Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kaivara & Chintamani

On the 14th Of January 2018, Preethi and I left Bangalore at around 6:30 AM. I wanted to explore Chintamani Taluk of Chikkaballapura District. Our first stop was Amaranarayan Swamy Temple at Kaivara. As per the legend, the main idol is installed by Lord Indra himself. At the temple, women were offered free bangles. When asked about the importance, they told us that Sri Thathayya, a very famous saint who hails from this region used to offer free bangles to women outside the temple.

The Yoginarayanmutt, situated close by from the temple is the place where Sri Thathayya went on Jeeva Samadhi (Buried alive).

Aranya Rama temple and Rameshwara Swamy temple is located near the Amaranrayan swamy temple. And also Vasavi Kanyakaparameshwari temple. We walked to the Bheemalingeshwara temple as well. It has some impressive architecture. 

The hill in front of the temple is said to be the place where Bakasaura was killed. This story is prevalent in many villages and apparently I have been to many hills in different villages where this event from Mahabaratha is said to have occurred. 

We next drove to the Thathayya caves where he is said to have found enlightenment. The cave and the meditation centre was very peaceful. In the hill in front of the temple is a Ranganatha swamy temple. One could trek to the top via a trail that starts at the zoo maintained by forest department. Before climbing up to the caves, there is a yoganarasimha temple at the base. 

Our next stop was Kailasagiri, a recently built rock cut cave temple. I was totally impressed by this temple. It is well maintained and has less tourists. Only people from near by towns seemed to visit this place. 

At the base of the hill, we had free meal offered by the temple authority. It is a simple food and you could donate as well if you wish. We headed to Chintamani next. At Chintamani town we climbed the Varadanjanaya temple hill. The temple was closed but the view from  the summit was very beautiful.

I met an old man called Narayan swamy who had come up there to feed biscuits to the monkeys. He talked to me a lot about this beautiful Shiva temple called Naganatheshwara swamy temple. He believes that there is no Shiva linga as beautiful as that. He showed me some of the videos of a special pooja that he arranged there. Seeing his appreciation, we decided to go there. At Naganatheswara temple, we sat inside waiting for the priest to finish the decoration. It felt peaceful in there. 

We next drove to the Kadumalleshwara swamy temple situated on top of a hill, in the outskirts of the town. We drove almost three fourth the distance and then had to return as there was no road ahead. We did not wish to walk as it was already getting dark. The view up there was excellent. 

We next drove to Almagiri. The Laxmi Venkateshwara temple in this small village is very impressive. There was a very divine setting out there with priests singing prayers. The main shrine is constantly visited by monkeys who are allowed to steal bananas from there. It was a peaceful evening out there in the village and it was a perfect place to end this day trip. 

Hulukadi Betta

Hullukadi Betta is located 75kms from Yellodu, in the direction of Bangalore. It is situated close to Doddabalapura. Google maps misled us and directed us to take some pathetic routes that only exist on maps. I had to drive carefully so as to not fall into a ditch. We finally made it to the Hullukadi betta at around 5:30PM. It was almost close to sunset and so, we raced up the stairs.

Believe me, this turned out to be an incredible experience. There was nobody except us at the summit of Hullukadi Betta and we witnessed sunset and moonrise. It was an exciting feeling to be up there and watch the sky slowly turn dark after a display of vibrant colours.

Mir and I decided to explore the hill a bit and tried to find our way up the boulders behind the temple. But we could not find a trail. Since it was getting dark, we gave up and decided to return. 

The moon was bright and the sky was lit by several stars. Trekking Hulukadi Betta seemed like a perfect end to this amazing day filled with three interesting treks. We were exhausted by the time we returned but it was a rewarding experience. Every moment of this day was exciting.

Hulukadi Betta Trek Video - 

Sri Lakshmi Adinarayana Swami Temple, Yellodu

Our first trek for the day to Gudibande fort had filled us with energy and enthusiasm. We took some interior unpaved roads suggested by Google maps to our next destination - Lakshmi Adinarayana swami temple, Yellodu. The road passed through vineyards and was an interesting drive. 

At the base of the hill, we met a police constable who was kind enough to give us some extra details. He told us that at the summit, we should walk towards the far right, behind the Lakshmi Adinarayana Swami temple to get some good views. He also suggested that we try the hill opposite to the one we were climbing. It is believed to have housed the original temple in the ancient days. He also told us that if it he would have been free, he would have joined us too to trek that hill. We were surprised by the kindness people were showing us. 

Lakshmi Adinarayana Swamy temple is very popular among locals. A flight of stairs built up to the temple makes the climb convenient for the devotees. It is disappointing though to see a lot of beggars here. There was at least one beggar at every four steps. It appeared as though every old man or woman from the neighbouring villages had come here to earn some extra money. Many devotees religiously paid each one of them. 

At the summit, we first went to the location suggested by the constable. The views as he had mentioned are impressive.

We spent some time at the cave temple of Sri Lakshmi Adinarayana Swamy and had some general conversations with a few locals before returning back. 

At the base of the hill, we met the constable again who suggested that we have the free lunch offered at the Bhojanashala. Every Sunday, free meal donated by the devotees is served there. The food was really delicious. There was a variety of dishes served. The constable and his friend joined us for food. I realised the joy in sharing food and how temples promote this mindset in people. Even in Mangalore (My Hometown) this is common in famous temples. 

After that satisfying experience, we decided to head towards our last trek for the day. It was already 3:30 PM. Sri Lakshmi Adinarayana Swami Temple proved to be an unexpected stop for us and that is what made this journey memorable. 

Gudibande Fort Trek

Gudibande fort is situated in Chikaballapura district, about 95 kms from Bangalore. I wanted to do 3 treks on this day; an ambitious project that I have never taken up before. My friends Mir and Manohar joined my enthusiasm. We left Bangalore at around 7:30AM on the 31st of December 2017 and reached Gudibande at around 10:00 AM. We had our breakfast at a local restaurant. The impressive fort was visible from a distance. 

You can park you car next to the steps that lead to the fort summit. The climb is not very difficult. The steps give way to a trail and some rock cut steps. It is not a tiring trek at all. At different levels, there are interesting architecture that reminds us of the by gone era. 

By A pond believed to have created by Lakshmana from Ramayana, we met a bunch of middle aged guys. They were cleaning the pond by collecting the trash people had thrown. A man had brought along his colleagues from Bangalore to his hometown and his friends from the village had accompanied them to the summit. They told us a lot about the fort and the temple at the summit. 

The hill is actually called Surasadhma Giri. There is an annual festival that takes place at the temple that attracts a huge gathering. A wall made of mud is built in front of the main deity. People form human chain and supply water from the pond to the main shrine for Abhisheka (Pouring libation to deity) until the mud wall collapses. It is believed that rains would follow soon after and support the cultivation. 

I had planned to trek Avalabetta next but they told me that trekking was stopped up there due to some recent unfortunate events. Instead, they asked us to climb the hill at Yellodu. We relaxed there for a while as we observed the village and India shaped lake below. 

They offered us some home cooked food that they were carrying and we shared some fresh carrots and cucumbers with them. Though it was not a long or a tiring trek, the experience was great and I was all set to climb the next hill. At the base of the hill, we met a gentleman who gave us more history about the place and also told us that we could learn more from his youtube channel. We thanked him and drove towards our next destination.