Shravanabelagola – Monk of the White Pond

11.09.2016:

Time to go back. We decided to try a few water sports at the Yaguchi water sports complex on our way back. To be frank, we doesn’t want to try any, but as we spent some good amount on the package we thought that we shouldn’t miss any part of the package 😉 . We reached there in about 20 mins from Chikmaglur and the path leading to the water sports complex is beautiful. To be frank, we were not at all excited by the sight of the water sports complex. To begin with, it is not a complex at all, there is a ticket counter and few jet-ski scooters and banana boats and nothing more. I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone. We just went around the dam and left for Shravanabelagola.

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Shravanabelagola can be reached from Channarayapatna and it was about 15 kms from the main highway. Shravanabelagola is nestled in between two holy hills Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri and the Gomateswara temple is located on the top of the hill Vindhyagiri. Shravanabelagola, a home to 2300 years of Jain heritage is surrounded with the lush green coconut grooves and serene natural water bodies which bear the testimony to the legendary mental strength of Tyaga (renunciation) and the tender message of Ahimsa (non-violence) that embody the Jain way of life. We reached Shravanabelagola at around 4.30 pm and realized that we got a tough task ahead of us.

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The Jain Shrine is on top of a hill and one has to climb about 6oo steps to reach the temple. We deposited our footwear at the counter near the foot of the hill and started climbing on. One important thing here is that there are also human-carried-chairs in which the old people and people who can’t climb the steps can be carried to the top by paying some amount to the porters. We came across few such 🙂 It took us around 30 mins to reach the hill-top and there is a temple just after reaching the top, we reserved it towards the end and started walking towards the main temple. It took us another 15 mins to reach the main shrine.

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Gommata devam vandhami panchasayamdanuha  deham ucchatham

devakunanthi utti kesara kusumattassa uvarammi

(Oh, Gommata Deva! Tall and proportionate in height, saffron in color and beautiful in complexion, fulfilling five sacred ceremonies, I salute you)

Finally, there stood the 17.5  m (57 feet) high monolithic statue of the Jain Deity Gomatheshwara (Bahubali) just infront of us when we entered the main temple. This statue is also considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. History tells us that the statue of Gomateshwara or Lord Bahubali was built by Chavundaraya, a general in the service of Ganga king Rachamalla. Carved by the great sculptor Aristenemi from the huge rock at the peak of Vindyagiri hill in Shravanabelagola, the statue was completed around 981 AD.

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The temple was quite small with the main statues standing in the middle and small space in front of it for the pilgrims to sit and perform puja or bhajans and there are few more small temples around it which hosts all the 24 thirthankaras of the Jain religion. We had a round around the temple and went near to the feet of the statue where stood a Pundit giving the prasad and blessings.Another small statue is placed in between the feet of the monolith and lots of pujas were being done to it.

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One important thing is that there takes place a ritual called “Mahamasthabisheka” or the Head Anointing ceremony here every 12 years as wished by Kalaladevi, mother of Chavundaraya . Large number of people come here to take part in the ritual. The next one is going to be in 2018 and will definitely try to attend this if possible 🙂 We started walking back to the temple at the entrance and on the way we found few inscriptions on the stones and hill which are preserved by the ASI. We went into the main temple which is situated on a raised platform and took a round around it and one can get a good view of the town from here. We were also able to see the Chandragiri hill and a temple situated on top of it. Alas, we don’t have that much of time to visit it 😦

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We can get a glimpse of the Kalyani (temple pond) while descending down the steps and also the temple on the other hill. We resumed our journey back to Bangalore at 5.40 and 9.30 PM, am enjoying a good meal at my aunt’s home 🙂

I don’t call it an end to my trip as there are few more places around Chikmaglur which needs to be explored and also planning to attend the coming Mahamastabhisheka 🙂 😉

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In the lap of Mullayangiri…

11.09.2016

Some of our friends told us that the sunrise at Mullayangiri would be too good and we decided not to miss it. But our driver is so reluctant to drive us there so early in the morning. As we didn’t understand why he was so reluctant, I called up Mr. Mahesh to convince the driver. But at the very mention of sunrise, he was like as far as he knows there won’t happen any sunrise in Mullayangiri at that point of time and that he won’t recommend a drive to the hill during the dawn. So, we have dropped our plan of starting at 5.30 and we decided to start at 6.00 AM instead.

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We woke up at 5.30 and were downstairs by 6.00 AM just to see our driver still sleeping in the car. It was only by 6.30 we started our journey to Mullayangiri which is located at a distance of 16 km from Chikmaglore. The drive is an amazing experience as the expanse of greenery on the road sides seems endless, the lofty hills surrounding the way and the coffee blossoms filling our noses. We decided to trek for a short distance rather than reaching the hill-top in our car.

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We stopped at Seethalayyanagiri which is 4 kms down from Mullayangiri to start our trek. It was too foggy and cold and alas we forgot our jackets 😀 . After a few steps we saw a stair case leading to the Mallikarjuna Math. The math is most frequented by the members of the Lingayat community. Also found here is a temple dedicated to Seethala and Mallikarjuna and it is believed that the water level here neither decreases nor increases.

