A Few Good Things

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A Few Good Things

Category: Day Trips (Page 1 of 2)

Trek to Madhugiri

A challenging and interesting trek – Madhugiri is a magnificent monolithic hill near Tumkur. Its not a long trek – but a steep one on rocky inclines with limited to no grips.

Located near Tumkur –  it is about 15 km ahead of Devrayani Durge. Look out for a signage for Devarayanadurga/Madhugiri and turn right  under Dobaspet overbridge and drive 100M on a one way or go a little further and take a U turn. The drive is scenic with lots of greenery, hillocks and lakes.  Enjoy the refreshingly fresh rural ambience. We left Koramangla at 7.30 and after breakfast at Shree Rathnam (You have many options on this route) we reached the parking lot at the foothills of this monolithic hill by 9.30 AM. And the first impression was  – Challenging and daunting.

Route – Google Map of the circuit

Madhugiri at  3930 feet is supposedly the 2nd tallest monolithic hill in Asia. The hill is home to a dilapidated fort supposedly built by Hyder Ali. A series of doorways leads to the hill. The ruined temple of Gopalakrishna is located at the top. It took us slightly over an hour to reach the summit. The steep slopes of the hill and exploration of the fort is slow due to steepness pf the hill. Descent is quicker.

There is one specific stretch that is very tricky and requires guts. You are on all fours as you inch forward with the wind blowing like a gale. Its almost a ten minute section but with every step you can feel your heart pounding. Even the bravest in our group had second thoughts about this section – but we all finally managed to cover it.

The Hill is steep and all rock – limited foothold. Yes the initial sections have regular stairs and and rock-cut steps. But after the halfway mark its just steep rocky ascent.  Be careful while climbing. Don’t be adventurous. This is a dangerous trek. Thats probably the reason why we hardly saw any crowds. Please dont risk with children.

There are no shops and stalls on the way so do carry water and some snacks to munch once you reach the top. Fortunately there were no monkeys either. Do get a shoe with a good grip. And have a hat – its pleasant but sunny.

The view from the summit is beautiful.

We spent 30 min at the summit and were back to the car park by 12 Noon. there are no good restaurants in the vicinity so we headed back to Bangalore taking a round route via Sira so that we could visit the Narasimhaswami  Temple at Seebi. This is a beautiful ancient temple but unfortunately it was closed. The Temple tank outside the temple is well maintained and clean.

Madhugiri

On the way back we stopped for lunch at Kamath and reached home by 3.30 PM.

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Bangalore’s Birla Temple – 1/2 Day trip on Hosur Road

Birla Temples are a must see tourist attraction in many cities of India. Bangalore doesn’t have a Birla temple – but we discovered a Jain temple on Hosur Road that was a lot nicer than many of the Birla temples we have visited.

Most of our trips had been in and around Devanahalli, Tumkur, Kolar  and of course Bangalore city. For the first time we decided to explore Hosur Road. I have frequented that road multiple times on road trips to Chennai, Salem, Coimbatore – but never stopped by to look at any of the sites. Hosur Road and Krishnagiri has a lot to discover.

Our 1st stop was an absolute stunner – a lovely Jain temple located 5 Km from Electronic City on Hosur Road, dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara – Parsavnath. The temple complex is so beautiful it felt better than a Birla temple. Intricate carvings in sparkling white marble – well manicured lawns, lots of greenery. The complex also has a nice museum. A very serene and calm ambience. Indeed an oasis in Bangalore.

The temple complex called Sushil Dham was built by the Surana Family who own Micro labs. The complex also has rooms for Monks & Yatris and a Bhojanalaya that serves authentic delicious Jain food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at very reasonable price (If I recollect breakfast was Rs 35 and lunch was Rs 75). the complex also has a small but nice museum.

A shot walk ahead from this temple on the same Road the Surana family has built another smaller temple dedicated to the Goddess. Don’t miss this – built in red sandstone – this one also has intricate carvings.

Our second stop was in Hosur town – the ancient hilltop Shiva Temple called the Chandra Choodeshwar temple. The current structure of the temple dates back to 1260 AD and the temple was maintained by the Cholas, Hoysala and the Vijayanagara kingdoms. The sanctum sanctorum is believed to be very ancient as this temple legend is talked about in the Brahmananda Purana. This is a large temple on the top of a hill ( car can drive up) – and has the feel and energy of the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu (Incidentally we were in TN as we were in Hosur). Large granite structure, low ceiling, bells chiming , inner Parikrama , outer Parikrama , a small alley leading to the Sanctum Sanctorum etc.

