Thursday, July 12, 2012

Trip to Savandurga

Last Saturday, I  happened to go for  trekking to Savandurga, one of the weekend getaways at a short distance from Bangalore.  Savandurga is one of the largest monolithic rocks in Asia and is popular with trekkers and rock-climbers. Quite a few locals also visit the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple and Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy Temple located at the foothills of the monolithic rock. My purpose of visit was two-fold, one to do some trekking which I have not being doing for ages and another to see the remains of the fort which shielded the place from the British during the era of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan, the father-son duo who were the rulers of princely state of Mysore.  The fort had been built in 1543 by Samanta Ray after which it stayed with Kempe Gowda till 1728. It was then captured by the Raja of Mysore and passed on to Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan. The fort was thought to be very sturdy and most difficult to capture among all of Tippu's forts .However during the Third Anglo Mysore war, the British troops under the command of Lord Cornwallis captured the fort on December 21st, 1791 subsequently leading to the downfall of Tippu Sultan who was ultimately killed in the Fourth Anglo Mysore War with an opposition having the combined forces of the British along with their  ally, the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Coming to the actual details of my trip, we started off on a beautiful Saturday morning from Corporation Circle and proceeded towards Savandurga passing through the beautiful Karnataka countryside and small villages and towns in between arriving at our destination in about 2 hours... Savandurga consits of two mountains - Karigudda (black hill) and Biligudda (white hill). A photo of the Karigudda (black hill) on which we were to start our trekking.

  After a quick pre-trek talk, we started to trek on the Karigudda... The weather was just perfect for trekking.. Though we were surrounded by a sheet of black clouds, we were lucky that it did not rain and the climate was just cool and perfect throughout our trekking. Could not have  asked for more.. My legs which had not be trekking for ages initially resisted to trekking but soon gave in as we started walking up the mountain. 

The view from the mountain was amazing.. At a short distance we could see the river Arkavathi , along with the hills of Ramanagaram (of the "Sholay" film fame) and further down we could see the skylines of Bangalore city. It was truly a sight to behold... Seen below is a pic of the river Arkavathi from the Karigudda..

As we trekked up higher, we came across several tiers  of  forts  each built at a good vertical distance from the other to safeguard the place from the British.. (as described above - they ultimately came to be captured by the British in the Third Anglo Mysore war).

Shown below is the pic of the one such layer... Seems to have a resemblence with Vagathor fort, Goa of the 'Dil Chatha Hain' fame. While Vagathor fort faces the beaches, Savandurga fort faces the plains , the arkavathi river and the small villages around..

So after posing and taking much snaps, we trekked further up until we reach the next tier of the fort.

 We trekked further up passing through  vegetation and huge rocks and finally reached the top..  A Nandi temple lay on a perfect place on the summit and our prayers were answered - a great trekking experience with the perfect climate and reaching the summit within a span of 1.5 to 2 hours:) What else could you ask for!

We stayed there for a while having lunch and taking in the beautiful scenary around. The BiliGudda hill was visible just across.Photos of the BiliGudda taken from the KariGudda shown below.

We started descending down after a while and the return trip also gave some beautiful views of the landscape below.

Descending was a lot easier than climbing..  Overall, its quite an easy trek which can be covered in a total of 3 hours (1.5 hours up and down)..  We spent an hour at top for lunch and taking in the fresh mountain air making it a total of 4 hours. Travel time from the city center (majestic) would be 2 hours one way.One can very easily cover the trip in 8 hours..So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags for the weekend and head out to get a dose of fresh mountain air , greenery and history lessons!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dilwara Temples - the Hidden Jewel of India

India is indeed a land of great beauty, culture and a rich history. Our country is known for having the greatest of diversities in everything.. be it the food,the people, the art and architecture, tradition, religion,etc . Though strongly rooted to our own cultural, traditional and religious beliefs, we love experiencing what other cultures,traditions,religions have to offer. Its this unique aspect that really sets us apart.

Rajasthan, in western India, is a beautiful land with its equally beautiful , colourful and vibrant people . The Ajmer Dargah, the shrine of the saint Moinuddin Chishti  visited by people belong to all walks of life and religion, is an outstanding example of the communal harmony that exists in our society.

According to me, the most beautiful architecture in Rajasthan  (and possibly in the Universe!)  is the historic Dilwara Temples, a set of 5 magnificent Jain Temples whose beauty cannot be described in mere words. Even the beautiful Taj Mahal , one of the seven wonders of the world, falls a touch short when compared with this.

Nestled away in the faraway hillocks of Mount Abu at about a height of 4000 feet in the Indian state of  Rajasthan close to the border of Gujarat, the temples are absolutely an architectural wonder. The Dilwara temples are a set of 5 Jain Temples constructed between the 11th and 13th century with the earliest of  them being built in 1021 AD.

The temples are as follows :-

* Vimal Vasahi, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishaba
* Luna Vasahi, dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Neminatha
* Pithalhar, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar, Rishabha
* Khartar Vasahi, dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, Parshva
* Mahavir Swami, dedicated to the last Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira

Elephants were used to transport the marble  from faraway places to this remote hilly area, at a time where no proper roads were available . The workmanship of the craftsmen is just uncomparable with anything else I have ever seen.

From the exteriors, there is very less indication of what lies inside! The extremely fine carvings of marble on the walls and the marble chandeliers just blow your breath away!
I have never seen any carvings which could match that of the Dilwara. I have visited the Taj Mahal too. But though its beautiful, the Dilwara temple just stands a class apart.
Unfortunately, photography is strictly inside this very sacred Jain temple, so you will have to just take in and register the beauty in your heart and in minds.. 

Since photography is strictly banned inside the temple, very few photos are available on the internet, some of them being scanned from the picture postcards selling outside the temple.. Putting up a few photos of the  magnificent marble chandeliers, carvings on marble which you would never see elsewhere!

If you have not visited these temples yet, you know its high time you pack your bags to visit them! Have a nice trip and do let me know your experience.