If you want to see some of the best temple architecture of ancient times, then you must visit South India. Having lived in Karnataka for a long time now, I am proud of the fact that this Indian state has some of the most beautiful temples.
Between the 10th and 14th century, most of what is now called Karnataka was ruled by the Hoysalas. The Hoysala era was an important period in the development of art, architecture, and religion in South India. From Belur and Halebeedu group of temples in the district of Hassan to Chennakeshava temple in Somanathapura, Hoysala temples are known for their intricate carvings.
Lakshmi Devi Temple is located in Doddagaddavalli, a village in the district of Hassan. When I was working in the IT industry, I used to take short weekend breaks and visit places in and around Bangalore. Hassan was a part of one such short trip. In the span of two days, we covered Doddagaddavalli, Belvadi, Belur, and Halebeedu – temples built by the Hoysala kings. Hassanamba temple – it is open for just 12 days in a year – we missed it by a day but we got to see the alankara ( The goddess was dressed in a beautiful saree and jewelry) in the priests’ house. Gorur dam, although we missed Shettihalli church. Shettihalli church is visible only during the summers. When the dam is full, the church is submerged in the water. And finally, Shravanbelagola – another architectural marvel.
Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in this world.
My first memory of travel is that of the visit to my maternal grandmother’s place. Four hours of journey and four hours of non-stop eating – my mum calls me a chakki because I never stopped eating while on the bus. My maternal grandmother’s house was in Hassan. Back then, there were not many buses from Bangalore to Hassan, and not to forget, there were no AC or Deluxe buses. It was a normal red bus with hard seats! Our travel bag was always filled with chips and cream biscuits.
The bus used to stop at a place called Bellur Cross for tea/coffee and we used to get down to refill our travel bag with more goodies. There was a peanut seller from whom we used to buy peanuts. He would shout “kadalekaai” (meaning peanuts) and come near our bus – after all, he knew that we would always buy “kadalekaai” from him. What I still remember about this guy is that I visited the place after a gap of 5 years and he still recognized me!
Traveling on vacations brings back a lot of childhood memories. Packed tiffin boxes, packets of chips and biscuits, non-stop munching all the way, that was one awesome childhood! As time passed by, I was busy with school – studying for the boards is no piece of cake and I was longing to go on a tour. That is when we decided to go on a South India tour. I can say that it was my first group tour. We went to all places down South – from Kanyakumari to Ooty to Gurvayur to Kodaikanal.
Every travel has some memorable incident that one would never forget. It was 2007 and it had been just two years since the Indian Ocean Tsunami. We were on the Vivekananda Memorial in Kanyakumari when all of a sudden there was a storm warning and we were asked to evacuate the premises. For those who do not know, Vivekananda Memorial is on an island-of-sorts and one has to travel from the mainland by boat. Ours was the last boat to leave the memorial, we had employees from the memorial on our boat. The boat was anchored and everybody got in. The sea was so rough that it was lashing at our boat like an angry devil. And all of a sudden our boat went whoosh! It almost toppled! I remember everybody screaming. Though I do not know to swim, I wasn’t scared. Maybe I was still fascinated by the word ‘tsunami’ back then.
My next tour was in 2011 when I visited Hampi and other archaeological places in Karnataka. Two days in Hampi and I was mesmerized by the sandstone structures! Apart from Hampi, our tour included UNESCO heritage sites Pattadkal and Aihole. And it goes without saying that this tour also had quite a few memorable experiences from our hotel room buzzing with honeybees to monkeys having a blast on the roof of our bus!
You all know how stressful life can get, especially when one starts to work and there are deadlines to complete. This is when I decided to go on short tours. There are a lot of places in and around Bangalore and my cousins and I decided to visit each one of them, once in three months or so.
Our first such trip was Belur-Halebeedu group of temples in Hassan. A week before our trip, I googled all the places to visit around Hassan. I ended up making a long list. So much to see in two days! We visited a temple in Belvadi ( the sun rays fall directly on the diety once in a year – on 21st of March), the temples of Belur and Halebeedu, Gorur dam, and Shravanabelagola! Apart from these places, we also took a quick tour of Hassan city (since my cousins and I were born in Hassan) and visited the famous Hassanamba temple.
Our next trip was to Wayanad. This trip brings back a lot of memories. Our driver lost his way and we were going round and round until 6 in the evening (we left Bangalore at 7 in the morning!) Finally we reached our hotel – it was on a hilltop. The place was beautiful, and it had just rained so everything looked so green and fresh. Our hotel was situated near the famous temple of Thirunelli. The next day we went on a safari hoping to catch a glimpse of the elephants, leopard, and deer. But all we saw was elephant dung! If not the elephant then I can at least click a picture of its dung!!!
