Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shravanabelagola - Mahamasthakabhisheka

Anish said “Hey Sidda! Let’s go see Mahamastakabhisheka

Mom said “No” as usual.

I persisted.

Dad said “Go. Let them go or they’ll have to wait another 12 years”

“Thanks Dad.”

We left home at 2am, a cold night, on my Kinetic Honda. The cold was bearable within city limits but once on the highway it was freezing, especially while riding in the front. Fingers became numb, nose would freeze… The ride was somewhat lonely, hardly any traffic on the highway. Somewhere near Kunigal, we saw a car with a smashed front with a sole occupant seemingly waiting for help to arrive.

The chill factor got worse as we rode on… at times we shivered. Somewhere after Channarayapatna, we left the highway at Hirisave and took the road to Shravanabelagola
…. Another 18km ride. I was just waiting for this journey to end. Few minutes, we saw tents, thousands of them. It looked like a refugee camp. People were just coming out fighting the bitter cold. Small groups were huddled around fire here and there. We rode slow, looking at the sights… then we saw a row of shops set up for the camp area. We stopped as soon as we saw a tea-shop. As I remember it took us a minute to get off the scooter… our joints were frozen stiff. We stood close to the coal stove trying to soak up the warmth. The first few minutes we had difficulty holding the glasses… cold meets hot. After three glasses of tea we felt little better but it was still cold. We chatted with the shopkeeper and few visitors about the event which would commence in few hours.

We parked the scooter in the bus-stand and positioned ourselves on Chandragiri, the smaller of the two rock hills of Shravanabelagola. We got a good view of Vindhyagiri and could see Bahubali‘s head and shoulders and the massive scaffolding erected around the statue. Cold was giving way to sun’s heat now. The place was getting busy now with people filling up the hill we were on and we could see the privileged ones, mostly in white, slowly trudging up Vindhyagiri towards Bahubali. Down below, police had barricaded the streets and vehicles were off limit and we suddenly realized our scooter… We moved it to a different spot and came back to our place on the hill. The hill was almost full now. The time was nearing… I’m not too sure the order of colors, we saw water, milk, sandal paste, turmeric, vermilion, flowers… Just imagine the quantity of liquids required to bathe the almost 18m statue! It was a sight worth looking at. Once in twelve years!

We watched just the first one hour of the event and decided to head back… we did not have plans of getting stuck in the ever increasing crowd… it was a sea of people. We said bye to Bahubali, Shravanabelagola and the people and moved towards Channarayapatna where we had lunch and started off towards Bangalore.

Four years later, Gulli and visited Shravanabelagola during a weekend. We reached late afternoon, checked into a hostel, a simple little place, went for a walk, saw Bastis… it was relaxing, silent, peaceful and serene. Morning, we woke up early, bathed and went up Vidhyagiri and stood before Bahubali’s feet. Wow! What a statue it is! I was wondering how it was created, how much it weighed, there was no chance for any mistakes while the artists sculpted... We spent about an hour looking around the cells where the monks used to live. As I type out the words, I feel I should revisit the place.

India is full of such wonders, be it natural or man-made. There’s so much to see; our temples, forts, towers, mosques, tombs, What kind of talent and skill gave such wonderful forms to stones! Truly amazing!! Surely people of those times had put in lot of effort and time to create these wonders. They also lived in synch with nature. Modern man somehow ends up messing up with Mother Nature… sad but true.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Jesus Christ

The picture's not so good but you have to see this statue if you ever go to Panaji, Goa. I cannot recall where excatly it's located but it's on the elevated parts of Panaji.


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chilamkur night sky

One night, after dinner, Praveen and I were walking within The India Cements Limited, Chilamkur staff colony... And suddenly there was a total black-out. Absolute darkness! The first few seconds we just saw black every where, then slowly, as our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we could see thing in the faint light coming from the sky. I looked up, to the sky, it was packed with stars; tiny, small, big and large. This is the first time I saw such a scene- jet-black screen with twinkling, shiny dots. That's when I realized the beauty of the rhyme-

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!

Chilamkur is a remote village near Yerraguntla in Cuddappah District of Andhrapradesh. Between 1993 and 1998, we used to visit the cement plant quite often and got a chance to see the beauty of interior Andhra. We traveled the stretch between Chilamkur and Kurnool few times and every time it was an adventure. Flash floods forcing us to take long detours, road blocks, our Maruti Omni having trouble with lights and once hand-brake jammed... I remember seeing a small spot full of date palm giving an effect of an oasis in the Mid-East. During another visit, we drove next to red colored hills which looked like a picture out of Texas.

