Nature

Shivasamudram Chronicle

Bangalore is a great place in terms of one day and weekends trips. There are so many places one can go to take a mini break from routine and city life. One of such places is the Shivasamudram Falls. Shivasamudram Falls are located at around 136 km from Bangalore by car if you take the Bangalore-Kanakapura-Malavalli-Shivasamudram route. One can go via Bangalore-Maddur-Malavalli-Shivanasamudra route too. The Kanakapura road is a state highway road. It is not in that great condition but it gets better after you cross Kanakapura. Also unlike Mysore road, there are no good restaurants or stopovers on Kanakpura road. So carry your snacks etc.

Capture

DSC06870Shivasamudram Falls  are situated on the banks of the river Cauvery. One of the first hydro-electric power stations in Asia was set up in the year 1902 at this location. The plant is still functional. Shivasamudram falls are of the segmented steep cascade waterfalls type. Segmented waterfalls occur where the water flow is broken into two or more channels before dropping over a cliff, resulting in multiple side by side waterfalls.

DSC07365According to World Waterfall Database, Shivasamudram falls has an average width of 305 meters, a height of 98 m, and an average volume of 934 cubic meters / sec. The maximum recorded volume is 18,887 cubic meters / sec.  Apparently it is a perennial waterfall but the water flow varies a lot. The first and second time we visited the place was in November and March. The water flow was very low. The third time we visited was in August after the onset of monsoon and the falls were just spectacular!! So I guess the time of visit is the monsoon season of July to October. The surrounding greenery is also season dependent so for lush scenic views, the best time to visit is during monsoon season.

Waterfall in lean season
Waterfall in lean season

Shivasamudram Falls consists of two falls – the Gaganachukki and the Bharachukki. Cauvery river divides around the island type land formation of Shivasamudram and two separate waterfalls are formed. While Gaganachukki is a large horsetail type waterfall, Bharachukki  is a jagged crashing cascade. Barchukki is wider but Gaganachukki is taller, deeper and faster.

After taking a left turn at Malavalli, one should continue on the road till a left turn comes which leads to Gaganchukki. If you don’t take that turn and continue straight, cross a bridge on the mighty Cauvery; you can go to Bharachukki. Bharachukki is better developed than Gaganchukki from tourism point of view. But there is a Karnataka tourism hotel at Gaganchukki where you can have good and tasty lunch. Otherwise there are no restaurants at the place. One can find tender coconut sellers and other such vendors selling small food items.

There is a parking fee collection point on the road leading to Gaganchukki falls which appears to be totally illegal. The ticket they give is in local language. During one of our visit, they gave ticket and we paid money but while returning they stopped our car and started arguing that we left without paying. We also argued and shouted back and they let us go reluctantly. Since then we have started photos whenever we pay the money.

DSC09116There are lots of steps leading down to the view point at Gaganchukki falls. But the view point is very small compared to the crowd that throngs the place during full flow of river. When the waterfalls are in full volume, the water spray comes to the steps and the view point. The roar of the falls is deafening in a pleasant way and the force of nature expressed through the rushing water is amazing and humbling.

Steps leading down to the view point

Steps leading down to the view point

Waterfall in the "mean" season!

Waterfall in the “mean” season!

DSC06825

Lilliputian humans in front of Giant waterfall

Hotel Mayura,owned by Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation, has a good restaurant and children play area. It has 1 Suite Room, 5 A/C double rooms and 5 double bed rooms in case one wishes to stay the night. It is only place where you can freshen up after the drive to Shivasamudram. During one of our visits, there were lots of ducks in the lawn area. Didn’t find them the next time.

DSC06903DSC07371After a decent lunch (the hotel serves both vegetarian and non vegetarian food), we went to Bharachukki. As we crossed the bridge over Cauvery, the sight of the river in full spate was breathtaking and scary. As it was monsoon season, dark clouds made the atmosphere ominous. Such weather is nice otherwise it gets very hot at Shivasamudram in non monsoon seasons.

DSC09141DSC09150There are lot of steps leading down to the Bharachukki waterfall too like in Gaganchukki. One can go boating in the famous round coracles till the point just beneath the waterfall. But the steps are closed off during the full flow of the waterfall to prevent any accidents. One can sit in nice seating area around the place and enjoy the view. Beware of the monkeys!!! Too many of them around and they literally chase you if you have any eatable or even beverage in your hand. DSC09166

DSC09183The gates close at around 6 pm so one must plan the itinerary accordingly. One can also include Talakad in the itinerary since it is just 35 kms from Shivasamudram.

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Categories: Karnataka, Nature, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Talakadu Chronicle

Some of my colleagues proposed the idea of going on a picnic trip to any nearby place. Rest of us agreed. The places chosen were Talakad or Talakadu which is around 130 kms from Bangalore and 24 kms further to Somnathpur. Bus was hired and food arrangements were made which consisted primarily of South Indian dishes. Permission to go on a picnic on a working Saturday was taken from the management. Bus started at 6 am from the first pick up point. At around 8 am we reached Kanakpura to pick up our supplies. At around 10.30 we stopped for breakfast somewhere beside the road. After breakfast, on our way to Talakadu, all of us started playing Antakshari. It was fun!!

