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Showing posts with label Karnataka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Karnataka. Show all posts

G for Gokarna

Thankfully we were able to get food last night on our arrival from Udupi. However breakfast of fresh and well prepared Idli, sambhar and chutney convinced my big heart to forgive the hotel for last night shocker. Now we had a full day reserved for this small town of Gokarna known for its beaches and temples. Gokarna meaning cow’s ear is a sacred pilgrimage town noted for Mahabaleshwar Shiva temple. But we were there for some offbeat experiences as well.
With pristine beaches and acclaimed temples, Gokarna is quickly coming as an alternate to Goa for beach lovers and those seeking salvation or relaxation. One can hire a bike/ scooter to go around Gokarna. (But please check the condition of vehicle, as rental agencies do not focus on servicing and the rented vehicle may end up spoiling your plans).
We opted for a scooter and started to Vibhuti waterfalls (42 km. from Gokarna). Once you have come out of Gokarna town, though the road though is good condition, but is quite deserted and only a few travelers will come your way. But in between you will get lot of spots for taking pictures as the road is blessed with amazing natural beauty.
It took us around 50 minutes to reach the entry spot, from where a 30 minutes trek was in the way to take us to the Vibhuti waterfalls. That is how I started the trek, with my kid! 
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From Udupi - Coastal Drive to Gokarna

We kept on walking around on the secluded beaches, while exploring back waters of Udupi came across hanging bridges, prayed in awesome temples and over and above blended with nature at its best; this has been our journey which started from Mangalore. 


After spending 2 days in and around Udupi, we started early morning for Gokarna and with the objective to check every spot in the way and reach Gokarna by the night. Just at outskirts of Udupi we came across a beautiful church, worth stopping and spending some time. 


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Anjaneya Parvat - Birth place of Lord Hanuman

Off late Vijaynagar had become a 2nd home, have been visiting it almost every 2nd week. While one of these visits got 3-4 hours break from my schedule, so thought of making use of these 3-4 hours. I knew of a hill top temple at Anjaneya Parvat, place believed to be birth place of Lord Hanuman.  So called up the taxi driver and asked if can do Anjaneya Parvat in 3-4 hours? Driver told yes, but slightly tough, Vow decision was taken and I was on my way to Anjaneya temple well before the first ray of sunlight.


Locally known as Anjaneyadri hill, this place is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman (the most powerful of the Gods). Nearby attractions like Pampa Lake, Rishimukh Parvat reinforces the connection of this place with the time of Ramayana. Lord Hanuman is also known as Anjaneya, that’s why the name of the hill as Anjaneya Parvat. 

Hanuman temple at the top of the hill is the main attraction here. However, you need to climb 575 stairs in order to reach the summit. Check out the way to hilltop temple.

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Shri Krauncha Giri, Kumar Swamy Temple - Chalukya Legacy

Whether you are travelling on the road or off the road, you are never far off from a wonderful Offbeat Spot. Such is the beauty of Land called India. 


The era of Vijayanagara empire has been often called as the most prosperous region ever to have happened, on this earth. Other than the majestic Hampi Kingdom, this region also has some impressive monuments which are yet to be explored. While meandering in this region came to know about a panoramic temple on Krauncha Giri (Giri means Hill in hindi language), somewhere nearby.

Search for that exclusive temple took me to the Swamimalai Forest Range, wherein lies the legendary Krauncha Giri mountain. I had no idea that I was going to walk into a legendary chapter of our Mythology. Legendary…?


Located 10 km away from Sandur in Bellary district, this mountain is the site of the famous Kumar Swamy temple (also spelled as Kumaraswamy/ Kumaraswami). The Kumar
Swamy Temple complex consists of 2 temples dedicated to Lord Karthikeya and Goddess Parvati (Mother of Lord Karthikeya). Lush green mountains in the backdrop make a perfect canvas for this temple.


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Arabian Sands of Udupi Beaches


After the divine temple run in the first half it was the time to let our souls soak the peaceful and unspoiled ambience of the beaches around Udupi. In Udupi you can never have too much of a beach.  

