Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Chennakeshava Temple, C R Patna

Today’s guest post comes from a wonderful travel blogger or bloggers to be more precise, Dhiraj Shenoy and His wife Amrutha, coming over from Team G Square. They love treading the off the beaten track and bring forth these lesser known magnificent places through their crisp commentary and terrific captures. If you want a taste of the rich heritage and culture of India, do read their travel experiences and I assure you won’t leave disappointed. In this blog post, he shares one such ancient temple near Bengaluru. Read on...

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C R Patna or Channarayapatna is a taluk Headquarter situated on the Bangalore – Mangalore Highway NH 48, about 40 km from Hassan. There is a lovely Hoysala temple here, dedicated to Lord Chennakeshava and built during the 11th Century.  Though simple in its external architectural features, the temple interiors are grand, as in every Hoysala temple.

Chennakeshava Temple, C R Patna Bangalore
Lord Chennakeshava Temple

The artwork on the ceiling is an excellent example of the Hoysala architecture. The pillars, dwarapalas (guards) and the door frames are extremely intricate and decorative. The garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum) houses a beautiful life size idol of Lord Chennakeshava (Vishnu). There is also an idol of Kalingamardana (rarely seen in the form of an individual idol elsewhere) inside the temple. The front porch of the temple is a later addition by the Nayakas of Holenarsipura. There is a Garuda Khambha (pole) in front of the temple. 

Kalingamardana idol in the Chennakeshava Temple in Bangalore
Idol of Kalingamardana

Central Ceilng, Chennakeshava Temple in Bangalore
Central ceiling inside the temple

Broken ceiling, Chennakeashava Temple in Bangalore
Broken ceiling

Pillar inside the Chennakeshava Temple in Bangalore
A Pillar in the temple

Dwarpala at the Chennakeshava Temple  entrance in Bangalore
Dwarpala at the entrance of the sanctum

Inscription giving details of the Chennakeshava Temple in Bangalore
Inscription giving details of the temple construction

Garud Khamba, Chennakeshava Temple in Bangalore
Garud Khamba

The Legend of this place as explained by the temple priest is as follows, “Kotalur (original name C R Patna), was once ruled by the Hoysalas and they built a temple here dedicated to Lord Chennakeshava”. This temple became famous in those days as people suffering from various diseases got cured after offering prayers here.  Once, the prince of Holenarsipura was suffering from polio and all the efforts of the Nayaka King in curing him went in vain. It was then that the royal priest advised him to take the prince to the Chennakeshava temple in Kotalur and perform some rituals there.  Acting accordingly, the Nayaka King took his son to the temple and performed the necessary rituals. In no time, the prince was cured of Polio and after this instance, he was renamed as Channa Raya and the place was renamed as Channarayapatna in the honor of the god who saved him.

Rear view of the Chennakeshava Temple in Bangalore
Rear view of the temple

Though the temple was restored some time ago, there seems to be a failure in maintenance. This being a live temple and situated amidst a town, should have been strictly maintained.

Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore – NH 48 – C R Patna

Distance from Bangalore: 130 km

Places to visit around: Anekere, Nuggenahalli, Mosale, Hassan, Shantigrama and Many more.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Syntheri Rocks at Dandeli, Western Ghats


Naturalist, Photographer, Traveller, Trekker, Wildlife and Bird enthusiast... well, these are just some of the many adjectives that describe my honorable guest blogger for today -  Santosh BS, from Huchchara Santhe. A self confessed 'Jungle Man', he appropriately spends most of his weekends at lakes, zoos, hills, bird watching sessions or any forest patch in and around Bangalore that he can lay his foot on looking out for those elusive birds or other obscure creatures and introduces them to all through his crisp write-ups and breathtaking photography. It is a real pleasure to have him with us today, sharing one such spot he explored recently. To read more of such beautiful places, do check out his blog.

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On my recent trip to Dandeli in the Western Ghats, we finally made time to visit 'Syntheri Rocks' – a geologist’s place and a tourist spot.

A monolithic single granite stone with a height of 300ft with the river Kaneri flowing at its base, it’s a huge, massive limestone rock formed due to volcanic eruptions some zillion (how many is your wild guess!) years ago. It is named after an English lady called Ms. Cinthera who is believed to have discovered this place in the 20th century. A flight of 200 odd steps downwards lead you to the base where the river flows and you get to see a giant rock formation from the bottom.


Syntheri caves near Dandeli, Bangalore

There are numerous caves within and its not accessible hitherto you have special permission from the department to study and explore which is very unlikely.

