Sunday, January 1, 2006

Karnataka: Hampi Circuit

Decemeber 2005
Karnataka circuit- 14 Days, 2250 Kms by car




Places covered
Hampi Circuit
Sharvanbelgaon circuit

Karnataka Jain Circuit
Costal Karnataka
Dandeli

December 4, 2005, Sunday: Pune-Kholapur-Nipani-Staundi-Kothali-Mudhol (375 Kms approx)
We started at morning around 8 am. We reached around 12.30/1pm a place called Staundi which is just after Nipani on Pune-Banglore highway (0.5 hrs after Kolhapur). The 275 Kms Drive was pleasant. After visiting the Jain temple we had lunch and we proceeded to a place called Mudhol. Mudhol should be close to 100 Kms. On the way we visited another marvelous Jain temple at place called Kothali. The roads were pretty bad as this was internal road. We reached at around 5pm and stayed at Hotel called Kollar.

December 5, 2005, Monday: Mudhol-Badami-Pattadakkal-Aihole-Hospet (275 Kms)After having breakfast in the early morning and started at again 8 am to reach Badami around 10.30am. Not sure but this be close to 100 Kms. The red colored mud road where tar was virtually non-existent for half of the drive also had huge potholes and large stones.

We went directly to Badami caves which are picturesquely located on a mountain overlooking a large reservoir of water. (The famous scenes from movie Guru were shot here later). There were 4 big rock-cut caves with some carvings on a steep mountain. There are proper steps to climb. The largest and most ornamental is the third cave dedicated to Vishnu. Afterward we visited the famous Devi temple and proceeded to Pattadakkal.


Pattadakkal
Pattadakkal is 30/40 Kms away from Badami. There is large area with beautiful temples build by Vikramaditya II of Dravidian, Aryan and north-Indian styles all at one place with marvelous carvings. The temples are called Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna. And this was where the

crowning ceremony of the king had happened. After visiting a Jain Basadi with two large elephants in the front we had lunch in the garden nearby and proceeded to Aihole.


Aihole
Aihole is some 15 Kms from Pattadakkal. Called as ‘Cradle of Indian Architecture’, Aihole is said to have close to hundred temples mostly in ruins scattered all around the village. We could locate only one temple is re-constructed properly. After visiting that proceeded to Hospet


Hospet
Aihole to Hospet is close to 120 Kms. We reached Hospet at around 8.30 and stayed at KTDC hotel. This was a pretty long day.


December 6, 2005, Tuesday: Hampi
Early morning we had a huge breakfast in a big fast food joint called Shanbag. Any Dosa item - Masala, set, sada doas all were for 10 Rs. Idly, Idly-Vada was for only 6 Rs!!! After heavy breakfast we proceeded to Hampi.


Hampi, called the land of surprises was discovered by two local princes- Hakka and Bukka. The mighty and wealthy Vijaynagar empire was fallen after combined attack of Muslim Sulatans of Deccan in 1565 AD.


The current allowed visiting area was spread over 25 acres with well built internal roads but completely isolated. Guides were available at 500/- front gate. For all the places we had to go by car, visit and then proceed further. The list is endless- 6.7m tall Ugra Narshima seated under 7 hooded snake, 3 ft tall Gigantic Shivalinga which is permanently in water, The beautiful architected Hindu-Muslim fusion styles of Lotus Mahal, Virupakha Bazar, 15m square and 1.8m deep stone structured Queens bath, Erotic sculptures on Achut Raya temple--- all are fascinating!


At one point I accidentally forgot my keys inside!!! Some of the nearby drivers helped. After removed the Driver seat window lining we succeeded after almost an hours try!


In the evening we returned to Hospet, had lunch at same shanbag (Rs15 for mini meal)/Idli/Dosa..
 
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Karnataka: Dandeli

December 2005
Karnataka circuit- 14 Days, 2250 Kms by car


Places covered
Hampi Circuit
Sharvanbelgaon circuit
Karnataka Jain Circuit
Costal Karnataka
Dandeli


December 15, 2005, Thursday: Dandeli (93 Kms)We decided to take road through Dandeli to Belgaum. Well Dandeli was not a planned visit and I had decided if we do find a good place then only we would stay back. Luck was on our side.

