Karnataka

Coorg Chronicle – Part 2

Continued from here

After having a good sleep, snuggled in warm blankets due to chilly night, we woke up and got ready to go out exploring. After a hearty breakfast we decided to explore the surrounding area of the homestay first. The whole place looked so rustic, serene and charming in the cosy winter sunlight…a small village nestled in the woods and hills.

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We followed the sound of the babbling stream and came upon it after walking a short distance from the homestay. So peaceful and clean without any plastic waste floating on the water. We climbed down through a narrow path and rocks and spent some time playing with the water and photographing the surroundings…sadly we didn’t spot any birds except for a stork.

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After spending some time at the stream, we came back to take our car and go out for sightseeing. Oh noooo!!! One of our tires was almost flat!! That too in this godforsaken place. Though we had a spare, we had to get this one repaired too for our return drive. Thankfully our homestay host informed that there was a repair shop nearby. Somehow we drove to that shop and got it repaired. It was almost noon and this unexpected event had eaten into our sightseeing time. So we had to cut short our list as we wanted to be back before it got dark and driving from one place to another in hilly region takes time.

So the place we decided to visit was Talacauvery. Talacauvery is supposedly the originating place of the river Cauvery. It is located on the slope of Brahmagiri hill near Bhagamandala.

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After reaching Bhagamandala from Kakkabe, there is a T section where on one side is the Triveni Sangama or joining of 3 rivers namely Cauvery, Kannike (Tributary of Cauvery) and the mythical Sujyothi. Also there is Bagandeshwara temple. On the other side is the curvaceous road leading to Talacauvery. The drive to Talacauvery is quite scenic but with some sharp turns so one needs to be careful.

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Bagandeshwara temple

Finding a parking spot is really tough and you may have to park quite far and walk. After a beautiful entrance gate, there is a pond built at the place which is said to be the origin point. The river originates as a spring feeding this pond and then flows underground to emerge as the Cauvery river some distance away. There is a small temple of sorts too at the place where a wedding was taking place when we visited.

This is the pond. Apparently in October on a particular day water gushes up from the spring at a predetermined moment and the pond overflows. That day the temple is flocked by pilgrims.

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There was an outlet through a Nandi bull’s head out of which the holy water was falling onto a smaller pool. People had thrown coins in that for good luck as the tradition goes. There are some other temples in the complex and some decorated holy trees with information written in stone tablets below them. But walking barefoot in the hot cement/stone floor was not possible for me so didn’t pay my obeisance to them.

There were steps leading to the top of the hill which D decided to explore. But he couldn’t make it to the top as I called him back. I got tired of waiting 😀 He did manage to take some photos from up there. On the hillside he spotted many rocks stacked vertically in small piles. We tried searching on internet the significance of this curious way of keeping rocks but didn’t find anything. Any idea readers?

By this time we were feeling very hungry and I recalled spotting a KSTDC hotel on the way to Talacauvery. So we decided to have our lunch there without spending time searching for a restaurant. There was only thali option there and food was not tasty at all. But hungry people can’t be choosers. So somehow we finished our meal and decided to head to our next destination – Nalaknad Palace which was close to Kakkabe.

To be continued….

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Categories: Hills, Karnataka, Religious | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dharmasthala – Malpe Chronicle

I decided to document our road trip to Dharmasthala and Malpe instead of continuing with our trip to Coorg from the first part here because it was an adventurous road trip and just right to write for the BlogAdda travel blogging activity. I am chronicling this road trip adventure for CEAT Tyres in association with BlogAdda.

Back in September 2014, when my research paper got accepted for presentation in a conference at an engineering college in Dharmasthala, I and D decided to make a trip out of it and included the nearby Malpe beach into our itinerary. We love beaches and a visit to any of the Karnataka beaches was pending in our list. So we started out after breakfast hoping to reach Dharmasthala by late afternoon. We decided to go by this route.

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It was to be our second trip through Western Ghats area, the first one being the trip to Ooty. The drive on NH75 was so smooth and awesome. It was a clear blue sky day and a bit hot. It was hard trying to stay within 100 kmph on the great quality of road with less traffic.

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NH75

Soon the highway changed from four lane to two lane which was also good. As we neared Sakleshpur, the road condition began to deteriorate and it was hard to believe that it was a national highway!! We stopped for lunch at Kamath Upachar on

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Two lane national highway

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Road condition getting bad

After sometime from Hassan, we could make out from the vegetation that the Shiradi Ghat area had started.

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The Ghat road was quite wide and the traffic consisted of trucks and cars. But soon the smooth drive ended and the stretch of the National Highway passing through the Shiradi Ghat got very bad. We were going slow anyway due to Ghat region but now we had to drive slower to avoid getting back ache and to prevent damage to car suspension!! Concrete and asphalt were missing altogether!! It was one of the worst roads we have driven on till date. Thank god for CEAT Tyres that we made it through without any mishap.

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We had to stop to take a picture of the road!!

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Horrible road!!

