Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chennakeshava Temple -Anekere (1119 A.D.)

Another beautiful ancient Hoysala temple is found in a small village called Anekere in Chennarayapatna Taluk. It is an ancient holy village also called as Agrahara and this village is situated just 5kms from the Channarayapatna towm. Over 564 temples in Chennarayapatna Taluk many of them built during the period of Hoysala Empire. There are many temples in and around the town; the most popular temple is Channakeshava Temple dedicated to Lord Chennakeshava (Meaning- Handsome Vishnu) which dates back to the Hoysala period built during 1119 AD stands majestically bearing testimony to the skills of architects of the Hoysalas.
Unfortunately this marvel stands bounded by domestic houses and is almost lost in the encroachment of the village. However it is truly a dramatic sensation to suddenly find such a majestic temple hidden behind houses in a small alley of this sleeping village although the temple remains closed but the temple care-taker duly opens it when visitors arrive.
The temple is built in Hoysala style and has a big open space around the temple. The temple stands in a spacious courtyard surrounded by a covered passage and compound with a Gopura entrance. The entrance to the temple complex is through a porch with tall beautifully carved pillars Set within an enclosed courtyard, with the pillared corridors colonnade around the temple. On the top of the temple, one can find finely carved Kalasha which is unique in its style and is of the biggest in size.
There lathe-turned pillars are one characteristic feature that adds to the uniqueness of the Hoysala style architecture. The pillars are cylindrical in shape with the possible exception of the cubical capital and the base sections. The ring like groves all along the length, except in the lower portion that appears like a bell unlike other structural elements of the temple which were manually executed, the Hoysalas employed some kind of Mechanization in making these pillars.

There freshly quarried soapstone cut and finished about the size of the final pillar is the raw-material. This is then mounted on a wooden swivel, like a potter’s wheel, but much stronger to hold the pillar. The pillar is then rotated along the vertical axis. A narrow chisel is then held close to the surface, resulting in a chipping action. Take a close look at these pillars; you can see the chisel marks.

Though the stone now feels very hard, the freshly quarried soapstone is quite soft to work with. In fact this technique was used by their predecessor, the Chalukyas. But Hoysalas where known for their obsession for the details, and dexterousness in execution. While the pillars of Chalukyan temples are bold, the Hoysalas added the element of intricacy to it. You’ll see these pillars on the porch to the Kesava temple complex, numerous ones forming a row along the along the colonnade and also inside the temple.

The ones inside the temple are somewhat special with additional decorations. Those lathe-turned pillars are further executed with fluted designs along the length, Hoysala ingenuity. Also you’ll see the pillars inside looks polished compared to the ones outside.

The temple facing at East direction and it is a fine Ekakuta temple, Although Keshava Temple has less exuberance in soapstone sculptures compared to other Hoysala temples, the few which adorn the wall, ceilings and pillars are unparallel.

The positive energy is spread out in the entire temple especially around where the Chennakeshava idol is placed. The main Idol has a profusion of intricate carvings and adornments and looked very refreshing and it appeared that the regular prayers are offered at this temple. The temple has some very fine wall sculptures. We took some time adoring the workmanship of the sculptors as we did our circumambulation.

The temple stone inscription narrates the majestic history of the temple, Hoysala kings and the builders engulfing the visitors in an aura of sublime awe and reverence.

The temple has been recently renovated to preserve the rich heritege.&Grama Devathe Sri Anekereamma and Panchalingeshwara temples are also here very famous devotes, and three two lakes around the village. After spending one hour marveling at the temple, we are done for the day and are ready to leave for home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bidanur Fort (Shivappa Naik’s Fort)- Nagara