Photo of the temple from 1860 

It was a coincidence that we visited the temple on “Pradosham” considered a very auspicious day for Lord Shiva. Fortunately it being morning the temple was not crowded. The Goddess in this temple is Margathambal.  

We completed our visit by 11 AM and on the way back stopped by at A2B for a cup of Filter Coffee. The complex also houses a large retail outlet of the famous silk saree shop Chennai Silks.

We were back home by 12.30 in time for lunch.

This was our first foray to Hosur Road – but there is a lot to discover on that route right upto Krishnagiri and we will be back here soon to explore more.

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Palaces, Forts, KR Market and more – A unique Bangalore day Trip

Most people wonder what to do in Bangalore over a long weekend and the  roads to Coorg, Chickamagalur and Ooty are jammed. But Bangalore has a lot to see – we have done over 15 day trips and we keep discovering new interesting places.

This time we did a Fusion trip and accomplished a fun day between 7.30 AM – 3.30 PM covering a lot of ground

  • Breakfast at the iconic MTR
  • A visit to the Bull temple at Basavangudi
  • A walk in the Bugle Rock park watching colonies of Bats
  • A quick dash to the small but well maintained Tipu Summer Palace and the Bangalore Fort
  • The famous KR Market
  • The beautiful and vast Bangalore Palace
  • Lunch at Esplanade – a lovely Bengali restaurant at Indiranagar

Breakfast at MTR is always a treat and on weekdays it is not crowded. Yes the food is rich and since we were a group of 10 we got our own private dining space with excellent service. Hours of operation: 6:30 am – 11:00 am & 12:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Closed on Mondays

MTR to the Bull temple at Basvangudi is a short ride. The main temple is a few steps climb – but they have a large Ganesha temple and an assortment of other temples in the complex. Right next to the temple is the Bugle Rock park ( You can reach there from the temple main sanctum area) a lovely green space with nice clean pathways. There is a small tower like lookout place atop a rocky section and from there when you look up you see thousands of bats hanging from the trees.

We left from here by 10 AM and in a few minutes reached Tipu’s Summer Palace. Its a small but well maintained structure with a lovely green garden. Located adjacent to the Kote Venkatramana temple – it was at one time part of the Bangalore fort complex. The building dates back to 1791 and is made of Teak adorned with pillars, arches and balconies. One may feel that it is frugal to be called a palace – it hardly has any rooms, but for a king like Tipu who was always fighting wars it may have indeed been a palace.

A few minutes drive from here is the Bangalore Fort. Not much of it is left – but at one time the whole area including the Palace was part of the Fort complex. The Bangalore Fort was constructed in 1537 as a mud fort by Kempe Gowda (The founder of Bangalore) and later fortified as a  robust strong stone structure by Haider Ali in 1761. The fort was breached by the British in the 3rd Mysore war in 1790 – 92.

The Fort is located next to the Victoria hospital and a short drive from here brought us to our next stop – the famous KR Market. Having lived in Bangalore since 1996 – I had never visited the place. It was a pleasant surprise to see that it was well maintained and very clean – considering that it is the largest wholesale market for vegetables in Bangalore. The area outside the market you have villagers selling greens and some vegetables  – mountains of fresh “dhaniya” some of it crushed under the legs and wheels of trolleys gave a very appetising smell. And being sold for a fraction of the price that the supermarkets charge.

Once you enter the main complex, the big large iconic building there is a semblance of order in the courtyard and finally in the innermost section you see aisle after aisle stacked with vegetables, fruits and flowers. Fresh and very very cheap. They also have some shops selling traditional pots and pans, paper bags etc. You must do this trip with friends and family – it is indeed very enjoyable. Parking is a problem – but we had a driver. There is a Metro station close by – so thats an easy option.

Loaded with veggies we reached our cars and headed for the last destination – Bangalore Palace. This one was built by the Wodeyars in the later part of the 1800’s. Its built in Tudor style architecture with fortified towers and Turrets . Its a large building  of over 45,000  sft spread across 454 acres. Just to get an idea of Inflation – this imposing structure was bought by the British from the Wodeyars for Rs 40,000 in 1873.

We received a red carpet treatment as the palace was getting ready to host a wedding (yes you can rent it). The entry fees are expensive – it is owned and privately maintained by the Wodeyar family, and they take only cash. The palace is now a museum.