I love to see sunrises in Andhra, there's some special effect in them.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Four shots from Jamkhandi

Staircase at Jamkhandi Palace


Rameshwara Temple next to the Palace
It's said that a person who passes through that narrow gap with a wish in the mind will have a wish come true.

One of the faces of the hills in early morning light


A lonely Peepul tree on the hill top

The spot is wonderful to watch sunrises and sunsets... peaceful and tranquil.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Faces in Rocks

To my eyes...

this is like a dead man's face sticking out of the grave
Koongal Betta, near Ramanagara, near Bengaluru, Karnataka

and

this is like a British cop wearing a high hat
Badami, Karnataka

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Scooter-Bicycle Tow Trip

Looking back into the past, I could call this the craziest and the scariest acts.

Jayanth and I used bicycles to commute to college or tuition classes and on the way back, we used to get towed by one of friends who had bikes or scooters. Tow-riding went on for few months and both Jayanth and I got pretty good, even in traffic. We knew when to hold hands and when not to, we were experts at managing the momentum we had picked. At times we rode confidently at 50khph.

One day after college, we (Nagaraj was the third guy) planned a ride to Bannerghatta, which was about 20km from our college SSMRVC. Nagaraj and I on my Bajaj Super (Bajaj Chetak’s younger brother) and Jayanth on his bicycle. Nagaraj was riding pillion and towing Jayanth. The first 5-6km we did 20-30 kmph beyond which the traffic was lesser and the road was ours now. We gradually went up to 50s and Jayanth was cool and confident. Nagaraj was doing his job nicely. “Faster?” I asked Jayanth, “Yes” was the reply. Open the throttle little more, 60, 70 and 80! I was amazed at Jayanth’s control over the bike with just one hand on the handle-bar. We did 80s for almost 2km in a stretch. I wonder how the tires took the beating. The ride back home was not so fast but not too slow also. We had discovered a new kind of adventure.

After few days, Jayanth and I decided to go to Nandi Hills (the main reason was to enjoy beer in cool weather) and Nagaraj also wanted to join us but we had only my scooter. We looked at each other… why not??

Atlas cycle. CAL 150, gas tank full, bag with packed food and few beer bottles. And high spirits. We started early, rode slowly and carefully, dodging pedestrians, cattle, traffic and cops. Soon we were out of city limits and on the highway. We rode with lot of care… we had to cover 60km, one way. And parents and home did not know about our new found method. 4km beyond Devanahalli, we went off the highway on to the road to our destination. Now the traffic was sparse and our speed went to 80s. The road was a straight line for almost 8km, riding at an average speed of 60kmph. That was fun!

Soon we were right below Nandi Betta, looking up at the road snaking up the hill ahead of us. Now our worry was how I would be to tow uphill on twisting & turning stretch of road. What would we do at hair-pin curves? Jayanth, was cool, as usual. We decided to ride slow since Jayanth needs to be in contact at all times. The moment he loses contact, he would loose momentum and might come to a stop. And to tow from zero is tricky for the one riding the bicycle, especially uphill. We were fast learners and mastered the technique. We reached the summit without much difficulty. People were giving us looks…

Explore the ruins. Relax in the coll shade of massive trees. Enjoy the cool air. Beers vanished. Food finished. Time to head back now. This trip was all about riding and beer but the ride dominated the booze.

Downhill ride was fun and Jayanth enjoyed it immensely. 8km of freewheeling is not something we could do everyday. Once back on the plain road, we touched 90s, that’s before we hit the highway. We were getting bolder and scooter was capable of doing 110kmph but we did not wanted to put ourselves in danger or spoil the fun. It was dark when we reached back home.

Following day, back at the college our adventure was the talk of the day.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chamundi Hills

My second visit to Chamundi Hills, went with my cousin Vivek. We got off the bus on the main road, walked 2km to reach the steps, and walked up, first by road and then by steps. We climbed under the hot Sun...


We stopped by to see the Nandi, actually this was the first time I saw it so closely. The entire surface is smeared with oil and is sticky. Like all Nandi's this one too is a calf. Cute chubby face with big eyes.


I feel this is the second largest next to the Nandi at Lepakshi.

