Friday, October 31, 2008

Kotilingakshetra and Bethamangala

After a hard day's work at BEML, Kolar Gold Fields, commonly called as KGF. Deepak, Praveen, Ajay, Kalu of Komal Process Controls and, Kamal of Epoch Instruments and I we went to Kotilingeshwara. The place is full of Shiva Lingas… as the name goes ‘Koti’ means ‘ten million’. The place is supposed to get filled with that many Linga.
There’s also a giant Basavanna or Nandi made of cement. Aesthetically it’s not pleasing… the proportions are not correct.
We spent some 30 minutes and moved on to Bethamangala, to see the water purifying system which supplies water to BEML and KGF.
This plant, next to Bethamangala lake, was supposed to have been constructed 100 years back by the British government. Even now, the plant works well.
The care-taker showed us around… the entire purification process. It’s truly an amazing place to see. It’s a monument by itself.

I regret I did not have a better camera.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Kurnool and Alampur

Kurnool was one of the destinations I frequently visited in Andhrapradesh during the 90s. The town’s situated on the east bank of river Tungabadhra. Incidentally the city is only on the east bank. On the west bank are the industries of TGV group.

During one of the visits, we went for a walk in the river bed. Rivers in Rayalseema belt are mostly shallow and wide. The bridges across the rivers are long. I’ve hardly seen rivers flow in this region, except for this one- Tungabadhra and Krishna.

It was a summer evening; the breeze was refreshing after a day of traveling from Bangalore and then work at one of TGV factories. As we entered the river bed, we noticed musk melon creepers… it was towards the end of the season, most of them were dry. The Kurnool variety musk melon is very popular.

Walking on dry sand was fun and needed lot of effort. As we approached the waters, I noticed this lovely little anchor. It was beautiful!




Wondering what an anchor is doing here? Small boats are used here to ferry people across the river from the town to the factories. I rode one of the bigger ones, powered by a diesel engine, couple of times. The route was a round-about one since it had to be navigated through the deepest parts of the river.




In the picture above, you can see a part of the ruins of the fort supposedly built during Tipu Sultan’s reign. Kurnool has its place in Andhra history.

During another visit, we decided to check out other historical monuments within the city. This one is a small structure built like a fort, it's called as Kondareddy Buruju.




The windows are carved out of single slabs of stones.


Look at the walls and the floor… they look solid.




We spent some 45 minutes looking around. We could get a 360 degree of the flat city. Kurnool’s and Davangere are two towns which are real flat.


During the same visit, we heard about Alampur, a little temple village about 22km from Kurnool. We got see few temples, a mosque and almost dry lake bed.

One of the temples in the outskirts of the village was not originally built here. It’s shifted from another village which is presently under the waters of a reservoir. ASI has put in lots of efforts into this project; mark every stone and dismantle the temple, shift the stones and assemble it back at Alampur. In fact, Alalmpur has lot of historical importance.


The sculptures are beautifully decorated with floral and geometrical designs. Every sculpture tells a story from the Hindu mythology. In the picture below, you see a half man-half woman figure in the entrance of the temple. The guide told us a story behind the temple but I cannot recall any of it.



This temple could be one of the experimental temples.


And this snake god carving (which was lying out on the street) is supposed to have been to Paris and back for an art exhibition. There’s a small museum too with a small collection of stone sculptures.


We were almost done and we were passing the mosque within the temple complex and we noticed a huge cane basket inverted over a platform. Out of curiosity we asked a kid what was under that? Chicken? Out of no-where a bunch of kids were on the scene and a Mullah cam and moved the ‘cane basket’. Wow! I was awe-struck seeing a bowl carved out of black granite.


The Mullah told us that during festivals, this bowl would be filled with food and people would have handfuls out of it. The carvings on the sides are intricate. This picture does not tell much, you have to see it live. If not for anything in Alampur, you have to visit the place just to see this stone bowl.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Chikkasiddarabetta



Satish, Anil and me came here some time 2003. We left Bangalore early morning by Satish's Santro, took NH4 towards Tumkur, stopped for idlis at one of the road-side restaurents and parked the car in one of the petrol bunks. We crossed the railway tracks and walked to the hill. Took few pictures of a tree with thick-petalled red flowers.


We talked about college days; adventures, mad driving, friends... As we climbed the hill we spoke more about the hill. What it was like some years ago. There's a small fort wall on the top. The path to the top was littered with discarded plastic bags and chicken feather. There's a tomb of a saint close to the summit. People of a particular community visit to pay respect and pray. These piligrims cook there.