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We started ascending the hill and the environment around us was quite lively as the Amber Valley School children were also on their cross-country trip on the same day. While a few children were running to reach first, few others were walking as if they are totally out of the competition and were there to relish the moments. We also started running along with them and stopped when we found a trail through the woods beside our road. Though we were not sure whether the trail leads us to the hill-top, we thought of giving a try.

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There wasn’t any clear trail of footsteps, but yes we found footmarks might be of some cows, or of goats perhaps, am not sure J The rocks were slippery due to the mist and as it was quite open the speed of wind was more, but it’s one good superb view. The misty mountains, green bushes and soothing breeze, we cherished the moments. After 150 mt or so, the climb turned out to be difficult and we didn’t find any clear trail leading to the hill-top and we decided to climb down and take the road itself 😦 . Though the hike was short, it was quite adventurous and memorable 🙂 🙂

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Mullayyanagiri, the highest peak in the Bababudangiri Range, at a height of 1,930 mt, is a trekker’s paradise. It has to be climbed up to savour the real beauty of nature. The best part when once we reached the top is getting Mirchi Bajji 🙂 😉 The chilling wind, a foggy view, a walk around the hill with a bestie and few hot Mirchi Bajji in hands, isn’t this life? 🙂 🙂 . There is a small temple on top of the hill and it is believed that Arabian Sea is visible from the topmost point of this hill on days that boast of clear skies. I doubt whether there can be any such days 😀

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After clicking few snaps here, we started descending the hill and it took us very less time to reach Seethalayangiri. We decided to go to another place called Kavikalagandi which is some 6 kms away from Seethalayangiri. We have to ascend few steps in order to see what Kavikalagandi has to offer us. The panoramic view from the top of this view-point is breathtaking. After relishing the calmness of the place, we returned back to our car and headed to Chikmaglur.

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On our way back, we stopped at the restaurant “Siri Coffee” and I would definitely recommend this to everyone as one can get fresh breakfast and a tasty brew of coffee. The restaurant is quite happening place and well-maintained. Quick breakfast and we headed to the M.G.Park in chikmaglur, which is not a big one but hosts a toy train :-D. And we didn’t miss it. I won’t say that it’s a must place, but if you have time, you can definitely try..

 Pack up.. :-p

The Splendid beauty of BELUR

10.09.2016:

We started off to our next destination “Belur” which is located at a distance of about 22 km from Halebidu at 3.30 PM. We stopped at the Angels Multi-Cuisine Restaurant, to be frank it’s a Bar-cum-Restaurant, but one can only see the board – Restaurant. It was 4 PM when we entered the restaurant and we ordered our food. Food is a sort of ok, but the service was very slow. I would recommend this one 🙂 🙂

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After a good meal, we resumed our journey and reached Belur which was built by King Vishnuvardhana commemorating his victory over the Cholas at Talakad in 1117 AD. Located on the banks of the river Yagachi, Belur, earlier referred to as Velapuri was the early capital of the Hoyasala Empire.  We walked towards the Raja Gopura (main entrance) and entered the temple complex. The Chennakesava temple or the main temple is situated in middle of the complex facing the east. The temple almost resembles the Hoyasala temple in Halebidu, though it is not overly decorated like the latter. This 500 year old temple which took 103 years for completing its construction is made of soapstone and is made of interlocking components giving it a structural integrity.

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This temple has three entrances with doorkeepers carved on both sides and is pretty dark inside. While the Hoyasala temple at Halebidu doesn’t have much of inner architecture, the Chennakesava (a form of Krishna) temple at Belur is famous for its inner architecture. It is said that the temples were built by the famous sculptor Amarashilpi Jakkanna. There are multiple intricately sculpted pillars supporting the roof and each of the statues on those pillars is different from each other. While one is said to Mohini, the other statue is that of a lady holding a parrot while the other pillar is called the Narasimha pillar. But what attracted me the most is the finely carved ceiling in the main temple hall infront of the sanctum where the Lord Chennakesava is seated.

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The Belur temple is famous for its large size splendid carvings of various Gods and Goddesses on its outer walls. A temple dedicated to Saumyanayaki, which has a Garbhagriha, surmounted by a tower is located to the south-west of the main temple and the Veera Narayana temple raised on an elevated basement is to the west and this temple has beautiful sculptures on its outer walls.

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The temple which is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List has a Kalyani (Tank) in the north east corner of the complex. This tank is also known as Vasudeva Sarovara and the periodical temple rituals are carried out in this tank. The temple complex also has a well, whose water is used for various activities in the temple and a gravity pillar showing the scientific skills of our earlier days. The annual Ratha Yatra at the temple takes place between the months of March and April.

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We also visited the Panduranga temple on our way to Chikmaglur and it was another 30 min drive from Belur to Chikmaglur. It was cool in Chikmaglur and the roads were buzzing with people and vehicles by the time we reached here. Our accommodation was arranged at F.J.Comfort Inn which was located a bit interior and away from the traffic. The receptionist gave us a warm welcome and guided us to our room. It was clean, hygienic and importantly the washroom is clean enough 😀

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We quickly refreshed ourselves and went out for a walk through the streets of Chikmaglur and had our dinner at one of the veg restaurants located on the M.G. Road. The food is alright and as we were too exhausted we went back to our hotel without exploring much. We quickly decided our next day’s plan and asked our driver uncle to be ready by 6 AM in the morning 🙂

Time to sleep 🙂 😉