September 22, 2010

Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Jainism...!!

The last time I had been to Chikmagalur, i missed out on the beautiful Hoysala architectures at Halebeedu and Belur. So with these two lovely heritage sites in my mind I squeezed in Shravanabelakola to make it a lovely triangular trip. With my steed always willing to travel anywhere, I didnt think much and set out on a beautiful heritage ride to the land of Hoysalas. The roads were single lanes for most of the part and with the work for double lanes under progress, my ride was quite a mixed one. Cafe Coffee Days are omnipresent and NH-48 wasnt devoid of them making them my pit stops enroute.


Halebeedu, which was earlier known as Dwarasamudra in yesteryears is known to be the heart of Hoysala architecture. Built during the 12th and 13th century, this beautiful temple is covered with stunning stone carvings. There are 2 temples namely Hoysaleshwara temple and shantaleshwara temple which are joined together by a single platform. The temple has been dedicated to Lord Shiva. With extraordinary carvings, this architectural creation can well be compared to the works in Konark and Khajuraho. The carvings have wonderful tales behind them and each carving has a story different from the next.

Half a kilometer from here is the Kedareshwara temple and the Jain Basadi halli. There is hardly anything else that one can do at Halebeedu other than admiring the amazing works and gasping at their beauty. History lovers can venture deeper into the stories behind each carving with the help of tour guides who are easily available at the temple.

32 kms from Halebeedu lies Belur, where the very famous Chennakeshava temple is located. According to history, this temple which is dedicated to Lord Krishna was built to celebrate the Hoysalas victory over the Cholas. The exterior of this temple  is also covered by beautiful stone carvings. There are also a lot of small mandaps around the temple. The inner sanctum has numerous pillars which are well carved out. There are a lot of shops around the temple selling paraphernallia. I bought a small ganesha carved in stone for my table top.
Both Halebeedu and Belur are like twin towns and a visit to one is incomplete without going to the other.

On my way back I took a deviation at Hirisave and headed towards Shravanabelakola. This is one of the most important pilgrimage centres for Jains. The 60feet tall monolithic statue of Gomateshwara is world famous. Mahamasthabhisheka is held here once in 12 years during which thousands of litres of milk is poured over the statue. There are around 600 steps which are carved out on Indragiri hill that you need to climb to reach the statue. However, once you reach the top and stare at the massive Gomatshwara, you would very well say that the climb was worth it.

Hassan would be the ideal place to have an overnight halt for a weekend trip to the 3 places. This also helps one to go in detail with respect to the stories regarding the carvings and also for the  photoshoots. I missed out on Belawadi, which is 13kms from Halebeedu due to shortage of time. This triangular heritage trip was covered in a day but I found it to be too tiring and ran out of time at all the 3 places.

Chikmagalur is just 22 kms from Belur and I was quite tempted to turn my steed after seeing the sign board. All the three places are very famous for their extraordinary works and a visit to all of them is a must for any traveler. Let the landscapings and the waterbodies take a back seat and lets indulge ourselves into a bit of  history and architecture.

Signing Note: These centuries old man made creations are simply breathtaking.

Route: Bangalore- Kunigal- Channarayapatna- Hassan- Halebeedu- Belur- Hassan- Channarayapatna- Hirisave- Shravanabelakola- Hirisave- Kunigal- Bangalore

Distance : Bangalore to Halebeedu- 233 kms
                Bangalore to Shravanabelakola- 160kms

September 8, 2010

Country roads take me home...!!

Even though this was not my first bike ride from Bangalore to Cochin, the excitement to ride that far and to be on my steed for the whole day gave me goosebumps. Since it was monsoon season, I decided to avoid the Mysore-Wayanad route and instead settled for the well laid out NH-7 via Salem. The chances of getting drenched on this route was minimal. My earlier ride to the same destination 3 years back was however via Wayanad which is more scenic. The reason behind this ride was to be with my folks for Onam.

I left Bangalore at 5 am and had my first pit stop at the Coffee Day after Hosur. The sun was not out till then and the the piercing headlights from the opposite side made me ride slow. However after my first coffee break i maintained a good speed of 75km/hr. In total I took 7 breaks, each after a distance of 75 to 80kms. I reached Salem by 9.30 and stopped there to have my breakfast. There was this curious traveler whom I met during one of my breaks and who was traveling from Bangalore in his car with his family. He was quite impressed about me traveling from Bangalore to Cochin and wanted to know many things like how much time I took, where am I coming from, where am I headed to etc. With a thumbs up sign he wished me luck and left. A lone rider with a backpack does bring a lot of curiosity; at least for a few in this world. I had an early lunch at Avanashi and an early evening tea near Walayar, which was in fact my last pit stop.

With my huge backpack transforming itself into a backrest my ride was smooth and my intention to enjoy the ride rather than rushing in, made it even more joyful. The whole day was cloudy and gloomy and even though i traversed through 3 different states, the climate remained the same throughout. This was something that I was not expecting and this indeed helped me reach my destination without much tiredness. The roads from Bangalore till Avanashi was smooth and wide with well laid out tarmac. To compensate this, the roads after Avanashi, especially after entering God's Own Country was in a sorry state. To add more misery to this there were a lot of  flyovers which were being constructed near Chalakudy and this had made the so called roads into massive craters. The final leg of my journey was the most butt-breaking one as the roads were bad and the traffic jams were even worse. However after 13.5 hrs of burning fuel and rubber I reached Cochin.

After enjoying a wonderful Onam with my family I took the same route back. I in fact took breaks at the same places where I had stopped during my onward journey. It felt so nice to see the same faces i had met a few days back, grinning at this traveler. People feel weird and scary when I narrate them about this wonderful ride of mine. I instead have a small laughter inside me thinking about my steed wanting to see Cochin again.

Signing Note: A long, lonely and heavenly ride to God's Own Country... 

Route - Bangalore- Salem- Avanashi- Palakkad- Cochin
Distance- 562 kms
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