The Rocky Chronicles

“When one realizes that his life is worthless he either commits suicide or travels”

-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.

Extra Shots:

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):



Filed under Travel

The Colors of Love

India is doubtlessly a country that possesses unparalleledly tradition, culture and beauty. Whichever part you trace, there is a difference in language/accent, culture, food, celebrated festivals, dressing and other infinite attributes. Festivals are special attraction. For a foodie like me yum-yum festive food attracts more than the festival indeed 😆

Holi, the festival of colors, is back bringing specters on the street doused in colors. Even though Holi is a Hindu festival, people break the model of casteism, culture and gender, and become a part of this unique ecstatic celebration.

It is believed that, Lord Krisha upset with his dark complexion, approaches his mother Yashoda to ask her ‘why Radha (Krisha’s soul-mate) is fair?’. Yashoda hints Krishna to throw color at Radha and smear her face with colors. Following his mother’s idea, Krishna throws color on Radha’s face and this started the tradition of using colors on Holi day.

The method of Holi celebration varies based on different regions, beliefs and stories. Let me bring my native Dharwad, the land of Pedha (sweet made of Milk), to spotlight and see how Holi is celebrated there. Dharwad celebrates holi for two days. Day one, idols of Kamadeva alias Kamanna, yet another superman of Hindu mythology, are worshiped in public in small huts built on the streets using coconut fronds. Kamadeva was the lord of love and passion and is worshiped on account of his heroic deed 🙂

Following is a flow chart of the story which highlights his good job. 😀

Later Shiva revives Kamadeva after his wife Rathi Devi pleads Gods for his life. People celebrate his rebirth and worship him because of his rescue operation :lol:.

Many Dharwadians have the habit of post-fixing ‘Anna’ (in Kannada it means elder brother) to the most significant part of a person’s name, whom they respect. This changes Kamadeva to Kamanna. Kamanna receives a lot of respect on first day, but day two, begins with the incineration of Kamanna idol 😛 This is to simulate Shiva burning Kamadeva to ashes and bid farewell to him until next Holi day.

This event is followed by the real excitement of playing with colors. Crowds of colored figures stroll on the streets. Even domestic animals are not exempted from getting colors on them 🙂 This play continues for 3-8hrs which ends the two day extravaganza.

(Holi @ Belgaum. Photo Courtesy: Ashwini K.)

(Holi @ Dharwad. Photo Courtesy: Mohan Nayak)


Filed under India

The Guts & Glory

“Pack a pillow and blanket. Go see the world. You will never regret!”

The Namesake authored by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Sigh of completing office hours on Friday soon disappeared after a ring of the SMS that suggested a gallop-“Run man, we have to get another auto.” This message from a friend, Chetan, knocked the breath out of me and I started moving at breakneck pace. I began searching for an auto-rickshaw. It is very easy to hunt a tiger in the jungle compared to searching for a driver who would offer inexpensive rick ride on Fridays in the IT jungle-Bangalore. With the angry screecher texting ‘Wru?’, ‘Run’ at regular intervals, I made a deal with the driver of an auto labelled ‘Hi Jayashree’. In India, trucks and ricks are two typical vehicles where the owners embellish and label with cool radium cuttings, paintings etc… After loading Chetan and the camping tents, the tricycle cruised ‘The Bangalore Traffic’. Another SMS, this time from Vishal (Shalu) which read-“…U’ll get late? Shud I stop train?” 😆 Finally, we reached the Bangalore Central, the railway station where we met four other crew members-Sanjeev, Vikram, Vinod, Vishal. All had gathered on a mission to reach the peak of Kumara Parvatha (Kumara Mountain) a mountain range in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, known to be the second highest mountain in Karnataka.

Mangalore Express (#6517) arrived right on time. Our group settled in a compartment, and gossips, jokes started. A girl seated near the window was staring at us from the corner of her eye and was trying to conceal her smile to our jokes. An old man was enjoying it too and he attempted to converse with us in Dharwadi Kannada accent. It continued for few hours and finally we were all asleep. Early in the morning at 5a.m. we reached Kukke Subrahmanya and were welcomed by the rhythm of Cab drivers announcing neighbouring city names “Dharmasthala, Dharmasthala”, “Ha Banni banni Gokarna, Gokarna, Gokarna”, “Ah! Subrahmanya, Subrahmanya, Sub…” We managed to find one cab driver and roomed in a nearby lodge.

