Monday, November 28, 2016

Maharajanadurga Fort, Hassan

Maharajanadurga Hill
Maharajanadurga is a hill located in Alur taluk of Hassan district. Having read about it previously, we wished to visit the same as we were around Hassan.  We drove to Alur the next morning and tried locating this place on google maps but in vain. Since all our efforts (including inquiry with locals) to locate this place failed to yield any positive result, we decided to drive ahead and check with the locals in the neighboring village for any information. We met an auto-driver who on questioning seemed blank and absolutely had no idea what we were looking for! When we specified it was about a fort near by, he replied with the answer of Manjarabad, which is a popular fort and not the one we were interested in. As a last chance, we tried explaining the story related to a King who ruled that place and finally, he realized we were searching for a place named 'Magana Thinda Maharayanabetta' for which he gave us further directions.
Path Through the Undergrowth
Third Gateway
Lord Hanuman 


 Following his directions we reached the village of Magge. A kindly person guided us towards the base of this hill, though reaching the same was quite tricky. We followed a route we found, passing through thorny shrubs and dense undergrowth until we reached the first gateway of the fort. We were glad to know that we were on the right path and equally astonished to witness the much intact fort walls. After we crossed four such gateways, the path led us to the top of the fort. Hereon, it was a steep climb to the hill top. We found remains of a few ruined structures here and there and  broken pieces of pottery which resembled that of the Vijayanagar period.
Fort Wall Above Rock
Soaked in History
Fourth Gateway
Fifth Gateway
Steep Slope
Bird's Eye View 
 As per the local legend " There was a king by name Veera Raja, who was a brave ruler. It is said that his own people conspired against him by killing his son and making him eat his son's flesh. The king remained unaware of his actions until one day when he came to know of his eating his son's flesh, felt guilty and committed suicide by jumping from the top of the hill. Thus the hill got its name of "Magana thinda Maharajanadurga", translated as "the fort of the king who ate his son's flesh". This beautiful fort certainly requires some restoration and maintenance. Little is known about the history of this place apart from the information that the fort was built by the local Palegars though it seems to belong to the 16th century, post Vijayanagar era.
Brain Shaped Rock
Remains of the Fort Atop the Hill 
Broken Pottery  
Horse Stable
A Ruined Water Storage Structure 
Maharajanadurga as viewed from Parvathi Betta 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Midhadi View Point

One of the Beautiful Peaks Around 
Peak And the Bee Eater 
Midhadi View Point
Sunset
Sunset in the Kudremukh Range
On a clear sunny day, the Midhadi view point offers a wonderful panoramic view of the entire Dakshina Kannada (South Canara) district along with the Arabian sea, and the mountain ranges of Kudremukh and Ballalarayanadurga. However, we were late that evening and just as the sun went down, its surroundings were engulfed by mist making the beauty lay hidden. Though the visibility was poor, we got a glimpse of the sunset as the mist cleared momentarily. The whole experience was worthwhile. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sooramane Abbi Waterfalls, Chikmagalur

Sooramane Abbi, a waterfall that was displayed on a flex board of a small town caught our eye and we wanted to explore it. As we were totally unaware of its location, our only lead was the contact number given on the flex board. After much dilemma, we contacted the person in-charge (who presumably owned a rough terrain jeep) and he gave us the details of the fee that will be charged for taking us to the water fall, apart from saying positively that the route to the waterfall remains inaccessible by foot and one has to use a jeep to get through to the waterfall. The price he quoted seemed unreasonable and  made us have second thought. We informed we will get back to him when needed and thanked him. When we inquired about the whereabouts of this waterfall with a shopkeeper, he made sure he gave us the least possible information and ended the conversation by saying the route is long and since it is located in the interiors, we would find it difficult to get there. We started feeling disappointed as things were not working our way. We consoled ourselves by saying the shopkeeper may have been a stake holder in the touring sector along with the flex board advertiser and so on. However we did not give up. Driving back, we stopped by at the outskirts of the town and took a chance of inquiring someone again. An isolated house was our only hope. I went in to check and found a person who was occupied with some work. I began my conversation with the discussion about the work he was involved in and he explained that it was a part of Deepavali celebration. Lights will be lit in their paddy fields and prayers to the god will be offered for good yield. The sticks are made out of bamboo and one its ends is smeared with dried cow dung only to be lit later.
Hairy Caterpillar
Path to the waterfall
In the end, without any hesitation he gave us  directions to the falls and informed us about two alternate routes, out of which one was a trek route and the other was a jeep route. We decided to go with the trek route and followed his directions. Driving along the said route, we reached a dead end. It seemed as though we had missed the route. Fortunately, there was a house with people sitting outside, chatting. On inquiring, he told us that taking the trek route would be impossible without a guide and during the days of the festival, none would be ready to accompany us. Surprisingly, he told us about the jeep route assuring us that our vehicle will make it to Sooramane. From Sooramane, a small trek would lead us to our destination. We hit the jeep track and reached Sooramane. A little board directed us towards the falls and as we walked along for about a kilometer, we reached a small village. Walking further, we crossed a small stream and a perennial spring. A narrow path on the left bank of the stream took us through the woods and there it was! The Hidden Waterfall. It was all ours!
Perennial Spring
Stream crossing
Sooramane Abbi Waterfall


