Saturday, June 25, 2011

Government Museum, Egmore

On a one day visit which monument to be covered was a big dilemma for me, when i had been to attend my friends silver jubilee marriage celeberation.  The ideal location seemed to me the Govt Museum located at Egmore.  My friend was pleased to arrange for a drop to the museum so that i could make a quick trip of the same.  What strikes me with the collection galore in the museum seems to represent only 10% of the salvage of the monuments unearthed during the british East India company reign.  90% of the collection seems to have either smuggled or in some private collectors museum.

History of the Museum :  The proposal to start a museum was mooted by Sir Henry Pottinger ( Governor ) and sactioned by the board of directors of  East India company.  In January 1851, Dr Edward Balfour was appointed the first officer in charge of the Museum.  The original museum was located in Fort St George, but in 1854 it was re located to the current premises Panthenon or public assembly rooms where the elite group congregrated.

The original property Panthenon belonged to Hall Plumer, a civil contractor, and it spread over 43 acres of land.  It was handed over to a committee in 1793, which sold to E.S. Moorat in 1821, an US merchant, who inturn sold it the british govt in 1830 for Rs 28,000.  The current market value of the land itself would be more than 2000 crores.  The building was used like a club for ball dances, celeberations, banquets and dramatics. 

In 1853 a public library was planned, and it was thrown open to public in 1862.  Captain Mitchell under the governor Lord Connemera extended the library with full of collections and huge storing racks made out of teak wood. 

In 1854, the premise housed a cheetah and a tiger, which attracted huge pile of tourists from far and wide, thus the germinated to have a zoological park, which developed into 360 nos of animals and reptiles and birds Museum Zoological Garden.  In 1863 the muncipality took over and shifted it to People's Park, which is located in Guindy.

An acquarium was a naturally compliment to the zoo, which was thrown open to public in Oct 1909, which gained immense popularity.  During the second world war, an impending threat of Japanese attack stripped the entire Museum of its collection of Acquarium and antiquities.  The entire premise house the army and their arsenal, and artefacts and important collections were shifted or siphoned off.  The huge sculptures of Amravathi was retained in the premises.

The museum celebrated centenary in Nov 1951, which was attended by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru.  A new building for birds was opened in 1963.  Later in 1984 a seperate building for contemporary arts was thrown open.  In April 1988 a childrens Museum was inaugrated.  In 2001, Dichroic Halogen Lamp system was installed for the arts gallery which had pleasing visual appeal and helped in preserving the paintings. 

The collection of the museum include a huge whale skeleton procured from Mangalore.  Other important collections include bronze statues from south india, Amravathi sculptures, Armoury from Thanjavur, gold coins from the chola period, Prehistoric collections, artifacts from Arikamedu, Buddhist and Jain sculptures.

Overall the Museum can be classified into 8 broad section of collections from the past.  They are Archaeology, Art, Anthropology, Numismatics, Zoology, Botany, Geology and Childrens Museum.

General Information :

Holiday :  Fridays and all National Holidays

Timing   : 9.30 am to 5.00 pm

Enterance Fees :   Rs 15/    Adult
                               Rs 10/-   Children
                               Rs   5/-   Students

                               Rs250/-  Foreigner ( 5 $ )
                               Rs125/-  Children
                               Rs  75/-  Students

Camera Fees        Rs200/-

Videocamera        Rs500/-

The best part of the museum is that there is a book stall which sells lot of books for collectors in various fields.  It will be good buy for personal library, i happened to get hold of at least 4 books which is worth its price, which is very reasonable. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Murudeshwar, Thank lord Shiva I live to tell the story

When the rainy season sets in the konkan coast, it squeals and unleashes the turbulence of a typhoon heralding the onset of monsoon. Nature ‘s fury can only be tamed by the lord Shiva, and true to his spirit we experienced the turbulence beyond compare on the shores of the Arabian sea.


The credit for construction of the temple with the tallest Shiva statue & Gopuram in the world should go the patron R.N. Shetty of the Naveen tiles fame. Murudeswar happens to be native place of the patron. He was of the firm belief that the Lord blesses all the piligrims who worship him with devotion. The old temple built during the vijaynagar era was crumbling for want of renovation.

