Talacaud

You can read about How I reached Somnathpur here. Details and pictures about Somnathpur here.

The journey from Somnathpur to Talacaud (around 25 km) was quite uneventful except for the fact that we had our lunch of munching biscuits in the car. We couldn’t locate a decent enough hotel for lunch.

If you search online for Talacaud, there is a long history readily available in wiki. Talacaud, on the banks of River Cauvery was once home to more than 30 temples. And it was a curse from the wife of a Mysore Wodeyar, Rani Rangamma, when she drowned herself in the river cursing the place to bury under sands. True to that, the place has sand dunes and many temples have been submerged under sand.

We first went to the bank of the river. It is a true picnic spot with such a mad rush of families and children laughing and playing in the water, some playing volleyball on the river, few were taking the boat ride (read thoni ride). We had ice creams there and watched all this unfold. I could take the rush no more and we immediately proceeded to see the temples.

River Cauvery

DSC_0164

The Boat

DSC_0163

ASI has again done a remarkable job of restoring these temples. The temples are scattered around the place and we need to walk around to visit it. There are signboards that guide you to the next temple.

Sheltered walking trails to see various Talacaud Temples

DSC_0177

The most noticeable temples are Kirtinarayana Temple, which is recovered from the sand. The view of the temple from the top was very good and I was excited to walk around the temple.

DSC_0179

There were many numbered columns, pillars and other structures including a huge statue of Nandi scattered around the temple, hopefully waiting to be restored.

DSC_0187

The other temple is Vaideshwara Temple. This is a fully restored temple complex with the main deity and outer walls etc.

DSC_0214 2

Exterior Wall of Vaideshwara Temple.

DSC_0211

We saw a surprisingly different ring made of stone and somehow it was inserted into it. We were wondering how the sculptor could have done it.

DSC_0225

The other temples were Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara and Mallikarjuna temples.

After much walking, we decided to return and try our luck at Sivasamudram falls. The falls is around 28 km from Talacad. We knew it was getting late, but our driver gave us hope that it would be open till 5:30 PM. We were at the gate close around that time and the guard was initially reluctant to send us inside quoting it was closing time. But a little encouragement from our part (you know what J) the guard let us in. By the time we reached the parking lot it was becoming dark and we rushed to the falls.

To reach the falls all we had to do was climb down a volley of steps. We didn’t realize fate would come in the form of a security guard. He simply told we couldn’t go down. We could watch the falls from the place where we were standing.

DSC_0251

Though I was cursing him initially, I realized he had a point as soon as the whole landscape turned dark all of a sudden. Within a few minutes the area, which was sunlit, turned to night. The photos are rather dark because of this. The falls was absolute delight and beauty. The sound of falling water was musical and I decided I would come back again to this place to see the falls up-close.

DSC_0246

Our relentless driver took us inside the village near sivasamudra (rather a sketchy place, I wouldn’t suggest to go there) to see a better view of the falls. Our car was parked right at the edge of some sort of cliff top and the driver turned on the car lights. There, we could see the falls only a little as it was dark, but heard the sound of water gushing and falling from a nearby cliff.

After visiting these three places, it was time to head back to Bangalore. We stopped for dinner at a place on the way at Hotel Mayura near Maddur. When we crossed Chennapatna, a place famous for its wooden toys, I mentally made a note that I would come and do some shopping next time. The weekend traffic hadn’t reduced in Bangalore and it was around midnight when we returned to our hotel room. We bid goodbye to our bodyguard, talked about the day and how beautiful the places were and lack of such places near Chennai and went to sleep.

We had an exciting day tomorrow, the day we were going to meet Enrique Iglesias! 🙂 🙂

Advertisements

Somnathpur and Talacad Trip

Each one of us need a push to do that thing we wanted to do so much but couldn’t do; may be due to lack of confidence, support or in my case fear of parents. Albeit it was just going to trips with my friends, I wasn’t quite sure how my parents might react. I got that push when I heard Enrique Iglesias is touring in India and after convincing my parents, I went on this trip. So it was decided that I would go along with my friend, a fellow mad Enrique fan. Being an ardent fan of his songs (who wouldn’t love Enrique J) we decided to go for his concert. Details about that concert are coming up in another post.

Now, you must be wondering what Enrique has to do with Somnathpur. It was a two day trip, one day dedicated to Enrique and other for sight seeing around Bangalore. We chose Somnathpur and Talacad after much research.

