Monday, 11 June 2012

Lepakshi... the perfect blend of archaeology, history and art.

  Its been... well... couple of weeks since Soma was talking about Lepakshi. I suppose she had seen or read about this place somewhere and seemed quite impressed with the splendor of the place. But I kept on telling her that it would be a little hard on this poor soul to drive around 250 km until there is a little drizzle(if not a downpour) so that the heat subsides and the dust settles. 

   It was Friday afternoon and I was having a casual tea near the staircase of our office when I spotted few drops on the glass window. Before I could actually realize its source, it was washed away by a heavy downpour. Its just started raining in Bangalore. I rushed to my desk to call Soma... but the phone rang before I could make the call...

   "Raining, its raining... did you see?", she gushed.
   Somehow I was sure what was coming next. And she continued, "We must not miss Lepakshi this weekend".

   So, shall it be written, shall it be done.

Saturday, June 9, 2012... 7 O' clock in the morning:

Soma, Ankur and their good old sparky set off for the roads. 
The road-map was pretty simple since we already traveled one half of it when we visited Nandi Hills last year. The scene around this road is really really beautiful:

For Nandi hills, we took a left turn at nandi cross; this time we didn't take it. Rather we continued on NH7 until we found one toll plaza and then this banner:

   From this banner its around 16km to the Lepakshi village. Almost 8km of this road is good, and the rest is well... not so good. One landmark to remind you if you are on the correct road is this one:

  Before we hit the temple, there was this huge Nandi statue. The temple is around 200 mts from this statue.
The biggest monolithic statue of Nandi

The temple was build in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings.This is one of the very few temples dedicated to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

Legend about the place:
According to legends, the history of this place dates back to the Ramayanas. Among the many references of this place in the Ramayans, the most significant one the story related to the mythological bird Jatayu, who helped Rama in his battle with Ravana. When Ravana was taking away Sita in his flying chariot, the bird Jatayu stood in his way. Ravana had to injure the bird which fell on the ground.Rama while looking for Sita found Jatayu at this place. He healed Jatayu with his divine powers and as he said "Le Pakshi" (rise bird), Jatayu rose again.Since then this place is called Lepakshi.

Inside the temple of Veerabhadra there are numerous sculptures of Gods, mythological creatures and stories from the Ramayans.The inside of the temple is carved out of granite.

You can take a guide for a much better understanding of the architecture and history of this temple. There are also some shops outside the temple selling flowers, coconut etc. for the offering/pujas. 
Pillars with sculptures ~ This is probably Bhringi dancing 
Stories carved on the walls

The murals drawn on the entire ceiling of the temple are exceedingly beautiful though most of them have worn out. Several stories and time-frames are depicted in these murals like the marriage of Siva with Parvati, wars, architects of the temple praying before Siva, and many more...

Outside the temple of Veerabhadra is a huge courtyard that holds several other areas surrounding the temple. 

  We first encountered the seven headed serpent shading above the Shiva-linga (Nagalingeshvara). This statue has a huge stone behind it, on which there are depictions the bathing of the Shiva-linga by Sri(Spider), Kala(Serpent-king) and Hasthi(Elephant)... all sculpted on the rock. It also has a sculpture of Ganesha.

The seven headed serpent shading the Shiva linga
Ganesha with his ride
Bathing of the Shiva-linga by Sri(Spider), Kala(Serpent-king) and Hasthi(Elephant)
Lagalingeshwara statue in a different mood

  Within a few meters from this statue is a pier where, according to legends, the marriage of Siva with Parvati took place. This pier has several pillars full of sculptures. All of the sculptures are of Gods who came to bless the couple. Few of the pillars are broken and lay on the platform.

The pier where the marriage took place

The pillars with Gods sculpted on them
Himavat(left) blessing Siva-Parvati after their marriage
  The courtyard itself is made with hundreds of pillars with various sculptures on them. There are few chambers as well. If you look closely, you can see that the whole structure is standing on top a megalithic stone. 

The courtyard adjacent to the Veerabhadra temple

The other side of the courtyard as seen from a pillar

     We spent around 4 hours in Lepakshi temple. However, it still feels to be very less to savor every single nook and corner of this magnificent temple.

    We took the same road back to Bangalore. It took around 2 hours to get back home. I missed the morning news paper as we started early for the day. After getting fresh, I did a quick sweep of the news paper. The weather forecast read that Bangalore will soon see heavy rains in the coming days. 

   "More rain coming, they say", I updated Soma.
   "Oh more rain!", as if she remembered something all of a sudden, and she added "Did you know Hogenakkal is fantastic during the monsoon?"

   So, now that it is written... it must be done.

Lepakshi Summary:

Distance from Whitefield, Bangalore: Around 130 km
Route in short: Whitefield->Kadugodi->Hoskote->NH4->NH207->Devanahalli->NH7->Lepakshi
Tollgate on NH7: Car return toll is Rs. 95
Food at Lepakshi: Some shops with cold drink and ice cream etc. And a few shops selling usual snacks. Keep your food with you.
Time required to see the temple: Around 2-3 hours
Entrance fee: Nil
Parking fee: Rs. 20

Sunday, 3 June 2012

An evening trip to Mudumalai wild life sanctuary, Tamilnadu

It would be around, hmm..., six months since our trip to Ooty-Coonoor. And we never wrote about it. Don't really know why, but we missed it. 
  However, there were sub-trips within that trip which had the potential to make travelogues of their own. We already dug out one such sub-trip, the Nilgiri Express... UNESCO World Heritage Site . Here is the other. The day end visit to Mudumalai National Park. 

  We did not drive to Ooty as my wife was skeptical about driving on hilly roads. So we booked KSRTC Airavat Volvo bus to get to Ooty and back to B'lore.

  In Ooty we had to rely on a local travel agent for all the sight seeing. So it was a small Swaraj Mazda with a fantastic driver cum guide. We never met such a driver before; he was very interested in wild life photography and had his own collection of some spectacular wild life photos... in his small point and shoot camera that he always carried with him.

  The bus-day-trip covered mostly "Pykara man made water falls", "Pykara Lake(we enjoyed speed boating here", some golf course where Bollywood movies were shot, a pine forest, and "Mudumalai National Park". There was a spot called 9th mile which was like a very small hillock and we could see other hill tops from there.

  When we reached Mudumalai, it was around 4 O' clock at afternoon. 

Entrance to the Mudumalai National Park

 The guide grabbed tickets for the bus ride in the jungle. It was again a Swaraj Mazda painted in forest colour(green, yellow etc.). 

The bus for the park tour

  Its around a 45 mins trip inside the park. We could see usual animals(usual meaning those we saw in other parks). Although the driver(park bus driver) was very hopeful that we would see tigers, we did not. Well, yes, he did mention that it is hard to see tigers as they mostly prefer to stay in the deeper part of the jungle.

  We were done by 6'o clock in the evening. 

   Here are some of the pics from inside the park.

Two monkeys sitting in the same pose

From inside the park bus


Spotted Deer

Another spotted deer.. the little one

National bird in National park

Wild boar

I like bamboo leaves coz I am monkey

Herd of elephants

  We visited this place around first week of November. A good idea is to take more buffer time while visiting this park. Yes, there are cheetah,wild dogs, jackals etc. in the park. We were not fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of them. There are several jungle lodges there. So if you are a wild life enthusiast, you can spend a couple of days here.
   If you prefer to spend some more time inside the jungle, you better book a jeep that is also available at a higher rate.

   So share your experience with us whenever you visit the park.

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