Kukke Subrahmanya is a small town covered with the greenery of the Western Ghats. A search for the place in online maps will end up displaying the foliage with cluster of houses. Kukke, as natives call it, is a famous Hindu pilgrim center and gets its name because of The Kukke Sri Subrahmanya Swami temple. The place also houses Kumar Parvatha, the second highest peak in Karnataka State. The city was crowded with Subrahmanya devotees and trekkers. You will fall in love with the place when you see the pregnant look of nature and mountains shrouded in mist.

Day 1:

We started the day with a visit to Kukke Subrahmanya temple. It is mandatory that boys take out their shirts. Looked like one person who was showcasing his masculine strength disappeared looking at my machismo 😛

After darshan, we strolled towards the starting point of Kumar Parvatha trek. A hoarding that presented details of the trekking landmarks, welcomed the trekkers. Charming faces started the ascent. After one kilometre trek, smiles on our face disappeared. Munching Chocolates, Chikki, GluconD (Glucose) helped to muster the energy to push ourselves. Soon, a satisfied look gleamed after ~3km trek when we reached Bheemana Kallu (Bheem’s Rock), the first milestone. The steep inclination was making trekking more and more tiresome. Sanjeev expressed a few touching words that moment-“When you are going (trekking) up, never see where you are going. Steepness always discourages us. Just watch your steps and move on!” And he was right. It’s our own mentality that pulls our legs. Energy meter was down as we inched towards Bhat’s house, resting at regular intervals. Rotten leaves were serving as bed and coolants 🙂 Everyone said “The house is just 1km ahead”. But, after every 1kilometre there was one more kilometre added to it 😦 Soon we spotted areca nut/betel nut plantations. And there it was. Bhattar Mane, the haven.

Bhattara Mane (Bhat’s House) is owned by Narayan Bhat (09448647947) and Mahalingeshwars Bhat. Bhat brothers are staying in this house for the last 35years. Duh! They have to trek 6.5kms to reach their home 🙂 These brothers work in their rice fields, betel nut plantations and also serve food for hundreds of trekkers who pass by this place. Tired and hungry, I had so much of food here that I have never had before in my life. Rice, sambar and butter milk is all you get to eat here and it’s yummy. After one hour rest and packing Puliyogare for dinner at Bhat’s house, it was the time for second phase of trekking.

After few kilometres a rocky structure was visible at the top of a mountain. It is known as Kallu Mantap (third milestone). It took 2hrs to trek 2kms before reaching that place. A natural stream of sweet water flows here. Kallu Mantap is an ideal viewpoint. Kukke was looking like a lump of mud from this point, somewhere the forest had caught fire, stream of Kumaradhara river was glittering miles away from us. Sunset time was nearing. After Chetan and Vinod decided to continue trekking, remaining four of us got busy in setting up the tent and collecting wood for campfire. Reddened sun started his descent and starry dark sky appeared with the twilight glow of the sky. Hmm! It’s the time for campfire. Moist pile of wood devoured the oil without giving out fire 😦 Left with no option we had dinner and slept off. We were in deep sleep, when I felt like someone is slapping hard. Got up to see the burst of strong chilly wind was shaking the camp. The wind was intense enough to break the supporting strands of the camp. We disassembled the tent and sacked ourselves inside the tent 😀 It was a horrible experience. We decided sleep holding the tent from inside fearing that the miniature tornado should not take us away with it like a parachute 😀

Day 2:

After first day’s unsuccessful campfire and the herculean task of handling of the camp, we woke up to face the wind that had grown more intense and colder than in the night. Packing everything we setoff for the trekking. Crossing a peak from the rock structure, current of cold and pure misty air passed across. After reaching Shesha Parvatha, to our surprise we found a bed of clouds was floating in air at eye level. It is worth trekking such a long distance to catch one such miracle. The trekking continued in a dense forest, where we found remains of the escapists-Chetan and Vinod 😛 Both had camped in the forest along with a few others, after hearing the howl of the forest animals in the night 😀

Kumara Parvatha is less than a kilometer away from this forest. The path between the forest and KP is slippery and rocky. A very thin stream of water flows here. We were fortunate not to be greeted by leaches in this area. Crossing the barrier, we landed on the peak of Kumara Parvatha. Like proud trekkers joyous and excited we unfurled the flag (engineered by me using the Kukke Prasadam bag and a stick 😀 ) View of the Western Ghats was clear as the mist had rundown.