It was not possible for us to reach the summit since we had to do circus... I mean climb steep faced rocks. This hill seemed to be a kind of a watch tower for Paleger soldiers. There's two a small stone structures; one within the huge rocks and another one built on one of the edges. The fall is a couple of hundred feet deep.





That's Anil kneeling a feet away from the edge and acting as though he's falling. Satish was screaming at both of us.

Check out this natural Bonsai on one of the structures.



Standing on the edge was fun!

We saw a passenger train pass by on the railway line and traffic was busy on NH4 which runs paralell to the railway line.



The entire area is full of rock covered hills. We could capture a hazy shot of Shivagange which is close to this hill.



We explored the top and found that lot of rocls had a peculiar shape on the bottom side. We wondered if it was the effect of the wind... Later, during my visit to Thenginkalbetta I learnt that this is the effect of soldiers rubbing their swords on the rock to sharpen them.



The sun was up getting warm. As we explored, we stood at an edge and could see the shadows formed on a rock below. It was fun to shoot it. The three of us in shadow...


and in real...


It was a nice little trip to mark our other trips and wild adventures.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shivagange

Shivagange. The first hill I ever climbed right up to the top.

Shivagange looks like a 'Shiva Linga' as seen from the NH4 (before Dobbaspet). I've heard it also looks like a bull's profile from another angle. When it's cloudy th top part of the hill is covered in clouds giving it a heavenly look.



The first time I had been was with Anish and Praveen but we stopped half way up since it was getting dark. The nect visit was with Gulli and we were determined to reach the top. The climb is not really tough. It took us some 90 minutes (eventually, on the thrid or fourth climb we made it to the top in 45 minutes).

The climb is a mix of both dirt and rocky surface unlike Savandurga which is all rock surface. As we pass the half way mark, the climb gets steeper with hardly anything to hold on. This part can be dicy during rains. Grass and small shrubs are the only plant life... no trees on this hill.

Just before we reach the top, we get to see Nandi statue on our left. It's perched on a small rock which acts like a private little mount for Nandi. Once on the top, you can see a small temple and a shop, managed by the Swami and his son.



The Swami's been living there for more than 20 years. What a life! On top a hill breathing fresh air and seeing the sights we rarely get to see.



The summit is a small area with steep faces on three sides. We have to watch where we step. One wrong step... let me not imagine further.



One of the faces is a suicide spot... straight down several hundreds of feet. This is where Shantala, King Vishuvardana's wife, had jumped to her death. I stood two feet from the edge and took the picture you see below.




When we looked around, we could see lot of smaller hills spread around. Many of them with little forts or watch houses on top. Palegars used these hills to keep watch over their territory and also as hideouts during wars. This whole area is one destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers and wild life enthusiasts but it's changing fast with the so called 'development acticities'.



For people coming from Bangalore, there are two routes to reach Shivagange. The most travelled route is the one from Dobbaspet. the other one is from Bangalore-Hassan road which is less crowded. We always took this road which passed through country road. During one of the visits, on the way back, I saw a flock of vultures. This was the first time I ever saw them so closely. Huge and ugly and scary. The flock was a mix os all sizes and ages.  They were busy feeding on a carcass... may be a cow or a buffalo. At first they did not notice us. I took out my aim-n-shoot Yashica and slowly went towards the flock... scared where they might attack me with their claws and beaks. But they were suddenly alert. They saw me and started leaving moving me away from me. I interrupted their party. Sorry guys. The next scene was some thing I'd never seen. The vultures started running picking speed, flapping their massive wings trying to lift their mass of the ground and then slowly took off the ground... like jumbo jets. I don't think I'll ever get to such a scene ever again.

Shivagange is a home to several temples. One of the temples is popular for it's underground spring. People throng here to touch the water which is supposed to be holy.

I've heard that a tunnel existed long time back which connected to Kashi. Hard to believe. I've also heard that another tunnel connected Shivagange to Gavigangadhareshwara temple, one of the cave temples in & around Bangalore. I've seen the tunnel's enterance at Gavigangadhareshwara temple. It was blocked after few treasure hunters died of suffocation. The temple is worth seeing.

If you ever happen to visit Shivagange, make sure you carry sticks to scare the red-faced monkeys. They are rude. Last when I went, some time 1993, they ruled the place.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Looking around Sathodi Falls

Skeletal hands stretched out...



Nature creates the best spirals.



a picture i had ignored...



From a distance, the river bed looked like a beach to me... I thought I could walk on sand. What we saw was soil. As we moved towards water, the ground got softer... we were little scared to tread further.




