangarpet. In the bus I be-friend a passenger and collected all the information about places that we have missed in this trip. In my mind I planned another trip to Kolar to cover them. He guided us to the bus we had to take to reach Budikote. Budikote is a village about 7 Kms from Bangarpet. It has a fort and is supposed to be the birth place of Hyder Ali. The fort was hauntingly empty, of course there is nothing much left of the fort now. After a while we spotted two kids who had bunked their special classes and where spending time there. I requested them to take us to the top of a huge rock inside the fort. They were glad to do so and guided us to the top. From this height one could get a beautiful sight of the village and wide spread fields.



After thanking the boys we left to the bus stand where a few villagers suggested we go to the dam which was about 2 Kms away. Some were surprised to see me carry bag, they asked me whether I was from some school and was carrying books? We stopped by a bakery. The owner was helpful in giving us some details about the dam and the buses. He has an oven of his own and thus bakes puffs and bread himself. We tasted some fresh puffs.

We left to Bangarpet in the very next bus. Unable to find any good hotel we tried to enquire with localities. A gentleman looked at us in surprise for a while and said – “See, Bangarpet as far as I know is very bad when it comes to food, you will not find any good hotels here.” And he was right; we could not spot a single descent hotel in the main city. We finally bought some buns and biscuits and went to the railway station. We booked the tickets to Bangalore.

During our wait, an old lady sat next to me and started talking. She talked non-stop for almost half an hour till the train arrived. Last time she had boarded a wrong train which had carried her to some alien land, and then she had to return all the way back. She said she can’t read as her parents did not educate her and she was married at a very early age. She told me several events from her life and I listened to her. When she heard my story of visiting temples she quickly said – Now, after visiting so many temples you need to go home directly and see your mother; isn’t it?” I was touched by her words. She might not have undergone formal education but she has the knowledge that no school can teach. There are some lessons that only our elders can teach us and that is why probably since our childhood we have been asked to respect elders.

During these journeys through remote places of my country, I am realizing more and more the importance of our culture , our tradition and I have realized one thing that our ancestors were great, they have created every rule, every thought, every ritual with a motive that we so called younger & so called modern generation fail to understand and instead enjoy questioning them. Well this topic will be an entire post on its own to follow soon.

The train journey back to Bangalore was uneventful, except that we did not get a seat through out the trip.

This trip to Kolar has opened my eyes towards several emotions of our people. Through out the trip it was people and only people who have guided us, helped us and advised us with as much enthusiasm as was in us. I salute the villagers of our country for their innocence, their unbiased attitude, their respect for tradition and culture and their kindness and rawness which I hope shall never fade.



You deserve a smile after that kind of a climax!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Exploring Kolar -1



Vasu and I have been on four backpacking tours until today. May it be Murudeshwara, Cochin, Exploring the Bangalore unknown to me either and this recent one to Kolar, all have been memorable and exciting, but this recent trip remains the most special and one of the best explorations I have had.

Kolar is only 70 Km from Bangalore and not many have heard a lot about this place except for the gold mines and Koti Lingeshwara (1 Crore Lord Shiva Lingas) When I gave a Google search on Kolar I found several places and my list came up to 20, must see places.

13th Oct, Saturday –

I met Vasu at KSRTC bus stand and we directly took a bus to Kolar. On the way as usually, we updated each other on our recent status. We reached Kolar at 9:00 AM after a two hour journey. We met Vasu’s friend Gour & his friend at the bus stand. On their bikes we rode to Gour’s house. Gour was surprised by my research on Kolar. He himself was unknown to these places. Originally from Orrisa, Gour has been in Karnataka for more than 6 years now. Gour markets medical products in the Kolar district.

I liked the atmosphere in Kolar city. It is a very small city, with narrow roads, houses sticking to one another yet appeared clean. The weather was pleasant.