15 km. from Udupi temple is one of the most serene and pristine beach which you can find in the state of Karnataka. Kaup or Kapu is a village located between Udupi and Mangaluru. Local language spoken here is Tulu and in Tulu language Udupi is known as Odipu.

As we are about to reach the Kapu village, the coast line opens up to reveal beach lines with perfect white sand in front of us from what looked as a misty distance. This is the Kaup beach, with its tropical climate is a hot favorite spot for the locales and everyone who comes to visit the Mangalore Port City. Attractions in and around Udupi promises to keep your spirits uplifted during your visit at this place.

The main attraction at the Kaup beach is the Kaup Light House which was built in the year 1901 on a 27.12m high rock.

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Temple Hopping - Day out in Udupi

Situated in the state of Karnataka, Udupi is a city renowned for its fabulous temples and pristine beaches. Visiting Udupi is full of joy that is ever fresh and full of fragrance. Millions of people from all around the world come here to experience the divine serenity of these beautiful temples.


Sri Krishna Mutt is the most prominent temple in Udupi. This holy temple is the seat of Lord Krishna and is considered to be one of the holiest places in southern India.  

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Malpe Fish Market

Around 2 km. from the Malpe beach is the Malpe Fish Market. Unlike not so known beaches of Malpe, this fish market is in fact one of the most important fishing port in not only Karnataka, but in India. With hundreds of boats parked at any time during the day the visit to Malpe Fish Market is not less than like a carnival for tourists as well as explorers like us.

This fishing harbour not only caters to state of Karnataka but is also a selling point for fishes arriving from the neighbouring States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The variety of fishes coming here is just amazing; with hundreds of thousands of local fish as well as squid, cuttlefish, shellfish and along with mackerels, sardines, prawns, crabs, lobsters, sharks, stingrays and practically whatever you want. 

There were tons and tons of fishes all around, and more were being continuously unloaded from the coming fishing boats.

Fishes are unloaded from the boats into the boxes, sprayed with fresh sea water and stored on ice for subsequent selling to interested buyers.

There are two systems to sell the fish here: one is on the basis of the number of boxes the buyer wants and the other is through an auction that takes place at the harbour itself. The fish is auctioned and sold on the spot to the highest bidder before the next lot of fish is unloaded.

Fishes were present everywhere. Being a strict non-eater of fishes, the smell of fishes was trying its level best to drive me out of this place. However, excitement of visiting the fish market for the first time in my life, kept me going. Nice surprise to see the ladies playing the prominent role in trading the fishes with buyers. At times we got a few critical looks from the women traders, probably they have judged that we are no-buyers of any type of fishes. You need to be very quick in order to buy fish for yourself as the auction finishes much before you may think of putting your bid.

Refrigerated trucks/ containers are always waiting for their turn to get loaded with the fresh fishes to supply throughout the country.

Next time whenever I will see a fish being served anywhere, probably I will recall this visit to Malpe Fish Market and the eco-system which starts from early morning to ensure non-stop supply of fresh fishes to all fish lovers.
Keep exploring Guys...


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St. Mary's Island, Malpe-Udupi

We have spent the entire first half of the day, praying in some of the amazing temples of Udupi. After having local Mangalorean style lunch, we were all geared up for the Malpe Beach and the St. Mary’s Island.


6 km. from Udupi town, Malpe is a natural port, one of the major fishing harbours in Karnataka and above all is home to peaceful beaches. Malpe Beach is one of less explored places and off late have started offering water sport and other adventure activities for visitors.


Blue green water on one side, green trees on other side and in between option of long walks along the coast. Settings and ambience make this place a perfect definition for heavenly place. Malpe Beach is one of most happening places in and around Udupi.

Apart from the settings, the biggest attraction here is the St. Mary’s Island which is approx. 6 km. from the coastline. Originally this island is known as Parashuram Dweepa. And taking a ferry is the only way of getting to this island. Sit relaxed in a ferry, bring your camera to action mode and enjoy the cool breeze of Arabian Sea.