This looks like Shiva's trident stuck in Earth.


These are arecanut trees trunks. A plantation submerged in reservoir waters causing the plants to die.




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A day at Sathodi Falls

Dharwad
Sunday, February 10, 2008

A trip planned by - Archana, Haseena, Ajay, Mahesh, Preeti, Roopa, Shilpa, Shweta, Ushalata, Vani, Vidya, Vijayalaxmi, Yasmeen and me.
We assembled at my uncle Prof. A R Desai’s (Hangarki) place. For such a group, everybody was on time, even the vehicle (Trax Cruiser). We started off on our journey at 6.15AM. Everybody in good spirits.
On the highway connecting Hubli and Ankola, heading towards Yellapura, we saw the sun rise to our left, painting the sky around it with crimson and gold. Haseena and Vani started singing (which is a must for journeys)... followed by Anthyakshari – more and more songs. We reached Yellapur and then realized that we over-shot the turn to Sathodi Falls. (Vidya was grumbling that we are not paying attention to the road and we might end up else where)
We turned off the highway towards Sathodi Falls. A narrow road with trees on both sides. As we drove further, the jungle was getting thicker... We passed through a hamlet. Here ends the good roads. Now it was a narrow, winding, dusty dirt track through the jungle.
According to the information from people with whom we had inquired, we were supposed to trek 6 kilometers, one way, with bags laden with food & water. We were prepared for the walk.
At one point, I felt we might be close to the falls, may be within 6kms. I was hungry and asked to stop for breakfast. As usual, ladies opposed... one of the ladies. But I insisted that we stop and have breakfast. At the next turn, we stopped... of course against few ladies' will. As we got off the Cruiser, we realized that we had stopped a very nice spot indeed.
Bed-sheets spread out on the ground, Vidya, Shilpa and Haseena got to make sandwiches while I helped them get things from the bags. I could not find the tomatoes! I was really worried about facing the ladies wrath for being careless! Later we got the tomatoes. What a relief! But I got fired for not getting enough bread!!
By now the four cameras (two digital and two mobile phones) had got busy.

We went on a short adventure climb... all of us. These girls were quite brave to climb through a narrow, slippery dirt path on the edge... one wrong step or slip, the next point of contact with the ground would be 25 feet below.
We decided to move on... packed and stuffed everything into the Cruiser. We decided to trek down to the falls. Talking, cracking jokes, singing, shouting, shooting pictures, throwing stones... most of us had become kids for the day.
We saw tall trees, wonderful flowers, a buffalo (some girls thought it was a wild one), dry stream beds, young tender leaves, bright red wild berries, a beam of sun light through a gap in a tree, bamboo... We picked up stones, pebbles, fallen leaves, sticks, flowers...

As we walked through the jungle, we saw a huge water body just next to our path... a reservoir formed by the dam across Kali river. We climbed down slope and spent some time next to the water. Started pitching stones on the water. That was new to so many! Shot few group pictures.

The weather was humid and getting warmer. We reached a point beyond which no vehicle could pass... Cruiser waiting for us. The falls was just another kilometer from here. We could hear it. We took our bags now and headed to the waters and falls. Vidya, Shilpa and I were the last ones to reach the falls.
The clear fresh water felt cool on the feet. I washed my face and wet my hair. It felt great! The girls had found a good place in the stream to sit in the water. They looked so relaxed. The stream bed was scattered with huge rocks and boulders.
I saw Ajay and Mahesh exploring their way to the falls... trying to get as close as possible. Finding a way through the rocks and water was fun. Hungry!!!

Lunch; so many types of food!! Chapathi, salad, peas, brinjal, lady's finger, a sweet, fried rice, curd rice... the list goes on. I had a heavy meal. And slept off.
This time round, except for Shilpa, all of us went real close to the falls. We spent some time admiring the beauty of the falls, the pond at the foot of the falls, rock formation... We pitched more stones on the water. Vani learned to pitch and was excited about it.

On the walk back, we stopped for tea. As we waited for tea to be prepared, I was attracted by the beach like look of the stream bank and I decided to go down take a look at the place. Shilpa joined me.
We walked on the dry, cracked stream bed... it was still wet and spongy at spots. A little further towards the stream, the bed looked like quick sand. I took few pictures. Ajay and Mahesh joined us. We found some paw prints... belonging to the cat family.
The sun was going down, giving us long shadows. That gave me an idea to shoot pictures of Shilpa, Ajay and Mahesh with their shadows. It was fun!!

Except for Haseena, everybody joined us on the stream bed. More shadows...
What a wonderful day!!!

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