We boarded the bus to Mulbagal, which is 27 Km from Kolar. It took us an hour to reach the destination. Exactly near the bus stand is an ancient and impressive Anjanya temple. The priest told me that the idol was installed by Arjuna himself, 5000 years ago. The temple was later built around it by the Chola’s. When we reached there, the main shrine was closed for decoration of the idol. So we made a quick decision to go to Someshwara Temple. I asked the manager of the temple for the directions to Someshwara temple. His answer is worth mentioning here –

“It is near by; take an auto, he would charge you Rs15.” And then he added. “Tell the priest that manager from Anjanya temple has sent you, he will perform a special puja for you.” :-)

I thanked him and left.

As directed, we took an auto to the temple. On the way we met a small boy who was riding around on his bicycle, I started a conversation with him and he was happy to guide us around the temple. He showed us all the shrines. I talked to one of the villager there and found out that the temple was built by the Chola’s. Government has identified these places as national heritage sites, but has done least to maintain them. A beautiful sculpture of lord Karthikeya on a peacock stands orphan at the courtyard. The head of the peacock is broken. The small boy told that many such sculptures have been abducted from the temple.


Idol of Lord Karthikeya

We thanked the boy and left back to Anjanaya temple. The doors to main shrine were still closed and after waiting for another 15 minutes, we gave up and left. We returned back to the bus stand and enquired with people about the bus to Kurudmale. A bus was expected to come at 12:30 PM. Another villager suggested that we take private jeeps at the junction ahead. We decided to take the jeep and walked towards the junction, just as we did so, a bus crossed us and exactly at the point of meet the conductor of the bus changed the board to Kurudmale. The timing was perfect. Happily we boarded the bus and left to Kurudmale.

I must mention that this is one of the most clean and beautiful villages I have been to. The main area of the village has two temples; one dedicated to Shiva and other to Ganapathi, and two shops, a veterinary hospital, a school and an ashram. The village appeared peaceful.

The 13 ft high Ganapathi idol is the main attraction here. I asked the manager to give some background and he was all excited to share the story. The idol is supposed be installed by Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara and the idol remained in midst the fields until King Krishna Devaraya built a temple. Since the idol was installed by the three Gods together, the place went on to be called – Kuddumale (Kuddu – Together) and over a period of time changed to Kurudmale. He also gave me a brochure that has a brief history and importance of the place.

From here we walked to the Someshwara temple. The priest here was very kind to us and performed a special puja. He too repeated the story of the village. Someshwara temple was built by the Chola’s. Temples in India do not allow photography of the God in main shrine. I had a vague idea of the reason but decided to clarify the same with this priest who looked very knowledgeable. He said that when an idol when worshipped in a shrine, over a long period of time generates and radiates positive energy and artificial lights reduce this effect. It’s also a known scientific fact that the high intensity of the light builds crack in the rocks of which the idols are made.




Someshwara Temple

We had to wait for a few hours before the next bus arrived, hence we decided to relax there for a while. Gour began a play with a small boy who was extremely happy to have found a good company in us. As we were waiting for the bus, an auto came by and we decided to go back to Mulbagal in it. I sat in the front along with the driver. The drive was pretty slow but interesting. The driver was a Muslim and was a day away from their major festival Eid. I spoke to him for a while. The perfume smell from his kurta disturbed me a little but I think it’s better than the smell of overused shirt. :-)

He showed us a good hotel in Mulbagal were we had Raagi mudde ( Raagi balls is a common food found in this part of Karnataka)

From here, we drove in a private bus to Avani. When I read about Avani on the net, I was over excited about seeing it for its historic importance. Avani is a small village in Kolar district and has a temple with several shrines for Shiva dedicated to Ram, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shatrugana. It seems Rama himself has installed these Linga’s. And it is also believed that the hill behind the temple homed Valmiki’s ashram. Lava and Kusha were supposed have born here. Villagers told us that they have many nice sites up the hill like place where the Ashwamedha horse was tied and temple dedicated for Sita too. Due to lack of time, we were unable to go up there.