Nevertheless the drive through the Ghat region was mesmerizing with the different varieties of trees surrounding the road, the blue hills in the horizon and a bubbling stream hidden somewhere in the forest cover, sometimes getting louder, sometimes farther. I was not looking forward to meeting any elephants in the area. We had hoped to reach by late afternoon but due to slow speed, evening had started to set in. I was praying that we make it out of the forest before dark. There was no mobile signal also for a major portion of the road. Apart from that, it was one of its kind of drive. The late afternoon sun looked so beautiful through the canopy of trees.

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Sun playing hide and seek

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Heading into the unknown!

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Hills in the horizon

At last we could catch sight of the elusive stream..rather a river!! Google informed me later that it was the Kempuhole river which originates from the Sahyadris.

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Kempuhole River

The road condition became better and soon we turned right onto SH37 which leads straight to Dharmasthala.

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Out of Ghat area at last!

Sun had already set by the time we reached the guesthouse where the college authorities had made accommodation arrangements for our stay. We were exhausted by the unplanned long drive. We checked in, had dinner at the canteen of the guesthouse and went to bed.

The next day D went exploring the town while I was away attending the conference. The town, located in the Dakshina Kannada district, is famous for its Dharmasthala Temple which houses the shrine of Shiva, Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the Dharma Daivas (guardian spirits of Dharma) namely Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari. (Source:Wikipedia) Apparently, on an average the flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people a day!! But since neither D nor I were interested in visiting the temple, I won’t be able to provide any information on that in this blog. D loved the natural surroundings of the place though.

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The Gateway to Dharmasthala

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Sri Manjunatha Temple

I spent the next day also in conference while D watched movies on laptop in the guesthouse as there is nothing much to do in the small secluded town..infact not even a good place to eat. The guesthouse canteen was pathetic in variety of dishes. Then on the 3rd day, after breakfast we moved on to our next destination – Malpe. The road condition was good. We decided to go to Malpe through Mangalore though it is the longest route.

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We stopped at the NIT Surathkal beach on our way. The weather was bit hot but it was so refreshing to see the Arabian Sea. The beach was clean and deserted at that time of day except for a couple or two of lovebirds 🙂 There was a lighthouse at the beach giving a mystical look to the beach. As the tide was low there were some moss-covered stones exposed which were accessible but not to be climbed barefooted!! We spent some time playing in the water and photographing the views. Then the tide started to increase which forced us and reminded us that we have still not reached our destination.

We had planned to stay only one night at Malpe and we had booked our room at Paradise Isle Beach Resort which located right on the Malpe Beach. When we reached the hotel, we were thrilled to see the location. The room/cottage was also good. The surroundings and the garden were well-kept.

After we freshened up, we went for lunch. Even after two years I still remember what we had ordered because it was so delicious!! Being on seashore means seafood for me and so I ordered Crab Masala while D ordered Chicken Hariyali along with rice and roti. Both the dishes were awesome in taste!! The only other time I have eaten such tasty crab dish was when we had visited Puri.

After such a splendid lunch an afternoon siesta was a must. Then we went off to the beach in evening. Malpe is a natural port located about 6 km from Udupi, Karnataka. It is an important fishing harbor too. The beach had golden brown and whitish colored sand which gave it a different look. Beach gazebos, palm trees, less crowd and cleanliness made the beach even more attractive, especially the gazebos which gave the beach a unique look. The water was also quite clean and blue. A melee of activities was going on at the beach. Young boys were flying kites which are made & sold by locals at the beach. Some guys were going on jet ski rides, some were driving ATVs on the beach, some kids were enjoying camel rides, some enjoying the water and some people like me were lazing about on the beach. There is something enchanting in watching the waves come and go..I could spend hours doing that..just chatting with a companion and looking at the ocean/sea.

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Gazebos at the beach

 

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Kai Po Che!

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Sand Sculpture

The different stages of sunset at Malpe beach

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We came back to our hotel after darkness fell. We decided to have vegetarian dinner and that turned out to be horribly tasteless!! Sadly the place doesn’t have much eating options outside. Then at night we sat at the porch chatting while listening to the night sounds of the sea until mosquitoes made it impossible to do so!!

Next day before checking out, we again went to the beach. Malpe beach has many islands off the coast, among which St.Mary’s Islands – a set of four small islands – is the most famous tourist destination. They are known for their unique geological formation of basalt rocks but sadly, due to lack of time, we couldn’t visit that place.

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The golden brown colored sand

Then our drive back home began. We left after breakfast. As we were going to drive from Malpe to Bengaluru, it was going to be a long drive. In the entire Ghat stretch of road, there are just small eateries. We stopped at one to have tea and to stretch our legs. Then in Sakleshpur, we stopped at a restaurant called Surabhi’s Nx for a late lunch. The food was okay. The view behind the restaurant was very good. By that time dark clouds had begun to gather making the weather awesome.

Soon it started raining and that slowed down the drive speed to avoid any skidding. But again thanks to our car’s CEAT tyres, we didn’t face any problem.

Thus one of our work + fun road trips ended with lovely memories and a promise to go back again to visit St. Mary’s Islands next time.