Being our first trip as a women travellers, we weren’t quite sure how we would reach there, is it safe for us to go alone etc. We invited our male friend as a bodyguard(pun intended) and voila, problem solved!! It was because of him we were able to make it and I dedicate this post to him (thanks Subbu) and the fellow Enrique fan 🙂 . Now, we were all set for the journey.

Breaking Dawn @ K. R. Puram Railway Station, Bangalore

DSC_0009

Somnathpur is around 140 km from Bangalore and 35 km from Mysore. Unfortunately there are no direct buses to this place from Bangalore, you have to go till Mandya from Bangalore and then catch another bus to Somnathpur. The best way to reach it is by a car; we took a car and started from our hotel around 9 AM after a not-so-great breakfast. We were forewarned about the weekend traffic in Bangalore and witnessed it first hand. By the time we reached outskirts of the city, it was well over 10:30 AM. Roads after this are really in a very good condition until you cross Mandya. Our car breezed past the state highway.

Once our car took a turn, we started seeing spectacular rural landscape of Karnataka. I just have one word to describe it. GREEN.

DSC_0064

Rice fields, sugarcane fields and god-only-knows what crop they have sown fields, huge trees on both sides of the road, the slight drizzling which made the muddy roads and trees wet enough to be beautiful, I can simply go on and on.

DSC_0101

Frankly, we didn’t have enough time to stop our car and enjoy the view, for we were already running late.

DSC_0119

The rain started to fall heavily and the mud roads started to become a nuisance. Wheels could get easily stuck in the clay. I will let the pictures speak for itself.

DSC_0123

DSC_0160DSC_0115

You can read more about the rest of the trip to Somnathpur Temple here and Talacaud here.

Somnathpur

You can read about how the trip to Somnathpur was planned and how we reached here.

After 2 hours from Bangalore, we journeyed across greenish landscape and reached Somnathpura finally. For a structure maintained by Archeological Survey of India, I was surprised that it was maintained very well. Entry cost is INR 5 for Indians and INR 200 for foreign nationals.

Entry to Somnathpur Temple.

DSC_0171

A brief history into the Temple – This temple was constructed by Somnatha, a high officer under the rule of Hoysala Kind Narasimha III (1254 A.D – 1291 A.D.). It follows three celled structure (Trikutachala) consisting of three Garbagrahas with images of Keshava, Venugopala and Janardhana, three Antaralas and a Navarang. Mallithamma, Masanathamma, Chameya, Bhameya are few sculptors whose names have been carved on the images with Mallithamma carving majority of the sculptures.

The entrance porch to the temple was so cool and had spectacular view of the temple.

DSC_0350-2

The shrine is a typical example of one of the finest Hoysala architecture. I always liked the name Hoysalas in history books when I was in school (maybe the name was fancy!!) but now I was simple awestruck at their architecture.

DSC_0319

The beauty of the sculptures, the relief inside the temple, the beautiful carvings on the roof are magnificent.

DSC_0220 2

It was as if they couldn’t leave any stone without a pattern. The entire structure was beautifully filled with carvings.

DSC_0228

The inside of the temple was dark and cool. There were four to five pillars supporting the temple and each pillar had its own unique design.

DSC_0184

One was plain and smoothly polished, the other had circular cuts across its length and one was carved with designs.

DSC_0214

The main deity is Chennakeshava (chenna means beautiful, keshava – a name for Krishna) and the deities were inside grilled doors. After so many clicks, we came outside.

DSC_0200

A view of exterior wall of Somnathpur Temple

DSC_0248

The exterior wall has a plethora of Gods and Goddesses and numerous friezes

DSC_0237

One such beautifully sculpted Frieze containing elephants and horses

DSC_0240

One must have enough patience and interest in history to observe these bands of sculptures. I felt the sculptures were trying to tell some story, only that I couldn’t comprehend what it was.

Probably it was about a success battle story of Hoysala king or a mythological story. I wish I had taken a guide along to understand about it. I was amazed at how the kings were able to build such magnificent structures on wide-open spaces with perfect symmetry, artistic beauty (around the year 1200 A.D.) without so much advancement as in current-day science. It still amazes me 🙂

DSC_0226

DSC_0268After admiring the exterior wall, we moved to the Colonnade of pillars around the temple. They are made of some light yellow colored stones; probably sand stones (not sure though). The pillars are laid out in perfect symmetry and ASI has done a good job of restoring few of the pillars.

