Tuesday, 5 November 2013

About Veera Narayana Temple - Belavadi

Chikkamagalur district of Karnataka is known for its scenic beauty and temples. The temples such as that at Belur, Halebeedu, and Belavadi flaunt Hoysala architecture and craftsmanship. Belavadi is a small village that hosts the Veera Narayana temple. It is said that the prince Bheema killed Bakasura (demon) at this place to protect the people.
The Veera Narayana temple is about 25 kilometers from Belur and about 9 kilometers from Halebeedu. Tourists flock and flood Belur and Halebeedu; however, most of them aren't aware of the temple at Belavadi. Thus, when we visited the temple, we were the only people other than the priests at the temple.
The Veera Narayana temple is a Vaishnava temple and has three shrines. The temple is made of soapstone, and was built during 1206 AD by Hoysala Empire King Veera Ballala II. As you enter, you are greeted by idols of elephants, and the common mantap. The deities are different forms of Lord Vishnu. At the centre shrine, Lord Narayana stands tall (8 feet), has four hands, and stands on padmasana. The idol is absolutely beautiful.
The southern shrine belongs to Lord Venugopala (8 feet tall). This is a form of Lord Krishna playing his flute. When I saw this idol, I was totally mesmerised. The lord standing in tribangi position under the tree, playful smile on the His face, and almost closed eyes! Along the side of the idol, you can see carvings of shravana kumaras, gopikas, cows and calves, and gopalakas dancing, and Rukmini and Sathyabhama. This idol is gorgeous.
The northern shrine hosts Lord Yoganarashimha (7 feet tall). The lord sits in yogamudra and wears the yoga patti. In two of lord's hands are shanka (conch) and chakra (disc); the other two hands rest on the knees. Sridevi and Bhoodevi stand next to the lord on either side.  
I took a while to seep in the beauty of the idols. The hands of the craftsman must have had magic to transform a plain lifeless soapstone in to charming idols! I must have gone round the temple more than three times observing the beauty. We spent more than 4-5 hours there.
A must-visit place for anyone planning a trip to Chikkamagalur district!

Elephants and decorations
Temple complex and pillars
Carvings on the ceilings
Side view of temple complex and a gopuram
Sculptures of Lords

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Govardhana Giridhari - A frieze at Belavadi

The Veera Narayana temple, Belavadi was built around 1200 AD by Hoysala Empire King Veera Ballala II. If you plan to travel to Karnataka, ensure that you visit this temple. It's gorgeous!
 Walking around the temple, you can see this beautiful piece of stonework. The stonework has been destroyed during invasion. The centre piece depicts Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhana hill; the left and right pieces show the cows and cowherd. The story goes like this - when the angry Lord Indra lashed rains, Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan hill and held it up. His people and cattle took shelter under the hill. Lord Krishna was the epitome of kindness.
Participating in Thursday Challenge - OLD (Buildings, People, Antiques, Books, Food, Vehicles,...)! Please also see photos submitted by other participants.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pollibetta, Coorg

We take less than a minute to decide upon our next travel. The destination that we choose this time around was Pollibetta, Coorg. Though we have visited Coorg several times, we knew for sure that this trip would be awesome. Reason? Well, just a great feeling!

From Bangalore, we drove to Hunsur, taking the Bidadi-Mandya route. From Hunsur, we drove towards Periyapatana, and then deviated to the Siddapur-Gonikoppa road. The K. R. S road and the road leading to Pollibetta were pathetic. But our Scorpio loved the roads! We followed the Plantation Trails/Orange Country hoardings. Yes, we stopped at several places to stretch our legs and to absorb the greenery.

The cottage staff were kind to call us to find out if we needed assistance during our drive. When we arrived at Pollibetta, we loved it! Quiet little place covered with trees and coffee plants. Peaceful and healthy faces that greeted even the strangers with a smile. Yes, yes, these were the indication of a lovely holiday!

The Cottabetta bungalow is gorgeous. It's an old British bungalow that has been renovated, and what a beautiful job Tata staff has done! When we arrived, the staff greeted us with kumkum and turmeric, introduced themselves and the facilities, and then took us to our room. We loved the room! Our stomaches were growling, and we blindly followed our nose towards the dining hall. The hall's main attraction was something unimaginable - the splendid one-piece dining table made from teak wood!