To avoid glare from the sea water, may use a good sunglass. Along the way you will come across many ferries with excited souls on way to St. Marys Island.

Ferry operator gave us 1 hour (60 minutes) for the island sightseeing. At first glance it looked like more than enough as the island covers an area about 500 m. x 100 m. only. However very soon we were about to realize that 60 minutes will pass in a flash as one of the most amazing time of our lives. Welcome to St. Mary’s Island.

Legend says that in the year 1498, Vasco da Gama, first landed at St. Mary's Islands on his journey from Portugal, named one of these islands, O PadrĂ£o de Santa Maria, dedication to Mother Mary, before proceeding to Kozhikode in Kerala. Looks like it is from this that the islands got their current name. Did not knew that we were going to a part of time travel?


Distinct and gorgeous rock formations is the first thing to be noticed as soon as ferry is about to touch the St. Mary’s Island coast. Actually, these rock formations are all basaltic rock formations.

Scientific studies suggest that the basalt of the St. Mary's Islands was formed by sub-aerial sub-volcanic activity. At that time Madagascar was attached to India and Madagascar rifted apart around 88 million years ago.

Taking camera is allowed inside the island premises after paying prescribed Fee of INR 200, else you can deposit the camera in the designated counter and let your mobile capture the stunning natural landscapes.

Prominently covered with coconut trees, the island is also called Coconut Island. There is no habitation on the islands.


At certain places rock formations are so unique that you will forget your beach activities and will turn in to a Geologist.

Likewise, the northernmost island has a hexagonal basaltic rock formation, the only one of its type in India.

The beach here is also a heaven to the seashell collectors. Collect seashells of various shapes and sizes littered along the coast. My kid had collected so many shells that I had to carry them in my pockets and then inside one compartment of my camera case.


However, you will not be able to test your swimming skills as there is very less sand on the beach and the beach it is crafted with basaltic rocks all around. Security guards have been deployed around the beach to check any extra adventurous souls.


Also, there is a small eatery on the island. Please be informed that littering on the island is strictly prohibited and officials keep a vigil for enforcement of the rule. Regular ferry service (Rs. 300 per head) ply from Malpe Beach, however frequency depends upon number of passengers. Despite getting crowded with many people in the afternoon, the Malpe Beach is extremely neat and clean. White sandy Maple Beach is quickly getting popular with those who are seeking solace with some adventures.

Buses ply regularly from the Udupi town to Malpe Beach. If you have time and want to explore the nearby areas, we suggest to hire a taxi as there are many spots like Malpe Fish Market, Delta Beach, Kemmannu Hanging Bridge and others to be explored and enjoyed. 


Do you know:

1.    The St. Mary’s Islands are one of the four geological monuments in Karnataka state and declared as one of the 26 Geological Monuments of India declared by the Geological Survey of India in 2001. The monument is considered an important site for "Geo Tourism".

2.   Malpe is the first and only Indian beach with a 24/7 WiFi and also has a luggage counter to store your luggage.

3.     Malpe Beach is also a centre for numerous beach side concerts and festivals organised in Udupi.

Keep travelling Guys

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Hampi...Land of Grand Temples

Continued from where we left at Hampi, Hemkuta Hill:


As further described by Abdur Razzek: Vijaynagar is built in such a manner that seven citadels and the same number of walls enclose each other. Around the first citadel are stones of the height of a man, one half of which is sunk in the ground while the other half rises above it. These are fixed one beside the other in such a manner that no horse or foot soldier could boldly or with ease approach the citadel." 


Razzaq describes the outer citadel as a "fortress of round shape, built on the summit of a mountain, and constructed of stones and lime. It has very solid gates, the guards of which are constantly at their post, and examine everything with severe inspection." Seventh fortress is the innermost of all and most protected as it used to serve as King’s residence."