On Way

Breakfast break

As soon as we reached the outskirts of the small rural settlement, there was a barrier on road and some kids ran up to us to collect “vehicle entrance fee”. The signboard was extremely dubious. But that is the way it is at many places around Bangalore.

Rate Charge

Kids collecting entrance fee

Talakadu is a small town, with lot of ancient history and mythology related to it, located on the banks of the famous river Cauvery. Remains of pre-historic settlements have been unearthed at Talakdu. The town is peculiarly covered with sand dunes several meters deep and has a folklore behind its appearance. Talakadu is also a centre of pilgrimage. It is also known as Kasi of the South. It is mentioned as Gajaranya meaning Elephant forest in ancient lore of India. Tourists come here mainly for the “darshan” or to offer their prayers to the five sacred Shiv-lingas (representation of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva) and especially in the month of Kartika of Hindu calendar. Talakad has been ruled by several dynasties over the ages (Gangas, Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas,Vijayanagar Kings) and recently by the Wodeyars of Mysore.

At the parking area, one can find vendors selling guide books of Talakadu. Those are really helpful in knowing the history of the place and for guiding the religiously inclined to the correct procedure of visiting all the temples in the area. The book has a Kannada section and an English section. If you bargain well, you can get it in Rs 10.

The tale of The Curse of Talakadu goes like this:-

Vijayanagara king had appointed one Srirangaraya as the viceroy of Vijayanagar Empire to Wodeyar kingdom, in 1610. The viceroy’s wife was Alamelamma who used to send her ornaments every Friday to decorate Sri Ranga Nayaki, the consort of Sri Ranganatha of the Srirangapatnam temple. After the death of her husband, the Wodeyar king and his soldiers started to harass the woman for her jewels. The Mysore king sent his force to seize the jewels. Out of helplessness and anger, Alamelamma jumped into the river Cauvery at a place called Malangi with the jewels tied up in a cloth. When she was drowning, she uttered a curse in Kannada saying

“Talakadu managali, Malangi madwagali, Mysooru arasarige makkalu aagadirali”

which translates to ‘Let Talakadu be covered by sand, let Malangi become a whirlpool and may the kings of Mysore not have any heirs’

Now the strange thing is Talakdu is really covered with sand (which scientists attribute to either building of a dam in the 14th century or a fault line  running through the river), the river really has whirlpools at Malangi and the Mysore royal family have faced problem in having a rightful heir to the throne since that time. Apparently the present scion of Mysore Royal Family, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, has made amends for the same. I am not advocating any supernatural hocus pocus or superstitions, but one has to admit there is a certain romanticism, charm and curiosity in knowing such folklore. 🙂

Talakadu has derived its name from two hunters called TALA and KADA. They also have a mythological story which goes like this :-

A sage Somadatta with his 16000 disciples was on his way to Siddhashrama situated on Mount Somarka to worship Lord Shiva. Enroute wild elephants killed him. He was reincarnated as an elephant and continued worshiping the god with his disciples at a place where a ‘salmali’ tree stood. In due time the Lord appeared and blessed them all with mukti or emancipation of the soul in human form from the cycle of births and deaths. Now, later in the course of time, two hunters called Tala and Kada, were travelling in the region. They struck the ‘salmali’ tree with an axe and blood gushed out. They fainted. When they regained consciousness, they heard a voice telling them how to dress the wound and heal the tree. The hunters did as instructed and became ‘pramathagana’ (whatever that means). Lord Shiva who suggested medicine to his own illness came to be known as “Vaidyanatheswara” (The Lord of Physicians). The place became famous as Talakadu and the blood which had oozed out got mixed with earth and got the name “moolamrithika”. The sacred mix is supposed to cure all diseases including those caused by misdeeds of previous births.

After reaching bank of the river, we chose a spot under the shade of a tree and settled down. Most of my colleagues went for a ride on the special round boats or “parisals” across the river. Parisals or Indian coracles are primitive, light, bowl-shaped boats with a frame of woven bamboo, grasses, reeds or saplings covered with hides. They are used commonly in South India and are a major tourist attraction. After the boat ride, all of them went for a swim or to just play in the water. There are changing rooms available near the river. There are various food items and refreshments vendors also. I and my friends ate watermelon pieces to cool off. It was so hot in February!

On way to beach

Cauvery Riverside

Changing rooms

Parisal Boats

Boat Ride Across Cauvery

Birds on Cauvery

Expanse of River Cauvery

Frolicking in water

Buried in hot sand, drunk perhaps? (not my colleagues)

After everybody returned reluctantly from the water, we had lunch. After lunch all of us went for the tour of temples around the area on foot. And my appreciation for the “Ship of Desert” i.e. the camel increased manifolds. It is really so difficult to walk on sand. After visiting the first temple (where I bumped my head due to low height of the entrance) and walking some more distance to the next one, some of us gave up. We were sweating profusely and were so thirsty. Thankfully a watermelon seller rescued us. We reached the end point of the tour by a shortcut and relaxed in the bus while the more energetic and religious colleagues completed the tour in that hot weather.