DSC_0304

By now, we had done several rounds around the temple and numerous clicks. But, I was still reluctant to leave the place. These pictures will tell you why.

Varahamoorthy

DSC_0265

Goddess Lakshmi on God Vishnu’s Lap

DSC_0280

God Vishnu

DSC_0266

Since we had Talacaud as next place in our list and we bid farewell to Somnathpur taking in one final view of the Somnathpur Temple

DSC_0301

You can continue reading about Talacad trip and photos here.

Weekend Trip to Mysore

Mysore is a popular weekend destination for people close to Karnataka for many reasons. One it is easily accessible by road, train or flights; another is its weather – which isn’t a very big concern or a threat that could easily spoil the travel plans. Mysore has a variety of places to offer satisfying a wide range of travellers – from families looking for some bonding and fun, to wildlife enthusiasts, people into history, art and temples!! I know many of you who are reading this blog would have already travelled to Mysore. This blog is my two cents to fellow travellers who wish to make a quick weekend trip.

My trip to Mysore was in the month of March this year. I did some research on what are the places near Mysore and how many could be fit into my plan for 3 days. I reached Mysore from Chennai via over night train. The train journey was uneventful and my rough plan was something like this

Day 1 – Visit Srirangapatnam, Brindavan Gardens

Day 2 – Zoo and Mysore Palace

Day 3 – Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary and remaining places

Day 1

I took an auto from the railway station to Hotel Iyengar Plaza, which right next to Jagmohan Palace, a very interesting palace (I will talk about it later in Day 3). I was looking for budget accommodation and one of my friends suggested this hotel. Not bad I would say, for 700 rupees per day it was a decent accommodation. After breakfast at Hotel Annapoorna (in fact all three days we had breakfast and dinner at this hotel. I didn’t know a good one L), I decided to check Srirangapatnam, the former capital, which is roughly 20 km from Mysore. One can take a taxi from Mysore, but it is cheaper to go there in bus and hire an auto at Srirangapatnam, which is exactly what I did. The bus journey cost 20 INR till Srirangapatnam. I had a list of places to see there and arranged an auto for INR 250 for half a day. Frankly, one can walk around and see all these places. It was very sunny and I didn’t want to get tired. So I started off with

  • Tipu’s Death Place – an obvious conclusion from the name, Tipu Sultan was found dead in that place and there is a stone to mark his death surrounded by a well-maintained garden.

DSC_0183

  • Captain Bailey’s Dungeon is 200 yards from Tipu Death place. This oblong bastion was used to chain the prisoners to the wall. Tipu Sultan used it to imprison British soldiers.

DSC_0235

Locals say that pouring water into the dungeon and almost drowning them tortured the prisoners.

DSC_0241

  • Sri Narasimha Swamy Temple – the temple is actually in a very poor state and repairs were going on when we visited. If temples are not your kind of place then you can give it a miss. For others, it is open between 7:30 AM – 12:30 AM and 5 PM – 7:30 PM
  • Sri Gangadhara Swamy Temple

DSC_0192

  • A few hundred meters from Narasimha Swamy temple is the famous Ranganatha Swamy temple. A relatively bigger temple with good architecture. It is open from 8 AM – 1 PM and 4 PM – 8 PM.

Front Mandapam of temple

DSC_0202

Pillars in Mandapam

DSC_0205Outer praharam of temple

DSC_0223Main Gopuram of Ranganathasamy temple

DSC_0224

  • Sri Nimishambha Temple – This temple is built right on the riverbanks of Cauvery and the deity is believed to grant our wishes within a minute, hence the name Nimishambha. (Nimisham means a minute in local language). It is open from 8 AM to 5 PM.

DSC_0262

Main Gopuram of Nimishamba temple

DSC_0270

By this time it was well over 1 PM and I decided to see rest of Sri Rangapatnam on another day and proceeded towards Brindavan Gardens. I had to catch a local bus from Sri Rangapatnam to a nearby stop called Pump House (Bus No 307). The route goes through some of the local villages and I felt the rural side appealing than the historical one. From pump house to KRS Brindavan Gardens I took another bus. The journey was around an hour.

KRS Dam

DSC_0280

Brindavan Gardens can also be reached directly and much easily from Mysore (around 24 km). It is open in the weekdays from 6 AM – 8 PM and week ends from 6 AM – 9 PM. The famous Musical Fountain operates at 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM on weekdays and 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM on weekends. The entry ticket costs INR 15 for adults and INR 50 for camera.