One day in his dream, the Lord blessed him with a boon that his prosperity will be linked with the renovation of the temple. The renovation work was a stupendous task considering that the temple was located on the sea shore which can be turbulent during the monsoon. So he hunted for the architect of Vivekananda memorial Mr S.K. Acharya. On developing a rapport with the architect through a mutual friend, he convinced him to be a guiding force behind the construction. In 1977 the renovation work began in right earnest with donation being solicited from the Public at large like the Vivekanada memorial. All the materials such as granite were sourced from nearby Shimoga and thirthalli taluk.

The combination 3 decade of experience of R N Shetty and Acharya, with the blessings of the Lord Maradeswar the construction of the temple was completed in 1998. Thereafter the grandiocese plan to emulate the Vivekananda rock memorial in terms of constructing the Tallest Shiva statue and the gopuram was envisoned. The tall gopuram was fully thrown open to the public on 24th April 2009 after a full decade of construction effort.

At 11.15 am on 6/6/09 we reached Murudeswar cross on NH 17 travelling by Rajhamsa bus from Kumta, a distance of 70 km approximately. It was a slight drizzle and we alighted into the waiting auto beckoned by the bus driver. Just as we travelled the drizzle became a downpour, we were lucky to find a cloak room @ VRL roadways counter near Kamat Yatri nivas. We deposited our luggage and wanted to quickly complete the dharshan before 1 pm, because the luggage counter would close by than. Lest we realized that nature would take over and display the fury of Rudra tandav. My wife somehow had an intuition of events to unfold………….she was against visiting the temple in monsoon. Murudeswar can be reached from Mangalore too convinient by train or bus. A convinient passenger train departs Mlore to reach Murudeswar by 10.45 AM and on the return around 5 pm the same train can be boarded from Murdeswar. By bus one can travel upto Bhatkal and take a local bus or get down at the junction Murudeswar cross and catch an auto.

After depositing our luggage, we took a walk across the bridge with the lashing of the wind along with torrential downpour. The waves were pounding the temple premises with gutso, but still it was surmountable, we parked our slippers on the shoe rack with the caretaker missing from the counter…… We entered the gopuram, which is known as Raja gopuram, which raises upto 249 feet according to fact files. But considering the fondness of the patron R.N. Shetty , for no 6 and multiples it could be either 246 or 252 feet. But if one adds the number 249 it totals to 6. The gopuram is considered to be tallest in the world. It consists of 20 storied structure, with 2 lifelike elephants statue guarding the enterance.

As we entered it was pleasant to walk on the rubberized carpet into the temple premises. If one just lifts their head, a life like statue of Lord Shiva measuring 123 feet, which is once again considered to be tallest in the world, literally emerges and fills the devotee into humility. The steel railing is carefully placed at the centre of the staircase considering the nature’s fury. We did not require the support as we entered the temple. We were pleasantly surprised with the unfettered view of the Lord Maradeswara. Priests beckon for conducting special appeasement of the Lord, which is voluntary seva or custom, which is paid form of pooja.

We ignored appeasement, on the hindsight cost me a flutter of a lifetime. We were advised to seek the token for free food or prasadam, which opens @ 12.30 pm and closes sharply @ 1.00 pm. We got the coupon for free food @ 12.05 pm, which meant I had 25 minutes for photography. Well there was two other option one is to sit and admire at temple in the pouring rain or stand in the queue for free food. I chose the third one of trying to photograph foolishly though. First I went on the terrace where no admission board was prominently displayed but I was permitted. I went uptstairs and tried to squeeze my head into an opening, covering my Sony digital camera with make shift polyethene raincoat, I banged my head .........khatakkkkkkkk ......with force on the ceiling. Well singing praise of the lord I proceeded to photograph and videograph the scenary unfolding amidst torrential rainfall.

Again I had 15 minutes remaining, which I thought can be used for purchases of books pertaining to history of the temple and some exclusive postcards. I foolishly handed over the plastic sheet and took the umbrella. I managed to walk down the staircase by holding the steel railings, in between the granite stones were extremely slippery, which I managed to circumvent without any major incident. I entered into precints of the gopuram, my umbrella acted as parachute with typhoonic wind velocity may be measurable @ 90 kmphs approximately. I luckily treaded on to the rubberized carpet, maybe upto 5 feet, with wind ferocity I was drawn uncontrollably on to the granite portion and from thereon for the next 2 minutes, I was only a mute witness to natures fury. As I stepped on the wet granite, my 98 kgs frame slid landing me on my bum with a bath towel cushioning my fall. I was grabbed by fellow devotees in an urge to help a fellow men, suddenly I was lifted off the ground by pairs of helping hands, in the bargain my brand new umbrella was ripped beyond salvage. Luckily lord saved my Camera, which was tucked into my banian with a strap around my shoulder.