The cottages have a veranda that leads to the bedroom (with attached bathroom). The bedroom either has two single beds or a single queen-sized bed. The cots and other furniture are again old teak ones. The windows are fun; one can bend and exit out through the window. Well, the staff knows people may do such stupid stuff, and therefore, they have covered the area with nets that act as security screens. The food was delicious; mostly, simple Coorg cuisine. The freshness of the produce adds a delicate flavor to all the dishes. The fruits taste delicious. Oh, everything feels awesome! :-)

We had almost the entire bungalow for ourselves, to explore and to admire. The garden flaunted pretty and colorful flowers. The neatly maintained lawn stole our attention. The array of trees surrounding the bungalow resembled armed soldiers. The staff told us that elephants could be spotted a few meters away from the bungalow. Ta da... That's not fun, they warned. The elephants are wild and can be notorious. We were advised not to venture alone at odd hours - early mornings and late nights without informing staff or seeking their assistance.

Oh, the next morning was amazing! At 4.30 am, we stood outside, waiting for the dawn to break. We did this task on all the days that we stayed. The first ray of the Sun peeps through the darkness, and then several hundreds of rays follow. Within seconds, the sky had several mesmerizing hues. The first birds to wake up and to sing were the bulbuls; oh, were they restless! Waves of birds took turns to sing and to greet the Sun. My words can't describe our experience. One must be at that place to experience the sunrise.

One can drive to nearby tourist spots - Madikeri, Naraghole, Dubare, and other places - or try the 'Within the gates' activities:
  • Lazy Daisies - Bonfire & BBQ, Stroll through aromatic coffee estates
  • Nature Lovers - Guided bird watching tour, plantation jeep drive, coffee picking experience, and tea picking experience
  • Sporty Types - Golf, A game of badminton or tennis, cycling
In the morning, a walk through the Golf course is refreshing. Walking on the morning dews that are settled on the lawn is soothing. If one maintains silence, one can also observe birds. When we went for the walk, we experienced rain for a brief while. We saw birds too. We extended our walk with our dear guide, Mr. Uday, and then saw the hornbill. Was a rare sighting! The list of birds that we spotted and photographed are available at Our Nature Friends blogsite. (Total of 35+ birds spotted during our journey from Bangalore to Pollibetta.)

Next time you are planning for a vacation, please consider Pollibetta. Have fun! Oh, and do buy the honey and other products that the estate sells.

Couple of things to remember:
  • When residing at the bungalow, respect privacy of other guests, and respect heritage of the place.
  • When going on a walk, please maintain silence; you may spot a bird or an animal. Please don't play music or allow your mobile phones to ring their crazy lengthy tunes. The wild isn't interested in those tunes; they play better ones. Just listen.
  • Some plants may be protected, don't pick them.
  • Don't venture away without seeking advice from the staff or informing them.
  • Wild animals are unpredictable; follow the guide's instructions.
  • If you are unable to spot all listed birds/animals of the place, please don't pester the guide/staff. According to seasons, birds and animals visit the place.
On way - paddy fields
Cottabetta Bungalow Photos
Shades of dawn :)
Coffee beans, and old temples at Golf course
Food spread!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

My World - A joy ride

Bangalore never stops to amaze me, and I am glad that I'm a native of such an interesting place! 

One afternoon, we were driving on M G Road and saw a father-son duo riding a horse-driven cart and enjoying the lovely weather of Bangalore. What a fun ride that must have been!

Thought that the greenery of the park behind, the handsome horses, and father-son bonding in their cart would make a beautiful memory to capture. Clicked this photo with my smartphone, and attempted to freeze that serene moment. 

Enjoy your Monday!

I am participating in Meghana's 'My World Monday.' Please check out her Website for photos from other participants.


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Lord Rama and Demon Ravana in battle - A frieze at Belur

Lord Rama and the ten-headed demon Ravana in battle; the monkey army helping Lord Rama to defeat Ravana. 

The Rama-Ravana battle scene

I'm submitting this photo in Thursday Challenge - 'ART' (Sculpture) Theme. Please also check the beautiful photos that other participants have shared.