Temple At Avani



We returned back to the bus stop and had a cup of tea. The villagers told us that the bus would come at 5:30 PM and it was only 4:00 PM now. Another option they said was to go to Kashipura cross, from where we could find plenty of buses. We walked a little to the next junction. It was a peaceful sight of villagers sitting by an old tree chatting and driving away the day’s fatigue.




I tried asking for a lift with which ever vehicle that passed by – Auto, Lorry, Tempo etc but nobody were going the way we had to. Finally a tractor stopped for us and we got on it. The ride was excellent. We sat on logs of wood and enjoyed the bumpy ride.


\

These places are so rich in cultural heritage but still they are less known villages in our country. They do not attract tourists as the approach and transportation is limited to these areas, which is a pity. Or may be otherwise it is good in a way that they are unaffected by tourism, thus they still bear the same natural beauty.

We reached Kashipura cross on a free ride and thanked the driver. We took a bus to KotiLingeshwara. On the way the bus stopped at Bangaru Thirupati temple. We could not resist getting down at the place and made a quick decision to change our plans.

Banagru thirupati means Golden Thirupati which boasts of its small golden Idol of lord Srinivasa. The temple is nice and the main shrine is at a height on top of a rock. From here the view is excellent and we also got a glimpse of the sunset. It was a beautiful sight to watch the birds chirp back to the nests. A priest here told us that it would be a good idea to visit Koti Lingeshwara during the night. He told that the place would be lit up and would look impressive.





We took another bus to Koti Lingeshwara. There are few lakhs of Shiva linga’s here and the aim is to install one crore. I was not at all impressed by this place as I did not like the idea of installing Lingas on the roads and streets which lie careless. I also saw few dogs near the 108 feet high Shiva Linga. But the 108 ft high Linga is impressive though. There was no power in the village thus I could not capture the sight.

From here we went to KGF town and had dinner. We returned back to Kolar at 10:00 PM and crashed on to bed.

To Be Continued.......

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thiruvanthapuram

One of my colleagues got married on September 10th in Trivandrum. So it was a weekend trip for all of us to Kerala. Kerala makes me feel home, as if I am somewhere in Mangalore; the tiled roofs, traditional temples, the weather, the food and of course the beaches appears to be very similar environment; known environment.

September 8th, Saturday –

The Volvo bus in which we were traveling had some issues with oil leakage in crank case, so our bus stopped at Alapuza for an hour. We had to reach Thiruvanthapuram at 9:30 AM but instead reached there at 1:00 PM. But we did have a good Kerala style breakfast during the wait– Ediappam (Rice noodles) and Veliappam (Similar to dosa).


We checked into hotel Sangam which is on the road opposite to Railway station and is a very neat place to stay. They charge about 330 per night. After a delicious Kerala style food at Hotel Arya nivas, we went on a city tour.


Two of our friends are from Thiruvanthapuram, so they had planned all the transportation and stay arrangements. Seb was our tour manager.

We drove around the city and took a quick glance at the palace, museum and other architectures around. We had to cut short our plan on the first day due to the unexpected delay. After this we drove to the groom’s house where we had some good “Shakar vati” , “banana chips” and also some appam. “Sharkara varatti has always been my favorite Kerala sweet and I recommend all to try that.


From there we drove to Kovalam beach. This is not a best time to visit the beach (High tides), but still we enjoyed every bit of our visit by hitting ourselves against the raging waves. Later that night we decided to have dinner at the shore. “Beatles” is a decent place to have food and drinks. The shore is filled with restaurants. We hardly were at our seats, instead grabbed the beer and food to the sand and sat there enjoying the night breeze.

Whenever I am at the beach, a nice valuable thought emerges in me; even this time it did; a thought; a lesson.


September 9th Sunday –

We got up early and went to Ananthapadmanaba Swamy temple at the heart of the city. It’s the most famous temple in Thiruvanthapuram. The architecture is simply amazing. The huge corridors full of stone carvings, millions of lamps and of course a big idol of Ananthpadmanabha Swamy, sleeping on kalinga sarpa (Five headed snake).