Categories: Beaches, Karnataka, Religious, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coorg Chronicle – Part I

Coorg or Kodagu, also known as Scotland of India, was on my to-visit list since I saw it is rated as no.1 destination in India on HolidayIQ. So on Republic Day weekend of 2014 we decided to visit Coorg. As it happened, the road trip to Coorg was going to be our last trip before we set out to be parents!! There are three road options to go to Coorg from Bangalore and we decided to go via Channapatna and Mysore because of known road conditions and eateries.

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Coorg and it’s surrounding tourist places like Wayanad are famous for homestays. So we decided to stay at a homestay this time instead of a hotel. After going through different travel websites I (the trip planner) zeroed in to Naladi Holidays homestay at Kakkabe, Coorg. Now there are two routes to reach Kakkabe…first Mysore-Hunsur-Virajpet-Kakkabe and second Mysore-Hunsur-Kushalnagar-Madikeri-Kakkabe. The first one is shorter by 25 km but we decided to go by the second one because as per the itinerary planned, we wanted to visit the famous Golden Temple on first day itself. Also homestays don’t serve lunch because they expect you to spend the afternoon sightseeing. We were hoping to reach Coorg by 12 noon so it made sense to visit a place, have lunch and then go to the homestay.

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We started out at around 6 am. As it was winter season and we were headed for hilly area, we had packed lots of woolen wear which we were going to regret later!! It was cold only like from 3 am to 8 am! It was quite hot during daytime. We stopped only for breakfast at Vaishali restaurant on Mysore road and by 12 noon reached Bylakuppe near Kushalnagar.

 

Bylakuppe is a Tibetan refugee resettlement, provided by GoI for Tibetans who fled from Tibet following the 1959 Chinese invasion. The magnificent Namdroling Monastery and the Golden Temple are located there. The Namdroling Monastery is the largest teaching centre of Nyingmapa, a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, in the world, and the Golden temple is a very popular tourist attraction. PAP (Protected Area Permit) is mandatory for foreigners to stay at Bylakuppe overnight.

When we enter the gates of the monastery, we feel transported to another realm of peace, solitude and mysticism. We feel we have entered Tibet or Bhutan or similar area and forget we are in South India. Inside the grounds there are two temples – the Zangdogpalri Temple, and the Padmasambhava Buddhist Vihara, commonly known as the Golden Temple.

The Zangdogpalri Temple is the one with the huge portrait of the Dalai Lama in front. The building is decorated with Buddhist murals, painted flowers and a rainbow on top. Then on the left side there is a beautiful garden and a small fountain and beyond that the Golden temple.

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The monks move about doing their business according to the time of the day, unaffected by the crowd, its noise and its curiosity. We felt as if we are intruding into their peaceful world with our cameras and talk. This feeling gets heightened when we enter the Golden Temple.

The exterior walls of the Golden temple are decorated with Tibetan murals and Tibetan lion sculptures. We would have loved to have a guide who could explain all the folklore behind the paintings and translate the writings on the walls. One has to leave the shoes outside. Once we stepped inside, we were overcome by awe at the three majestic, beautiful golden statues of Guru Padmasambhava, Lord Buddha at the center and Buddha Amitayus; looking down at visitors above the altar.

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The statue of Lord Buddha is 60 ft in height whereas the height of other two statues is 58 ft. The statues are made of copper plated with gold. I guess hence the name Golden Temple. The insides of the statues are filled with scriptures, relics of great beings, small clay mould stupas and statues which the body, speech and mind of the Buddhas. The altar is decorated with flowers, candles and incense and photos of the Dalai Lama and some other person whom I didn’t recognize.

The big hall is also decorated with murals depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology and lots of people just sit down on the floor to meditate or contemplate looking at the benevolent eyes of Lord Buddha. It was enchanting to hear a Tibetan lady offer prayers by singing a mystical chanting song while rotating a prayer wheel. People were generally following the signboard “Keep Silence” but soon a huge group of school students came and it destroyed the calmness of the place. I feel the teachers should instill the urge to follow regulations by practicing ..for example they could have split the kids into small batches and shown one after another.

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In the monastery campus few other buildings are there.Visitors were not allowed to go inside the Zangdogpalri Temple but we could see inside from the open doors on the side.

Suddenly from somewhere a big bell/drum started to sound and the monks started gathering in one of the building for some activity. It was lovely to witness the prayers in session, the ringing of gongs, drums and the drone of chanting by the monks.

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There is a model of the entire settlement area in which you can see the various buildings of the entire area. The information board was only in Kannada so couldn’t gather any information regarding the model.

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Outside the monastery, there is a small market with 1-2 restaurants and several stores that sell Tibetan jewellery, handicrafts, incense and souvenirs.We bought few souvenirs like a Tibetan doll, a replica of the bell in front of the golden temple etc. Then we freshened up and had lunch at a small restaurant there and started on our way for Kakkabe.

Visiting hours of Monastery – 8.00 am to 7.00 pm All days. Photography allowed. Free entry.

