PAYANIGA

Travel Blog by Prashanth M

Of Stones and Statues

December 9, 2014 by Prashanth | 3 Comments

One of the things that attracts me like a magnet when I go out exploring the places is the good old architecture. Be it a nicely carved out small statue or a stone structure meant for a social gathering/resting place. What once was a majestic grandeur, now in complete ruins stand in front of us trying to tell us the stories they have seen through the years. Most of the time, I find myself looking at them letting my imagination fly, making up my own versions of stories.

Here is a set of few of those stones and structures that I came across during my errands around Karnataka –

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

A statue of Jain thirthankara on top of Kundadri hill near Agumbe

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

An elephant carved on one of the pillars, near NR Pura

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

A dilapidated stone mantapa at Channarayana Durga

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

Temple of goddess Kabbalamma on top of Kabbalu Durga

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

A ruined statue of Parshwanath thirthankara at Arethippur

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

A group of visitors checking out the carvings on the temple on the backwaters of KRS

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

One of the countless number of Shivalingas submerged in river Shalmala at Sahasralinga

PAYANIGA - Of Stones and Statues

Status on a parapet on top of Vindyagiri at Shravanabelugola

A Rainy Afternoon in Melukote

November 27, 2014 by Prashanth | 15 Comments

PAYANIGA - A Rainy Afternoon in MelukoteMelukote, the hill town famous for delicious ‘pulioyagre’ was in front of us, far ahead in the horizon. We were approaching the hill town from a different route – not the usual route from Mandya, but from south. After spending few hours in KRS backwaters, we were headed towards Melokte. While the morning was hot and sunny, as we went past noon there was a drastic change in the sky. As we zoomed along the empty roads, the clouds decided to race us. A light drizzle started as we entered the town. Before we could park the vehicle and take a shelter near by, the sky decided to open. The place looked totally different compared to my previous visits which was always hot and sunny. We waited for the rain to subside and headed over to fill up our empty growling stomachs.

PAYANIGA - A Rainy Afternoon in Melukote
PAYANIGA - A Rainy Afternoon in MelukoteThe small hotel we were seated was situated in the corner of the town’s main road and a small cross leading to the house (now turned into a museum) of one of the profound Kannada writer Pu. Ti. Narasimhachar. I settled into a corner seat giving me a wide view of the street all the away up to the Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple. With void of vehicles, people settled in front of their front door chit-chatting & enjoying the rain, few walking up & down the road soaking in the rain, the slow life outside on the street felt as if we were transported back in time by few decades. While we waited for our plates full of puliyogare, I became the guide for my friends narrating the stories that I knew/heard/read about Melkote. Our discussion had to be paused as our food arrived on the table.

PAYANIGA - A Rainy Afternoon in MelukotePAYANIGA - A Rainy Afternoon in MelukoteThe rain decided not to spoil our entire time at the place but still continued the game of hide and seek. I donned my guide hat and started our exploration – Raya Gopura, Dhanushkoti, Akka-Tangi kola (twin kalyanis constructed by two sisters), Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple. Finally when we reached the main Kalyani, it started pouring. After spending some time at the kalyani watching the rain come down relentlessly, we decided to skip Yoga Narasimha swamy temple. While a part of my mind didn’t want to leave the beautiful rain-soaked Melkote, there was no other choice but to head home with a heavy heart.

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

November 19, 2014 by Prashanth | 2 Comments

‘Aaney, aaney, aaney!’ my little niece started jumping up and down the moment she spotted few elephants in the distance. As the long walk started from the parking area to the river bank, we could spot plenty of elephants – of all sizes and age. We reached Sakrebailu Elephant Camp at the right time. The pachyderms were lining up for bathing one by one. We settled ourselves at a safe distance near the water to watch them play in water.

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

I’m done bathing, now to have some lunch

The elephants were enjoying all the cleaning, rubbing and sort of massaging they were getting . They listened to their mahouts’ commands – turned, rolled, poured water on themselves using their trunk. We watched them getting cleaned. There was this one juvenile elephant, the moment his mahout turned away he started galloping away from the water. He ran few feet, stopped & turned his head to steal a glance and run again. It was as if watching a naughty, mischievous kid running away from his mom. Later I found out from one of the mahout that his name is ‘Kabira’ and the most naughtiest in the entire camp.

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

The naughty elephant at the camp

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

The mighty one

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

The shy one

My initial thoughts and assumptions while driving towards Sakrebailu were that the place will not be different when compared to Dubare elephant camp. During my visit to Dubare few years ago, I was totally disappointed how the elephants were being treated. There was not enough water in the river Kaveri, not sufficient enough for the elephants get submerged to half their height. Plus visitors are allowed to wash and feed them causing the big mammals some sort of discomfort. But the situation appeared to be better at Sakrebylu, visitors are not allowed to wash them. From long chat with one of the mahout I got to know that once the elephants are bathed, they are taken into another site inside the deep forest for food. I also enquired about the four newly captured wild elephants that were brought to the camp just couple of days ago (it was in the news papers). I was told that only the trained ones are brought this part of the camp which is open to public and wild ones stay in the deep jungle.

