Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kashmir great lakes trek - The Paradise ( Day 1 & 2 )

Base camp at sonamarg
Reporting day: Our trek started from sonamarg, couple of hours drive from Srinagar on national highway 1D, we met all the co Trekkers at Srinagar tourist reception center and left to base camp arranged by indiahikes, around 5pm we have reached the base camp, it was at 9000feet altitude on a small hill surrounded by snow cap mountains and sindh river was flowing in the down, met our trek leads vikranth, kunthal and tippu, who gave basic info about the trek route, schedule and safety tips. To our trek leads surprise our whole batch assembled well before the sun set, according to them it was quite unusual.
Getting ready for the trek
Sonamarg to Nichani (Day 1, 11km): We started our hike around 8AM, trail goes ascend straight away, after 30mins the trail goes into alpine and maple trees, we crossed an army camp and few shepherds houses, seeing us Major Avinash from the army camp joined us for a small chat and walk, who came all the way down to our camp last evening for chit chat. He shared his views on kashmir, its beauty and why the camp is required at this place. Another half an hour under trees to resting point, by that time everyone got to know about others pace, who are all front runners and medium pacers. Time came to say goodbye to cell phone network, electricity and trees too, just before the lunch point territory of trees ended, after that it was too sunny and hot. This was not the climate we expected, whenever i think of kashmir only white snow come to my mind, we were expecting it would rain and came prepared heavily for that but situation was opposite sun was putting in a straw and sucking the water from our bodies, thank god our lunch point was next to stream, which gave us a breather, spent sometime near the stream and started the final stretch of day 1. Problem of the day was hot sun, it drained us almost. Our first day campsite was at bottom of the nichanai pass. We have covered 11kms and gained 3000ft altitude.
Trek path:

Nichanai to Vishansar Lake (Day 2, 11kms): We are started the day at 7:30AM bit earlier than last day, since everyone got up early and ready to go except for the front runners since they can start late and still catch us up. First we crossed a stream coming from top of nichnai pass and started climbing to nichnai pass. It was the first pass of the trek, it was very steep at end, by the time we reached 80% of the climb, front runners crossed us and reached the top and started cheering for us to walk fast, to be honest crazies. After 90mins from the start i was at the top of nichnai pass, which at 13500feet altitude. Spent sometime at the pass, admired the nature, waited for everyone to gather and started to descend, on our way down we got a glimpse of flowers and what is meadows. Usually day starts at 6AM and ends at around 8PM, feels really hot under sunshine and feels cold under shades of clouds even in the afternoon, so everyday our trek starts with jacket, full pant, monkey cap as day progress we will lose them one by one and walk with bare minimum dress. 

Most eventful day, away from alpines, flower land, crossed nichnai pass, followed by full grass land with flowers, some of them we saw in Valley of Flowers and some new flowers, our first lake of the trip, I must say we were awestruck by beauty, we took bath in the lake which is at 12Kfeet altitude, followed by cricket in the meadows.  

The most awesome part came after the sunset,  we could see stars demon lake everywhere in the sky, to our favour there was no clouds and new moon day was near,  every pointing the constellation they knew,  milkyway galaxy band was clearly visible,  we spent sometime capturing it inspite of cold breeze.

More to come....

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Stones telling about Krishna, Nuggehalli - Part 1

Story about lord Krishna captured in one of the frieze in the Lakshminarasima temple at Nuggehalli, Hassan.  Initially this temple was built for 'Jayagondeshwara' by chola king to which hoysala king Vishnuvaradhana gave some grants.  Legends depicts that to west of the present temple a saint by name Rushbha, performed penance & pleased with his devotion Lord Lakshmi Narasimha manifested himself & blessed him.  The temple is generally known as the Lakshminarashima temple though the main god is Keshava.  It is located near Channarayapatana.

