Sunday, November 3, 2013

Salute to Hoysala Empire

Hassan… land of Jainism… and ancient Hindu history.. Keeping in view that the year was fast approaching towards the end and I had not done justice to my year Goal “Lots of Short travels”, it was decided that Diwali would be a nice time.

The places of interest : Halebidu, Belur, ShravanaBelagola. Halebidu was unique with two Hindu temples and two Jain temples – dated back to 1100 and 1300 CE. So an ideal place to start.

The route : Bangalore -> Nelamangala -> Hassan -> Halebidu -> Belur -> Sravanabelagola -> Bangalore.

Deepak’s family, his Cousin Amal’s family and my family .. two cars. Ertiga, Polo. Kids found their seat comfortable in the last row. They just freaked out…

We started by around 6:30 am.. via outer ring road, onto Yeshwanthpur, onto Nelamangala and then the four lane towards Hassan..

The first break was at Coffee day for breakfast (between Kunigal and BC cross). The coffee was good, so was the sandwich.. But the idly was Yuk… As they say in China eat like a Chinese – eat the cat/ eat the snake… never ask him to prepare Biriyani J..

Halebidu was still far away – about 100km… The road upto Hassan is good, but afterwards towards Halebidu is pretty bad with widespread potholes and a stretch of 1km over a barrage that is still getting done. For about 30km, it took us about 1 hour. On the way we also saw the ISRO Master Control facility at Hassan. Reaching Halebidu the panoramic view of the lake is beautiful sight… with small row boats floating around. Evidence that the builders of the city have thought of the water management.

The Hoysaleshwara temple is just amazing. The intricacies of the stone work and the pillars are just breath taking…. A large Mahaveera statue can also be found on the right hand side of the temple complex. ASI has also setup a small outdoor museum with the temple remains explaining each of the sculpture. Two large Monolith Nandi’s face two different Shiva deities. The temple is also characterized by lush greenery. Lots of Grass banks and tress for people to rest under. It is evident that ASI has done a commendable job in maintaining and resurrecting the temple from it ruins.

We skipped the Jain temples and the Kedareshwara temple, because of lack of time. Road from Halebid to Belur is short 16 km, but pretty much the same state as that of the Hassan Halebid road.

On arrival at Belur we had Lunch at the KSTDC hotel. Decent food, and ample parking space. The Roti and dal were the ones that I liked the most. The staff was very courteous and attended to us with courtesy even though there was lots of folks.

It was 3 by the time we ended up at the Belur Cehnnakeshava temple, walking distance from the hotel. Read the link for further elicitation of the importance and history of the temple. On entering the temple I almost felt a deja vu. It looked pretty much similar to Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavur, in terms of its Vastu, vastness and temple compound.  The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, but the key part for me was the way the dome was constructed. The Keystone is actually a Narasimha moorthy piece. There are lots of celestial dancers (in the form of smaller stones) attached to the main dome. The pillars, each one of them non identical had work done as though to indicate a precision cut diamond. Smooth finish yet with lots and lots of smaller concentric circles.

The main attraction was the Gravity pillar, supposed to be used as a Lamp post, but is not been used for quite some time now. It is a 42 feet tall lamp post, the Karthika Deepotsava Stambha. It is supposed to be "foundationless" or "baseless" post is simply placed over a stone platform, this tall monolithic granite column is symbolic of the excellence of architectural science possessed by the architects. Even today this column, by its stature and stability, baffles the visitors from the world over. It is supposed to be standing on its own dead weight, therefore it is also called "The Gravity Pillar". People claim they could pass paper underneath the pillar, but in the true sense it is just a single piece of stone kept as a dead weight but has not fallen for years now…. Approaching 1000 years.. in the rains, in the wind and in the midst of acute heat wave.  

A temple pond adorns the right side of the complex. Lots of Fishes in them, which are being continuously fed by the temple staff. The outer constructions are reminiscent of the fact that it was also an asylum for the saints and visitors of the temple.

After spending an hour at the temple, we decided to head our way back to Bangalore. After much thought, we decided to do Shravanabelagola the next time around, though it was on the way. It would have been difficult to make it by the time before dark.  The road from Belur to Hassan is a nice stretch, but with a few humps in between. At Hassan town, the roads are pretty bad. The stretch up to Bangalore was good with some intermittent rains. Back to Bangalore by 20:00 hours.. Rejuvenated.. 

What irked me was only the railway cross between Yeshwanthpur and the way folks haphazardly try to make their own way by squeezing in.. Especially the Cabs and the Autos.. Sometimes I believe it was just a case of some of the auto folks being “upgraded” to drive cabs that has caused this chaos.. Not to mentions some of the “White collar” educated B*****s who think the road was laid by their forefathers.. Not even adhering to the “Queue” at the Toll booths..

Overall a Trip you must have if you are based out of Bangalore.. Kids will find it interesting as well and the drive isn't that tiring.

Next up : another short trip.. but where? Thalkad? Or Hindupur?.. options are open..

On the Highway...

Hoysaleshwara temple

The raised platform and the intricate works

Dwarapalakas.. Hands and nose have been cut off

Ganesha at the entrance 

Pranav exploring


Chenna Keshava entrance

Garuda .. bowing to the lord

The pond.

The pillars

The keystone.. Narasimha

The Gravity Pillar aka. lamp post


The entrance with rain clouds in the background

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Memoirs of Vishu

Vishu is always close to my heart. The first rememberance of  Vishu is that of recieving Kai neetam from elders. Filling up the much needed "Pocket money" budget during a much needed "dry" non school season.. But Vishu means much more than that to me.

