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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.


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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.