In afternoon we came across awesome KTDC resort right in the heart of Jungle - a place called
Kulgi

Kulgi Nature Camp is located at a distance of around 14 km from the Dandeli National Park. This camp has small museum, nature interpretation centre. It is located on the Ambika Nagar- Yellapur Road.

It has beautiful tents – not swiss tents but pretty similar. The interiors were very pleasant- with coir matting, two clean beds and chairs. The restrooms were common and located slightly away. The management couple was very helpful. We were the only ones staying for that night in the whole camp of 15 tents. Seemed bit scary at first...

In the evening we took a safari ride. Saw bison, junglee hen, deers, monkeys and few birds in or 3 hours ride. Its very thick forest, tall trees, very well preserved. The temperature dropped in the evening and it was chilling. Had hot pithali-bhakri, first maharashtrian lunch in the trip after long time., first time ever we started our picnic.

It is said that the cave with Shivalinga-like laterite formations is also well worth a visit but could not get a chance to visit.

December 16, 2005, Friday: Belgaum (80 Kms)On 16 the morning we started for Belgaum. Had flat tyre in the resort itself. After changing the tyre we proceeded to Belgaum. Reached in the afternoon. We chose to stay on Poona highway. After some shopping, went to Maruti service station in the evening to check the damage. They assured me everything was okay and need not worry about oil tank etc.

December 17, 2005, Saturday: Pune (336 Kms)Drove back via  Karad. Reached pune in the afternoon.

It was awesome trip that would be cherished forever!!!

Karnataka: Costal Circuit

December 2005
Karnataka circuit- 14 Days, 2250 Kms by car


Places covered
Hampi Circuit
Sharvanbelgaon circuit
Karnataka Jain Circuit
Costal Karnataka
Dandeli



Udipi
After visting Vennor we started our onward journey to Udipi. Distance via Karkala should have been 75 Kms approx. Had to go back and forth to search a decent hotel, but finally found a decent one.  We Enjoyed evening on Malpe beach.

December 11, 2005, Sunday: Udipi

Early morning we took one hour boat drive to St Marys island which is a famous picnic spot. Roamed a bit in the city and saw Manipal in the evening. Manipal is twin city, an educational hub. Huge university building seemed to resting silently since it was Sunday. After lot of days we were seeing hustle-bustle and collegians enjoying the lovely evening.

December 12, 2005, Monday: Udipi-Bhatkal-Murudeshwar (110 kms)
We began our onward journey early morning to Bhatkal.

On the way, we took a 2 hours back water boat ride in a river, near Marathvana beach. It was beautiful experience with clean water and thick jungle of coconut trees on both the banks. Somewhere in the middle the boatman stopped the boat where the water was extremely shallow. We got down and had fun playing in cool water. The soft silky sand was tickling us to stay longer.

After refreshing coconut water we started for Bhatkal Market. Bhatkal, although a very small town, is famous for its items from foreign market. Right from chocolates to toys you get everything here. Especially Taiwanese products were in abundance in the tiny shops.

MurudeshwarLater we proceeded to Murudeshwar in the afternoon. I think it was very close to Bhatkal around 15-20 kms.

The name "Murudeshwara" means Shiva or Eeshwara. The significance of this holy town dates to the time of Ramayana. A huge towering statue of Lord Shiva, visible from great distances, is built on the Kanduka Hill which is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Arabian Sea. It is the tallest statue of Shiva in the world. The statue is 123 feet (37 m) in height, and took about 2 years to build. A 20-storied-249 feet tall Raja Gopura which is considered the tallest gopura in the world was being still constructed at the temple. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to the temple. Everything is well maintained inside the complex with lush green lawns and a sunset point. The entire temple and temple complex, including Raja Gopura, is constructed by Mr R. N. Shetty.

We stayed in one of his hotels next to temple complex which had this statue on one side and endless sea on other side. It was wonderful experience as all the rooms were overlooking beautiful beach below. In the evening we enjoyed on the beach.

December 13, 2005, Tuesday: Murudeshwar
We relaxed the beach again in the morning. We spent the day lazily enjoying the breath taking views and different shades of sunlight watching the endless tries of water waves to reach further down shores. In the evening we relished the beautiful sunset.