I bought the books and postcard from the counter and marched back into the temple like wounded soldier in the battlefield, with blood stains on my elbow. My wife was surprised to hear my turmoil on the tarmac of temple tower. The neighbours in the queue certified my experience, stating that I was one of the few lucky piligrims who experienced the toss. After applying band aid we proceeded to have our free lunch. In between I thought I will use my time to shoot some turbulent sea shots from the safety of the window, I aimed and clicked……………..booooooooooooooooom went the sound and alas the flash was down. Maybe the electrical charge of the nature was too overpowering for H3 too handle. I just checked all other functions were ok. I just quickly removed the battery and packed the camera into a dry handkerchief and deposited the same in my wife’s purse. We finished our lunch just 10 minutes short of deadline and proceeded to collect our luggage at the counter.

Alas one more, surprise was in store, one of my slipper was blown into the sea. With one slipper on I marched ahead to find the luggage counter closed for lunch ahead of time. Luckily the lodge owner of Kamat was the owner of the luggage counter, we request him to once again open the counter. He obliged. Now we found to our horror that there were no autos. The errand boy suggested we walk ahead to catch an auto from the stand. Most of the autos had vacated the place due to the fear of being plunged into the sea. We waited helplessly, suddenly we found an auto braving into our shelter as if sent by the Lord. The auto driver was so helpful in finding us a shoe shop. I quickly asked the owner to give me a paragoan slipper as replace for my bata. The driver at last dropped us back to our boarding station, wherein we missed the bus, and we resigned once to the waiting game, which was just 5 minutes, once again the Lord helped us with a comfortable bus ride back to udupi.

We were blessed with continuous rainfall, and the journey went on smooth, except for an oil tanker accident. In the end, we reached Mulki and proceeded towards our hideout without much ado. The moral of the story is that Fortune favours the brave, and lord helps the devotees who determined.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mahanandi Kshetra

Water was literally flowing all round, the temple to the paddy fields and to the surrounding village. Just imagine the blessed land with 5 underground springs with crystal clear water, as if it is cleaner than RO water. The five springs are known as Srisailam Dhara, Narasimha Dhara, Nandi Teerta, Daivodini Dhara and and Kailash teerta all flow into the pond inside the temple.


Mahanandi is located around 12kms away from Nandyal town in Kurnool district. It can be reached from Ananthpur via Tadipatri and Nandyal or on the reverse direction from Srisailam, via Giddlur, to Nandyal. Another route can be vide Gooty, Yaganti and Nandyal from Bangalore on NH 7.

The temple is located literally at the foot of the hills of Srisailam forest, naturally the locale is filled with scenary. The temple has three enterance and a ticket counter is located at the main enterance of the temple. The temple is closed between 1 to 3.30 Pm, one has wait for it to open. In the meanwhile one can check out the Nandi temples and other minor temples located in and around the place.

This main shiva shrine has a linga which is known as swayambu Linga, which is in the natural form, maybe found in the river bed. The pond within the temple premise is known as Rudra Kunda, where the devotees bathe with great devotion and gaiety. There is a small mantap at the centre with a Linga embedded.

Main gopuram is built in a typical Dravidian style of architecture, the blend of the north Indian and Jain architecture too is witnessed in the temple premises.


A number of dynasties have been associated with this temple. The temple has been under constant renovation from the times of Nanda king, son of Uttunga Bhoja, ruled over this region. The Mahanandeswara shrine was subsequently renovated by his descendents from 12th century onwards. One copper plate inscription refers to Veera Narasimha Raya from the Vijaynagar empire bestowing donations on the temple trust. The southern gate was erected in 1480 AD by Pinhaba Chetty in memory of his grandfather. The lizard symbol on the temple indicates that originally jains were responsible for contruction of the temple in the 7th century AD during the chalukyan reign. Within a radius of 16 km there are 9 nandi temples, which are known as Padma Nandi, Naga Nandi, Vinayaka Nandi, Garud Nandi, Brahma Nandi, Surya Nandi, Vishnu Nandi, Soma Nandi and Shiv Nandi. The town Nandyal is derived from Nandi Alayam.