Entry Gate @ Brindavan Gardens

DSC_0287

The Garden is built on the KRS dam and divided into two parts. One can walk from one half of the garden to other half via a hanging bridge or take the boat ride.

DSC_0294

The garden is maintained well and definitely is a fun place for kids to run around or just sit and laze around sipping a cup of hot tea or masala chai. The second half of the garden was were the musical fountain was present. I took customary photos of the garden, the musical fountain and the nearby Cauvery River.

DSC_0299

One half of the garden

DSC_0321

Other half of the garden

DSC_0396

Boating at Brindavan Gardens

DSC_0354-2

The musical fountain wasn’t very great given the high expectations and huge crowd; the fountain danced to some famous Hindi and local item numbers.

Musical Fountain

DSC_0265

Crowd at musical fountain

DSC_0439

After the musical show, I called it a day and moved towards Mysore. (Bus No 303)

Day 2

I had decided earlier that this holiday would be enjoyed in a leisurely manner and not rush into and visit places. So on Day 2 I visited Mysore Zoo and Mysore Palace and do some shopping. I took an auto to Cauvery Crafts emporium (almost all shops call them Cauvery emporium and Govt approved). Bought some sandalwood soaps and agarpathis. Many wooden idols, stone carvings, mysore silk sarees were also available for sale. But they were way out of my budget. The auto dropped me at the zoo.

The Zoo was quite disappointing since I had read rave reviews about how well it is maintained and what a treat to an eye it is. Maybe I was at the wrong time. It was very hot and there were not much benches/shades to sit on and take rest and the animals were very tired (obviously!)

DSC_0025 DSC_0034

I felt the entry ticket of INR 40 and a camera fee of INR 20 was not very worthy.

DSC_0043

Coming to the good things – the zoo has zero tolerance towards plastic bottles/covers. If we are taking plastics inside, we need to pay INR 10 for each plastic item, which would be refunded of course, when it is shown at the exit i.e. when they are sure that we are taking it outside.

DSC_0051DSC_0074

Secondly, we can sponsor for any animal for its maintenance and many have done it for the children birthdays. I mentally noted to bring my child and sponsor for an animal that he likes. Fellow travellers, please note that the zoo is open from 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM daily except on Tuesdays.

Karanji Lake – is right behind the zoo and it has a butterfly park and boating. I did not visit this lake since I felt it was too hot for a boat ride.

I took an auto from zoo to the palace (around 2 km). Entry fee is INR 20 for Indians and INR 200 for foreigners. The palace is the official residence of the Wodeyar Kings and there are actually two palaces inside. Both palaces are open on all days from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. But the last ticket sale is closed by 5:00 PM. Cameras are not allowed inside the palace, but can be used in the palace gardens. There is a safe locker for cameras free of charge.

One of the four temples @ Mysore palace

DSC_0075

The main palace where there are many artifacts like paintings, beautiful portraits of Wodeyar kings and queens, various gifts received by the kings, Kalyana Mantapa or the marriage hall where weddings were performed, silver and gold armored doors and the grand balconies where the King held his court, Amba vilasa a room for private audience – one can only imagine how it must have been when the palace was fully functional.

Durbar

darbar

 

 

Private Room

private

The guided audio tour, the DVDs and books available for sale doesn’t do justice to the grandeur, the architecture, the huge space and well-maintained gardens, the numerous palace gates, temples inside the palace complex and the illumination of the entire palace.

DSC_0101 DSC_0100 DSC_0114

The second palace (has a separate entry fee of INR 35) is more of display of used furniture by the kings, photo frames, armors etc. I had time to kill to watch the palace illumination. Otherwise, I would have skipped this palace.

Western Gate

DSC_0109

DSC_0085

I made sure I was at the palace to see the illumination that happens during Sundays and all public holidays from 7 PM – 7:45 PM. Everybody started setting up tripods, their cameras and was taking test shots of the palace as soon as it started turning dark.

Mysore Palace @ sunset

DSC_0281

One by one the lights were turned on and my-my, what a sight to behold. A Royal band was playing music and the palace and all the gates were fully illuminated with light bulbs. After taking so many shots at the palace, I decided to leave it and proceeded to hotel room.