The owner of our homestay had contacted us on email after our booking (through Stayzilla) and given good directions to his home and helpful tips like only Airtel works at his place. Thankfully D has Airtel connection so we didn’t have to rush to buy Airtel sim. Another tourist place, Nisargadham was there on our way to Kakkabe via Madikeri, but since it was getting late and the homestay owner  had advised us to reach before dusk, we did not stop for it. We decided to check it out on our way back to Bangalore.

The mountainous road to Kakkabe was in good condition and quite enjoyable to drive. It had almost got dark by the time we reached Kakkabe. Kakkabe looked like a sparsely populated area midst of dense forest and hills. The road leading to our homestay was quite narrow and scary in the dark. We were almost going to miss the homestay since there were no streetlights but we decided to stop and ask around. Google maps also doesn’t work well in such interior area.

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The road leading to our homestay

The owner’s family welcomed us warmly and showed us our room which was upstairs; the family lived downstairs. It was a big enough room for a couple. There was an attached bathroom which was quite clean. There was hot water facility too. There was no mobile network inside the room. The owner’s wife gave oranges to welcome us which were quite delicious.  The view from the balcony was awesome with mountains at a distance, coffee buds drying outside, tiled rooftops. The quaintness of the small town and the isolation of the area inspired a feeling of peacefulness, away from the hustle bustle of city life, away from the tangled web of electronic devices and internet…but it also gave a feeling of eeriness, all ghost stories (and there are only few I know) coming back in my mind, always expecting a howl to be heard in the distant forest, a worry that if something happens in this godforsaken place then??

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Road in front of our homestay

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View of dusk from our balcony

The food was served on the dining table in the common area without any intrusion on our privacy. We went outside at dinner time and saw food was ready. After a delicious South Indian meal, we turned in for the night, eagerly waiting to explore more of Coorg the next day.

Categories: Hills, Karnataka, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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.

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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!

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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.

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!!

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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.

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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

Mysore Chronicle

Continued from the Srirangapatna Chronicle

So after lunch, we proceeded on our Mysore sight-seeing trip. Mysore is the Karnataka’s second biggest city. It was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyar dynasty and is considered the cultural capital of the state. It is also known as the City of Palaces. From what we saw, Mysore appeared to be a clean and well planned city with a heritage feel and quaint charm to it. The places we visited are

# St.Philomena’s Church – This church is dedicated to Saint Philomena, a 3rd century saint from Greece. The twin spires of the Cathedral, 175 feet in height, are visible from a distance making them a distinctive city landmark. Apparently there was a smaller church in the same place dated back to 1800 A.D. This larger church was built in its place in 1956 and is one of the largest churches in the country. I found the statues of Mother Mary and others dressed in sarees little strange. But the interior of the church is so serene and beautiful. There are steps leading down to a beautiful catacomb right below the main altar which houses the relic of Saint Philomena. The exit is through a tunnel way which opens at the back of the church. Entry Timings 05.00 am – 06.00 pm. Free Entrance.

# Chamundi Hills – Chamundi Hills is the prime landmark of Mysore city, visible from anywhere in the city center. There is a temple dedicated to goddess Chamundeshwari, situated on the top of Chamundi hill which is about 3,489 ft. above sea level. Goddess Chamundeshwari is the guardian deity of the Mysore royal family of Wodeyars. The goddess is just another incarnation/name used to describe Goddess Shakti or Durga or ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ who killed the buffalo headed demon Mahishasura (the ruler of this region and from whom the name Mysore is derived). There are two other temples dedicated to Lakshmi Narayana Swamy and Mahabaleswara (Lord Shiva) which is the oldest temple on the hill dating back to 9th century A.D.

Near the parking lot there is a brightly painted statue of Mahishasura, built in 1659 by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar. A popular spot for tourists to pose and take photos. 🙂 There is a spot marked “View Point” from where a panoramic view of the city is visible from the top of the Chamundi hills. One can see the Race Course, the Lalitha Mahal palace, Mysore Palace, Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. After visiting the temple, on our way back, we took a detour to visit the huge monolithic statue of Nandi, the bull (vehicle of Lord Shiva). This statue of Nandi is one of the largest in India, 16 ft. tall at the front and 25 ft. in length with exquisite pendant bells carved around the neck.

Chamundeshwari Temple Pooja Timings: 07.30 am – 02.00 pm, 03.30 pm – 06.00 pm, 07.30 pm – 09.00 pm

No Entry Charges 

# Mysore Zoo – Mysore Zoo or Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens is one of the oldest zoo in India. The zoo is spread over 250 acres providing large enclosures for animals and abundant natural vegetation. There are battery operated tour vehicles available till 5 pm. We were late and the last vehicle was full. So we covered the entire zoo on foot which was no problem as the weather was very nice. It was great seeing toucans, tropical parakeets, macaws, pink flamingos, giraffes, gorilla, two-horned rhinoceros, hippos, tigers, tapir, gaur, jaguar and many other exotic species. Also we came to know that Mysore zoo has a lot of programs for conservation of endangered species, rehabilitation and captive breeding. One such program is the Animal Adoption to inspire the visitors to the Zoo and generate empathy for wild animals and for maintaining ecological balance, in a way to involve people in Wildlife Conservation. It was wonderful seeing so many animals already adopted in the zoo. There are restaurants, tender coconut outlets and toy/souvenir shop too inside the zoo.