Having covered a lot – we were famished and were running late to meet our deadline of being home by 3.30. We landed at Esplanade – an authentic Bengali restaurant at Indranagar (Double Road – CMH Road junction). the food here is outstanding and the service is fast. Between the Mochar Chops and Baingan Bhajas, Dum Aloo, Luchi, Dal, Mishti and a lot more – we just ordered too much food. But we thoroughly enjoyed it.

We left at 3 PM and were back home by 3.20 – just in time to welcome the children coming back from school at 3.30

This is a fun Fusion trip – so easy to execute, try it with your friends and family

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Day trip to Baevu – The Village (Nature Retreat near Bangalore)

A few years back I had discovered Shreyas – a lovely nature / Yoga retreat at Neelmangala and called it Bangalore’s best kept secret. I now discovered another gem ” Baevu Village” on Kanakpura Road – 2 hrs drive from Bangalore.

“Baevu” in Kannada means Neem Tree and this 30 acre property has over 1000 Neem Trees. Its a green eco spot with over 800 Mango Trees and a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, paddy & ragi grown in an organic farm. Set in a scenic landscape surrounded by hills and forests its an oasis of greenery and tranquility.

I have stayed at Baevu for a weekend before – but this time we planned a Day Trip. This includes Breakfast , Lunch and tea , usage of pool and the freedom to explore the full resort and even indulge in a short trek if time permits.

We departed Koramangla as usual at 7.30 and took the Hosur Road – Nice Road to Kanakpura. After reaching Kanakpura Road – Baevu village is an hr away – after you cross Kanakpura town you need to take a right ( Google Maps will get you there) – th exact location is somewhere between Kanakpura & Ramnagara – Roads are good – last few Km’s is mud road.

We reached by 9.45 – and were treated to a delicious spread of authentic S India breakfast. Having feasted we explored the place between 10.30 and 12.30. We did not have time for the treks since we had to leave by 1.30 to reach home at 3.30. But if you don’t have a deadline you can relax at the rest till 4.30 – 5 PM – have tea and then leave.

Baevu is partly Resort – partly farm. They cross millets , vegetables , have their own cows and you can enjoy a bullock cart ride

Or just walk past the scenic vegetable gardens

Take a look at the authentic rooms built like a traditional village house with a nice sit out.

Or just chill by the crystal clean azure blue pool

The lunch was also a treat – again authentic S Indian ( Veg & Non Veg) – overall a great way to spend a day in a nature retreat – and I am sure all those who did this trip will soon come back with family to spend a weekend.

Other Information

  • Contact Details – Divya Kare – + 91 94482 86415
  • Website – http://www.avanileisure.com/baevu-home.php
  • Google Maps will locate the place – roads are excellent – budget 2 hr drive from Koramangla

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Mandargiri – An ancient Jain Hill temple near Bangalore

Mandargiri, also known as Basadi Betta, is a beautiful, round hillock housing a number of Jain temples that are ~ 1000 years old. It is an important pilgrimage centre for Jains in Karnataka. Located at Tumkur District near Dobaspet it is ~ 75 Km from Bangalore. Trekking on this monolith is relatively easy as it has around 460 steps that will take you to the top of the hillock. A ten minute walk. Mandargiri is surrounded with boulders of many shapes and sizes, a haven for photographers.

We left Koramangla at 7.30AM and were fortunate to get clear roads and a blue sky – a perfect day , and reached our breakfast stop near Dobaspet at 9 AM. Shree Rathnam is a nice and efficient Veg restaurant – It has a big inviting poster and you can’t miss it. (The restaurant is located after a 10 – 15 min drive post the 2nd toll)

Mandargiri is a short 15 min drive from here – you an locate it on Google maps , lookout for a right turn that will take you thru an arch leading to the Mandargiri hillock.

We reached the place by 10 AM and spent a few hrs here. It was a bright sunny day but as you climb up the hill it gets windy. The steps are well laid out and takes less than 15 minutes – you also have the option to drive up by car across a mud path .

There are three things to see here

A Pinchi shaped 81 feet Guru Mandir – the first of its kind in Jain history. The Guru mandir is dedicated to the Digambara Jain ascetic Sri Shantinsagarji Maharaj.

The mukha mantapa next to the Pinchi has a tall statue of Chandranatha Tirthankara. Looks similar to that of Bahubali – but smaller , was installed recently in 2011.

And at the top of this hillock is a temple complex with 4 small but ancient temples that date back 800 – 1000 years. Two are dedicated to Chandranatha and the remaining two to Parsavnath.