This temple has frieze just like other hoysala temples,  it has 6 frieze.  Elephant frieze at the bottom most, horsemen, scroll, mythological, makara and swan frieze at the top.   Here mythological frieze explains about the life of krishna from born till battle with Kamsa,  some of the parts were buried under the later front extension and some of the other sculptures are damaged/not in good shape.  Following are some of the scenes from kirshna history i could gather.

One day krishna eats clay while playing with friends,  his friends went and complaint to yasodha about this,  yasodha asks krishna to open his mouth to check.  Yasodha sees the whole universe in krishna mouth,  krishna says mother it is your imagination because of motherly affection.  For every mother her child is everything and her whole universe is her child.

Krishna getting rocked in the cradle

Once krishna broke a butter pot and started taking butter out of it and eating it,  yasodha got angry by seeing the broken butter pot,  she wanted to teach a lesson to krishna,  she tied him to the grinding mortar  nearby and went,  neighbors were making more butters,  which tempted krishna and he ran towards them dragging the grinding mortar,  there was a twin tree between which krishna easily passed but the grinding mortar stuck.  In this sculpture it is explained beautifully,  one end of the thread tied to krishna in four legs which shows krishna is still a toddler, other end is tied to the grinding mortar and the thread passes between twin trees to show that the mortar is stuck and could not pass through the gap between trees. 

Krishna stealing butter from the hanging butter pot.

Once there was scarcity of water in Brindhavan due to less rain,  all the people of brindhavan started praying to Lord Indra for rain,  Krishna interepted and asked people to pray Sun and Nature as they are the supreme gods for rain,  Brindhavan people did what Krishna said,  Lord Indra took this as insult and sent torrential rains to destroy the Brindhavan,  which started destroying the livelihood of the Brindhavan people, scared people went to Krishna to seek for help from the torrential rain.   Krishna asked the people to secure all the livestock and come to Govardhanagiri hill,  he lifted the govardhanagiri hill in his small finger and used it as umbrella,  all the Brindhavan people, cows, livestock sheltered  under it.  Following series of photos explains the Brindhavan people, cows and livestock going towards govardhanagiri and Krishna lifting govardhanagiri.
Butter pots are carried in carts
People carrying butter pots
livestock are taken to govardhanagiri
Krishna lifting govardhanagiri and saving everyone

Lord Indra could do what he intended to with torrential rains,  he calls back the rain and surrender himself to Krishna.  Following that Krishna plays flute in victory joy and brindhavan people celebrates the victory and dances for Krishna's flute.

To be continued...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stones telling about Indian Mythology

Mythical sala fighting with lion to save his Jain guru Sudatta.  Symbol of hoysala empire.  The word "strike" literally translates to "hoy" in Old Kannada, hence the name "Hoy-sala".  There is another version says the animal sala fighting in not lion it is tiger,  the symbol of Chola.   Story behind this statue is still folklore.

Wise Rama is firing an arraw at Vali from behind, while Vali is battling with his brother Sukrivan. Injured Vali asked 'I was fighting with some other person and was not careful enough when you shot me', Ram's Reply: 'how great kings did hunting of deers in the past. In fact, Vali in principle could also be kept in the category of deers and a hunting king does not care whether the deer was careful or not'.  How wise Rama is? 

Details were sculptured so sharply in this one, cutting mark of arrow on the trees, Vali and Sukrivan battle and ram's position from them so finely explained.

Narasimha Avatar by Vishnu to kill demon Hiranyakashipu,  it is one of the 10 notable avatars by Vishnu.  Hiranyakashipu got a boon from Brahma that he can't be killed by a human or by an animal, he can't be killed in day/night, he can't be killed in land or sky and he can't be killed by any weapon.  Narasimha is neither a human nor an animal completely,  Narasimha is half-man/half-lion,  he put Hiranyakashipu in his lap which is neither land nor sky during twilight time and killed him with his claws.   This sculpture depicts the same with all details, a lion headed man killing Hiranyakashipu with his claws by keeping the demon in the lap,  one hand holding chakra to show that the man with lion head is incarnation of Vishnu.   And also Narasimha is making a garland out of Hiranyakashipu intestine.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stones telling about ancient warriors