To learn more about the Animal Adoption Program click here. Mysore Zoo Entry Timings: 08.30 am – 05.30 pm, Tuesday Holiday. Entry Charges: Adults Rs. 40/- Children (5-12yrs) Rs.20/- Camera charges: Rs 20 for still camera and Rs 150 for video camera. Tour vehicle charges Rs 100 for adults. Children (5-12 yrs) and Senior Citizens Rs 50.

# Mysore Palace – Mysore is called the City of Palaces and among all the palaces, the most famous is the Mysore Palace or Amba Vilas Palace in the heart of the city, the home of the Wodeyars who ruled Mysore for more than 500 years. If your itinerary allows just 1 or 2 hours in Mysore, this is the only place to visit. The original palace was built of wood and was got burnt down in 1897. The present one, designed by the English architect Henry Irwin, was rebuilt in 1912 at the cost of Rs. 41 lakhs. The present building is a three-storied structure in the Indo-Saracenic style built with fine gray granite and square towers at cardinal points,with rich pink marble domes. There is a five-storied 145 ft tower which has gold-gilded domes. The palace is surrounded by a large and well-kept garden. The Palace has four entrances – Varaha Gate in the south, Jayarama and Balarama in the north, Jaya Maarthaanda (main entrance) in the east and Karikal thotti and Brahmapuri in the west. One has to give cameras at the entrance and get their bags scanned. There is a supposedly free stand for footwear but the workers ask for Rs 10 tip.

One can opt for an audio tour guide kit which is good unlike Bangalore Palace where it is compulsory and pricey. However the price of the kit is included in the ticket charge for foreigners. Starting from the pavilion of traditional dolls, ceremonial objects, ornate mahogany ceilings with exquisite frescoes, sculpted pillars, intricately carved wooden and ivory doors, costumes, musical instruments, weapons, solid silver doors, white marble floors, stained glasses, glazed tiles, oil paintings, gorgeous chandeliers of Czechoslovakian make to the golden howdah (elephant seat) and the fabulous jewel encrusted golden throne, Mysore Palace is a feast for the eyes. Apparently the erstwhile Royal family continues to live in a portion of the Palace.

The palace complex also has twelve Hindu temples, the oldest being of 14th century and the recent one built in 1953. A silhouette of the Mysore Palace illuminated with ninety-seven thousand bulbs with the night as the background is one of the most famous images of the Mysore city and one which you will come across in any travelogue on Mysore except mine. Sadly during our two visits to Mysore, once we were in a hurry to reach Brindavan Gardens on time and on the second time, it was not Sunday. So we missed seeing the wonderful spectacle of the illuminated Mysore Palace and capturing it in our minds and cameras.

Palace Timings:10am to 5.30 pm daily Illumination 07.00 pm – 08.00 pm Only on Sundays, National Holidays and State Festivals. Entrance Fee: Adults : Rs. 20 Children below 10 years : Free

# Brindavan Garden – The Brindavan Garden is laid out behind the Krishnaraja Sagar dam site at a distance of 24 km from Mysore and is a very popular tourist destination made famous by several Bollywood songs being filmed here in 1960s. One has to leave Mysore by 5.45 – 6 pm if this place is to be covered on the same day. It is a visual delight in the evening only. We were running late and the place was almost closing down when we reached. So we missed seeing the musical fountain show. The garden is laid out in the three terraces, which ends in a horseshoe shape with seating arrangement for the audience. The three terraces contain water fountains (which are illuminated with colored lighting in evening) and various ornamental and flowering plants. The pathway across the boating pond, leading to the garden is very long and may be exhausting especially at the end of the day when all are tired from walking. It is advisable to take the boat instead and save time and energy. But beware! The boat driver will offer to take the boat close to fountains in the pond which kids enjoy a lot but if you are the one to consent, then he will ask you for a tip while dropping off on the other side.

Brindavan Garden Timings All Week Days 06.00 am – 08.00 pm, Saturdays & Sunday 06.00 pm – 09.00 pm
Musical Fountain Show Timings All Week Days 06.30 pm – 07.30 pm, Saturdays & Sunday 06.30 pm – 08.30 pm
Entry Charges -Adult  Rs.15/- Children (5-12yrs) Rs. 5/-

After visiting Brindavan Garden, we started our journey back home and it was 11.30 pm when we reached Bangalore. The places we left out of our itinerary are Railway Musuem, Jaganmohan Palace,  Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Melody World and National Museum on Natural History at Karanji Lake. You can also include the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary which is 4 kms from Srirangapatna and 19 kms from Mysore.