The temples are spotlessly clean and very well maintained. there is no crowd – and remember to take the keys from the base when you go up ( Shivaraj – 8550036564 – is the caretaker). Its a nice calm serene place. 

Lock up the temple and go to the back side of the Temple complex – you will see a beautiful lake. You can be adventurous and try walking down – but the slope is steep.

The views from the top are gorgeous and so are the views from near the lake.

We did not enter the water but you can stop by the banks and admire the lily flowers

We wrapped up all we had to see and left Mandargiri by 12 noon ( we had plans to visit the Narasimha temple at Seebi – but it was late and we had to head back to Bangalore for lunch.

Lunch was at a wonderful new place called JustBe at Sadashivnagar. Its a wonderful place – pure veg , vegan , no oil cooking. The fare they served was delicious and very healthy. The enterprising smart owner of the place Nidhi dropped by and spent some time explaining to us the rationale of the place.

If you are looking for an offbeat healthy Veg restaurant – dont miss this one. Rates are very reasonable and servings are large. Ambience and aesthetics are 10/10.

We left JustBe at 2.45 and were back home at Koramangla by 3.25.

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Grover Zampa Vineyards : Day Trips in Bangalore 7.30AM – 3.30PM (Trip 15)

Trip – 15 : Grover Zampa Vineyards 

Jan – Feb – Mar is grape season – the perfect time to go on a day trip to a Vineyard in Bangalore. India boasts of two Wine growing areas – Bangalore & Nasik. The Grover Zampa Winery in the outskirts of Bangalore near the Devanhalli airport is a nice day trip.

We left Koramangla at 7.30 AM and reached our breakfast stop before 9 AM ( 52 Km). We had been here a year back – its located a few kms after the International Airport.  The Indian Paratha Company is a great place for fresh piping hot Paratha’s, Chai, Lassi and a lot more. Service is excellent and food was delicious – but prices have shot up in the last one year (a plate of Sarson ki Saag and Makkai ki roti is now Rs 325). On a weekday the place was almost empty.

The Grover Zampa Vineyard is only 17 Km from here – take a U Turn and after a few km take the right turn on the Doddaballapur main road and in less than 30 min you will reach the Grover Zampa Vineyard processing centre. This place has a vistor centre , the processing and bottling plants , and an outlet store.

The tour starts at 10.30 AM and ends by 12.30. The guide takes you to the different sections and covers in detail all the steps of making all the varieties of Wine. You then head to the Wine tasting cellar where you are again educated on how to sample and enjoy Wine. You get to sample 5 different varieties of Wine.

You can taste a few drops or you can get Tipsy with a glass full – its your choice. But clearly the Wine lovers love this part of the trip.  

We were fascinated with the storage Drums – which can be made to stools and table tops – and yes you can buy them in May – June when the crushing season is over since they change the drums once every two years.

From here we headed to the Vinery – 1 Km away  – a well maintained large Vineyard with an eye for detail to ensure that only the best quality grapes are grown.

We were back for lunch at the main centre. We had booked for Grape stomping ( Min 10 people) – this is not like what it looks in the movies – the scale is smaller – but there is music playing , lovely weather and the Wine from the tasting session gets you in the mood to sway while crushing the grapes – fortunately this does not go back to the wine making drums.

Lunch is a simple affair – Soup , Veg Pulao , Raita and Gulab Jamun. We were lucky we had a heavy breakfast – they could have done better with the lunch. A quick stopover at the store to get some discounted Wine and we headed back at 2 PM reaching home by 3.45 PM.

The package costs you Rs 1590/ person  inclusive of tax – the stomping is Rs 500 – its unique but expensive , 10 minutes of stomping for a group of 10 can put you back by Rs 5000/-.

There is a premium for the uniqueness of this trip – weekdays are not crowded but weekends tend to be very busy during the season. Weekend rates are also higher. Children are allowed. A final footnote – Don’t compare this with Vineyard tours of Sonoma Napa – those are on a totally different scale

If you want to book a trip contact Vipin – 9513338752 , 9901636346. http://www.groverzampa.in

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Antarganga : Day Trips in Bangalore 7.30AM – 3.30PM (Trip 13)

Trip – 13 : Antarganga  

Antargange Hill is  located in Kolar, at just 4 kms from Kolar town. ( 65 Km from Bangalore) Antar-Gange literally means Ganga from Within/Ganga of the deep in Kannada.