Mahashivratri festivity is celeberated on a grand scale at Mahanandi. Piligrims flock this temple during Mahashivaratri in large number and during the sabrimala season too. Thus Mahanandi is a fine pilgrimage town for all hindus. I was surprised to find Muslims too visiting the temple and savouring the prasadams. There was objection by the watchmen when a lady wanted to enter the sanctum with burkha, she was asked to remove the burkha which seemed logical from security point of view. Thus the temple has secular leanings.

Currently there is some renovation activity being undertaken outside the temple premises. The boundary is being extended to signify the heritage site, which may have been much larger in area, till it was encroached by shopping complex.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Amritapura Temple Hoysala heritage

A typical Ekuta temple built in Hoysala style without Platform on all four sides. This temple was built by Amrutheswara Dandanayaka, commander of the king Veera Ballal II. Since the commander hailed from nearby town of Tarikere he wanted a monument to adorn his hometown. He had selected an idyllic spot near the river Bhadra, but safely away from it fury and flooding. The entire landscape looks like a garden neatly carpeted with grass and surrounded by coconut and arecanut trees.

The grandeur of the temple is multiplied by its low compound wall and statues embedded on the wall. Various figures of god and godesses in oval shaped stones are sculpted and placed to enhance the beauty of the temple. This temple was in dire status two years ago, when I read a report in the newspaper, but now the looks of it gives us an impression it should be deemed as world class heritage like Hampi. The renovation with regard to plugging the leakages and crumbling edifice is an ongoing process.

On the façade of the temple various scenes from Ramayana, Lord Krishna’s life and Mahabharat are embedded in stone format. There are approx 70 panels of Ramayan on the south façade of the temple, 25 panels of Lord Krishna’s life on the Northern portion and 45 panels of Mahabharat on the Western side of the temple walls.

The interior of the temple is laid out with lathe finished pillars with the the ceiling decorated in floral and geometric designs largely. There are shiv lingas projecting out of the circular ceiling. In my opinion these architectural innovation gave the stability for the dome of the temple. Various deities are embedded on the walls of the temple inside the main mantap.

Ruvari Mallitamma was the chief architect, who started his working career by finishing the gopuram of the temple. The Hoysala symbol of sala slaying the tiger is embedded on the temple as a signature of the times in which it was built.

Due to heavy lashing rain I was carried away by the absolute stunner of the visual unfolding before my eyes. Another concern was the protection of the digital camera which can be spoilt by water seepage. Nevertheless I captured some video shots which is a consolation. The light conditions was absolutely murkier.

Location : Amritapura can be reached vide NH 206 approximately 250 kms from Blore. The nearest detour is from Tarikere towards Amritapura on the highway. We took an unusual route because we had to cover Hirenallur Mallikarjun swamy temple from Areleguppa, we touch Banavar, and than onwards we deviated close to Kadur to Hirenallur and from there to Ajjampur junction and than we proceeded towards Amritapura. The roads were treacherous. It can also be reached from Bhadravathi.

Malekal Tirupati

One fine day we thought it is time we take a break and discover some of the heritage left behind the hoysala and vijaynagar rulers.  We took the NH4 and deviated towards turuvakere, banasandra, missed the route to Hulikere and reached Tiptur.  From Tiptur we moved towards Ariskere and decided to take a night halt.  In the meanwhile we had read on the net the diety Govinda or Lord Balaji is installed in a standing posture in this temple. Another temple below the hillock is that of  Padmavathi temple.  In the evening we thought it was advisable to climb the hillock due to less heat, but were advised against it, since it is strenous.  There are 1250 plus steps, which requires 2 hours for an average individual with average fitness levels.  The footsteps are quite steep in some places, so plenty of water, salt and glucose is very vital.

 The temple priest has to obviously come from the plain, and he normally arrives if  the devotees request him to come over.  We informed the priests at the Padmavathi temple next day morning and proceeded to ascend the hillock. 
The first look at the hillock was really scary we enquired with some boys who disdainfully said it is easy to climb the hillock.  For these youngsters it would have been a childs play.  But for us vetrans with shaky knees we have to tread cautiously.  We took up the onorous task of climbing the hillock.  Enroute we took sufficient breaks and suddenly we found our master of ceremonies the priest also trudging his way in a criss cross manner.  We learnt a lesson from this priest that it requires special skill to ascend this huge hillock.