Other photos of Belur temple: http://onholidaytours.blogspot.in/2013/07/our-world-tuesday-july-1-2013.html


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Our World Tuesday - July 2, 2013

Hello world! :-)

Belur is a famous tourist place of Karnataka, India. Belur flaunts Chennakeshava temple, one of the finest Hoysala architecture and workmanship. Well, infinite number of people have tried to capture the temple's beauty in their cameras. Here is my humble attempt.

A glimpse of Chennakeshava temple, Belur
I'm participating in Our World Tuesday. Please check out little worlds of other participants.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Drive to Yercaud for a cuppa coffee

We always enjoy a cup of delicious and hot coffee. In search of such a cup of coffee, we drove about 230 kilometers from Bangalore during a working week, and then reached Yercaud (Tamil Nadu) for lunch. We have visited this place several times. This time around we only wanted to rest and enjoy whatever the place could offer us.

The tourist season was over. The streets were almost empty. The place was serene; was all for ourselves and for the locals. We couldn't ask for more, could we? Our route was:

Bangalore > Hosur > Krishnagiri > Dharmapuri > Salem > Yercaud

[For driving directions, see http://www.mustseeindia.com/driving-directions-from-Bangalore-to-Yercaud/travel-direction.]

The National Highway Authorities are expanding the highway, and therefore, a few hiccups exist on the road from Hosur to Krishnagiri. Traffic moves slowly due to the road construction. On a working day, there was hardly any traffic on the roads. Awesome to stop, stretch legs, enjoy Nature, and then continue our journey.

As we drove up the hills, the temperature dropped by 2-3 degrees, and the chill breeze greeted us. The rain had washed the plants thoroughly. The road up hill is beautiful. A patrol car is stationed on the road; feel free to reach out to them, in case of any issues. Well, the waterfalls were dry; with a few more rains, the drive up the ghat section will be divine. Oh yes, the road was filled with monkeys! Please don't feed them; the forest has enough food to offer them.

Must I describe the coffee estates? The coffee grown at Yercaud may not be as famous or tasty as that from Coorg; however, one must try a cup of Yercaud coffee. Also try cup of hot tea along with hot and spicy bhajjis made from chilli, raw banana, onion, and potato, and watch the clouds slowly engulfing you. Ensure that you taste the locally grown fruits such as pear, pineapple, and fig. Usually, figs are served with a spoonful of Yercaud honey. Out of this world experience!

We were offered a room with a splendid view. During the evenings and early mornings, the clouds would literally enter our room, if the door was open. Aw, was like we were hosting a tea-coffee party only for the clouds! Sharing a few photos of the clouds...

At India, hill stations are an abode of Gods and Goddesses. Yercaud is no exception. Sri Raja Rajeswari temple is a tourist attraction; cameras and mobile phones strictly not allowed. The Shervaroyan temple is a cave temple and is situated on the top of Shervaroyan hill. Sri Lalitha Thripura Sundari Amman temple is situated at Nagalur, which is about 7 kilometers from Yercaud.

Sri Raja Rajeshwari temple

Sri Lalitha Thripura Sundari Amman temple
Mist at the Shervaroyan hill
The other tourist attractions are the Lady's Seat, Gent's Seat, Pagoda Point, Lake, and Kiliyur waterfalls. See the map for a list of tourist spots.

We also visited the gardens - Botanical garden, Horticultural garden, and Orchidarium. Will blog about the gardens in my Rake and Spade blogspot.

Our Yercaud experience is much more than these words and photos. With a bag full of goodies - coffee, honey, gulkand, spices, and plants - we returned home. Do visit Yercaud, if you already haven't.


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Agalatti River Retreat - Sakleshpur, Karnataka

On the Republic Day (2013), we drove to Sakleshpur, and to the Agalatti River Retreat. We were pleased to see Harsh, who received us in his usual warm and friendly manner. It was a few years since we visited Sakleshpur; we were glad to be visiting again.

Harsha's new retreat is lovely, amidst Nature. Various parts of the property are still being developed. We totally submerged in the beauty of the surroundings. The trees, flowers, bees, and birds seemed to be in sync with one another. The rooms and tents were neat, cute, and comfortable.

We walked in the streams that flow through the property. Played on the swings that were tied to the trees alongside the stream. It was fun to swing high, and let the feet glide over the stream. Even though the Sun was bright, the stream water was cool. Couldn't resist a dip in the stream.