Categories: Cities, Karnataka, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Srirangapatna Chronicle

Mysore, known as the cultural capital of Karnataka, is a must-visit if you come up-to Bangalore for even a week.  As for Srirangapatna, made famous by Tippu Sultan and more so by the TV series “the Sword of Tipu Sultan” aired on Doordarshan :), it lies on the way to Mysore from Bangalore. So, visits from in-laws and my parents resulted in two trips to Srirangapatna and Mysore. Here is my travelogue based on the two visits – first part about Srirangapatna and second part on Mysore.

Getting there – We had hired a cab on the km rate basis and left as early as 7 am which is advisable if you want to cover many places in one day. There are trains to Mysore from Bangalore and Srirangapatna is just 15 kms away from Mysore. So you can chart up a trip that way too. Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation also provides a one day tour of Srirangapatna and Mysore so you can check that out too.

The road to Srirangapatna, State Highway 17, passes through the Ramanagara and Channapatna towns of Karnataka. Ramanagara is famous for its silk market and is known as Silktown. Also it is famous for being the site for shooting of the famous Hindi movie, Sholay. Channapatna is famous for its wooden toys.  We didn’t have time to stop at these places. Maybe next time we will make an exclusive trip to these places only.

Srirangapatna – A historically rich town made famous by Hyder Ali and his son, Sher-e-Mysur (The Tiger of Mysore), Tipu Sultan. The entire town is enclosed by the river Cauvery to form a river island. The places we visited are

# Place of Martyrdom or The Obelisk – It is the spot where Tippu Sultan breathed his last in the legendary battle of Srirangapatna against the British in 1799. He was killed due to the betrayal of his own men. His body lay there for two days before it was noticed by the locals. The commemorative Obelisk is located in a small envelopment into which one is not allowed to enter.

# Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple – The town derives its name from this very famous temple. This ancient temple enshrines Lord Vishnu as Lord Ranganatha in his reclining posture on the bed laid out by the serpent Aadi Sesha. This temple is a very important Vaishnavite shrine of South India. There are many other shrines like Ranganayaki, Narasimha, Sudarshana, Gopalakrishna, Srinivasa, Rama and Panchamukha Anjaneya in the beautiful and exquisite temple complex. There are a lot of shops outside the temple where one can shop for some souvenirs. Do bargain. There is a nice park too where one can sit on benches and eat. Also there is a paid bathroom facility few metres away from the temple. Darshan Timings: 07.30 am to 01.00 pm and 04.00 pm to 08.00 pm

# Dariya Daulat Bagh– The whole place comprises of a huge garden and a palace constructed by Tippu Sultan in 1784. Dariya-Daulat meaning “the wealth of the sea” was the summer palace of Tipu Sultan. It is built out of teakwood entirely, in the Indo-Sarcenic style standing on a square platform. There are excellent mural paintings depicting the war scenes, the British and the French officers, the Sultan, the Kings and others. The palace has been converted into a museum where war weapons, dresses, furniture, paintings and coins of Tipu’s period are displayed. One of the main feature of this museum is the famous oil painting “Storming of Srirangapattanam” by Sir Robert Ker Porter made in 1800. This historical painting depicts the last fall of Srirangapatana on 4th May 1799. Timings: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Entry Charges: Rs. 5/-

Other attractions of Srirangapatna which we didn’t visit but hope to next time are – Gumbaz, Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon, Fort, Ghosai Ghat, Jama Masjid, Sangam and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

By the time one covers these 3 places it is usually 1 – 1.30 pm. After that we proceeded to Mysore. Once we reached Mysore, we headed straight for lunch. Mysore struck us as a clean and well-managed city with very less traffic as compared to Bangalore. We had lunch at the Spices and Sauces restaurant at Hotel United-21 on B.N. road in Mysore. Service was quite slow and they failed to bring our masala papad till the end of our lunch inspite of several reminders. The food was okay. The restaurant has buffet too. After lunch, we continued on our sightseeing tour.

Next post – Mysore.

Categories: Historical, Karnataka, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Bangalore Chronicle

Its been 6 months since we moved to Bangalore. Visits from in-laws and parents resulted in a lot of sight-seeing in and around Bangalore. It is impossible to cover all the places in one day in Bangalore due to traffic and distance. This post is about all the places we have visited in Bangalore and an attempt to act as a sight-seeing/ tourism guide for any visitor. There are still lot of places yet to be seen. 🙂

1. Bull Temple – It is situated in Basavanagudi ( Basava means bull in Kannada). It is the oldest temple built in the Dravidian style by Kempe Gowda, founder of Bangalore and has a monolithic Nandi, the bull (vahana or vehicle of Lord Shiva). Karnataka Tourism website tells me the imposing sculpture of Nandi measures 4.57 meters in height in height and 6.10 meters in length. There is a legend associated with the temple. You can also see the famous Dodda Ganesh temple next to the Bull temple. Apparently there is a huge monolithic statue of Lord Ganapathi about 18 ft in height and 16 ft in width, coated with kilos of butter. We didn’t have time to visit that temple so no photos. Timings of Bull Temple : 6 am to 8 pm.