Palace IlluminationDSC_0334DSC_0361

Day 3

Today I have much to visit and checked out from hotel in the early morning itself and kept luggage at the Mysore Railway station’s cloakroom. I was charged INR 15 per suitcase per 24 hours which is very cheap compared to the hotel and anyway I have to catch the night train back to Chennai. The budget traveller in me was happy to have cut the cost  🙂

I took a taxi from the railway station for half a day for INR 550 and went straight to Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary. It is around 4 km from Sri Rangapatnam and is open from 9 AM to 6 PM. Entry charge is 50 INR and boating charge is 50 INR. The fee is 300 INR for foreigners. I felt it was money well spent. The sanctuary itself is lush green with so many trees and benches all around to sit and view the water. The boating was hand rowed and the ranger told me that motorboats frighten away the birds.

Painted Stork

DSC_0246

The boat ride was close to 30 minutes and I had the wonderful opportunity to see so many different kinds of birds both local and migratory, half of which I couldn’t name it. I could identify pelicans, painted storks and open billed storks. It is one kind of an experience. I even saw a few crocodiles under water and a baby crocodile taking a sunbath on one of the rocks.

DSC_0223-2

The season for bird sanctuary is from November to June. People who are not interested to take boat rides can climb up the watchtowers and get a panoramic view of the Cauvery river and birds flocking all the trees. Note to self – take a better zoom lens next time when visiting the sanctuary. Missed the zoom lens so much 😦

After a very satisfying sanctuary visit, I went back to Sri Rangapatnam to visit the summer palace of Tipu Sultan a.k.a Daria Daulat Bagh. The palace was a very cool place and was constructed in a massive area of ground. The palace was home to some wonderful paintings on the wall, which are getting spoilt due to less maintenance (I am not surprised here, since the entry fee is a meager INR 5 with no cost for cameras) and exposure to weather. The paintings were depicted some of the victories of Tipu. Inside the palace were photos, a gallery of things used by Tipu and his sons, portraits etc. It is open on all days from 9:30 AM – 5 PM.

Daria Daulat Bagh

DSC_0370

Next stop was Gumbaz or the tomb of Tipu Sultan. A beautiful garden leads to the tomb and an adjacent mosque. A typical Mughal architecture tomb, magnificent ivory-decorated ebony doors lead into the tomb, which is the burial chamber for Hyder Ali, Tipu and his mother Fatima Begum. It is open on all days from 8 AM to 6:30 PM.

Gumbaz

DSC_0420 DSC_0403

A stone’s throw from Gumbaz is Sangamam, the confluence of three rivers. I gave it a miss since I was running out of time already. On our way back we visited the Jama Masjid in Sri Rangapatnam. This was built by Tipu along with the Gumbaz and has seen several wars during its life.

Jama Masjid @ SrirangapatnamDSC_0354

My taxi’s half a day was fast approaching and I came back to Mysore and enjoyed a good meal.

I decided to check out Jagan Mohan palace, which is now converted into an art gallery. I do admit that initially, I had reservations about going into an art gallery, but this one completely took me by surprise.  The gallery has four floors totally. The first floor has a curious old French clock which chimes at every half an hour and miniature soldiers march inside the clock every hour and the old thing is running perfectly even after a few centuries!! The other floors are home to some of the exquisite paintings I have seen so far. The exhaustive list includes paintings from Raja Ravi Varma (I was completely mesmerized by the details and beauty captured), Lady with the lamp and a collection of paintings of the royals and royal family occasions, war between Tipu Sultan and the British and an entire floor dedicated to musical instruments used during the olden times. I would say it is a must visit to this art gallery. Entry fee is 30 INR and cameras are not allowed inside. However post cards are available for sale inside the palace of all the famous paintings. Entry fee is 30 INR and the palace is open from 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM.

The final destination was the famous Chamundi Hills. I took an air-conditioned Volvo bus from Mysore bus stand (Bus No 201) and saw some spectacular views on the way to the hills. It houses the temple for Goddess Chamundi.

A flower vendor @ Chamundi Hills

DSC_0400

Gopuram of Chamundi Temple

DSC_0429

Make sure you visit it towards evening to enjoy the sunset view from the hills. There are so many monkeys roaming around the temple, so be careful if you have anything in your hand to eat. An angry monkey tried to grab my milkshake and guess who won J. It was time to end this journey and I reached railway station, collected the luggage and bid good-bye to Mysore.