Syntheri monolith granite rock near Dandeli, Bangalore

It’s tall, wide and mesmerizing to say the least, wonder how they were created! Added to this there are numerous and numerous bee hives here and flocks of pigeons and smaller birds reside in the deep holes of the caves unseen to us. Being a tourist centre has its own disadvantages and as Syntheri Rocks is located close to the temple town of Ulavi, hordes of people visit this place on their way to and fro from Ulavi. When the annual fest (or jathre as we call it) happens at Ulavi, this place literally becomes a picnicker’s paradise with people and vehicles everywhere messing it up completely, sad but true is the case, as with other tourist spots.

Syntheri caves near Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Bangalore

But, the forest department is doing its bit in maintaining this place by putting up warning signboards and posting guards to not allow people getting into the river as the flow is heavy and with strong currents pose a threat.

The entrance to the area is from the main road with a nominal entry fees charged and the smaller vehicles are let into up to the designated parking area from where you need to climb down the steps to reach the base. The distance from the entry to the parking lot is easily more than a km and its midst of bamboo plantations, some old, some new and here is where you get the forest feel. Wish entry of vehicles is completely banned inside so that people walk from the entrance leaving their polluting vehicles outside which may deter in few people not visiting due to the walking...


Various rock samples at the Syntheri caves near Dandeli, Bangalore

The steps are big and nicely placed and railings on each side do not allow you to wander. Along the side, small concrete towers are erected and on each tower you get to see different kinds of sample rocks cemented with useful information provided on each of them as to what they are and what they constitute of – a true geologist’s paradise. But sad to see the sorry state of affairs of the towers – some of them missing, some with moss growth and some defaced. I would love to see some more boards depicting the importance of this place and providing more information to the visitors. Still, the place exudes a charm that’s successful in hordes of people visiting here and this place is similar to Yana and Kavala caves.

We were quite pleased to have visited this place that often went unvisited on our multiple trips to areas around Dandeli.

Location: Dandeli-Ulavi highway.
Distance: 30 odd kms from Dandeli.
Transport: Local jeeps on hire/sharing are the best bet.
Food: None.
Time: 9am to 6pm if I’m not wrong (forgot to confirm this)!
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Time Travel Tips for India

India induces a sense of adventure the moment one thinks of the country! A backpacking destination for the youngsters, a spiritual journey for others, or just a place brimming with intrigue, the country caters to a wide assortment of travelers. Even though it can be overwhelming for first timers, one must know that there exists an order of sorts in the chaos! The sights, smells and sounds may appear daunting at first, but one must know that there is going to be no dearth in excitement and introduction to a variety of culture!

Here are a few insights into subjects that seem to emerge as matter of concern –

1. Visas:

If you are going to be in India as a traveler, this is something which should be sorted out at the beginning of your travel. However, if you are extending your stay, the rules have been changing over the years. Have a look at the freshest details on http://india.gov.in/overseas/passport/passport.php.

2. Delhi –Belly:

Tummy rumblings are something that most first timers suffer from! Not only the street food but fare from top restaurants can cause a mean Delhi-Belly! This is just the difference in composition of food – most Indian foods can be heavy.

Indian food and veggies
 Indian Food - Veggies

The tip you must keep in mind is not to eat raw food, especially from the streets! Also, help your stomach acclimatise for a few days. Try the Indian food gradually. Ask for lesser spices and chillies till you are a veteran. Pharmacies are available easily, so if you run out of your own medicines, a suitable substitute can be made available!

3. Water:

Water is certainly an easy carrier of germs, so stick to mineral water bottles or boiled water! Water purifying tablets are also a good idea, especially for trekkers who might to re-fill at streams!

4. Transportation:

Public transportation can be overwhelming for many as most international travelers are not accustomed to crowds that large in number. Also, the concept of queuing up in order is not something one should expect.

Public transport in India - Rickshaw
Rickshaw - Public transportation in India

Else, access to cabs and auto rickshaws is easy depending on the distance and your budget. Trains are a great way of seeing the Indian cultural and physical topography!

5. Single Women Travel:

The nervousness around single women travel seems to be ebbing away quickly! The foremost reason being, that locals are no more intrigued by the idea. You may still have to manoeuvre past intrusive questions but this also helps in striking a conversation. Use your discretion while interacting with people. Avoiding traveling by public transports or walking at night are rules that one would follow anywhere around the world – that applies in India as well. Try and stay at homestays in smaller towns, rather than hotels as your hosts can offer large amount of security and help!