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

To the deep end, time for swimming classes for the little one

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

The camp, elephants and river Tunga

Soon after Kabira exited along with couple of other big ones, there it was the smallest one in the entire camp. The caretakers around there asked us to keep distance and not to make any sudden movements. The tiny shy one was almost running to keep pace with its mom. Soon they entered the river and went deep in the river. The mother elephant started swimming classes to the small one. Away from all the attention it was getting, the baby seemed quick enough to learn tricks in the water. Take a dive, swim underwater between its mom’s legs and come out on the other side. My niece was ready to take that little one home as a pet that too by carrying it on top of our car. After a disappoint visit to crowded Dubare, Sakrebailu turned out to be a nice place for few hours of visit.

Along the river Tunga

November 13, 2014 by Prashanth | 8 Comments

Along the river Tunga

Country road – a green road taking us to Koodli

Monsoon was around the corner and clouds were gathering to cool down the summer heat. I set out on a drive towards the western ghats with the hope of catching some rain. There was a wedding to attend and then another two & half days to chase the monsoon. The day started very early while it was still dark as first hour was spent in dodging pot holes filled with rainwater and slow-moving trucks. And there after, it was just the empty wide road. Wet roads and small patches of water along the road indicated that it had rained overnight. There was a good hope of soaking in the monsoon. First stop of the day was Shivamogga – half day reserved for the marriage. As the number on the milestone started coming down, rain pickup up slowly. What started as a light drizzle near Bhadravathi turned to heavy downpour in Shivamogga. Hour hand on the clock moved slowly towards 4 in the evening, but it looked as if rain was not going to stop. With already few hours lost, I decided to head out to soak in the monsoon. But instead of chasing the monsoon the next two and half days, it turned out to be traversing along the river Tunga from its confluence with river Bhadra back to its origin.

Along the river Tunga

A shy baby elephant running away from all the attention it was getting

Along the river Tunga

A walk on Gajanur dam

Bad roads and rain don’t make a good combination. After suffering few kilometers of chaotic traffic and pot holes, there was an empty road in front of us. With green paddy fields on either side of the road, it looked as it was from a movie scene. The milestone said 5KMs to Koodli, the place where rivers Tunga and Bhadra become one and flow as Tungabhadra. It was still pouring when we reached the end of the road, with two rivers coming from either side of us and few steps leading us to the confluence. Thanks to the rain, the place was deserted and temples were closed. Rivers were in full flow, the relentless rain didn’t allow much time to spend there. With Sun going down in the west, it was time to return to Shivamogga and call it a day. Hopefully I get to spend more time when I am there next.

Along the river Tunga

River Tunga in full flow at Hariharapura

The way it rained on day one, I was looking forward to a fun-filled drive. But it was a false hope. Nest two days turned out to be completely dry and summer Sun started catching up slowly. Journey there after from Shivamogga was south bound, almost along the river Tunga. First stop of the day was Gajanur dam across the river Tunga (officially called Tunga dam). With a vast expanse of water in front of us, the cool breeze negated the heat and made slightly pleasant time. The dam is partly open to visitors and can walk on the check dam to some distance. From the dam we hopped on to next stop, Sakrebailu. Situated a kilometer upstream from the dam, Sakkarebyle elephant camp is a training camp and houses a number of elephants. While there were couple of naughty baby elephants, it was fun to watch them as they were trying to run away from the water and mahouts to avoid getting bathed. Our journey further took us to Mandagadde, a tiny island in the middle of the river is home for migratory birds. Most common birds in Mandagadde bird sanctuary are egrets, darters and cormorants. An hour journey from the bird paradise, we were sitting on the steps of the river at Hariharapura. A drastic change in river which was in full flow compared to my previous visit (where we had crossed the river by foot). A dip in Tunga and we called it a day at Agumbe (slightly away from the banks of Tunga) after witnessing the magical sunset.

Day three drew us back to the river, to Sringeri. While it was flowing fiercely at Hariharapura, the same river looked so calm and soothing next to the temple. After spending couple of hours and lunch at Sringeri, Gangamoola was calling us. Gangamoola is the place where three rivers, Bhadra and Netravathi along with Tunga originate from. A drive away from the river for sometime in the forest range of Kuduremukha range was a welcome change. But owing to shortage of time we drove along towards Horanadu & then homeward bound, without visiting the place. As it began at Koodli, Gangamoola will have to wait for another time. Thus, what was planned as chasing the monsoon turned out to be a wonderful experience of travelling along the river Tunga.