Enjoying the Waterfall
Waterfalls Chikmagalur
Under the Sun-rays


The water falls amid rocks from about 40 feet, surrounded by greenery. The place was serene with and with none around, we felt close to nature. We found a suitable place for our younger one who enjoys playing with water. While seeing him play, my wife spotted a water snake(Checkered Keel-back) in a rock pile that was perfectly camouflaged among leaf litter. I moved our younger one to a safer zone and on taking a closer look around helped my wife to spot two other snakes! The three snakes popped their heads out and seemed to communicate. The sound of the water fall was loud and echoed amidst the lush green environs, setting a perfect mood for displaying romance between two of the snakes. After capturing them on camera, we made sure to let them be and joined our younger one. After spending some time, we bade a good bye to the water fall and the snakes which had given us company.
Here he comes ...Checkered Keel-back (Xenochrophis piscator)
Spot the three water snakes!
The mood is setting in 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Prehistoric Anthropomorphic Statues of Kumathi and Hulikunte

Three years ago, I had an opportunity of staying in Bellary for a brief period of time during which my wife shared a few must visit places in and around Bellary. The list included pre-historic sites of Kumathi, Sangankallu and Kuppagal. But due to paucity of time, I could never make it to any of these places back then. However, we managed to visit a few of these places during our Dussehra vacation. Kumathi is one among the very few sites where anthropomorphic statues have been found. Anthropomorphic statues are statues resembling human beings and are associated with pre-historic period.
Leading the Way 
After a sumptuous meal at Nayakanahatti temple, we headed towards Kumathi which was about 30 km from Nayakanahatti. It took about 45 minutes to reach Kumathi without much hassle. As per the details given in the book, these statues were located in the farm of Sri K M Thipperudraiah. We reached Sri Thipperudraiah's house and on inquiring about the statues, his son and grand-daughter volunteered to guide us to this place. On reaching the farm, we were awestruck to witness these structures that resembled a scarecrow. Although 7 statues existed originally, sadly only 2 of them have survived, while the remains of the others are seen. Out of the two statues, one of them seems to bear feminine features with a narrow waist, while the other seems to represent a male, though unsure. These statues are believed to have been erected after the death of a king/leader/head of the tribe. The slab statues are tall  and carved out of locally available granite stone.
Is it A Bird or Female?
 Male  Anthropomorphic Statue
Tall Anthropomorphic Statue
Heading back to the guide's house, we confirmed about the route to Hulikunte and bade a good-bye to our guide. Hulikunte, an other anthropomorphic site was located about 12 km from Kumathi. On reaching Hulikunte, we were supposed to head towards Harijana Borakka's farm land where the statue was situated. Unfortunately none in their family were seen or heard and nobody around were willing to accompany us to the site. However, we met a person who was busy carving a farm tool out of wood and managed to strike up a conversation regarding the site. After much hesitation, he agreed to accompany us to the site. A 10 minute bumpy ride took us to the site and after we parked our vehicle, we had to walk about 600 meters through a groundnut field to witness the statue. These statues are locally known as 'Rakshasa Kallu' or demon stone. Only 1 out of 3 statues have survived here. The statue here is small in stature and less complex, compared to the statues of Kumathi. In both the places of Kumathi and Hulikunte, the statues were erected  inside a stone circle in a standing posture.The legend behind the statues goes this way. "There was a god-man named Byraweshwara and during his visit to the forest for hunting purpose, he met a few demons who troubled him much. Out of anger, he cursed the demons to turn into stones, which is why these stones bear the local name as 'Rakshasa Kallu' (Rakshasa means a demon in Kannada)". In Yarenahalli village of Mokalamuru taluk (Chitradurga), during the local festival of "Shri Ajjanamuni Veerachit Shri Kalabyraweshwara or Shri Nukanmale Siddeshwara", a folk art play portrays the story of theses statues although the reason behind why these statues were carved out and who carved them, still remains a mystery. These statues are being attributed to the megalithic period based on other evidences found here. Further research needs to be undertaken on revealing the mystery behind such structures and appropriate measures should be taken to preserve them for future studies. These statues are believed to belong to the last or final stage of the anthropomorphic culture and are considered to be the finest.
The Battalion 
The Site
Rakshasa Kallu
  While researching on Anthropomorphic statues, I came across an interesting article titled 'Anthropomorphic statues of South India'. Surprisingly, I read about a few other sites with such statues scattered across the states of Unified Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It would be intriguing to visit these sites and know more about these structures. Our guides at Hulikunte were quite excited to know that we had come all the way from Bangalore only to see these structures. As we walked towards the site, we were accompanied by many others who were working in the nearby fields. An elderly person gave a much more interesting insight to the statues, although it seems that somewhere these stories are slowly vanishing in our fast paced materialistic generation. His enthusiasm made us feel proud in a sense that there are people who still strongly believe that such ancient structures possess magical powers and need to be preserved for further studies. We spent sometime conversing about the statues and also inquired about the presence of any cave paintings or dolmens around, as there were many hills surrounding this place. Though he replied with a negative response (or may be he was just not aware of its presence),  he informed us about the presence of a 7 tiered fort on top of the hill close-by. Since it was already late that evening and the chances of encountering bears during that period of the day were high, we decided not to venture to the hill top. He also added a list of places worth visiting nearby, but as time did not permit us, we assured ourselves to visit them some other time and with a lot of ifs and buts and doubt in mind, we headed towards our next destination of the trip.
Life Size Anthropomorphic Statue
Hills around the Site 
 References:
1. A book in Kannada titled "Hampi Parisarada Adhimanava Nelegalu" by Dr.L.Srinivas.
2. Journeys across Karnataka, a blog by Siddeshwara.



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