It is a huge field of boulders and rocks. Located at an altitude of 1712 m above the sea level, the boulders are amassed one on top of the other to appear like a cave. This network of cave formations makes this place famous for cave exploration and easy trekking.

This is a nice trek up a rocky hill till you reach a set of caves which you can explore on all fours. Its challenging but its fun – and when you are told that in the recent past this trek was done at night , then the day trip seemed like a cakewalk.

On a bright pleasant Wednesday in November we set out at 7.30 AM , traffic on Old Madras road was bad and we reached our Breakfast point Nandi Grand at 9 AM. This is almost 55 km from Koramangla , we covered the 1st 12 kms in 1 hr and the last 43 kms in 30 minutes. Nandi Grand is a convenient breakfast joint – fast and efficient with decent restrooms.

We left at 9.20 AM and the distance from here to Antarganga is about 10 Kms , but the last stretch of 5 Km is thru village roads. Google Maps gets you there – but do not enter Antarganga Trek Point – that takes you to a different place.

Antargange has a long staircase that chaperones to a temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Kashi Vishweshwara. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is often called Kashi of South or Dakshin Kashi. The bull, which is considered the vehicle of Lord Shiva has water flowing out of its mouth. Many people have tried to draw out the source of the water, but have failed. The source of the water still remains untraced. This is how Antargange attained its name.

The trek can be split into 3 parts

A 20 minute trek thru well laid steps to the Shiva Temple (Called Dakshin Kashi) supposedly very ancient – This temple is dedicated to Lord Kashi Vishweshwara. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is often called Kashi of South or Dakshin Kashi. The bull, which is considered the vehicle of Lord Shiva has water flowing out of its mouth. Many people have tried to draw out the source of the water, but have failed. The source of the water still remains untraced. This is how Antargange attained its name.

From here it takes another 25 – 30 min to get the hill top – some parts are tricky but if you have decent shoes and are careful its not a challenge.

Once you reach the top there is a lot to see – you can spend the full day exploring many caves here and even trekking to a small village. We had to be back in our cars by 12.15 – so we were able to explore only one of the cave complexes.

Getting into the caves is tricky – the gaps are very narrow and you have to stretch and pivot yourself with limited foothold across smooth rocky surfaces . Its dark in many places – but its safe. A well frequented place there are no snakes or animals.

Carry a torch as some parts are pitch dark and you are guiding yourself thru some very narrow crevices , sometimes almost lying flat and sliding past.

In one of my earlier trips I had visited a second cave complex that is the source of the Water Body – that cave is pitch dark and its a struggle to even sit , but you can reach the water body and taste the cool sweet water.

We did have our Panick moments – but the team was Brave , Adventurous and Fit – and when you are a group everyone helps each other out.

The views from the top are great and we had the perfect day to ourselves. We left the hilltop at 11.30 and were down in the car by 12.10.

These treks are impossible with a guide – you cannot venture into the caves on your own. Guides are normally available in plenty during the weekends – when the place can get busy. But we had requested our guide from our earlier trip a week back to be around.  Our guide was a nimble and efficient nine year old Bhupathi. A local kid born and brought up in the hills.

The return journey was quick – we left at 12.10 and reached Indranagar for lunch at 1.30 – ahead of schedule. And were back home by 2.30.

Between Breakfast and Lunch there are no restrooms available during the trek. Do carry some snacks / water. Earlier there were many monkeys on this route but now there are only a few near the temple.

Avoid summers as this place can get very very hot – best time is Nov – Feb.

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Devrayanadurga : Day Trips in Bangalore 7.30AM – 3.30PM (Trip 10)

Trip – 10 :  Devrayanidurga – a Nice green Hill Temple near Tumkur (7.30 AM – 3.30 PM) 

The trip to Devrayanidurga was more like a day trip to a hill station. It was London weather , misty and cool and we soaked it all in with the green as green greenery engulfing us up the winding road to the beautiful and serene temple of Lord Narasimha. Devrayanadurga means “fort of rock” and this beautiful temple is ensconced between rocky hills with a beautiful water body behind at an altitude of about 4000 feet above sea level. ( Ooty is 7000 feet – so this is high)

Here are two temples are built for God Narasimha, one which is at the foot of the hillock called the Bhoga Narasimha and the other temple which is built on the hillock which is called Yoga Narasimha. Devarayanadurga is steeped in mythological importance. It is said that Lord Brahma the creator of the Universe, has performed penance for many years in the name of Lord Vishnu for several thousand years. Impressed by his penance, Lord Vishnu has incarnated himself as Lord Narasimha here. The temple was patronised by the Cholas and is well over 1000 years old.