 According to myth some 800 years ago Sage Vasistha seems to have been responsible for installation of dieties.  But according to historical records the fuedatories of  Vijaynagar Empire Nayaks were responsible for building these temples.  The architecture resembles the vijayanagar style.  The Padmavathi temple is fully whitewashed, thus eliminating the traces of  heritage.  It must have acted as a protective barrier from heat and rainfall. 
 Numbering on the steps are visible as one climbs the hillock.  There are marked in distance of 100's
Lord Venkateswara seems to have appeared in the dream of  Thimappa Nayak, the palegar from Chitradurga to come over to Malekal tirupati and install the idol on the hillock.  He obeyed his dreams and followed the instruction of the lord to ascend and construct the temple on the hillock. 

The view is breathtaking from the hillock, one can see the Padmavathi temple below in all its glory.

The priest of the temple who quickly caught us in the middle of our accent and gave us the tip or two to climb the steep steps to the hilltop.

 At last after plenty of breaks we finally reach the peak, to visit the Malekal tirupati diety Govindaraja

 All the monuments enroute points out to an unfinished edifice or it must have crumbled under natures force.

Malekal tirupati is just 5 kms away from the main town of Ariskere.  It is a lovely trekking experience for all the fitness freaks.  One gets to relive the history of the vijaynagar empire and also have the dharshan of lord Balaji.  Traditionally one has to visit Padmavathi temple before visiting Balaji, here too it applies.  So friends if you want the priest to perform puja than inform the concerned at the temple authorities below at Padmavathi temple.

Around Arsikere :  Harnahalli someswar and chandrmouli temple, Shivalaya, Jain Basadis, Mutts,

Monday, June 6, 2011

Crumbling Hoysala Edifice

 Professor S. Settar considers Hoysalas were compulsive builders, with more than 900 temples built in aroud 600 centres in their territory.  These temples were built to prove to the world that they were better builders than Chalukyas.  In the bargain they were helped by natural availability of soapstone in plenty, which was enabled them to sculpt the stones with decorative designs.  Many of the insignificant temples have been left to rot or dying a natural death.  Some of the structures have collapsed due to neglect.  Eventually nature take over and they crumble.  The aging of stones too have their effect, but they can be restored to retain the basic structure just like Bandalike.

When i was on a trip i just took a deviation from
Halebid and landed into this unknown area, some villagers guided me to visit this crumbling Hoysala temple.  It seems to be neglected to a large extent but once a way the priests come and perform pooja.  If you check out the area, you can get hold of the priest, but we decided to explore the place independently.  It is now being used as a Devi temple, probably used for as sacrificial alter for devotees who want to get rid of their trouble and miseries faced in day to day life.
 This devi statue is kept outside the sanctum, probably we will never know when it will be either vandalised or removed.  There is relatively a modern statue signifying Durga goddess inside the temple.  How much will it fetch in the antique market is a matter of speculation.  There are plenty of  other artifacts lying strewn around.  Some villagers must have thought prudent to keep some as a decorative piece for the village too. 

I would rather not specify the exact location, lest these monuments are smuggled out of the location.  ASI must be definitely aware of the location, but it is remotely located away from the hoysala village, on a hillock, therefore it was felt that people will not bother to hunt this location.  As a heritage conscious blogger i feel it is our duty to preserve the same by not exposing it.
 A mutt is located on the hillock which once again must have been historical but currently an ashram of some swamji is located.  We visited this place and were not so impressed by the looks of  it.  So we ignored it and moved on.
I only hope the villagers in this hoysala village do not take advantage of the same by showcasing such heritage statues, to sell it off to a prospective buyer.  The statue seems to have been vandalised which seems to be loosing its antiquity value.


Some of us might like to have the mystery of this destination unravelled, do contact me, if you are interested in visiting the place, vide email or you can call me on my cell phone.


cannons ready to fire

About Me

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Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Basically i am down to earth, take friendship to its logical end. It is my endeavour to create a wealth of co-operative ventures. Basically being a marketing man i have the acumen to spot winners. I am privileged to travel the length and breadth of the country, courtsey my father, who was with Indianoil, my employers such as Nutrine, Kurl-on, Hindustan Pencils, Prestige, Crystal, Bell Ceramics, Pentel, Sezal, Commander. Currently i am involved in Tourism, Booking Air Tickets, Agent for Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited and Taj Group of Hotels and a numerous hotels across India. Depending on the needs of a traveller i would recommend the destination and accommodation best suited to their budget. Humour takes me on. Let us have a win win situation for all. I love travelling for sake of adventure, photography and discovering the heritage. Life is a journey and let us enjoy our drive. Come share your travel experience on indiabackpacker.