December 14, 2005, Wenesday: Karwar (120 Kms)
It is said to have inspired Tagore to pen his first drama. The Devbagh Beach, is a must for beach lovers, a pleasant beach where you can enjoy beautiful evenings. We arrived alet morning and after checking 2-3 hotels we finally settled in hotel slightly on outskirts. We enjoyed the evening on beach and long toy-train ride.


Continued...

Karnataka: Jain Circuit

December 2005
Karnataka circuit- 14 Days, 2250 Kms by car


Places covered
Hampi Circuit
Sharvanbelgaon circuit
Karnataka Jain Circuit
Costal Karnataka
Dandeli


This was perfect Jain trail!

December 10, 2005, Saturday: Dharmsthal-Karkala-Mudbidri-Vennur-Udupi  (180 Kms)Stayed a decent hotel, can’t remember the name. The city itself is pilgrim city and famous for Lord Manjunath-Shiva temple. Dharamsthala, renowned as Kuduma eight centuries ago, is a famous pilgrim location of Jains. Dharmasthal is famous for 39 feet high Gomateshwara (Lord Bahubali) (175 tons) statue. We visited the statue in

KarkalaFrom Dharmsthal we proceeded to Karkala, should be around 65 Kms.

Karkala is well known for its massive 42 feet monolithic statue of Gomateshwara (Lord Bahubali), the son of the first Jain Tirthankar, believed to have been built around 1432 AD. The first name of this town was Pandya Nagari, named during the Jain regime, but afterwards it was changed to Karikallu because of black stones. It is located atop a hill, called the Bahubali hill. It is a towering monolithic granite structure and one among the five main Gomateshwaras in the state. From the base of the hill, a slightly curving set of steps, quite steep in places, leads visitors to the top and a tar road also leads for vechiles. The top provides panoramic views of the surrounding areas including the famous Ramasamudra lake.

Apart from Karkala Gomateshwara the other Jain monuments worthy of a visit in Karkala are the Chaturmukha Basadi, which is so called because it has four entrances, and is believed to have been built in the mid 16th century by King Bhairasa the Second. It has beautiful high ceilings and has shrines dedicated to three Jain Tirthankaras Sri Arhat, Malli and Suvrate apart from smaller images of 24 Tirthankaras.

Moodabidri ( Mudabdri)
We proceeded to our next destination- Mudbidri which should have been around 20 Kms from Karkala. Moodabidri (also called Mudabidri), an ancient center of Jain learning, is a small town situated at a beautiful spot in the midst of hills.


Moodabidri was a center of Jain religion, culture, art and architecture during 14th - 16th centuries. It is famous as the "Jaina Kashi" of the South.

Amongst the 18 Basadi, the most famous are Ammanavara Basadi, Guru Basadi and Tribhuvan Tilak Chudamani Basadi. While the magnificent stucco images in Leppada Basadi are a must see, do not miss the Parshawanatha stone idol in the Guru Basadi. The rare Jain palm leaf manuscripts, also famous as 'Dhavala texts' are preserved in this Basadi.
Tribhuvan Tilak Chudamani Basadi or the Thousand Pillar Temple is ornately carved in the Vijayanagar style and is the largest amongst all. This was built around 1430 AD, and is a spectacular piece of architecture. The basadi’s pillars are each constructed in a different style, depicting the architectural techniques of various eras. The pillars and the roof this open hall are decorated with beautiful and minute carvings typical of Vijayanagara style. The 15-meter tall freestanding single stone pillar called manasthambha in front of the basadi, is indeed a beautiful art. 

There were small stautes of tirthankaras made of gems - daimonds, ruby, neelmani etc.

Vennur (Venoor)
From Mudbidri we went to Vennur which is 20 kms approx.


Venur or Venoor is a small village on the banks of the Phalguni river in the South Kanara of Karnataka, India. It was once the main center of Jainism. It was the capital of the Ajila Dynasty and one of the most prominent Kings of them. Thimmanna Ajila built a colossus of Gommateshwara 35 feet high in 1604 A.D. He was a direct descendant of Chamundaraya, who built one at Shravanbelgola.

The statue stands facing westward on a high platform on the banks of the river Phalguni. The statue is supposed to have been sculptured by Amarashilpi Jakanachari.

continued...