At 9:30 we reached Seb’s house and had a very delicious breakfast (All 13 of us). The menu consisted of – Appam, Veg stew, steamed banana, Halwa made of rice powder and another dish which is similar to idli but sweet, called Vatta Appam.

After that filling breakfast we left to Padmanabhapuram palace. It’s a huge palace and it took us a lot of time there than expected. It’s full of amazing architectures and paintings, worth a visit. The best thing about this place is the arrangement done by the government. As you walk into the palace, at every next step there will be a guide appointed to tell you the importance of the area in which you are. They all can speak in Malayalam, English or Tamil. I think all cultural heritage sites in India should have such system arranged through the government rather than we fighting over guides for fair concession.




Outside the palace there are several shops with good interesting stuffs like paintings and wood work but you have to try your bargaining skills and reduce the price. I bought a mat with kathakali (Folk dance of Kerala) painting on it.


Kanyakumari was the most exciting place of all. I was all enthusiastic about this visit of mine to southern most part of Indian main land. We took a ferry to Vivekananda rock. The place of meditation of Swami Vivekananda is now a memorial and invites several tourists to its Dyana mandira. I tried to meditate but it was very noisy; should have been much quieter for Vivekananda, I thought, looking at the crowd.




It is also believed that Goddess Parvathi had performed tapas on this rock standing on one foot. The foot prints are still on the rock.


I bought a few books. One is a rare collection of photographs of Swami Vivekananda. I have always enjoyed his writing and thoughts.

Another statue of the poet Thiruvala stands on a rock next to Vivekananda rock. Well to be very frank I was not pretty impressed by this statue.

We returned back to the mainland and had food. After which Sush and I went to the temple. The Kanya kumarai idol in the temple is very special. The diamonds in her nose rings glow magnificently. It seems the light from it even attracted foreign sailors. Thus the door facing the beach remains closed till date. In the night, it appeared as though two lamps were glowing on her face, but when looked closely one can identify that it is a reflection of the lamp in the side, on the two diamonds on her nose rings.

We then walked around the place, enjoyed the night view at the rocks. We caught up with others and left to Thiruvanthapuram.




September 10th Monday -

Morning we left to CVN Karali Sangam, I did not want to miss this place. Kalari payatu is the oldest form of martial arts the world. It is also believed that the sages from here who traveled to the Himalayas taught the art form to the people there and thus it spread across Asia. We were allowed to see the class session. The classes are from 6:30 to 8:30 AM. They also arrange a performance especially for tourists for Rs 5000.

After which, we left for the wedding. This was the first time I was attending a Christian wedding. The wedding went well.

On the way back Subbu and I took a tour. We took an auto the Kalari sangam again. I wanted some books or pictures from their office, which was closed in the morning. But unfortunately the place was closed till 4:30 PM. We tried to ask the auto driver if he knew some place where we could find a book on Kalari. He nodded and took us into some remote area. We dint have luck there either. But our Driver was not ready to let go that easily, He took us to another place after speaking to a guy in this shop. We again journeyed into the interiors of Thiruvanthapuram city. We tried our luck in two shops but found none; which is kind of surprising that the oldest martial art has no importance in the place where it originated. I think this is the issue with anywhere in India. We are yet to recognize the importance of our culture, traditions and history. I myself did not know much of this art form until my boss in the US, mentioned to me about it. He also told me that the martial arts that he practices have traces of Kalari Payatu. I wanted to send him some pictures and books.

Anyway, the auto driver was too disappointed that he could not help us out. It was really nice of him to try his best. And interesting thing is we spoke in broken Malayalam, Kannada but still managed to make a communication understandable. :-)

We left Thiruvanthapuram at 4:00 PM. The journey back was uneventful for me, but some had trouble with bed bugs. But otherwise the journey back went by fine. We reached Bangalore at 7:30 AM.


FOR THE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES, CREDITS GO TO MY FRIENDS.