-Edward Dahlberg (American Novelist)
Travelling is always joyous and exciting. For me Matthew Harding’s (Matt) videos entitled ‘Where the hell is Matt?’ have inspired to travel more. I was a weekender for the last two consecutive weeks. First week I dated with the immobile naked man 😛 and second week with monarchs of Mysore. This weblog condenses the experience of travelling across the ‘must-see’ places of Karnataka within a radius of 160km around Bengaluru.
Five months have passed after I have journeyed with friends beyond Bangalore. I was desperate to go for one, but summer does not offer more options for tripping and trekking for weekend hangout. After long contemplation it was decided to visit the archeological triangle of South Karnataka: Shravanabelagola-Belur-Halebid.
<A: Bengaluru->B: Chennaraypatna->C: Shravanabelagola->D: Hassan->E:Belur->F:Halebid>
The road from Bangalore to Hassan connects the three places and travel facility is good. My journey took off amidst the early morning Bangalore traffic. After 4hrs ride, the bus reached Chennaraypatna from where I routed myself to Shravanabelagola. The foliated rice fields, coconut farms, farm houses are eye-catchers over this region.
Shravanbelagola, known as Belagola by locals, gets the name from a kola (meaning pond in Kannada) formed at the heart of the town. And when you land here, two hillocks-Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri, welcome you. A head pops out of a temple atop Vindhyagiri.
It is the 57feet monolithic, humungous carving of Gomateshwara Bhagavan Bahubali. This statue is the world’s highest monolithic sculpture. One should peregrinate Vindhyagiri stepping 650steps to witness this marvel.
It is nude and erect facing in North direction with carved curly hairs and creepers around the around the body.
There is an interesting story behind this monument and I love to follow my flowchart approach to explain the story 😛
Statues of Bahubali and Bharat are present at the entrance of the temple which is known as ‘Akhanda Bagilu’. Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri house a number of Jain Basadi (Kannada: Adobe) which makes it a popular Jain pilgrimage center. Old inscriptions can be found in Vindhyagiri near Tyagada Khamba (Pillar of sacrifice). I couldn’t decipher cryptic writings 😦 Turning back, 650steps paved the way for the next milestone.
It took 3 hours to reach Belur from Belagola via Hassan. Coincidently there was car festival in Belur and the crowd mashed me from all angles using all possible external parts defined by human anatomy.
Chennakashava Temple is the main attraction in Belur and was built by the King Vishnuvardhana to commemorate the victory over Cholas in the battle of Talakad in 1117 A.D. And Belur was the Hoysala Capital under his rule. The temple is engraved with the finest, exceptionally adroit sculptures. It took more than 100years to construct it, which signifies the intricate, meticulous craftsmanship.
Around the temple there are carvings of the instances of Hindu mythological stories and an array of elephants, horses. The brackets that are carved out of the single slab into aesthetic dancers, voluptuous maidens that are known as ‘Shilabaalike’ (meaning young girl carved on a rock). And one of the brackets has the ornate sculpt of a dancing pose of Queen Shantaladevi, Vishnuvardhana’s wife.
Continuing the journey, we reached Halebid which is located at ~20kms from Belur. Halebid, known as ‘Gem of Indian Architecture’, is well maintained by the Karnataka Tourism Department compared to Belur which has been ruined more by the travelers than the historic Sultans from Delhi 😛
Temple area houses Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara temples and two Jain basadis. Tour Guides are available in many languages 🙂 Halebid temples are built using Soap Stone and bear the tales from Mahabharat and mythology. Inside the temple are two dancing stages and it is believed that Queen Shantaladevi had danced on them.
It is a common practice to build Nandi, the bull, statue facing Ishwara idol and in Halebid there are two monoliths of Nandi-one facing Hoysaleshwara and the other facing Kedareshwara.
Visit to these three places was special not only because they house the best existing architecture but also because of some creatures I found here. In Belagola, I got to see a Rock Agama, a yellow bodied lizard and then a sparrow in Haledib. The little beauty was sitting in one corner and was tweeting. It was kind enough to pose for a photo and record the song it was singing. Following are the catches of these species ( precisely, endangered species):