Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Quick Update

A lot has been happening while I was away from the world of Blogging. I just did not find time to record them regularly. So, this post would try to quickly capture some of the updates from the month that passed by. 

I met up with my group of friends from French class and it is always fun talking to them; specially because, we meet once in a quarter.  

Thanks to some awesome Youtube tutors, I got to practice some Acrylic skills. I tried painting this tree with filbert brush and would love to develop this in future.

After being done with repotting, my plants have been doing really great and yielding good results. Here are some pictures that can speak for themselves. 

As the end of the year approaches, lots of work has been keeping me busy at office. This is the time of the year that I do not enjoy the most at work. However, I have to deal with the corporate culture. But then I did have my escape from all this in the form of my French classes. 

Three of my students (For French) have completed their exams and now I am free. I hence joined French classes at Alliance Fran├žaise de Bangalore since September. My B2 classes are going great. I have met some interesting people who give me a different perspective towards life. I find that very important to meet people from different strata of life because otherwise we are constrained to our own circle of friends at office or from college and cannot expand our thinking beyond it. This is rather a long subject, quiet interesting to elaborate upon and I will return to it in a different post someday. 

However, there is so much to write about my French classes. Our Prof is amazing and he keeps us continuously motivated and ensures that every class is lively and interesting. That I feel is very important for a student. As part of a lesson on art, he took us on a visit to NGMA and view an interesting exhibition of contemporary art. Well, that is an interesting subject and that visit developed a certain kind of debate in me about art itself. I shall definitely write about it someday.

Anyways, I have a short escape from everything planned that I shall soon update about. But till then, here is what I have been doing thus far!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Doddagadduvalli & Shanti grama

I had visited my hometown Suratkal for Diwali. While returning, I decided to stop at a few interesting places that I had never visited before or not even heard of. While browsing through the google map on the route, I chanced upon the historic temples at Doddagadduvalli & Shantigrama. I decided to visit them on my way back. 

Since the Shiradi ghat roads are in poor conditions in some region, I took the Charmadi ghat while returning back to Bangalore. The drive was pleasant and the views were great.

I wanted to visit Belur temple first, but seeing the crowd, I decided not to and took a detour and drove through villages to reach  Doddagadduvalli (15kms from Hasaan, 24kms from Belur). Here, a beautiful Hoysala creation - Lakshmidevi Temple stands fairly intact (As compared to the others int he region). The temple architecture though not as intricate as in Belur is still very impressive. The Bethalas guarding the sanctum of goddess Kali was very neatly carved

My next stop was Shanti Grama, a small village 15kms from Hassan; just off the Bangalore highway. I reached here on time for the evening prayers when the temple doors were opened. I first visited Varada Yoga Bhoga Narasimha temple where the priest offered specials prayers for all who were present. 

Not very far from here, is the ancient Sowmyakeshava temple. The architecture is very impressive. 

My Route - 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Kadiri, Andrapradesh

It rained continuously the previous night. Thunder and lightening woke me up several times. At around 6:00 AM, as usual, I took a walk around the town of Jamalamadagu. I always enjoy my morning walks around a new town to observe how the place wakes up. It was still drizzling while I stepped out. I walked to Ventakeshwara swamy temple that was closed. So, I decided to walk to the Sai Bhaba temple. The temple was empty and thus peaceful. The priest offered me some prasada before I left.

We were ready by 8:00 AM to leave town. On our way, we had spotted some interesting places that we had decided to stop while returning. Our first stop was the Mosambi farm (Sweet Lime). But the previous day's rain had left the soil wet and soggy. When we stepped on to one of the farms to grab some fruits, our sandals sank into the sludge and we returned with our chappals and legs covered in wet mud. We tried to clean it with some rain water collected around there but that was not sufficient. So, we decided to head to the temple we had spotted on the way where we were sure to find some water to clean our foot. Anyway as goes a famous kannada saying - Kai Kesaru Adhare, Bayee Mosaroo (When hands get dirty, mouth tastes yogurt) we experienced the joy of Kaal Kesaru adhru Bayee Mosaroo (One can taste yogurt even when legs get dirty); the Mosambis were really very tasty and made that plunge into the sludge worth it. 

While driving from Kadiri to Jamalamadagu, you take a bypass road to skip the town of Pulivendula. On this bypass road, in the village of Yerragudipalle is a beautiful Ranganathaswamy temple built by the Vijayanagara empire. The temple was not very crowded and we got a good view of the Vishnu idol in the state of Ananthashayana

On our way, we stopped at a small shop to have some breakfast. The lady at the shop prepared some food specially for us. 

Our next stop was Namalagundu Temple of Kanampalli. It is again on the road to Kadiri and is a small temple next to a waterfall. A flight of stairs leads you to the temple on top of a small hill. 

While we traveled further towards Kadiri, we reached Battrepalli Water Falls near Kurli. It was crowded, but we decided to go there anyway. A 15 minutes walk into the forest takes you to the waterfall. It was amazing climbing up and standing beneath the mighty waterfall.

Our last stop was Lakshmee Narasimha swamy temple at Kadiri. It was very crowded so, we did not go in to the see the main diety. We bought some tasty prasadam and left.