6. Money Exchange:

With an exception to really small towns, access to ATMs and international banks is quite easy. Most places also accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards. Carry a reasonable amount of cash and then withdraw regularly. For long stay travelers, getting a bank account is close to impossible. Ensure that Indian friends can help you with online bookings etc so you can pay them in cash.

7. Ear Relief:

The noise on the streets is something that many travelers cannot seem to fathom.  Also, there is generally low regard for personal space and people are quite loud in public places. If traveling alone and you want some alone time, rely on a good set of ear-phones! This will also help to fall asleep in overnight trains and buses!

8. First Aid/ Medical Emergencies:

One must carry a non-bulky first aid kit but for more elaborate medical health, good hospitals are available easily in the large cities. If you are visiting a small town, make your way to the closest city and then seek medical help.

9. Travelling with Children:

Children, in most cases, adapt easily and are spontaneous and not cynical in having fun.

Jaipur elephants
Have Fun - Elephants in Jaipur

Do not fret about their safety or handling new food and culture! Stick to mineral water and non-spicy food and they should do well. They might be subjected to some amount of cheek-pulling and fascination in public places – be firm but polite to avert this!

10. Public Bathrooms:

A most distressing topic, this is something that India has not been able to cater well! If you are close to a coffee shop or a hotel, ask to be let in or grab a small bite to use the bathroom. Public loos can be in dismal conditions! Carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer at all times. If trekking or traveling on the road for long, using the bushes is highly recommended!

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This guest post was written by Mahindra Homestays who have a range of homestay accommodations throughout India and run the popular India Travel Blog.
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stepping into 2012 with... A Review and An Inspiration!

It’s been just a few days since we stepped into 2012 and the year has already begin to shower it’s benevolence on me. As I opened my eyes into the New year, I found myself reveling in two moments of happiness and delight as a blogger and I thought of sharing them with all of you.

Here they go--

1. My Yatra Diary… Reviewed!

We have all heard of books being reviewed, there are movies and television soaps being reviewed too but a blog, that too, by a blogger at his/her blog?!

Yes, it's being done by The Fool @ his blog Lucifer House Inc. And when I came to know of this opportunity to get my little diary reviewed by one of the most promising and fair reviewers in the blogosphere, I grabbed it with both hands.

This was special for me because besides being something completely new, it was also being done with a genuine intention and with utmost honesty. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to The Fool for taking the time out to review my diary and wish him all the success in this noble gesture of his.

Presented below is a small excerpt of his analysis –
Yātrā, in Hinduism and other Indian religions, generally means pilgrimage to holy places such as confluences of sacred rivers, places associated with Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and other sacred pilgrimage sites. And My Yatra Diary is Arti’s record of her visits to places of pilgrimage in India.
Arti itself is an interesting  name with religious associations. It refers to kind of ceremonious form of welcome that is done at homes and temples both for dieties as wells as humans. And I welcome the New Year on my blog with a review of Arti’s blog...

Please click on the link to read the full review – My Yatra Diary… Reviewed!

What’s more, he is still taking it up and it is open to all. So, if you also wish to get your blog reviewed at the same time also giving it a chance to reach out to a wider audience, rush over to his space and queue your blog up in this blog review submission post.

Help Me Improve

Taking this further, I request You - the reader of this diary - to help me improve by letting me know your thoughts and suggestions on this diary as well. Y
ou know what its flaws are and I trust you to know it best. So, if you have any suggestions/improvements for this blogger or blog, please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below. Though I don't swear on acting on them right away or even incorporating them, but be rest assured that I will be surely considering them and if possible try inculcating them as well.

2. A Poet Takes Inspiration!

How does it feel when one of your works gets picked up as an inspiration by a poet? And that too, by a poet you admire?

River Ganga at Harsil in the Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand
River Ganga

That was exactly how I felt when I came to know that one of my blogger friends, writer and poet, Leo (Vinay) took inspiration from this River Ganga photograph - Harsil, Char Dham Yatra, one of my favorites too, for one of his haikus,


... on New Year’s Eve and began his blogging journey of 2012 with it.

Blogging Break!

Thus, with an encouraging review and a beautiful feeling in my pocket, I step in the New Year with a silent prayer to the Almighty to continue making it good for me and for all of us here and bless us all with a fruitful year ahead.

I will be on a short break for a couple of weeks from now. In the coming days, you can expect some guest posts, hopefully, from me and a few from others as well to fill up the pages.

But, I promise, I will be back soon with another one of my yatras!

Till then,

Happy Blogging!
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