2. Lalbagh – Well, anyone who wants to travel to Bangalore or knows people who live here, know about Lalbagh 🙂 So I will just quote introduction from their official website. Timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, open all days. No charge for camera.

The Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore is of royal origin and was started initially as a private garden in an area of 40 acres by Hyder Ali and later developed by Tippu Sultan. Lalbagh was given the status of a Government Botanical Garden in 1856, and since then, it has been an internationally renowned centre for scientific study of plants and botanical artwork and conservation of plants. Today, the garden is a lush green paradise with an area of 240 acres in the heart of the city. The main gate is at the North facing towards Subbaiah circle, the West gate is towards Basavanagudi, the South gate is towards Jayanagar and the East gate is towards the Double Road. Today, nearly 673 genera and 1,854 species of plants are found in Lalbagh.

There are tour vehicles available at the North Gate which give you a tour of the 18 notable places of the huge garden. The charge is Rs 100 person but it is good for the elderly and disabled and for those who are on a sightseeing tour of the city. Of the 18 tourist places, here is a description of few of them.

Above is the Glass House constructed in the year 1890 on the model of Crystal Palace of London. It is the most famous structure in Lalbagh.  The glass house is the venue for holding the famous biannual flower shows of Lalbagh.

The lake is the main reason for the establishment of the garden. This 30 acre lake serves as a source of water for watering the garden plants. Below is a tower known as Kempegowda Tower that stands on a wide stretch of rock called peninsular gneiss, constructed in 1597 AD. The tower offers a partial view of the Bangalore city.

3. Kote Venkataramana Temple – It is located at the junction of Albert Victor Road and K R Road at Chamrajpet. It was constructed in 1695 during the time of Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, one of the Mysore rulers. This famous Vishnu temple has a huge “gopuram” built in typical Dravidian style. Parking can be a problem as it is at a very busy traffic junction. Timings: 08:00 am – 12:00 pm 06:00 pm – 08:30 pm, all days.

4. Tippu Sultan’s Summer Palace – It is located next to the Kote Venkataramana temple. The palace’s construction was started by Hyder Ali and completed by Tipu Sultan in 1791. This was one of Tipu Sultan’s summer retreats hence the name. It is a two storied palace built of teak wood completely and has ornate pillars, arches and balconies. There are floral motifs painted on the walls and ceilings of the palace. There is a huge well-maintained garden leading from the entrance to the palace. Again, parking can be a problem as it is a very busy market area. Timings: 9:30am to 5:30pm, Sunday closed. There is a nominal entrance fee.

5. Government Museum – This is situated on Kasturba road. The museum, constructed in 1876, is one of the oldest in India and has a beautiful well maintained building with two exhibition floors. The museum has a wonderful collection of coins, weaponry, sculptures, inscriptions, old paintings and excavated items including those from Mohenjodaro! Timing : 10 am to 5 pm. Wednesdays closed. Entry fees : Rs 5. Photography prohibited.

6. Venkatappa Art Gallery – The Venkatappa Art Gallery is located next to the Museum and is named after Late K Venkatappa (1887–1962), court painter to the Wodeyars. There is no separate ticket for this gallery..the one to museum is valid for both places. The gallery showcases a selection of Venkatappa’s famous paintings, plaster of paris works and wooden sculptures. Also on view are works of various contemporary artists. Timing: 10 am – 5 pm. Wednesdays closed.

7. Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum –  It is situated on Kasturba Road on the other side of the Government Musuem. It was established in 1962 and is one of the units of National Council of Science Museums. The wonderful and impressive musuem is a tribute to the eminent engineer and scholar Sir M. Visvesvaraya. The museum has seven permanent exhibition halls (Engine Hall, Electrotechnic, Fun Science, Space, Biotechnological Revolution, BEL-Hall of Electronics and Science for Children and two special exhibits(Dinosaur Corner and Wright brothers aeroplan). The place is a must visit for all the people interested in science and engineering. Also a number of shows are held for the visitors – Taramandal Show, Science Demonstration Show and 3D film show. Timings: 10 am – 6pm. Open on all days except for Ganesh Chaturthi and Deepawali.

8. Government Aquarium –  It is located right at the entrance of Cubbon Park from KG road side. It is the second largest aquarium in India and has a diamond shaped building comprising of three floors. The ground floor has the office and the laboratory. First floor has 14 big tanks of cultivable fish. Second floor has both large and small fishes kept in separate tanks exhibiting their habitat. Timings : 10 am to 5 pm. Closed on Thursdays. Entry fees : Rs 5.

9. Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium – It is situated at T. Chowdiah Road but no one seems to recognize the road’s name so it is better to tell Raj Bhavan road. Also it is better to take auto from Kasturba Gandhi road / Cubbon park area as they know the place. Others don’t know “planetarium” and hard to make them understand if you don’t know Kannada. The planetarium was founded in 1989 and has a dome with 15 m diameter upon which the show is projected. There are exhibition halls which offer more information on astronomy. There is a weighing scale which shows one’s weight on all the planets and gives a print-out. Also there is a Science Park outside the Planetarium. Though the show was good, the crowd spoiled it by doing flash photography; even though cameras were prohibited. The show timings are : 12.30, 3:00, 4.30 and 5.15 pm for English shows. Monday closed.

10. Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain and Park – It is situated right opposite to the Planetarium. The landscaped park, maintained by the Department of Horticulture, is spread over 17 hectares of land and includes a play area for children. At the entrance to the park, there is a railway engine placed in honor of the then Central Railway Minister, C K Jaffer Sharief, who presented the musical fountain in 1995. The musical show consists of synchronized rhythmic dancing of the fountains based on multimedia technology along with both Hindi and Kannada songs and lights which makes it a visual and audio delight. Timings: Two shows are held daily at 7 pm and 8 pm. Mondays and second Tuesdays of the month are holidays.

11. Shiva Temple – It is located behind Total Mall on Old Airport Road. Although it is a must visit for religious people, it makes a good tourist place for non-believers too. The concept of the place is worth seeing. One has to buy tickets at some places and there is extra charge for camera. Upholding the tradition of worshipping Lord Ganesh before all endeavors, there is a 32-feet-tall Vignaharan Ganesh statue at the start of the tour.

Along the tour you will come across 108 Om Namah Shivaya Yatra  (where you can drop coins one by one in the 108 bowls chanting Om Namah Shivaya – beware each coins cost rs 10), Pahadi Shiv Dham Yatra (where you can experience the illusion of being at the pilgrimages of Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, and Amarnath – complete with an exact replica of the famous frozen shrine!!), Barah Jyotir Ling Yatra (where you can see exact replicas of the 12 sacred lingams along with animatronics!), a replica of Mansarovar Lake, Pratyaksh Ling, Healing Stone and Navagraha Temple.

The temple is abode to the 65-feet-tall Shiva statue seated in a Yogic (Lotus) posture with the scenic backdrop of Mount Kailash, Himalayas and the Ganges flowing from the Lord’s matted locks. Timings: Open 24 hours, all days

12. Ulsoor Lake – It is located near M.G.Road. Though there are timings to visit the lake, a tip of rs 10 will get you inside during off timings. The lake is one of the biggest lakes of the city and is dotted with islands. There is a boat club at the lake (whose gate is on the other side) where you can hire a boat to go boating around the beautiful lake. Boating club timings : 9 am to 6 pm with holiday on Wednesday. Apparently, there is also a gurdwara near the Ulsoor lake, considered to be the largest Sikh shrine in the Bangalore city of India but we didn’t visit that.

13. Bangalore Palace – It is situated in the Palace Gardens, near Jayamahal. The beautiful palace was built by a Wodeyar King in 1887 on the 400 acre space. It is built in the Tudor style, complete with Gothic windows, foiled windows, battlements and turrets; apparently inspired by the Windsor castle in London. The palace is constructed largely of wood and is famous for its carvings, paintings, historical photos, furniture, trophies from hunts and traditional dresses. There are audio tour guides available for tourists which are quite useful to understand and enjoy the palace. Also the audio guide is available in English, Kannada, Hindi, French, Spanish, German, Italian and the tour lasts about an hour. But the entrance fees is very costly. For Indians it is Rs 200 (inclusive of audio guide) and camera charge is Rs 600!!! The grounds are now used for hosting various events. We visited the palace on 31st Dec so there were lot of preparations going on for some New Year bash. So we didn’t get to capture any nice photos of the impressive palace. Timings : 10 am to 6 pm (Sunday Holiday)

14. ISKCON Temple – The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in Bangalore city is situated near Chord Road on a hillock called “Hare Krishna Hill”. The huge cultural complex is quite wonderful and has all the facilities. But one has to give all belongings (except purses) including camera. But people still take snaps using mobiles! Anyway so there are some direct darshan passes ( don’t know the cost) available to bypass the “buffer” system; which is quite tedious to be frank and especially when you fall behind someone who traverses the path actually stepping on stone tiles one at a time while chanting the mantra. And after all that one gets to see the idols and pray for just two seconds and is forced to move along!! But that will make a separate blog post in itself, so moving on..there are three temples mainly, one higher than the earlier. The construction of the place, the interiors, the gold-plated dwajastambha (flag post) at 17m high and the gold plated kalash shikara at 8.5m high are pretty impressive. On the return path, there are all sort of shops selling various mementos, dress materials, stationery items, idols and even tasty food items and sweets. One does get hungry after all that walking! There is free distribution of prasadam too. The place can get very very crowded during evening so beware! Timings for darshana: 4.15 am to 5 am, 7.15 am to 12.50 pm and 4 pm to 8.20 pm everyday.

There are still so many places left to visit – Bannerghatta National Park, HAL Aerospace Museum, Cubbon Park [by the time we visited all the places on KG road it was closing time for the park somehow every time 😦 ], St. Marks Cathedral etc. So there will be a second part of this post! Hence to be continued……

Categories: Cities, Karnataka | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments
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