Karnataka: Sharvanbelgaon circuit

December 2005
Karnataka circuit- 14 Days, 2250 Kms by car


Places covered
Hampi Circuit
Sharvanbelgaon circuit

Karnataka Jain Circuit
Costal Karnataka
Dandeli


December 7, 2005, Wednesday: Hospet-Chitadurga-Sharvanbelgaon.(400 Kms)We proceeded to our next destination -Shravanbelgaon. This was the longest journey of around 400 Kms. Hospet to Chitragdurga was 150 Kms via Kudligi.  After a hearty lunch we proceeded without entering the city. We had to leave highways and again take a internal road. I guess proceeded via Hiryur. The road had scenic beauty with teak/supari/coconut plantations, almost a jungle, but indeed a bad road with huge potholes. Was driving at 50/60kms per hour when I missed one such pothole and the oil tank was hit with oil leaking heavily. Luckily we realized it on a highway near a road cross. We had to wait for 2.5 hours while the mechanic repaired the oil tank. We reached Shravanbelagaon late at night. We stayed at Dharmashala.

December 8, 2005, Thursday: Sharvanbelgaon.
Early morning we climbed the steep hill with 650 steps. This is one of the most popular Jain pilgrimage center in South India, and is known for its 1000 years old gigantic (57 feet) colossal monolithic statue of Gomateswara, on top of a hill.

The word "Sravanbelagola" means the Monk of the White Pond (Sravana means Monk and belagola means a White Pond). The statue of Gomateshwara was erected during the reign of the Ganga King, Rachamalla, under the patronage of his minister Chamundrayar and by sculptor Aristenemi (981 AD). The Mahamastakabhishek is held once in 12 years, when the Gomateswara is bathed in milk, curds, ghee, saffron, gold coins and hundreds of flowers. The next Mahamastakabhishek would be 2018.

In the evening, we climbed another small hill probably Chandragiri (or was it vindhyagiri?), where there more of 10th century temples.

December 9, 2005, Friday: Sharvanbelgaon-Hassan-Halebidu-Dharmsthal (200 Kms)Next day,we proceeded for Halebid-Bellur. On the way we had a hearty breakfast in Hassan at relatives place.

Halebid is 40 kms from Hassan and around 100 kms from Shravanbelgaon. Halebid and Belur are known for the Hoysala temples, which are world famous for their sculptures and architecture. It is said that they were being built for 150yrs and 3 generations were working on it. These temples are cut from soft stone allowing for very intricate carvings on the walls. Halebid (Hale’beedu) literally means ‘the ruined city’. During the 12th and 13th centuries AD, it flourished as the capital of the Hoysala Dynasty for about 150 years. It was also then known as Dwarasamudra (gateway to the seas). However, invaders who robbed it of its treasures, leaving behind the ruins of the once-magnificent Shiva temple, twice attacked it. The Hoysalas then shifted their capital to Belur, leaving behind Halebid, a city once grand and since reduced to poverty and ruins.

Halebid
The astounding 12th century twin Shiva temple in hallebid, Hoysaleshwara, is unique for its two shrines in the Linga form and gigantic figures of Nandi (sacred bull). It is actually two temples attached along the north-south axis by pillared walls. This temple is twice the size of Belur's Chennakeshava Temple and the figures are larger as well. Infront of the Hoysaleshwara is the Nandimantapa and behind that is a shrine of Surya with a two-metre-tall image. Outer walls have various sculptures depicting Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvadgeeta. The guide showed how tiny carvings were, where even a needle can be inserted in the carvings.


Bellur
Bellur is 20/30 kms away. The intricate workmanship leaves you speechless in Channakeshava temple which is the only temple still in use for people to offer prayers. It is the most marvelous specimen of Hoysala architecture - the angled bracket figures depicting celestial nymphs are found here.


In order to commemorate his victory over the Cholas in the battle of Talkad, King Vishnuvardhana  built Belur Temple in 1117 A.D. It took 103 years to complete. When you complete the tour of endless carvings on outside from elephants to epics to sensuous dancers the inner part with hand-lathe huge pillars still surprise you. This Forty-six pillars support the extensive hall, each of a different design. The Narasimha pillar could be rotated at will!
Well whatever you write, words can pen down the beauty of these fantabulous pieces of art. One must see to believe this craftsmanship.

Later we proceeded to Dharmsthal. There was huge ghat of around 40-50 kms with lots of risky U-turns. But it offered a great panoramas view of mountains. Reached Dharmasthal late at night.

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