We started as usual at 7.30 AM and headed to Tumkur Road Via Malleshwaram / Yeshwantpur , and after two toll roads stopped for breakfast at Shree Rathnam a nice and efficient Veg restaurant at 8.45 – It has a big inviting poster and you can’t miss it. (The restaurant is a 10 min drive after the 2nd toll on your left ). As you drive out from the restaurant look around for a flyover and take the access road and then a right from below the flyover – don’t go up the flyover. Follow Google Maps – there are signs that lead to Devrayanidurga and Goravanahalli Lakshmi temple. After a 15 – 20 min ride look for a left turn under an arched gate that takes you up the hill.

When we left Bangalore it was drizzling and the forecast was for rain in Tumkur – but we were lucky to have a misty day with low overhanging clouds amidst lush greenery with rain drops on the leaves and some bright yellow flowers. The drive up is a short ten minute ride – winding roads , you will cross some waterbodies, the views are very nice. Its empty and nice. You will reach a point where the road forks – to the left is the Bhoga Narasimha Temple and to the right is the Yoga Narasimha temple – a person standing there will charge Rs 20 for car entry. We went up – you can go all the way up and reach a point from where its only 100 steps to the Yoga Narasimha temple. Easy ten minute climb. You also have an option to walk up the steps from the point where the person collects the car entry fees – there are steps – that I guess would be a 1 hr climb.

As you climb up you will see a tree that seems to be coming out from the hill. We reached the temple top by 10.45 AM which was perfect – since they have a Abhishekam that starts at 11 AM – its a detailed procedure and you can view the 5000 year old idol being bathed with milk, ghee, butter, Chandan, and many more ingredients. The temple is small – but you can sense it is ancient.

Right behind the temple is a waterbody – there is a path that goes down to the source of the water body – but the steps to that place has been closed.

We spent over an hr at the Temple and then headed to a place called Namada Chilumme. This is on the way back after you have crossed the Bhoga Narasimha temple . (We did not stop at the Bhoiga Narasimha temple – but if you need a restroom break there is one near this temple). Almost halfway down  you take a right turn and drive for ten minutes ( ask the guy who sells the car entry tickets) and drive thru thick forests on both sides before reaching a point that has a Deer Park, A Siddha Garden and  Namada Chilumme.

Namada Chilumme is supposedly the place where Lord Rama stayed and shot a arrow on the ground to get water. Its past the deer park a short ten minute walk – on the way you will see Namada Chilume old guesthouse where Dr.Salim Ali had camped.

Namada Chilumme is a small hole in the rocky ground from where water is flowing out – and you can have a drink of this fresh clean water. Most people will head back from here. But wait – there are interesting views round the corner.

Near this point you will see a small mud trail going thru the forest. Take that trail – keep a stick with you as there are monkeys here. You walk for less than 10 minutes and come to a point that looks like a massive crater lake type cauldron surrounded by green hills with the rocky walls at its peak.

This is a nice place to enjoy the views – it also has a small temple like rock structure with pillars – which is dilapidated and you can try climbing up.

This place was lovely – it was almost 12 noon – and it was bright and sunny , we enjoyed the 30 minutes we spent here and then walked past Namada Chillumme and the deer park to the road where our car was parked.

On the opposite side of the deer park is a 15 acre Siddha Garden – which is full of medicinal plants. The gatekeepers tried to explain in Kannada all the various plants over there and we tasted many a herb and leaf with funny tastes.

This was our lunch spot. A picnic lunch – the good ladies had all prepared some tasty dishes and we enjoyed a lovely meal in the midst of fresh air and greenery.

Post lunch we left at 1.45 and were back by 3.15. (One car took a deviation for a Chai Break at Chitra Kala Parishad – so we were back at 4.15)

Devrayanidurga was another nature masterpiece we discovered. A hill station type place at Bangalore’s backyard was a rare find and I am sure a lot of our friends would love to visit this beautiful place. Its an easy 7.30 – 3.30 trip. 