The food that was served was homely. Harsha had got a special dish made - the Shavige (vermicelli). Oh God, we love this dish! Of course, we polished off our plates. He also served watermelon juice; the fruit has grown on the property, and the fruit was sweet.

I found a guava fruit that had fallen down; tasted it, and was it delicious! The pepper creepers hugged the tall trees. The chikoo fruits adorned the trees. The cute little pineapples peeped to see who the visitors were. The super spicy chillies looked like stars in the sky. Beautiful!

We wished that we could halt at the retreat that night, but we had to return to Hassan. Promising to visit again, we bid goodbye to Harsha, and drove back.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Road Trip: Bangalore to Trichy and Thanjavur

We enjoy road trips, and our recent road trip was from Bangalore to Trichy and Thanjavur. We have visited these places before, but this time around we drove. Driving away from the hassle bustle of the city and moving towards a serene stretch of paddy fields was absolutely awesome. Our Scorpio always cooperates and seems to like the road trips especially the worst roads or terrains; city driving seems to domesticate that vehicle!

The cloudy weather was perfect for the drive. Our route was:

The Hosur to Krishnagiri national highway is being expanded, and that slowed our journey. The truck-traffic also slowed us down. The Namakkal to Trichy road runs alongside the Cauvery river. The road is narrow, and the trucks transporting sand tend to monopolize the road. The Srirangam-Trichy bit of the national highway has signs to indicate deviation to Trichy. If one misses the sign, one ends up driving up and down the highway.

We stopped at Namakkal, which is famous for the two caves temples - the Narashimha Swamy temple (Adiyanavaya Visnugrha) and visit the Ranganatha Swamy temple (Adiyendra Visnugrha). The Anjaneya temple is also well-known. The cave temples are beautiful, and dates back to 7th century. We couldn’t visit the Ranganatha Swamy temple on the other side of the Namakkal fort. This temple closes by 11.00 AM (IST). 

During 2011, we visited Namakkal when we drove to Madurai. The travelogue is titled - 'Bangalore to Namakkal - Dec 2011.' Something about the Narashimha Swamy temple... It's gorgeous, and tends to attract us. Relax and look at every pillar and every carving; you'll be amazed at what you'll find!

A glimpse of the Namakkal Narashimha Swamy temple...

From Namakkal, we drove on the Namakkal-Trichy route. The road was narrow; entered and exited the state highways. And reached Trichy. Trichy has several hotels. We decided to stay at one closer to the railway station. It's fun to walk around the busy areas and markets; those are the essence of the place.

We had lunch at the hotel - loved the south Indian meals - which Tamil Nadu is famous for. Rested for a while. That evening, we visited the Samayapuram temple. Ayyapswamy and Amman devotees covered the whole land, resembling a floral carpet. Vehicle parking was over-flowing. Traffic jam was unbelievable. Vendors trying to forceably sell puja items. There was a lot of rush and chaos. We took the special entrance tickets, and entered the sanctum. The Goddess is pretty, and an ocean of warmth. We could feel our spiritual quotient was filling up. :-)

The next morning, we drove (on NH 45) to Tirupattur to visit the Kasi Viswanatha temple and the Brahmapureeshwara temple. It's a rule to first visit the Kasi Viswanatha temple, and then return to the Brahma temple. Both these temples are divine. See http://templesoftamilnadu.co.in/tirupattur-brahmapureeswarar-koil/. It is believed that one's destiny alters after visiting the Brahma temple; however, only those who are destined can visit.

During our previous visit, we couldn't see the Brahma Teertham and the Shiva Lingams at the temple complex. This time around, they were accessible. Each Lingam is unique. The Kailasanathar shrine is absolutely beautiful. If you are planning to travel to this part of world, ensure that you include the Brahma temple in your itinerary.

What can I say about the Kasi Viswanatha temple? It's simply gorgeous. The jeeva samadhi of Sage Vyakrapureeswara is at this temple, as soon as you enter the temple. Adjoining the temple is a tank or a water-body; water from this tank is believed to cure diseases. For more information about the temple and its wonders, please request the purothi to explain. Note that the explanation will be in Tamil. The carvings on the wall, which has been re-assembled, depict extinct animals resembling dinosaurs and fish. Ensure that you observe these cravings.

The Kasi Viswantha temple photos (collages):

The Brahmapureeshwara temple photos (collages):

To be continued...