"The space which separates the first fortress from the second, and up to the third fortress, is filled with cultivated fields and with houses and gardens. In the space from the third to the seventh one meets a numberless crowd of people, many shops, and a bazaar. By the king's palace are four bazaars, placed opposite each other. Above each bazaar is a lofty arcade with a magnificent gallery, but the audience-hall of the king's palace is elevated above all the rest. The bazaars are extremely long and broad." 

Thinking and deliberating on the magnificence of this place, we were now on the legendary Hemkuta Hill, it was the time to see and experience the large number of temples, archways and pavilions. The whole hill was fortified with tall wide stonewalls, the ruined remains of which can be seen till today. Hemkuta hill with reasonably flat expanse is one of the ideal places in Hampi to cherish the sunrise and sunset. 


According to the prevailing myth, once Lord Shiva was so impressed by the dedication of a local girl "Pampa" for him that he agreed to marry her. The occasion was celebrated by the Gods and it rained gold on this hill, which gave the present name to this hill (Hema in Sanskrit language means Gold). Hence majority of temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva, the major one being the "Virupaksha temple", located at north of this hill. This hilltop and its slopes offer a splendid view of the sprawling ruins site.

Virupaksha temple surrounded by small temples.

Virupaksha temple is the principal temple in Hampi and an important pilgrimage centre for the worshipers of lord Shiva. The annual festivals attract huge crowds, Virupaksha temple is equally sought after by the tourists and pilgrims. It believed that this is the oldest functioning temple in India, as this temple has been functioning continuously ever since its inception in the 7th century AD. Virupaksha temple has been beautifully carved with numerous images of Gods and Goddesses.


One can reach the main entrance of temple through the chariot street in front of the Hampi Bazaar, just next to where the local bus stand. From the ticket counter close to the main entrance buy the entry ticket (Rs. 5), camera ticket (Rs. 50) and video camera fee (Rs 500). What an amazing piece of architecture? 

Virupaksha temple from inside: 

From the inner sanctum:
There is a long market outside Virupaksha temple and a number of bouldered structures, all in stones. Looks like once it has been a double story market.

This huge structure of monuments is located opposite to Virupaksha temple. I do not know what it was, but the sheer colossal size is amazing:

Next destination is the temple which even Lord Vishnu found too grand to his use and returned to live in his own home. yes we are talking of the most grand monument in Hampi, Vittala temple. the present look of the temple is attributed of Krishna Devaraya, the most acclaimed ruler of Vijayanagara dynasty. Temple complex is so big that it has shrines, pavilions and many halls located inside it. The famous "Stone Chariot", face of Karnataka tourism belongs to this temple.
Intricately carved Pillars                                                                                        Musical Pillars

The major attraction of this temple are the 56 musical pillars of Ranga Mantapa, one main pillar surrounded by a set of minor pillars. Pillars are called as "SAREGAMA" pillars courtesy to the musical notes emitted by them. Every main pillar is surrounded by 7 minor pillars. These 7 pillars emit 7 different musical notes of representative musical instruments. Sound quality depends on the type of instrument, whether wind, string or percussion type of musical instrument. These musical notes coming from the pillars has been a mystery to the people around the world. Even the 2 pillars were cut by then british rulers of India to solve this musical mystery. However, nothing was found inside the pillars and the secret is still unknown. The 2 cut pillars can still be seen in the temple. These pillars are a true testimony to the technological acumen of those times.

 

Rightly said the brilliance of this era will never be seen again ever. The aura of this place cannot be described in words, let’s hear the story from the stunning structures: 






Not only the huge structures, even the roofs are also delicately carved. Now the floodlights illuminate the Vittala temple complex and offers a majestic view of the complex. Purandaradasa Festival held annually in the month of February Attracts visitors from far off places. Hampi is a place where you can wander tirelessly for days, you will surely fall in love with the rocks. I was left spell bound.

Though in ruins now, but the aura is still intact for these monuments.

