Monday, July 29, 2013

Mallikarjuna Temple, Basaralu

The quest for seeing more of Hoysala Architecture, we headed out in search of Basaralu Mallikarjuna Temple. Soon after eating our scrumptious North Karnataka meal for lunch at Kamat Restaurant, we were driving in the scenic roads of 'Sugar Town' Mandya. 

Basaralu is a village near Nagamangala, 65 km from Mysore and 125 km from Bangalore. Unlike other smaller villages I have visited so far in search of Hoysala Temples, this village is a bit more bigger and it was a bit difficult for us to locate the temple surrounded by many houses. It is a very small temple built in 1234 AD and looks beautiful. It has numerous sculptures of very good quality and most of them look very sharp because of a recent restoration work carried out by the ASI. Of course like all other temples, this temple is also protected as a monument of national importance by the Archeological Survey of India [ASI].

Pillars at the entrance of the temple

Wall of the main temple seen from the mantapa at the entrance.
Caretaker of the temple employed by ASI
The Mallikarjuna-temple is a trikuta, it has three shrines, but only only the central one has a nose (sukhanasi) and a tower (shikara). The three shrines are arranged around one common hall. Inside, the central sanctum has a lobby between cella and this hall, while the two lateral ones, devoid of a vestibule, have cellas that are connected to the hall directly. The hall is a hybrid between an open and a closed one; the back half is closed, the front half is open with stone screens between the parapet-walls and the roofing. The uncommon element in the plan of this temple is the pavilion that is attached in front of the entrance of the hall. It has the appearance of a fourth shrine but consists of open sides with stone screens and so, in face, it is an open hall of one bay only. 

A diagonal view of the front side of the temple

Mallikarjuna temple (looking west)

South-west view of the temple

Shikara seen from the south end

Wall images seen from the west side of the temple
Due to the added pavilion the temple has a particular and nice composition with two lateral entrances. Its beauty is enhanced by a platform that carefully follows the outline of all of the temple parts. Both the entrances and the flight of steps look beautiful because of the two miniature shrines at both the ends. The central shrine and its nose are complete, up to the kalasa on top of the shrine and the Hoysala crest on top of the nose. 

A black cat surveys the place before we entered the temple

The elephants at the one of the entrances (looking West)

The other entrance  (looking east)
Walls of the shrines and the mantapa (hall) are very decorative. They are similar to what we see in Belur and Halebidu. The temple is of new kind. Between the two eaves there are decorative towers, below the lower eaves there is a continues row of wall-images. Below the series of wall-images, the base of the temple consists of 6 friezes of equal width. The carvings are absolutely fantastic and they look very sharp. The epic frieze shows much force; from the left of the southern entrance to the back of the central shrine it depicts the Ramayana, from there on-wards up to the northern entrance the Mahabharata is illustrated, and around the added pavilion Krishna-stories and mythological scenes can be seen. 

Carvings on the wall of the central shrine

Krishna lifting mount govardhana

More wall images

the 6 friezes with intricate carvings of mythological stories

Story of Bhakta-Prahlada carved on the north-eastern side of the wall

More Krishna-stories on the walls

Very sharp and non-ruined carvings
It is very beautiful inside the temple and thanks to the window on the ceiling of the hall, the interior is clearly visible. The central cella, contains a linga; the subordinate lateral cellas, contain a cult-image of surya and a pair of nagas. Certainly the pair of nagas looked very interesting. 

Old kannada inscription from the hoysala period (1234 AD) 

Mallikarjuna Temple, Basaralu - A different perspective

Text: A Complete Guide to Hoysala Temples by Gerard Foekema
Photographs: Srikanth Parthasarathy


Sunday, July 28, 2013

bullet ride in the coffee land

one bullet 
two lives
three days
four eyes
five places

...and that's how we celebrated our 1st year anniversary!

Well, finally I am getting to write about this amazing trip worth all the efforts of me buying a 'bullet'. And this was the plan anyway. I had many places in mind before deciding on Coorg and Wayanad but the trip was planned completely based on the place of accommodation. I was lucky to hear from Raji and Naveen of Coffee Camp in Coorg that a cottage is available for the weekend (just 2 days before we left).  And rest was an amazing journey.

We started from Bangalore on 3-May-2013 at 6 am in the morning and headed towards Coorg. With two good breaks, soon we found ourselves riding in the coffee country. As we entered the woods of Western Ghats, we slowed down and enjoyed our ride. Although it was peak summer, surprisingly we got good cloud cover (and some showers here and there) throughout our onward journey. It was green everywhere and many birds and squirrels were singing their summer songs.

Soon after we reached Coffee Camp, we realized that its one of the best home stays we have visited so far. It is run by two partners Raji and Naveen. Naveen looks after the coffee estate and the camp is a part of his big coffee estate. His house is closer to the camp site and he lives with his mother in a beautifully built villa. Other than the bullet ride, the best part of our trip is our stay and delicious food cooked by Naveen's mom. We got to taste some authentic delicious malnad/coorg cuisine at Naveen's place. Naveen's mom took care of us very well like they way she takes care of her family members. She was always concerned about where we go and what we eat. And for breakfast and dinner, she would make sure we get to taste authentic coorgi dish everyday. We relished every bit of her food.

Coffee Camp is a nice set up and looks like a small oasis of cottages amidst the coffee estate. Perhaps, because Naveen was in Australia for long time, his ideas are a bit different compared to others in terms of designing cottages. We liked the designs and the quality of fittings and fixtures used in the cottages. Camp site has a nice Gazebo, Badminton court and barbecue stall. And yeah, we also enjoyed quad bike rides. It was fun time out there. Naveen also has an amazing collection of homemade wines. We got to taste some amazing beetle-leaf, chickoo and gooseberry wines.

And we visited many places during our three day trip. The convenience of having bullet with us, it was easy to ride in our own speed, spot various orchids, wild life and amazing woods. I was thrilled to spot many orchids in the wild and was lucky to see them in bloom. Soujanya was super excited to see baby elephants crossing the road while we were returning from Wayanad. It was her first long bike ride and her first visit to Coorg and Wayanad.

Malabar giant squirrel

entering Wayanad

Cymbidium bicolor - an epiphytic orchid 

Greater flame backed woodpecker


Red wattled lapwing

at the tea garden in coorg

With Naveen and his Mom
Checkout the website of Coorg Coffee Camp here. Do visit them for an authentic Coorgi experience.