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Kolar & Avani : Day Trips in Bangalore 7.30AM – 3.30PM (Trip 9)

Trip – 9 :  Kolaramma Temple – Someshwara Temple Kolar – Avani Rama Lingeshwara temples – Mayyas (7.30 AM – 3.30 PM) 

When you think of Kolar you think of Gold Mines – but there is more to Kolar. I had heard about the “Koti Lingeshwar”  temple in Kolar and as part of my recee went to check the place. We always try to do 3 things in our trips so I kept searching for other interesting places close by – thats how we discovered the ancient temples at Kolar & Avani. We were disappointed with Koti Lingeshwar – it does have many Shiv Lingas – but the place is so commercial and devoid of energy that we decided to skip it for the Fusion group.

Old Madras Road is a mess – so ensure you leave by 730 AM sharp or better 7.15 AM so that you can get past the inner ring road and the crowded sections of Old Madras road by 8.15 AM before the traffic madness starts. Kolar is 71 KM’s from Koramangla – 1 hr 30 min drive in the morning. We left by 7.25 AM and reached our breakfast point by 8.35 AM. Nandi Grand is the best place to stop – has a wide range of dishes – service is fast and restrooms are clean

Kolar from here is a 20 min drive – you take a clover leaf exit ( remember this is a toll road so if you have Fast Tag in your car it helps save time). Our first stop was the ancient Kolaramma temple. Built by the Cholas 1200 years back. The presiding deity in the temple is Mahishasuramardini, who is named Kolaramma by the local people. She is an eight-armed Goddess Durga. The devotees worship her by looking at the mirror which is placed opposite the idol. There is a special pooja conducted on Tuesdays and Fridays, temple is open till 2 PM those days – on other days it closes at 11 AM. The temple also has a large brass idol of a Scorpion that is worshipped.

The priest claimed that the shrine of Goddess Durga is supposed to be over 5000 years old and was installed by Parashuram. This is a shrine visited by Adi Shankaracharya and is considered to be a very powerful deity. Legend has it that the fight with Mahisasura started here and finally ended at Chamundi Hills.

In the center of the temple, there is Saptamatrikas. They are seven mothers placed in a significant key position.

Its a small but extremely powerful temple- the architecture has the stamp of Cholas written all over it with its intricate carvings. I have had the good fortune of visiting this beautiful temple 3 times within a month.

A short walk from this temple is the Someshwara temple – you need to rush as this temple also closes by 11 AM. We were comfortable on time , we had reached Kolaramma by 9.15 and headed to the Someshwara temple 200 metres away by 10.15 AM. Built a little later – this is a grander and larger temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. We visited on a. Tuesday and the temples were empty – the weather was bright and sunny and pleasant and it was perfect to relax and enjoy the magical beauty of these ancient temples. I continue to be amazed at what lies in the vicinity of Bangalore – such beautiful temples at a 100 km distance – less than 2 hr drive and most people in Bangalore have no clue about them.

 

But this was more in store as we headed for Avani a small village located 20 km from Kolar – 30 min drive. Enroute we stopped by at a modern Mayya’s Complex that has multiple restaurants , super clean rest rooms , showers , feeding room and ATMS’s. This complex is world class – I am yet to see a nicer set up in any highway across India. We stopped for a restroom break and then headed to Avani.

Avani is known for the Sita temple situated on a hill. This temple is one of the few temples dedicated to Sita in India. There is a belief that the sage Valmiki was residing here. Sita lived here in his ashram while in exile. Sit gave birth to her twin children Lava – Kusha here. Even today the room where Sita gave birth to her children exists. The war between Lord Rama and his sons Lava and Kusha happened in this village.

Avani is also known as the Gaya of the south and has ancient temples known as the Ramalingeshwara, Lakshmaneshwara, Bharateshwara and Shatrugneshwara, dating back to the period of the Nolamba Dynasty 

A monk from the Sringeri Peetham camped here for a few days and found an idol of Goddess Sharada in standing posture flanked by  Adi Shankaracharya and the Sri Chakra. He consecrated this idol here and established a new Matha and installed one of his shisyas as the head of the new Matha.

 

The temples are built by the Nolomba dynasty and later renovated by the Cholas. The gopurams look a bit like those built by the Pallavas. They are well maintained and the best part is they are totally empty. There are multiple small temples of Shiva each consecrated by Lord Rama &  His Brothers.

Close to the temple is a hillock which is a 2 hr trek ( up and down) and leads to caves where Sita is supposed to have lived. We reached the temple by 11.45 and with a deadline to return by 3.30 we had to keep the Trek for a later date.Photo Credit  http://aravindgj.blogspot.in/2017/

After visiting the main temple complex we visited the Sharada temple which was closed and then headed for lunch at the Mayyas complex. While coming back its on the other side of the highway – but there are gaps in the median that allows you take U Turn with travelling far. A good lunch and we left by 1.30 to reach home by 3.15 PM.