The Lotus Palace:

All of these were gradually reduced to ruins as the Empire fell to the foreign invaders in 1565 after the Battle of Talikota and this beautiful region was mercilessly plundered. Indeed one of the biggest losses to the civilizations, “Lost was a city, a region the brilliance of which will never be seen again in future”. Hampi has been declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Ruins still held their esteem and provide glimpses into the prosperity this place has seen.


57 Km. from Hampi is an another architectural marvel, Kumar Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Karthikeya. This temple was built by Chalukya dynasty and later rebuilt by Rashtrakutas. 

To reach Hampi:
Nearest railhead is Hospet, 13 km away and Toranagallu station, 25 Kms. There are about 10 daily trains and about 5 special trains to the station, which ply once or twice a week. From Bangalore, Hampi Express is the best option.
Nearest Airport is Bangalore, around 350 Km. from Hampi
Hampi is well connected by roads to almost every nearby city.

Keep travelling Guys...
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Hampi - Majestic ruins of the lost era...

The city is such that the pupil of eye has never seen a place like it and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world

- wondered by a traveller, Abdur Razzak from Persia who visited the Vijayanagara  in 1443 AD.


"Roses are sold everywhere and are an intricate part of life of people here, as necessary as food. Each strata of society/ class has shops adjacent to one another; the jewellers sell pearls, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. In this agreeable locality, as well as in the king's palace, one sees numerous running streams and canals formed of chiseled stone, polished and smooth." This show cases the heights of equality the society has achieved where each profession was duly respected without any discrimination.


With awesome landscape along the banks of Tungabhadra River, Hampi was the capital of mighty Vijayanagara kingdom. The era of Vijayanagara empire has been often called as the most prosperous region ever to have happened on this earth. The Vijayanagara kings were great patrons of art and made Hampi flourishing centre of Indian culture.


There were opulent palaces, marvelous temples, massive fortifications, baths, markets, aqua ducts, pavilions, stables for royal elephants and elegant pillars. The word "Grand" seems too small in this region. To begin with, check out one of the important ceremonial structures of royal use: 


Above structure, Mahanavami Dibba or Dasara Dibba was constructed by Krishnadevaraya after his victory on Udaigiri. This platform was used by royals to watch "Mahanavami Festival", "Dussehra Festival", army march past and any procession. This GRAND, three tiered 8-metre-high stone platform is located to the northeast of the royal enclosure. Built in granite in 16th century AD, the platform is nearly 35 sq mts and has steps on the East, West, and South. Platform has sculptures depicting the socio-cultural activities of the time in the typical Vijayanagara style of architecture. Get ready to explore Hampi.


45 minutes’ drive from Toranagallu (35 Km.) took us to Queen’s Palace, a palace where royal ladies used to take bath. This is the first spot in line to Hampi exploration...


From outside it looked like a palace, where once water filled trenches all around the structure with fiery crocodiles used to ward off any unwanted invaders.
Few yards ahead is the Prasanna Virupaksha or Underground Shiva Temple: As the name suggests, this temple was constructed below the ground level.

The roof top of the temple is almost matching the ground level (check the ground level on the other side of this temple), due to which the sanctum and the inner side of the temple is always flooded with water. Reasons for such a construction are still unknown. Prevailing legends say that there is a hidden water source beneath the temple. During monsoon season water level rises in the temple. When the water level recedes below a certain level, a further down cellar room becomes visible, however whom so ever has tried to go inside that room has never been seen again. As per the myth there resides a big snake which is protecting the temple. Guys, enter at your own risk.


The temple was buried for over 400 years before it was discovered in the 1980’s. Looks like this the private temple of the Royal family members for their private ceremonies, as it is very near to noblemen’s quarters.


Few steps ahead ahead Hazara Rama Temple:

The Hazara Rama Temple is a significant spot in Hampi. It was once the private temple of the kings and the royal family of the Vijayanagara Empire. The reigning deity of the temple is Lord Rama. The temple is known for its relics and panels that depict the story of Ramayana.  

