Posts Tagged With: religion

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

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.

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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
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