Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thipperudraswamy Mutta, Nayakanahatti

We reached Nayakanahatti and decided to visit the famous Mutta/shrine/temple dedicated to 'Lord Thipperudraswamy'. The temple being quite popular among the locals, always remains bustling with pilgrims. It is believed that Saint 'Rudraswamy' (original name of the Guru) did his penance in a mound of refuse and cow dung, thus gaining the title of "Thipperudraswamy". The prefix 'Thippe' is translated as refuse in the language of Kannada. It is said that he gained popularity after performing many miracles. The Ola-mutta or main temple is the place where he lived and met all the visitors. The guru is said to have entered jeeva samadhi (or live cremation) as per his wishes and hence was buried alive.
The Grand Rajagopuram (Thipperudraswamy Temple, Nayakanahatti)
 The temple has a beautiful Rajagopuram (entrance) built about 250 years ago. There are two carved panels on either sides of the Rajagopuram. The left panel depicts a war scene between Lord Rama and the Demon Ravana. While  Ravana is portrayed beautifully with ten heads and twenty hands, on the panel top are seen soldiers with guns marching toward war. The right panel depicts a carving of Lord Hanuman's interaction with Demoness Surpanakha (Sister of Demon Ravana). The top panel here depicts the procession of the King and the queen. Both the panels are seen carrying  a  few erotic carvings.  The temple also houses a Shiva Linga installed by the Guru himself. One of the ceilings here has been carved beautifully and resembles an inverted flower bud. The outer walls of the temple carry numerous stucco figure which appear to have been painted recently.
War Scene Between Lord Rama and Demon Ravana
Interaction between Lord Hanuman and Demoness Surpanakha
As Anna prasadam (religious offering of food after worship) is served here two times a day, we had an opportunity to energize ourselves so we could move on to our next with equal enthusiasm.
Carved Ceiling
Stucco Figures Carved on the Compound Walls 

                             "Happy Diwali to all, have a safe and light up your heart with happiness and joy"

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!
Hemidactylus
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.
Gajalakshmi 
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 



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Dolmen Circles of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, Somwarpet

  While passing by this site during one of our journeys, an ASI board  directing towards the Dolmen circle site caught our eye, however, due to lack of time we couldn't make it and the name was included in our to-visit list. After prolonged postponement, during our recent road trip, we made sure we visit this intriguing site of dolmen circles. As we were already  aware of its location, we reached the village of Doddamalathe, located off the Somwarpet - Shanivarsanthe state highway only to realize that we were familiar with the surroundings of this megalithic site, as we had visited the famous pilgrim center of Honamma temple situated very close-by to the site( Read here).
ASI Board
 The two hills here are named Gavi Betta and Morey Betta. While the former is quite popular among pilgrims, the latter is a megalithic site. We inquired about the route of Morey Betta and a few confirmations here and there lead us to the hill base of Morey Betta. As none were present in the hill surroundings, we had to explore the right route to the site and wasting no time, we went ahead. Fortunately, we climbed the hill in the right direction and very curiously looked forward at each and every step to see if the dolmens were visible. The dense grassland blocked our vision and after climbing a certain distance we reached the megalithic site. With great excitement, we walked ahead. An incomplete barbed wire fencing around the circumference of the site ensured against trespassers and taking the right entrance.
The Path 
The Megalithic Site
We sighted a number of  Dolmen circles or cairn circles at the site, out of which some being undisturbed by external elements stood in a good shape while the others were in a disturbed state. However, the Dolmen circles here are quite intriguing. Locally known as 'Pandavara Gudi', owing to a popular belief that these structures were constructed during the period of Mahabharata (the epic war of kurukshethra between the Kauravas and the Pandavas), these Dolmen structures are  commonly  associated  with Pandavas across Karnataka, except in a few places. We were able to identify two types of Dolmen circles here. The first type and the most common of all consists of small sized stones arranged in the form of concentric circles (around 2 to 4 in number) with the dolmen placed at the centre. The second type consisted of big standing stones or Menhirs around  the first circle of stones followed by smaller ones around the other circle. The former may have been that of common men while the latter may have been the ones of important people such as that of a king, a leader or their peers. The Dolmen typically had four vertical stone slabs with a big cap stone placed over them, with one of the vertical slabs housing a port hole. Some of them resembled anthropomorphic figures.
Dolmen Circle, Gavi Gudda in the Background
Notice the Stone circle with Menhirs around the Dolmen 
Dolmen 
 According to R A Cole (the then Superintendent captain of Coorg), these structures may have served as Altars or temples. Further investigations conducted by R A Cole and his team revealed pottery of miniature sizes, similar in shape to those found in the other Coorg cists. It also revealed an interesting gold coated copper disc, though the coating had peeled off in some places. This megalithic site is almost 3000 years old and has survived against all odds. Another interesting story associated with this place is that when people dug a basin for a lake (presently the Honnammana kere),  no water was encountered and water came in abundance only post human sacrifices to the goddess. These burials of the dead formed the Pandavara Gudi. This theory is far from being the fact but this place needs some kind of restoration and maintenance.
Stone Circle

Though the ASI website mentions of two dolmen circle sites here, namely Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, the locals confirmed that the two together form one site. The megalithic site being surrounded by both the villages of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe around its periphery, it falsely seems as though there are two different sites. 

References: 
1. "The Megalithic Culture in South India", a book written by B.K. Gururaja Rao 

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