Kolar & Avani were great discoveries – so close to Bangalore , fascinating temples, lots of history & mythology, excellent roads , good food – so easy to cover in a day trip from 7.30 AM to 3.30 PM.

The trek up the hillock is pending and thats is on our To Visit list soon.

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Malleshwaram : Day Trips in Bangalore 7.30AM – 3.30PM (Trip 8)

Trip – 8 :  Veena Stores – Malleshwaram temples – Kote Venkatramana Temple – Mahabodhi Society – Little Italy (7.30 AM – 3.30 PM) 

As usual we started at 7.30 AM and headed to Malleswaram via MG Road and Windsor Manor and reached our breakfast point by 8.10 AM. Malleswaram is old age Bangalore – narrow well maintained roads , smells of jasmine flowers , dotted with temples – its a good mix of TN & Karnataka – full of great economical eateries – of which Veena Stores is amongst the best. Located at 15th Cross , Margosa Road Its a small 100 sft store which serves piping hot delicious food – take away only. Weekends can be a mad rush with waiting time of over an hr as Mercs and BMW’s line up for pick up – but on Wednesday we were served in minutes. Kesari Bath, Idli Vada, Sweet Pongal, Kharabath, Filter Coffee and a few more authentic tasty dishes all of which cost 30 – 40 Rs a plate.

A few minutes drive from here is 15th Cross Rd which is home to 4 majestic temples – adjacent to each other. The Kaadu Malleshwara Temple, Sri Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyani Kshetra, Gangamma Temple and a beautiful Vishnu temple. The Kaadu Malleshwaram Temple dates back to 1600 AD – and was built during the period when the Marathas held sway over Bangalore and is said to have been built by Venkoji Shivaji’s step brother who found a “Swayambu” there during one of his Tax Collection drives. its a well maintained beautiful  green temple on a small hillock with lots of open spaces. There are 40 steps that lead to the temple top.

Diagonally opposite to this is a unique temple worthy of the UNESCO world heritage tag – The “Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyani Kshetra“. Some say this temple is 1000’s of years old and was unearthed recently. Water from the Nandi gushes on to the Shiva Lingam and then flows to a pond which some say is the underground source of the Sankey Tank. Of the 4 temples on this road – these two are outstanding and we spent most of our time here. But do visit the Gangamma and the Vishnu temple also. In all you can budget 90 – 120 minutes to cover these 4 temples. Right next to these temples is a Brahmins Coffee Bar – so if you want to grab a coffee before you head out – you can do that

Our next stop was another historical temple – Kote Venkatramana Temple. The 17th century Venkataramana temple is located near the old fort (“fort” is kote in Kannada language) adjacent to what was once the residence of Mysore Wodeyar royal family, and later became the palace of Tipu Sultan. Temple closes by 12 noon – and we made it comfortably by 11.15 AM . Its a 20 min drive from Malleswaram. The green lawns of the fort adjacent to this temple looked inviting but we decided to keep the forts and palaces visit to another day. You need a drive – as parking is an issue at all these places.

Keeping the Fusion spirit in mind our next stop was the Mahabodhi Society of Bangalore located next to Freedom Park. A 10 min drive from the Kote Venkatramana Temple.

A zone of peace and equanimity – the centre has a large meditation hall , a beautiful Pipal tree, a stupa and a small garden . They also have a lovely store. This is a residential centre for Monks in Training so keep the chatter low.  If you are a meditative person you will love this place and can spend a few hrs here – but we had to move on keeping in mind our 3 PM return deadline.

It was 1 in the afternoon when we left the Mahabodhi Society at Gandhinagar and we drove past the tempting stores of Chickpet and Avenue Road heading back to Koramangla – on the way stopping for a roaring lunch at Little Italy ( Tavarkere Road near St John Woods apartment). One of the members of the group is a partner owner here and she magnified an already delicious buffet spread. The lunch buffet here is also a well kept secret – the variety of food is impressive , very tasty all of which is backed by excellent service. And to top it all its reasonably priced.

Home was a short 10 min ride from here and were back by 3 PM – we had seen some amazing places in the heart of Bangalore. This is an easy trip to replicate – packed with good food , history , architecture , mythology, spirituality and tranquility – the perfect elements for a Fusion trip.

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