Only a few steps and few minutes in Hampi and I have been completely floored by the unique charm of this place. Next spot in line is Henkuta Hill and the amazing world of temples here. Just below the Hemkuta hill is the Laxmi-Narsimha temple. Carved out of granite stone in 1528 AD during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya, this 6.7 metre statue still retains its original charm. Lord Narsimha is seated on divine snake "Adishesh" which is also forming the hood over the head of Lord Narsimha. Observe this statue, one can see a feminine hand on the left part of the torse. As told by localites it is the hand of Goddess Laxmi.


This beautiful statue was vandalized and broken by the invaders in 1565 AD, broken portions are still visible. But the glow in the eyes of Lord Narsimha is still intact.

Adjacent to Laxmi Narsimha temple is Badavilinga-temple: Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue). Base of this Shivlinga is always under water.


Walking a few steps on Hemkuta Hill, it was the time to pray at Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple.
Bouldered temple                                                                                         Lord Ganesha Statue with snake tied around Belly

Lord Ganesha'a love for food is widely admired. As per the legends one fine day, Lord Ganesa ate so much that his tummy was about to explode. To save his tummy, he just caught a snake from the ground and tied it around his stomach to prevent his tummy from bursting. Snake tied around his tummy is visible in the statue.


Just in front of Sasivekalu Ganesha shrine you can see a huge site map of Hampi installed by the archaeology department.  


Moving ahead we are on Hemkuta hill, the best place in the region to watch Sunset and the amazing world of temples. Hemkuta hill is a paradise for art lovers, numerous structures are carved out of beautiful images of Gods and Goddesses.

No doubt the times of Vijaynagar empire was the golden times for art and culture which flourished in every part of this place.
Temples to be continued...

To reach Hampi:
  • Nearest railhead is Hospet, 13 km away and Toranagallu station, 25 Kms. There are about 10 daily trains and about 5 special trains to the station, which run once or twice a week. From Bangalore, Hampi Express is the best option.
  • Nearest Airport is Bangalore, around 350 Km. from Hampi
  • Hampi is well connected by roads to almost every nearby city. Staying options are available at Toranagallu or Hampi.
If you decide to reach Hampi by road, you can witness some beautiful Emu rearing farms in the way, check out:
Keep travelling Guys...
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Hyatt Place, Hampi

Work, relax and enjoy the travel to one of the UNESCO heritage sites...
Though located adjacent to one of the biggest steel plants in India, Hyatt Place offers rather a refreshing staying option in Vijaynagar. For business visitors to JSW Steel, this is one of the most ideal accommodation.

Located inside JSW, Vidyanagar lush green township this is an ideal place to enjoy and walk around in exquiste surroundings. One can enjoy refreshing morning walk and relaxing evening walks in the arms of nature.








Rooms are well maintained and decorated in the spirit of hampi or this region. All the rooms are decorated with caricatures of beautiful topography of this region.

On your visit to hampi region you can try searching for this arrangement of stones.


One can also enjoy bare feet walk in the well maintained lawns.









Restaurant on the ground floor serves delicious and to the order prepared food. Be it Chinese, or Italian, the service is quite fast. Breakfast is especially fantastic with huge variety to satiate your taste buds. I loved the Omlettes they serve during the breakfast...




Attractions nearby:
  1. Hampi - 27Km. : Ruins from Vijaynagar empire, 700 years old. UNESCO World heritage site.
  2. Itagi - 80 Km. : Known for Mahadeva temple, Chalukya Style
  3. Anjaneya Parvat - 50 km.: Believed as birth place of Lord Hanuman
  4. Kumar Swamy Temple, Sandur - 17 Km. : Lord Karthikeya Temple, Built by Chalukyas. Considered as first abode of Lord Karthikeya in Southern India.
Facilities for guests:
Complimentary Breakfast, Parking, Complimentary Wi-Fi

Nearest Airport : Bangalore (350 Km.), Hubli (160 Km.)
Nearest Railway Station: Toranagallu (5 Km.) 

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