Thursday, April 30, 2009

Inside the Pattadakkal temple complex

As our shadows lengthened we reached our next destination - Pattadakkal, a World Heritage Centre. All were with full excitement to be there.

Pattadakkal, the second capital of the Chalukyan kings, is located 29 kms from Badami, along the bank of the river Malaprabha.

Built in 7th and 8th centuries, Pattadakkal was served as the royal coronation site.
Pattadakkal is a World Heritage Center today. The temple complex is dotted with 10 major temples representing both north and south Indian architecture.

Pattadakkal is also famous for its Music and Dance Festival organized annually by the Government of Karnataka, held in in the month of January. Many renowned and upcoming dancers take part in this festival. The dances are inspired by the different inscription and images carved on the temple walls. During the festival, a craft mela is also organized.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shivayoga Mandira

Our next destination was Shivayoga Mandira at Badami, which is 11 kms away from Pattadakkal.

Located in a serene place, Shivayoga Mandir is a great place to visit.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mahakuta (Mahakoota) Kshetra

Another great place we visited was Mahakuta (Mahakoota) Kshetra, an ancient temple built by Chalukyas.

Mahakuta is a small town surrounded by hills and cool atmosphere, located 14 kms away from Badami, in Bagalkot District. Mahakuta is renowned for the Mahakuteshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built in Dravidian style. In the courtyard, there are 15 small temples with intricate sculptures. The temples, built by Chalukyan dynasty, are dated to the 6th or 7th century. Mahakuta was once a great center of shaiva cult. Now only in one temple poojas are performed.

Another beautiful attraction is a natural pond called Vishnu Pushkarni. There is a small shrine in the centre of the Vishnu Pushkarni tank and in it is a Shiva linga (universal symbol of Lord Shiva) called Panchamukha linga ("five faced linga"), one face for each direction and one on top. This pond is now used as a relaxing joint by the visitors.

This place is often called Dakshina Kasi because of its religious importance.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Badami Cave Temples

Our next trip was to the world famousBadami Cave temples, built in 578 AD. Badami was the capital of early Chalukyas until eight century, lying in between mountains and lakes.

There was a small amount of entrance fee to be paid to see the temples. Our group leader paid the fee for us and hence I don't know how much it was.

I was wonder stuck at the view of the mighty cave temples, the marvels of the
Chalukyan style of architecture. Though I had read about these temples in several places, experiencing it by being there and exploring these ancient temples was something which words can't explain enough. Even in the scorching sun, the gigantic deep reddish sandstone cave temples looked marvelous. I was imagining how they would have looked in the early morning or in the evening in the pleasant mood of the Sun God!

There were many stone steps one has to climb to reach each temple.

There were four caves on the rock - two were devoted to Lord Vishnu, one to Lord Shiva and the last one was a Jain temple. In the first cave temple,
(Lord Siva temple), there is an 18 armed Nataraja, in 81 dancing poses.

(The guide is explaining about Lord Nataraja and the dancing poses)

In the second cave temple Lord Vishnu is the holy deity of this cave manifested as a dwarf or Trivikrama. Lord is in the position of conquering the Earth by his one foot and rules the sky with his other foot.

In the third temple, Vishnu is manifested in many forms - Vishnu with a serpent, Vishnu as Man-Lion, Shiva Vishnu and Vishnu as Trivikrama are the other attractions of the cave.

The main attraction of the 4th cave (Jain temple) is the sculpture of Lord Mahavira decking the shrine besides the images of Padmavathi and other Thirthankaras. The 24th Tirthankara- Mahavira, is seated in a uniquely comfortable pose here, against a cushion in the inner sanctum. The shrine of Nagamma, the local serpent goddess, within a massive tamarind tree is another example of the architecture.

Another great surprise was the huge lake, called Agasthyamuni Lake (Agasthyathirtha Lake), with rocky hills surrounding it on three sides and sandstone temples at the feet of these hills. You can get a magnificient view of the lake from the third and fourth caves. It is said that this lake has no source of water.

It is believed that this water had ayurvedic properties in the old ages as ayurvedic plants were cultivated in the surrounding high areas of the lake.Standing before the second cave temple, I spent sometime getting a bird's eye view of the entire Badami town.

Monkeys were the permanent inhabitants there. We were looking for some drinking water around, and saw one or two shops down the hill. My sister bought a juice bottle there, which within minutes a monkey appeared there and ran away snatching it from her hand!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yoga Tour- Banashankari Temple, Badami

Our Yoga group had arranged for an annual tour and this year it was towards North Karnataka. We were a large crowd, and were accommodated in four buses. Our Yoga Guru had made arrangements for our stay and food in the respective places.

It was past one O' clock when we reached Badami. Our first visit was to the famous Banashankari Temple, built in 17th century. Banashankari Temple is located at Cholachigud 5 kilometers from Badami - the historic capital of Chalukyas and The idol of Goddess Banashankari, made out of black stone,is seated as a lion treading down the demon with her foot. The idol has eight hands and is seen holding trishul-damadurga, kapaalpatra, ghanta, veda scripts and khadg-kheta.

Since photography was not allowed inside, I was able to click just two photos from outside. The first one was an outside view of the temple, and the second one was the temple chariot which was decorated and used during the car festival (Jan-Feb). The top of the chariot was protected by a thatch of coconut leaves. The four granite wheels appeared about 8 feet in diameter and the thickness must be about 8 inches.

Banashankari Devi is considered as the incarnation of Goddess Parvati, who is regarded as the divine consort of Lord Shiva. According to the Skanda Purana it was here that Devi killed a demon called Durgamasura. As the temple is located in the Tilakaaranya forest, the Devi is popularly called Banashankari. 'Ban' means forest. Banashankari Devi is also said to be worshiped by mighty Chalukyas as Kuladevi.

During the annual festival held in January-February on full moon day, the image of the Goddess is placed in a chariot and taken in a procession around the region. Huge crowds of devotees come to attend this festival of Banashankari Devi.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Regional New Year celebration in India

14th April was the New Year Festival for many Indians in different parts of the country. They celebrated the New Year with different names.

In Kerala, it was "Vishu" whereas in Tamil Nadu it was called "Puthandu," and for Bengalis and Punjabis the New Year was "Baisakhi". Assamese celebraated it as "Goru Bihu".

The important features of this festival (Vishu) are Kani Kanal (viewing the auspicious things as the first sight of the year), Kaineetam (distributing money by the elders to the young ones). The yellow colored flower called "Konnapoo" blooms during Vishu time and it is an important part of the Vishu Kani preparation.

Saturday, April 4, 2009