We are living in a world were scientific inventions are powerful enough to demolish the whole world in minutes,  even we have spaceships that can go to another planet but how it was in the ancient times were there was no such weapons and transport invented,  how they would have fought and how they would have traveled?  Answers to these questions lies in the stones as sculptures.  Here is some of the samples from the hoysala temples.
 Warriors are fighting in middle of the raining arrows

A Warrior is trying to stop the down pouring arrows with shield

Sword fight in the middle of pouring arrows

Swiftly taking an arrow with two fingers from the arrow holder

An elephant running fiercely in the battle field and attacking the ones on the way

An warrior trying to fight/tame an elephant

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lepakshi Veerabhadra Temple

Lepkashi is a small village located 120KM from Bangalore on the NH7,  this village has the famous Veerabhadra temple built by Vijayanagara kings Viranna and Virupanna 500years ago.   Temple is built on a tortoise shaped hillcock,  main sanctum also has Shiva and Vishnu.

This week my whole gang was ready to explore the lepakshi temple,  myself, arun, thiyagi and sathish left indiranagar around 6AM towards Airport,  right after the devannalli the road became almost empty and scenic is very different from bangalore or any place down south, it was full of rocky mountains and very sparsely populated.   We throttled our speed and was driving on full speed.  Lepakshi is about 70km after devanalli, in no time we have reached the Karnataka-Andra border,  Immediate left after the RTO takes us to the village.  That was my first travel to Andra Pradesh.

Temple is in the middle of the village and there is also a complex with huge rock cut nandhi at the entrance of village.  Temple complex is very huge and surrounded by a small lawn.  Main attraction of the temple is Natya Mandapam (dance hall ) with most finely carved 70 pillars, each pillars has fine sculptures of Siva dance forms, Nandhi, Bhrama, Ramba.  Behind the main sanctum, there is one Kalyana Mandapam (marriage hall),  roof is not completed but the pillar are in place with good carvings.

Lord Shiva in Natraja pose in the Natya Mandapam ( Dance Hall )
Natya Mandapam (Dance hall) 180deg Panoramic

Kalyana Mandapam (Marriage hall) 360 Panoramic
Kalyana Mandapam (Marriage Hall) side view

One of the pillars in Marriage hall

Rockcut Nandhi at the village entrance

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bhoga Nandeeshwara & Arunachaleswara twin Temple

 Myself and +Arun Kumar Chandarasekaran  visited this 12 centuries old temple on 9th March. We have been to nandhi hills many times but never noticed such a marvelous temple until recently.  Nandhi hills is very famous among bangalore riders, it is around 60 km from bangalore, good for one day drive, it offer fantastic sun rise view from hill top.  I've heard about this temple many times but never went to this temple during our nandhi hills drives.   It is located in the foothills,  5km away from the T junction,  were left road leads to nandhi hills top and right takes to nandhi village. 

The Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple is a magnificent example of Dravidian Architecture. It is a 1200 years old temple that bears the architectural stamps of around five different dynasties that ruled here. Believed to have been originally constructed by the Bana Queen Ratnavali, this temple was added to and extended by the Ganga dynasty, Cholas, Hoysalas, Pallavas and finally the Vijayanagara kings. This temple even has a statue of the Chola King Rajendra.

Following are the few snaps from the temple.

Nandhi in front of Arunachaleshwara

Finest Pillars Near main sanctum along with Stone carved umbrella

Towers of Bhoga Nandheeshwara & Arunachaleshwara

Kalyana Mandapam ( Marriage Stage)

Corridor around the temple tank - Panoramic

Shiva's modes of travel are getting decorated for shivarathri

Nandi hills in the backdrop at Bogha Nandeeshwara Temple Tank

Tank at the Lawn

6 foot stone wheels for the chariot