How ironic is this – on our way back home, we saw a deer on the National Highway!
Then came a seven-day tour to Kerala – from boat riding in the backwaters of Alleppy to ropeway ride across the Malampuzha dam, I did it all! I saw a beautiful sunrise at Munnar and sunset at Kochi. Banana chips, appam and stew to hot-crispy vadas – this was one of the best trips ever!
My next trip was to Talakaadu (the place is full of sand, although there are no beaches around!), somanathapura, Mysuru, and Bylaakuppe. This was again a two-day trip. I was amazed at how much one could travel in a span of two days!
Then there were a lot of small tours – a trip to thirthalli, Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram and a temple tour in Maharashtra to mention a few. This was followed by my first ever trip to North India – Kashmir. I was awestruck by its beauty! Heaven on Earth is what I would call it.
Shortly after this tour, I fell sick and I could not travel much. Finally, after a gap of two years, I decided to go to Goa – the land of beaches, temples, and churches! My four days in Goa included a visit to all the temples, churches, a couple of beaches and not to forget – shopping at Anjuna Flea Market!!
From giggling honeymooners, naughty kids to retirees, I have met them all on my trips. It is so comforting to know that there are many, who like us, love to travel and wish to see the world. Traveling has taught me quite a few lessons in life. From controlling hunger to an adventure of a lifetime ( we were on our way to Gokak falls near Belgaum and the road was submerged under water! River on both sides and we did not know what to do. Finally, a huge truck went ahead and we followed the truck. It was so scary because there was water everywhere and our car was half submerged!), travel has made me a stronger and better person.
There are so many places in India to see and many more around the world. One life is not enough to visit all these places! I might not have seen the World, but my love for travel and exploration has taken me to some of the best archaeological marvels and scenic places on earth. 🙂
The Basilica of Bom Jesus or Basilica do Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage site, located in Goa. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, a Navarrese-Basque Roman Catholic missionary. The church is located in Old Goa, which was the capital of Goa during the Portuguese rule.
Construction work on the church began in 1594 and was completed in May 1605; it was consecrated by the archbishop Dom Fr. Alexio de Menezes.
The Basilica is one of the oldest churches in Goa. The floor is of marble. Apart from the elaborate gilded altars, the interior of the church is simple.
The mausoleum of St. Xavier was designed by the 17th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini. It took ten years to complete. The casket containing the body is made of silver. The holy relics of the saint are displayed once in every ten years during the anniversary of the saint’s death.
The church also holds paintings of scenes taken from the life of St. Francis Xavier.
You might see a lot of flower photographs in my blog but would you believe me if I tell you that my journey into the world of photography started with my love for travel and architecture?
I could not travel for about two years due to health reasons and that is when I moved from travel-photography to flower-photography, after all I live in a city that is well known for its beautiful gardens. Having said that, I can never forget my first love (in photography!) and I do have plans to travel in the near future. 😀
Here are few photographs from the places I visited in the past 6 years (minus the 2.5 years of no travel period)
Kuppali is a small village in Thirthalli taluk, Karnataka. It is famous for being the birthplace and childhood home of a famous Kannada poet and writer – Kuvempu. Kuppali also happens to be the birthplace of Kuvempu’s son – Poornachandra Tejaswi, another famous Kannada poet and writer.
One of my cousin’s wedding was in Thirthalli so we were in Thirthalli for two days. I somehow managed to dodge the celebrations for sometime to visit Kuppali 😉 It was drizzling when we reached Kuppali and I was worried as my DSLR was brand new. You know, there are times when duppata serves as a makeshift umbrella 😉
The path to kavishaila was slippery (as it was drizzling).
Kavishaila is a rock monument dedicated to Kuvempu. Arranged in a circular fashion, this rock monument resembles The Stonehenge in England.
At the center of this rock monument is Kavi Samadhi, the final resting place of Kuvempu.
Our next stop was a visit to Kuvempu’s house – KaviMane. KaviMane is a three-storeyed tiled house.The ground floor consists of a courtyard, kitchen and bananti kone (a room for women who have just given birth). The first floor consists of a room that contains various articles used by Kuvempu like pen, walking stick, umbrella etc. The second floor houses the entire collection of books written by Kuvempu. (Photography inside the house was not allowed.)
Kuppali and the surrounding areas are together known as Malnadu pradesha. I have read a lot about the beauty of Malnadu – We had one of Poorna chandra Tejaswi’s books as a textbook in school. There is one story in the book that describes the brief encounter between the author and monitor lizard. And guess what! On our way back to Thirthalli, I saw a monitor lizard, lazying around on the highway! 😀
The Independence day flower show at Lalbagh this year was dedicated to Kuvempu. I have already posted about it a couple of days ago. If you haven’t read it yet, click here.