Then we went up to the top, visited the famous Chamundi temple. This was one day trip to Somanthpur-Chamundi Hills-Mysore and back to Bangalore.



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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gokak Falls

Dipi pointing out birds to Dad… I think it was November, part of the year when water flow is less.


This is the hanging bridge; it was a different experience to walk across it, swinging lightly as we walked along with local people. I feel it's a great combination of nature's wonder and man's creation; a lovely water fall and a beautiful bridge.


This water-fall is somewhat similar to Niagara Falls though Niagara is U-shaped and Gokak Falls is almost straight. We got off from the bridge and walked on the river bed… stone bed, upto the edge. It was scary to stand on the smooth rocks and look over the edge.

There are plenty of cotton gins on this hill and cricketer Sunil Gavaskar’s father used to be an employee of one of the mills here.

The visit was a short and sweet one… just Dad, Dipi and me.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Volvo FH12 and MAN Tractors

Ever since I remember, I love trucks, especially the big ones with lot of tires. They are beautiful sight to look at; either parked or while they cruise on a highway.


This is the first time I ever saw a Volvo... on NH4 near Chitradurga. I was impressed by the looks and stopped by to see it more closely. Many years later, I got a chance to visit Volvo factory at Hoskote near Bangalore… not once but many times and an opportunity to work with the engineers there. This tractor is Volvo FH12, FH12 means 'high cabin, 12 liter engine'.


During the same journey, on the same stretch, some-where near Hiriyur, we saw two MAN tractors. These tractors looked like ancient warriors compared to the FH12.

These powerful tarctors were towing 16-axle (8 wheels in each axle) trailers loaded with massive transformers weighing close 100 tonnes, more or less. The avarage speed at which they travel could be 15kmph. They are led by scouts on bikes and trailed by an escort car. These things don't cruise but scream their guts out and crawl...

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Bathi Hill

Davangere’s my Dad’s home town. And that’s the house my grandfather built during mid 60s. Now, the house is not there, I mean it was demolished couple of years since I shot this picture.



This is Siddappa temple before renovation.

The temple is located half-way up Bathi hill at Bathi village which is about 6km from Davangere on the way to Harihar. Davangere and Harihar can be called as twin cities with just 12km separating them. The hill offers a nice view of the surrounding mostly flat terrain. Green fields, few ponds and lakes and more hills in the distance. Evenings are good time to spend there; enjoy cool breeze and sunsets.


This is how the temple looked like few years ago after the so-called renovation work started. I’m not sure if the work is complete or still pending.

During a visit long time back, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, Dad, Dipi and I had walked half way around the hill, at the same elevation as the temple, to a small cave formed naturally. On the way, I remember Dad telling us that a lion lived in the cave when asked if any animal stays there. That was the first time I ever saw a natural cave. During another visit with lots of cousins, we had climbed the second half but the slopes were scattered with lots of rocks and boulders making the climb unsafe for little kids. We gave up after the three-fourth mark.

Bathi Siddappa is our home deity.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Power of Dreams

I love this song!



To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know
If I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
To reach the unreachable star!

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Bannerghatta on bicycles

May or June 1984

Skanda, C V Nagendra, and I planned a trip to Bannerghatta, a 22km ride, in the first week of our summer vacations. This would be our first trip outside Bangalore on our own.

I had an Olive Green Humber Bicycle and my friends had one Atlas and one Hero. We planned a great deal and worried what we would do if we got a flat tire or a brake failure as they were a big problem!

We packed bread and home-made tomato jam and water in bottles. We left early, riding leisurely occasionally stopped by to catch our breath. Beyond the city limits, road was flanked by woods. It was peaceful and the air was fresh. The peace was occasionally disturbed by the traffic; smoke bellowing KSRTC buses or trucks laden with sand, granite or bricks. We reached Bannerghatta by 10 or 10 30 and we had breakfast. We spent time looking around the zoo and then we left to the small granite hill near-by. We explored the small granite hill near by with an ancient temple at the base (this was my second visit). By 3 or 3 30 we decided to head back home. We reached home safely and without a flat tyre... not really an adventerous trip.

Now, looking at the traffic now on the same stretch of road, it’s a complete contrast. The jungle now is a concrete jungle, peace replaced by the noise of traffic and air filled with dust kicked up by the vehicles. How modern man destroys tranquility in the name of development!

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