Worth a stop when traveling through the Sagar-Hosnagar road you can just see it from the outside state highway and you certainly won't miss it. The very sight of the fort when you are driving your way makes a sure stop for you to visit the fort. It’s in size not much huge but still it had its own identity since Keladi-Kings time. The majestic fort of Bidanur that could survive the rampage of time and humans is one of the stupendous examples of Karnataka history.
  What leaves you amazing about Bidanur Fort is that, unlike other forts in India, which are usually built on hills or with water bodies surrounding it on all sides, the Bidanur Fort is built on an elevated ground, merely few meters high. Still one can get an excellent view of several miles in all directions, especially the Western Ghats. There is no natural frontier like hilly terrain or water around the fort.
Nagara Fort - Karnataka Heritage Trip
The fort built of stone masonry is almost ovoid on plan having a series of bastions at regular intervals. Above the masonry wall raises the thick parapet with a series of musket holes. Some parts of the fort that stand strong, speak volumes about the glory it enjoyed in 17th century. Inside the lofty outer walls of the fort, is hidden many treasures of the glorious past. The fort witnessed the ups and downs faced by the Keladi kings.
The entrance of the fort is marked by a slope pathway that leads you to the huge gateway with two round bastions on either side. The moment you enter inside you can see vast green pasture spread as far as your eyes can see. The courtyard inside shows signs of a former guard room. The fort is entered through a steep ramp leading to the main entrance from the north. The gateway is flanked by two bastions and has a sally port on the left side. Inside the third wall is a large open court facing which there is a terrace overlooking the fort. There are more slope path ways than staircase to climb the fort unlike you see in many other forts.
Basically you can see some ruined construction identified as the "Darbar Hall" of Shivappa Nayaka, a temple area in the centre, twin water ponds inside the fort and many more. There is a dry well, few tiny caves like structures which were probably meant for safe exit of royal family in case of invasion, and several watch posts. The fort walls had collapsed at several places and are being reconstructed using red brick.
As you explore, you can come across a broken cannon lying on the ground unlike some of the forts which only have steps, this fort has drivable path inside to most of the places, most probably to move the cannons mounted wheels and don’t forget to see four grinding stones that were used to grind food materials in those times. What makes these grinding stones, made of granite, eye-catching is its huge size. They are placed on the opposite side of each other and are supported by other granite boulders from the bottom.
Devagange, a bathing place of the royalties of Bidanur Keladis, is an engineering marvel and must visit place. It is really amazing to note the engineering techniques of those times. The water flowing from the hills above was collected in seven ponds with different shapes. These ponds were used for bathing by the kings and queens of Bidanur. Most captivating of all are the two lakes shaped like a lotus and a star with fountains in the center.
A steep ramp provided at the extreme end of the open courtyard abutting the outer fort wall leads to the observatory tower. The depression further south of the octagonal well seems to be a storage tank to the south east of which is a huge mound probably enclosing a huge rubble structure. Beyond this mound and the observatory is another structure, now in ruins having a vast opening towards south considering its isolated and exclusive location, this seems to be the place where the queens and their attendants were accommodated. On the whole, the structural remains scattered inside the fort, though in ruins, represent the meticulous post medieval layout of fort.
BRIEF HISTORY: Nagar is situated about 16 km. from Hosanagara town. Before attaining historical importance, this place was called Bidarahalli (anciently known as Bidnur) named after a small village. It shot into prominence during the reign of Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka (1592-1629 A.D.) of Ikkeri kingdom when he annexed this region during his campaign and regularized worship in the Sri Nilakanthesvara temple. However, it attained the status of a capital from the time of Virabhadra Nayaka (1629-1645 A.D.) who succeeded Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka .Due to the sudden attack of Islamic forces under Ranadulla Khan of Bijapur Sultanate, lkkeri was razed to the ground in 1560A.D. inspite of Virabhadra Nayaka's efforts to contain the onslaught.
Since Ikkari was becoming a centre of political and economic crisis Virabhadm Nayaka abandoned it. He built a formidable fort with beautiful palaces at strategically important point in Bidnur and made it his Capital in 1639 A.D. Virabhadra Nayaka was succeeded by Sivappa Nayaka (1645-¬1665 A.D.) who ascended the throne at Bidnur (or Venupura). During Sivappa Nayaka's time this place was buzzing with vibrant political activity. He improved and enlarged it. His successor ruled from here till it was annexed in 1763 A.D. by Haider Ali who renamed Bidnur as Haider Nagar. Now it is called as Nagar only. Haideri gold pagodas were struck here in the mint established by Haider Ali. During the Mysore War it suffered badly due to burning. Tipu Sultan rebuilt the palace and its surroundings. However, it never regained its lost glory and slowly it was abandoned to its present condition.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An Illustrious and Exigent trek to Eagle Hill (Part-2)

In the middle of the morning after spending enough time on peak we headed to see northwest pinnacles, here we tempted to walk slowly so that we can catch every trace of the beauty spread over here.
Save Western Ghats
A pair of Eagles wheeled and turned through the narrow valley, their quickening call the melody to the hum and they keep turning above the hills in very close distance. The trail veers right and notice the vegetation thickening all of a sudden we spotted a big golden shadow moving in the dry grassland. We waited for a while & here it was a full grown Sambar moved out of grassland. What an experience it was!!
Save Western Ghats
Then we climbed high enough to get the Valley view. The initial ridge begins to narrow with drops down to the different hill ranges in both sides. It was the last section before the 14th hill. The ridge gets increasingly complicated, now mixed loose boulders and grass.
Once on the ridge it’s a gradual ascent again along it. The peak lies on another hill and is a short stiff climb along the ridge. It takes about 10 minutes along the ridge to reach next peak. After going up and down across multiple ridges we eventually made it to the final approach.
The sun was now distinctly up in the sky while we headed up the ridge west of the summit. As we continue on the trail we emerged on the other side of the valley.
Interestingly the trail ended up half circling around the summit and we eventually approached the peak from north and northeast. The views were outstanding, the visibility so far that we were able to see the Charmadi and Kudremukha mountains in the far northeast.
We saw the vast beautiful valley from the incredible height into the bright sky it was a contrasting feeling to feel good to have scaled the mountain and be sitting on the peak and at the same time experiencing the power of Nature, the winds were blowing so hard that it was difficult to even stand! The human soul becomes a butterfly while searching for a new incarnation!!
We relaxed for 30 minutes on summit. After that we climbed down the hill and started to climb Final Mountain soaring in incredible height, it was the most desolate parts of the planet, the whole mounting carve their way through dry grasslands to the deeply indented hill lines and when we reached to the peak we were greeted by the stunning views of the area including the valley we came up from it’s staggeringly beautiful.
On closing with the edge of the final hill the sounds and sights from the below valleys of tens of breeding birds were overwhelming. We knew then that we had found the most exceptional place of earth. We fell under its spell and so here we decided to stay for little. We were transformed as a part if this graceful, mysterious land.
The climb down from the immediate peak was much more difficult, with all of us slipping and falling down at least once and with some of us even pulling a muscle. We headed down the hill and encountered a vast low grassland area and we are all settled under one huge tree for while. After a break for lunch under the Eagle hill we made our way back down the way we came from.
Soon enough, the vegetation got thicker and more hostile to the hiker which led us to eventually lose the trail in few places. I was well hydrated  I’d been drinking ahead of my thirst with such aggression I was probably making swishing noises but the heat started to get to me. I was certainly ready to refresh my water bottle but not particularly thirsty and my mind was on the woozy feeling.
At one point we took left deviation and we find a trail was well maintained and used so not much fighting against Mother Nature was necessary. Overall this journey was an unforgettable time. So relaxing, no stress, no phone calls, no pollution etc I'm way overdue for another trip in this section.