After spending an hour here, the descent started. Down trek was not difficult as the land was dry. Back to Kukke, we followed the same path KP->Forest->Shesha Parvatha->Kallu Mantap->Bhat’s House->Forest->Bheeman Kallu->Kukke. At some point, I was sitting on a rock, waiting for my friends. And it took time to digest the fact that I was warming a snake’s den 😀 We hit Kukke on time the way it was chalked in the plan. After bathing in Kumara Dhara river, it was time to say ‘bye’ to the splendid KP and the awesome experience we had basked in.



Filed under Travel

The Last Gift

In the 1990s, I watched a Kannada movie ‘Muttinahara’. It was the first movie that I had watched in a theatre. A painting of the movie was hung on the imposing edifice. It contained the picture of a military soldier holding the gun with explosions taking place in the background. Unsure of who the man in the poster was, my 5year old partially lit mind was assessing its Kannada reading skills by deciphering Kannada writings on the painting. After entering the theatre, it was exciting to see the big white canvas inside the theatre for the first time in life. It was a great beginning and at that age when dreams start budding, a curious question popped out ‘What’s the cost of that big Television?’ I started dreaming of having the same TV in my room 😀 Path became clear when Aayi(that’s what I call my mother as) answered ‘The front door of our house is small and this big TV cannot pass through it. When you construct a big house we will buy one for you.’ I nodded to her answer as if I will be constructing that house the very next day. 😳

The film started rolling and then appeared an uncle with a lady. That woman had a supremely charming smile  😆 . I could map uncle’s face with the military man in the poster outside. Looking at the couple, few neighbouring audience started whistling. Few more question exploded-‘Who is that uncle? Why do people whistle on his appearance?’ When asked, mother answered smartly ‘He is the hero. His name is Vishnuvardhan. People like heroes, so they whistle. He is standing behind that TV. If you do not watch the movie silently he will come out with the gun and shoot’. An array of queries haunted me like ‘Why is he not shooting those whistlers, when they are whistling regularly?’ But who wants to get killed in the hands of military uncle Vishnuvardhan by asking questions? I was glad to hear the name of the HERO-‘Vishnuvardhan’ because it shares the beginning of my name-‘Vishwanath’. Later, this hero gave me a feeling – ‘You have to live life as a hero. People will like you if you entertain them.’ He was a man of words. Oh! Forgot to mention the name of the lady with supremely charming smile. She is Suhasini 😀

‘Muttinahara’ was a super hit in the Kannada film industry. Acting of all actors was mesmerizing. It was screened for 100s of days. Colony kids were jealous of me because they had not seen that movie. I mimicked the military uncle, used to act like him holding a twig, so called gun, and run behind the scared screaming kids to shoot them with my weapon ‘Tish, Tish, Tish… Dooom doom… Dishkyaav!@#$$’. For moments, I felt like I was a hero. Thanks to Vishnu. Some of these beautiful memories and beginnings of my life are tagged to this far-famed personality.

<This was a song from his first movie ‘Nagarahavu’>

Yesterday’s cruel blow on his health left the sad and painful demise of Dr.Vishnuvardhan. His life has ended. But, as Winston Churchill says-“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

Sir, your life is an example of the perfect model of life. You gifted me many things in the beginning – the first big TV show (theatre’s canvas), heroic traits, expansive life, first four letter of my name etc… Being one of your buffs, I wanted to fix a milestone on this day to mark the beginning of something new in my life and gift you that ‘beginning’. Here is my first personal blog dedicated only to you. I swear that this is just going to be the end of beginning, not the end itself. I love you, Sir. You have won our hearts and people calling you ‘Appaji’, meaning Father in Kannada, reveals that fact. Good bye. May your soul rest in peace. 😐


Filed under People