Friday, October 21, 2016

Northern House Gecko

Northern House Gecko (Hemidactylus flaviviridis Rupell), a not so common gecko/lizard in the south of India was spotted inside the Lord Ramalingeshwara cave temple. We spotted three geckos, out of which the one closest to us was captured on camera. He was a lazy one and did not move an inch since the time we spotted him!
Northern House Gecko
Northern House Gecko

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Shree Ramalingeshwara Cave Temple, Hosagudda Nayakanahatti

 The priest was late as his vehicle was under repair and he had reach the cave temple by foot. We were glad that he made it just in time. We followed him to the cave temple and while he unlocked the door of the temple, he briefed us about this hill being called as Hosagudda (new hill) or Ramadurga hill. The Shiva linga here is believed to have been  installed by Lord Rama during his journey from Ayodha  to Lanka and hence the god is known as Shree Ramalingeshwara. Later, the Nayakas ruled this place and built the fort in order to protect this temple. Until recently, priest belonging to the royal family performed rituals and with his death the popularity of the temple declined.
The Ramalingeshwara Temple 
 The current priest seemed genuinely concerned about his successor as this place no longer attracts people and hence maintenance of this temple may not be a viable option. While he got busy with the cleaning of  temple premises and preparing for the daily prayer rituals, we looked at the temple interiors and as usual were wonder-struck by the exquisite work on the ceiling of the cave temple about 12 feet above the ground. There are 6 sections of the ceiling with each being uniquely carved. The cave has a gribhagruha which houses Lord Shiva in the form of linga and a front porch. Inside the gribhagruha is a carving of Shiva linga with seven hooded serpent sheltering it.
Explicit Carving 
Lord Hanuman
Pillar Head 
Kalinga Mardhana
 The front porch of the cave temple has 4 pillars which are carved to perfection. The ceiling sections carried some of the most beautiful carvings. The bird Garuda (a mythical bird also the carrier/vehicle of Lord Vishnu and his consort) is beautifully carved and is depicted holding a cobra in its beak and two young ones of the snake  by its feet. The opposite side of the same section carries a carving of another mystical bird with a unique beak which looks more like a merger of a lion face with an elephant trunk.The red ochre painting on these carvings gives it an extra rich look. We would have definitely missed out had the priest not made it before we left. We thanked the priest and continued our journey...
Gribhagruha Entrance
Lord Ramalingeshwara 
Most Interesting Carving of Bird Garuda 
Bird Garuda with its Catch 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ramadurga Fort, Nayakanahatti

The Nayakanahatti fort was on our radar since the time we had visited Kanakuppa, but somehow we never managed to visit this fort. However, our recent Dussehra Festival vacation permitted us to visit this place in leisure. That Sunday morning, we started our 45 minute drive from Chitradurga to Nayakanahatti. It was a nice morning drive and cruising our way through the picturesque rural landscapes, we reached Nayakanahatti. There were no signs of any fort here but on inquiring with the locals, we were told about the presence of a  fort about 4 km from here. Following the given directions, we reached the village of Ramadurga and a fort was visible in the distance on a small hillock.
Fort Ramadurga, Nayakanahatti
As we drove closer to the fort site, we realized that most of the fortification remained intact. We started our ascent towards the fort and sighted 2 tiers of fortification, which is quite unusual with regards to the Nayakas style of architecture. Most of the forts built by them exhibit  3 or 7 tiers of fortification. This fort also lacks the complexity of the Nayakas style of architecture. The fort walls are built with neatly dressed stones arranged in layers. We reached a cave temple dedicated to Lord Ramalingeshwara (Shiva) which remained closed. Nandi (the Bull), the guard or protector of Lord Shiva is seen outside the cave. The idol of Nandi is very beautiful though the face appears to be damaged. A peep inside the cave temple seemed to have many surprises in store which made us feel bad about the temple being locked.
Road to Bliss
Crumbling Fort Wall 
Neatly Dressed Stones 
 We entered the second tier of the fort and sighted two natural water ponds filled with clean and clear   water. The ponds together are known as Akka-Thangi honda. A little further are two artificial pits which were probably used for water storage. Although the fort did not have any additional structures, we found a big number of balancing stones belonging to the modern era. These stones are placed by the local people with a popular belief that the wish or desire of building their own house will be fulfilled if the stones remained intact in a balanced condition. We started our descent and while walking towards our vehicle met a shepherd who informed us that the priest opens the cave temple everyday by 9am and looked surprised as he hadn't turned up yet. Just as we were nearing our vehicle, an elderly person introduced himself as the priest of Ramalingeshwara temple....
Balancing Rocks
Akka Thangi Honda
Artificial Ponds 
Cave temple Nayakanahatti
Cave Temple 

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