Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Mallikarjuna Temple, Basral, Mandya

Basral is a small village in Mandya taluk and was known by its ancient name Basurivala. It was an ancient Agrahara. It is famous for the Mallikarjuna temple built in 1234 A.D., by Harihara Dandanayaka, a minister under Hoysala king Narasimha II.

The temple is a Trikuta with three Garbhagrihas, a Sukhanasi, a common Navaranga, a Mukhamandapa, a Nandimandapa and a Dvaramandapa. The temple has two entrances to the south and north. The entire temple is built of soapstone and stands on a platform of carved mouldings. The wall is in typical Hoysala style with six horizontal friezes, each measuring seven inches in height. 

Above the friezes are found a large number of sculptures in various poses representing various gods and goddesses under intricately carved canopies. These sculptures represent Narasimha, Siva, Siva-Parvati, Ganesha, Lakshminarayana, Chaturmukha Brahma, Sarasvati, Bhairava, etc.  

Notable among the wall panel sculptures & depicting scenes from the epics & puranic stories are the 16 handed Shiva dancing on the head of a demon called Andhakasura, dancing images of a 22 armed Durga and Ravana lifting Mount Kailash, Arjuna shooting the fish target & Draupadi rushing forth with garland & the slaying of the demon Gajasura.

The main attraction of the interior is the large number of lathes turned soapstone pillars. Each pillar has moulded pedestal, square base, cylindrical shaft, capital, an abacus and a corbel above. The shaft of the pillars contains many grooves, flat, concave and convex moldings. They are sharply cut and polished to a smooth glossy surface.

There are two eaves, one just above the sculptures and the other at the roof level and they add beauty to the outer wall of the temple. The western Garbhagriha has a fine Linga representing Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy. The southern and northern Garbhagrihas do not have the original images now, but have loose sculptures of Surya and Naga-Nagini, placed there sometime later. The doorways of the Garbhagrihas have delicately and richly carved decorations. 

There are many ceilings of the typical Hoysala workmanship. Their variety is amazing. There are many niches in the Navaranga which have sculptures of Mahishamardini, Ganesha and Sarasvati. There is also a Saptamatrika panel. 

The Mukhamandapa is connected with Nandimandapa and the latter houses a Nandi ornamented with rope, pendants, bells, fillets etc. Such bulls are rare in Hoysala sculpture. This Mandapa also has a Kakshasana. Thus this temple is a typical Hoysala structure of the ornate style in Mandya.

The Mukhamandapa is connected with Nandimandapa and the latter houses a bull ornamented with rope, pendants, bells, fillets etc. Such bulls are rare in Hoysala sculpture. This Mandapa also has a Kakshasana. Thus this temple is a typical Hoysala structure of the ornate style in Mandya.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Kabbe Hills and Chomakund Trek, Coorg

Unexplored Coorg (2) Kabbe Hills and Chomakund Trek
This time we had planned for Kabbe Hill trek a winter trek in Brahmagiri wildlife Sanctuary. Early in the morning, we 6 including Varali trooped into the car and were soon on our way. The winding drive began almost as soon as we left the Madikeri city. 

Our drive would take us through narrow road surrounded by coffee estates and forests. After a short drive we reached to the forest gate. We parked out vehicle soon after we set foot on the trail. There is an old forest road that makes a spur off of Kabbe hill. With the bare minimum essentials, we started to hike with the sounds of the flowing streams and chipping birds with accompany of squirrels.

After ten minute’s walk we came into sweeping lawn area situated between two hills. The first one third of the trek was a gentle climb along the unevenly laid stone path. The weather was crystalline sunny and dry, the views were breath-taking at every turn, so our spirits soared.