For those of you who don't know, Vishu happens to be during the new year based on Solar Calendar followed across Kerala. Similar new years are celebrated in Assam, Tamil Nadu etc as Vaisakhi, Rongali Bihu, Puthandu Piravu etc.

Back to the days when I was young, this was the time when Schools had barely closed. The time when Cashew nuts bloom, mangoes ripen and the summer heat soars!!!Crackers are part of the Vishu festivities. The sales of crackers start around end of March and continues till the 13th and 14th of Apr (Vishu day). Crackers were like status symbol in childhood days. The more you had at home, the more "social status" you had among friends. Then there was toy guns in which we used to keep small carckers (called Caps)Roll Caps Crackers

The toy guns are good for a game of "Police and Robber", like the so called Rajanikanth movies :).
So the big question used to be, how to increase your "Social status". Social status can be incrased only by money. How to earn Money?

Option 1:
Cashew nuts sale: Cashew is a cash crop in Kannur and Kerala. You could go on a scouting spree to the large acres of Cashew goves and collect cashew...Sell it to the local market once you have about 1 kg or so.  Beware if you get caught by the land owner, then you have had it.. .They will chase you out and make sure this is informed back home.. Pretty risky.. :)

Option 2:
Do a small business of toffees, cigarettes etc. But where to find the capital for it? What if we losse and noone buys the items?  Risky again..

Another option ofcouse, is saving money (commission) for items that you would be asked to purchase by your mom and dad. This would be like 10 paise or 25 paise per items.

To be truthful, I have done all the options..

Coming back to Vishu celebrations at home. The previous day my dad used to come in his Bajaj scooter with a packet of crackers, probably 50 or 100 Rs worth or so. The first thing is to segregate what I can try and what I cannot try (like the big crackers). Invariably those would have been in large numbers but will take a long time for me to burst.

We used to have long stick to hold the Koya crackers and the end ... like the one seen below..

And then there are the big ones.. like the Lakshmi ones that my dad used to burst ...

And then there would be flower pots.. Sticks and so on.. seems like yesterday..

The night would be spent in the entrance of the house bursting and seeing others burst.. just to see that your "social status" was not bad ...

The next day morning, we would get up at 4am, and see Kani.. or Vishu Kani.. Hoping the year ahead would be prosperous. But truly the need to get up the next day morning was to burst the rest of the crackers..My grandmother used to wake up exactly at 4am on Vishu. Infact she used to be awake just to hear the fist commotions around (someone bursting cracker or so) and then she would light the lamp. Keep all the Kani and call us one by one.

In the morning we get Vishu Kani neetam, which is a tradition where elders in the house give money to the yonger ones with a blessing (as a symoblism) of prosperity.. I used to think "Gosh what if I had the money earlier, then I could have got more crackers to burst. "

Vishu is also the day when you would get new dresses. a new towser and a new shirt/T-shirt. But the fact of the matter is those never seemed to be the reason why I liked Vishu.. I mean the fun was not the dress but the crackers and the Vishu Kaineetam.

 The Sadya is yet another thing.. My god.. can you think of the variety of side dishes which would be served.
Unline other Kannur friends, at home we used to prepare only Veg during Hindu auspicious days. It would be really startling for some of you at least to know that most of the folks in North malabar have Non-Veg during the Vishu, Fish or Chicken.. Now that is the same case for Onam.

The evening would go by with the thought of bursting the leftover crackers.. The few that remain and the ones that we collect from the scavanging work.. But the real sad day is the next day.. Piling up all the carboard and left over pieces of crackers and burning them.. Thinking about the Vishu that was yesterday and the long wait of 364 days to get to the next one :(.. The good part though, 45 days more to go before school reopening... Yee ha....

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sunday morning ride to Chikka Tirupathi

Saturday was a really tough day for the ride. Though I had kept an alarm at 5, I could not muster the energy to step out. Had a late meeting on Friday which made it impossible to get up at 5amIncidentally so was the case with the rest of the members of Lucky Cycling club :). Friday Hangover with a few and just tired long week for the rest of them

And so it was decided to ride on Sunday (7th of Apr 2013). Me, Deepak, Koti and Ankur. For the past few weeks our average had dropped to below 50km. It was time to change it. Chikka Tirupathi was set as the destination 

The Route :
ITPL -> HopeFarm -> Left from Thirumalasettyhalli -> Soukhya Road->Right at a Bakery Junction -> straight from Dodda Dunnasandra onto NH 207

I started around 6:15am and joined the group at Paramout Hotel (Near GR Tech Park) around 6:40am). First Break at the Bakery had a cup of tea and few Glucose biscuits. There is a dog (a black colored small one) which likes Deepak. Everytime we have been around at this place it come around and astonishingly he is always behind Deepak. We fed him few biscuits and was on our route pretty quickly..  

The next stop somewhere near Anugondanahalli for a water break around 7:45am. This is early March and the Sun was beating down pretty hard even so early in the morning.. I cannot imagine how May is gona look like. Looks like bad times. Even the lakes onroute as well as Borewells that feed the farms have dried up (per our conversation with villagers in the area). 

We passed by Emperian. For those who dont know, Emperean is actually located not in Bangalore district but in Malur Taluq of Kolar district. And here it is they advertise.. off Whitefield. :). 8:10 we reached Chikka Tirupathi temple. 

The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is believed to have been installed by Agni. For details of the temple please refer the link.

Ride back was pretty tough with the Sun beating down fast on us. We took a break on the way for a Coconut water refill. The toughest part of the journey is the ascend from Channasandra to Hope Farm!!! That too as part of our way back where all our energy is sapped... 

But finally it is the satisfaction of doing a 60+ ride again.. in the heat of the Summer.. 
Way to go folks!!! Deepak, Ankur, Koti..
Jaideep, Satnam are you up for it next week?