There are about 30 temples at Talakadu, some of which have been excavated and some of which are still buried under sand. Among the temples, the Pataleshwara or Vasukishwara, Maruleshwara or Saikateshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara and Mallikarjuna temples form the famous “Panchalinga Darshana” which is held once every 12 years. The Panchalinga Darshana is held on a Monday falling on a new moon day in the month of Karthika (November/December) when the sun is in the Scorpius constellation. Apparently the last Panchalinga Darshana was held in the year 2006. The Pataleshwara Shivalingam is said to change colors during the day (red in the morning, black in afternoon and white in the evening).  Apart from these, there is also the Keertinarayana temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is built in Hoysala style of architecture. The sanctum has an eight foot tall idol of Keertinarayana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Roadsign

Pataleshwara Swamy Temple

Half Buried Temple

On way to second temple

Restoration work in progress

Keertinarayana Temple

All the visible temples have exquisite carvings and sculptures. The ancient structures always manage to fill one’s mind with awe at the workmanship, isn’t it? The town has an atmosphere rich in history, mythology, religion, belief and faith with the river Cauvery quietly flowing agelessly, a witness to the rise and fall of several kingdoms, to the fervent prayers and resonant chants of devotees, to the happiness and sadness in their hearts and to the progress of human civilization over time.

Religion in every heart

Faith in every grain of sand

We left Talakdu at around 4.30 pm for Somnathpur but by the time we reached there, the place had closed for the day. Maybe I will visit that place on my own someday. There was an excellent shop of antiques and artifacts at Somnathpur. After tea and refreshments, we started for Bangalore and returned by 10 pm.

Talakadu Temple Timings:- 08.00 am – 06.30 pm. Entrance is free.

Categories: Historical, Karnataka, Nature, Religious, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani Chronicle

This is the final post in the series of posts I have posted about my trip during the summer. In the first post I had described Aurangabad and Ellora Caves. In the second post I had described Pune, Khandala and Lonavala. From Pune we left for a 3 day stay at Mahabaleshwar.

6th Day :- Checked out of hotel at Pune early morning as our Volvo bus to Mahabaleshwar was to leave at 7.00 am. Bus left at 8.00 am!! Checked into pre-booked rooms of the MTDC holiday resort. I had inquired at 16 hotels including this one for their rates and MTDC resort was the cheapest one which had a restaurant too. After seeing the place I was satisfied with my choice. Awesome surroundings with a small playground, nice rooms and good room service with wonderful food. There are a lot of monkeys there and can create a lot of ruckus. And bookings are tough to get here especially during the tourist season. This is MTDC resort.

resort mhswar

7th Day :- After a lot of rest on the previous day, we went sightseeing. There are several “points”, temples and a lake (Venna lake) to see in Mahabaleshwar. Thankfully it didn’t rain and we were able to see lots of places. Venna lake is enjoyable more in the evening due to all the stalls including video games parlors! but the boat rides are very costly! The place where Marjorie point, Arthur’s seat etc are there requires a fit body and a pair of good legs. I was amazed at so many old people climbing so many steps!

There were a lot of horses too but I didn’t have the courage to ride them. Dad and I paid Rs 10 each to just sit on a horse and take photos 😀 We ate strawberries too but didn’t like the taste. 😦 And there is a nice market place too! 😀

mahabaleshwar

8th Day :- We left for Panchgani early morning . There are not many sights to see in Panchgani. To increase the business of the taangas (which charge 300 rs for a 10 min ride around the table land) vehicles don’t go into the tableland whereas its perfectly accessible. And if you can walk, you can traverse the area on foot. One can see many gliders para sailing in Panchgani. There is a picture of one in the collage. I have only 5x Optical zoom 🙂

There was a place where the Pandavas had lived while on exile. Seriously why on earth would anyone climb so high to live during exile? Then we went to Mala’s farm and bought a lot of jams of different flavors. 🙂 I found a strange figurine etched on a tree trunk there. Then we had snacks and wonderful ice cream at Mapro farm. After lunch and rest at MTDC resort, we went to Venna lake in the evening. The weather with clouds and slight drizzle was awesome! It can get quite cold in Mahabaleshwar so its better to have warm clothes with oneself.

panchgani

9th Day :- Though our bus for Pune was to leave at 11.30 am, we had to checkout at 9.00 am from the resort as per their rule. We just waited at the hotel which was the pick up point for those going to Pune. After sometime someone shouted from the back of the bus “Stop the bus! Everyone get down soon. Something is burning!” We all got down hurriedly. The fan belt had burnt out. The driver took the bus to a nearby restaurant and called for a replacement bus. It took 3 hrs and those 3 hrs was full of heat and sweat. We all missed Mahabaleshwar and we were facing the harsh reality of weather in June in India. We reached Pune totally exhausted.

10th Day :- Some more shopping in Laxmi road market in Pune and loads of rest and sleep.

11th Day :- Headed back home.

Thus ended my wonderful summer vacation trip!! Looking forward to next vacation 😀

Categories: Hills, Maharashtra, Nature | Tags: , , | Leave a comment
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