The next one third of the trail was steeper. The stones were cast about loosely, and there was no telling which one was firmly anchored and which one would give way. We stepped gingerly, testing the stability of each stone stepped on. 
The trail was a continuous ascend of about 30minutes that took us to the summit. The moment we reached summit; we were speechless. The view that we were seeing was beyond any imagination. We sat there and finished 2 watermelons. During my previous trek to this hill fog covered the entire peak so I had no clue how the views were from the peak. I was lucky this time that I got a small weather is clear and views were now even more spectacular. 
We enjoyed the beauty, took some photographs and headed towards next Summit. We kept going and soon entered the final one-third of the trek, which was a gradual descent in edge of the mountain towards rocky hill. Thick trees and spiky bushes made questing off path difficult.
This was undoubtedly the best part of the trek. This is also a place for rock scrambling over the large boulders from the summit.
From top we treated to views of beautiful Udumbe forest valley as you look to the west edge of the hills and another hill Bylikere hill and Chomakundu hill ranges. On clear days you can see portion of villages of Kerala state that sit many miles to the west. With an amazing view, brought me out of the temporary dream I was living in, back to reality.
The downward trek, especially the middle third, was even more treacherous than on the way up, because this time the consequences of a misstep could cost us more dearly. We took it slow and still made it back to the old forest road. 
The downward trek, especially the middle third, was even more treacherous than on the way up, because this time the consequences of a misstep could cost us more dearly. We took it slow and still made it back to the old forest road. 
We decided to climb an adjacent hill that look less tall, soon after we followed the forest road towards the Kabbe Hill view point. It took us half an hour to reach the view point. This place also called as 1st stage of Chomakundu Hill. We need to climb two more hills to reach Chomakunda or Choma Bett peak. 
That moment I was just awestruck by the huge Kabbe Hill standing behind us and Chomakund hill from another side of the view point. Few tourists there on Kabbe view point and fog cleared up and revealed the magnificent landscapes with no time fog took over the entire landscape. The clouds have started to darken indicating it was time to leave. The way down was adventurous as the path was quite slippery and everyone fell at least once. 
On our way back, we visited Haluhole falls and Chelavara falls. We need to do little bit of trekking to reach both the falls. We were able to see the falls from the distance. We took photos there and came back to Kakkabe village. 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Thor Waterfalls: A soul southing gem of Coorg

Unexplored Coorg (Part 1)Thor Falls

Coorg is constantly rated as one of the best hill-station in South India with amazing trekking, camping, mountains, mysteries waterfalls, cooling rivers, and beautiful waterfalls. South Coorg has always held my imagination because of its Beautiful Mountains, dense forests, wildlife and mysteries Waterfalls. I’ve been trying to visit this isolated waterfall but for one reason or the other I’ve never been able to make it. But this time, everything went as per the plan. 

We were a group of six, completed short trek in a first half of the day and decided to go this unexplored Thor waterfalls. I drove the car to the far end of the village and legs take over, three of locals joined our team to guide us. A couple of hours trek from the nearest village would take me to this hidden paradise. A major part of the trek takes us through thick forest and coffee estates with the river running parallel to us and sometimes crisscrossing through our route.

The initial trail wasn’t very tough. We crossed few small brooks & private coffee estates. The trail was well worn inside the coffee estates and after half an hour walk, we entered thick jungle terrain. On the way, we caught sight of a troop of monkeys making their way through the treetops. By the time I clicked my camera they had moved on, so instead of fruitlessly capturing a photo, I just watched them in their glory. We saw a few beautiful birds too. Our guide warned us about wild elephants & taken very attentive and precautionary steps throughout the journey. There are elephants in the jungle & coffee estates. We didn’t see any elephants but did see plenty of fresh evidence where they had crashed through the jungle. 

I didn’t anticipate that this trek would be much of a challenge especially since the last half but I was wrong. This hike was stressful, challenging, leech infested & exhilarating all at the same time. Walking through the bamboo forest way is exciting, you never know what you are going to come across next my heart beat had increased as there can be snakes, elephants, wild pigs, Bisons still kept on moving.

Our trail had opened up at the edge of the hill we can hear the sound of the waterfall from down but our local guides unable to find an easy way to reach the base. We almost missed the waterfall between deep woods. 

My friends and I looked at each other hesitantly. To get to the base of the waterfall, we were going to have to embrace our inner Indiana Jones but somewhat I felt uncomfortable not because I'm carrying a Kid. She is a brave girl she hold tight and I opted to go down last as I worked up the courage. 

However, we didn’t encounter too many steep drop-offs and soon I was vying to the lead the way. Last stretch we scaled the rocky sides of the waterfall, holding on to vines as we made our way down to the base. It was grueling, especially walking down the edge of the waterfall and trying to grab on to anything stationary, like roots of trees. As the destination approached, we could hear the faint rush of the waterfalls.

Finally reached near enough to the water falls, we could feel the splash and it was awesome. At first glance the wide falls making their way between the towering rocks into the sublime waters and look like a drop of heaven. The beauty of the waterfall which it’s impossible to divert attention to anything but the surroundings! I can’t praise this place enough. A few of us climbed to huge boulders to reach top of the waterfalls to get some panoramic photo of the falls and valley.

I’ve been to many waterfalls in Coorg but this trekking remains in my mind ever, the highlight of this trek is that my one and half year-old Varali accompanied us to explore such a wonderful waterfall in a tough jungle terrain.

When it was all said and done, our hike had lasted a little over four hours. Though tiring this trek was the most exciting in my recent memory. I left this waterfall with a sense of rawness. Here the lack of people & trails let you feel as if you are exploring the jungle for the first time. 

I love the moments when you travel that make you feel as if you have unearthed a hidden gem. As though you had found somewhere or someplace long forgotten by man. That may not be the case but that sense of wonderment, adventure & exploration are what drive me on my travels & it was just me, the jungle & that sense of adventure.