After a quick lunch near the temple, we drove back to Bangalore. 

It was an interesting trip and Manohar was a great company to travel with. We had excellent  conversation as always about various topics and two days just flew by. As for as my travels in Andhra goes, I have always had the best of the experiences here and Rayalseema remains to be one of my favorite destinations. 

My Route - 

Sunday, October 15, 2017


My interest to travel in Rayalseema began a few years ago when I explored Ananthpur district in 3 days. Everything about that travel was special - The food, friendly people, fields and uncrowded historical sites. When I read about Gandikota, nicknamed as the Grand Canyon of India, I was very excited to go there. Finally, on the 1st of October, along with my friend Manohar, I drove towards Kadapa district. 

Since we had only two days in hand, I decided to drive directly to Gandikota. On our way, we stopped once at Gummayyagaripalli for breakfast. I enjoy eating in small village restaurants that are setup by the main road. The dosas were delicious. The chutney, especially was spicy and tasty. One of the important thing to notice about food in Andhra is that they are hot and spicy. 

Gandikota is around 285kms from Bangalore via Kadiri and takes you around 6 to 7 hours to reach there. We started at 7:00 AM from Yelahanka and reached our destination at around 1PM.

Just outside the fort, is the only hotel in the area called Hotel Haritha. The place is run by the Government of Andhra and mandates visitors to pre-book the rooms online. Unfortunately, we had no such information so we tried to see if any rooms were available. As expected, all rooms were pre-booked. I had already thought of a backup plan to stay at Jamalamadagu, a town only 15kms from Gandikota. 

It was lunch time, so we had some good vegetarian meals at the hotel. I always enjoy eating pappu. After lunch, we decided to explore the village. 

Gandikota, loosely resembles Hampi. It is not as vast as Hampi but has several ancient architectures spread across the fort like the ruins of Ranganathaswamy and Madavaraya temple, Jamia Masjid, Chaarminar and an ancient jail. 

The Chaarminar has been renovated and the Jamia masjid is under renovation. 

Well crafted pillars of Ranganathaswamy temple are very impressive and has stood the test of time.

The magnificent main entrance of Madavaraya temple still stands tall. 

At one point while entering the Madavaraya temple, I wondered the life of the villagers during the Muslim invasion. The temples were ruined so that no worship could be continued in a damaged temple without a main deity. There were no other temples around from that era. Then how did the Hindus live in such an environment? I wondered how they worshiped God during those times? Where they allowed? Where they not? What happened to all those sculptors who built these beautiful temples? Why did they not build anything similar after the attack? I must read through the history books, if at all there are some details about it. S L Bhyrappa, in his book Avarna though indicates the prominence of Bhakti movement in this period. Poets like Meera Bhai, Kanaka Dasa, Purandara Dasa, Tulsi Dasa, Kabir Das tried to keep the devotion alive. 

On the other hand, Manohar and I also discussed whether it is important to rebuild or renovate these temples and we came to a consensus that perhaps it is not the most important thing to do. We recollected the scene from another novel of S L Bhyrappa called  Sartha where when the Muslim rulers attack the sun temple of north west India the people get worried and they decide to die protecting it.  The main protagonist tries to convince them that they could always build another temple. and it may not be wise to die protecting it. But what still remains important is to be aware of the history and not shy away from it in the name of being secular. However, we should be mature enough to not associate this event with the people of the same community today but at the same time, we must also not deny a terrible history that has shaped our present. 

However, what is more popular here is the picturesque gorges and the river Penna cutting through them. The views of red sandstones topped with some green patches were mesmerising.

We drove to Jamalamadagu and began hunting for a hotel to stay. There are limited options here and the hotels are not very clean or comfortable. So, if you are traveling with family, it is advisable to book Hotel Haritha in advance or find a bigger town like Kadapa or Tadipatri for overnight stay. Luckily for us, we found a hotel, the name of which I do not recollect. It was not the best but it was manageable. 

While locating Gandikota on google maps, I had seen a small temple on the other side of the gorge. I thought it would great to explore the opposite side as I knew it would have fewer visitors. So, we decided to drive there. Google maps showed some really crazy path to this location. We drove over a dam to get there. It was a bit scary to drive over the flood gates but it was quiet an experience. 

We reached Mylavaram on the other side of the dam. There is a famous museum here which unfortunately was closed on the occasion of Muharram. There are a few artefacts displayed on the outside. 

The deserted road to the other side of Gandikota gorges was interesting. The road ends at a Agastyeshwara temple. We walked towards the gorge. Apart from a troop of monkeys, there was nobody there. We sat there for a while absorbing the serenity and beauty of nature. At the valley, we saw a few wild boars roar. 

It was a perfect moment to pull out my art kit and sketch. Here is what I could complete in half an hour, before it got dark. Deciding to complete the sketch later, we left.

Back in Jamalmadagu, we had dinner and retired for the day. It had been a long but exciting day. Gandikota truly impressed me with its magnificent rock formations and historical monuments. The image of the Penna river flowing between the coloured gorges would stay with me forever.