Uttarakhand Diaries – Day 2

May 16th

Morning woke up a bit early and got ready for the journey ahead. Took a couple of pictures of the lovely view and started to Phata which is 14.5 km from Guptkashi. It took around 40 minutes to reach Phata to the Pawan Hans Helicopter pad and office.

People going to Kedarnath, book helicopters from Phata. Various Helicopters services ply between Phata and Kedarnath. Bookings are done much in advance. Very few people are lucky enough to get a ride on the spot. The bookings open a few days before the season and normally get over very fast. So people who want to book online have to be on the lookout and ready to book, whenever the bookings open. People who do not book for helicopter go through a longer distance by trekking or on mules. There are 6 to 7 services and as the airtime is restricted, only 2 services are given time to ply for an hour for each services, post which they have to wait for a couple of hours before they can take the next batch. They work precisely taking care not to loose much time. By the time we can board, a person carries our luggage and keeps it in while the passengers have to board fast. The time in air is 8 minutes and again as soon as the helicopter reaches the Kedarnath pad, we have to jump with our heads bent low and run while a guys brings our bags, at the same time people who are boarding get in and their bags are put in and the helicopter leaves. They are like clockwork, precise.

We had booked for Pawan Hans helicopter service. When we reached their office, first our weight was recorded. Passengers have to be below 90 kgs otherwise they will have to pay for the extra weight. Each person is allowed a bag of 8 kgs or less weight. Nothing more. Per trip 5 or 6 people are taken. Depending on the weight of the persons the passengers are adjusted. We were a group of 4 tall people hence we were split up according to our weights. Two of us had to go with 4 other people and the rest 2 came later.

I was in the first trip and was lucky enough to be seated beside the pilot. For the 8 minutes in air, I had a birds eye view of the beautiful Himalayas, which was an unexpected bonus. Then we reached Kedarnath helipad and got down and ran and then took our bags. Searched for the GMVN tent to find out where our cottage was booked. Finally approached them and took the keys for our cottage.

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One of the bunk bed

The cottage had 2 rooms, each room having 2 bunk beds, thereby making way for 8 people totally. We took a room for the four of us and it costed us Rs 2,400 and the other room was taken by another family. There was a common washroom for both the rooms, and a Rajai and woollen blanket are provided for each bed. After keeping our bags in, we waited for the other two of our party (my brother & cousin) to arrive. They came two hours later at around 2pm.

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Till then I soaked in the atmosphere of Kedarnath. Admiring the Majestic snow clad Himalayas, the porters who carry people and bags, the makeshift eateries and everything. As soon as my brothers came, we kept their bags in the room and went to have lunch that was provided to the pilgrims.

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Cream colour tents under which we sat and had our lunch.

Before starting on the trip checked in accuweather website regarding the probable weather in all the places that we would go to. So I knew that Kedarnath would be very cold. Maximum was 6 degrees and minimum was -2 degrees. So all of us wore thermal wear in the morning itself, then our regular wear and we had jackets on. Carried gloves and an extra pair of socks too for the night, since we were staying overnight. The weather there kept changing so fast, that it was sunny for few moments, cloudy the next.

As soon as we finished lunch, we left to the temple to have darshan of Kedarnathji. Stood in the queue. The queue was in open air with nothing overhead to protect us from the elements. Since the sun was shining and the weather was cool, we stood comfortably, taking in the aura and admiring the surroundings. The destruction of 2013 floods was still visible making me sad remembering the havoc that was wrecked. My brother saw raincoats (temporary ones made with thick polythene sheets) and wanted to buy for the 4 of us, the costed Rs 40 each. Though I thought we wouldn’t need it, he went ahead and bought 4 raincoats. We had progressed a little in the queue, when we came to know that the temple doors had shut and would be open only after an hour. We decided to stay back as going out of the queue at that point would take us back to the end of the queue which had increased by then.

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Kedarnath temple

Suddenly it became dark and cloudy and started to rain, we wore the raincoats that we had, quickly over our jackets, and it started pouring heavily. As if that wasn’t enough to get us shivering, hailstones started, scattering us, trying to take shelter from the make shift shops that were there on both sides of the path. What an experience! We decided not to remove our sports shoes until we reached the entrance of the temple. Braving the cold, shivering, we stood there hoping that the temple doors would open soon and we would be able to have our darshan soon. Finally after a long time reached the temple entrance, quickly removed our shoes and went inside for the darshan. After the darshan, went behind the temple to see the rock that had safeguarded the temple from destruction in the flash floods. By then feet had become numb and we didnt know where we were placing our feet. Hurried back to the shoes and saw a Naga Sadhu sitting there blissfully, without any clothes on, without shivering, doing meditation. The Naga Sadhus are something else, not like ordinary people.

By the time we were back in the room, it was 7pm. We went for dinner, which was arranged at the same place and had dinner. Luckily hot water was provided to drink, thereby warming us a little.
We had decided to reach the Pawan Hans tent first thing in the morning so that we could go back in the first couple of helicopters. After wearing gloves and socks tried to go to sleep. It was terribly cold and I couldn’t sleep a wink the whole night. For people who cannot tolerate the cold, it is better to go back the same day rather than staying overnight.

Thus ended day 2.

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Uttarakhand Diaries – Day 1

May 15th

In the month of May 2017, we had planned to take a trip to Kedarnath and Badrinath in Uttarakhand. We went to my cousins house in Dehradun and from there we were to start for the trip. Having a couple of days to kill, we took a trip to Dhanaulti and came back.

On May 14th we started on our trip. My cousin provided his Mahindra XUV along with a driver, so we were set for the journey. We started around 6.40am so that we could escape the traffic which would start after 7.30am. We halted at Rishikesh for breakfast at a roadside eatery and had tasty Aloo parathas with pickle. Then continued on our journey. When we reached Dev Prayag, the car tyre had a puncture and so we enjoyed the view of Dev Prayag while our driver took care of the tyre.

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Dev Prayag

Prayag means the confluence of two rivers. There are 5 prayags in Uttarakhand called the Panch(5) Prayag which are considered to be holy as they are the confluence of two holy rivers.

Dev prayag is the confluence of Alakananda river and Bhagirathi river (which is the main stream of the Ganga). From this point the river is called the Mighty Ganga. The two rivers are very distinctive here. The Alakananda has muddy brown water and Bhagirathi has greenish clear water. After taking a few pictures, continued on our journey.

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View at Guptkashi

We reached Guptkashi going through Kirtinagar and Srinagar, at around 4pm. We had booked 2 rooms for our stay for the night at GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) Hotel at Guptkashi. The hotel is situated at a high altitude and the views were beautiful. The room was around Rs 3,000 per day and the room was very good and comfortable. At the hotel itself, there is an office where the biometrics are recorded of all tourists going to the Chaar dham (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) yatra. Moreover this is the spot where people stay before going to Kedarnath hence if people require oxygen, it is provided here. Such offices are in all the major spots in Uttarakhand so that a record of the people going on the yatra will be maintained and any notices to be given are sent to our mobiles by sms. I think this has been after the floods of Uttarakhand in 2013, which was a major tragedy.

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Then we went to the Vishwanath Mandir in Guptkashi, where the Shiva linga of Vishwanath Temple of Varanasi was safeguarded from the destruction of Aurangazeb when he occupied Vishwanath temple at Varanasi and converted it into Gyanvapi Mosque. This is another holy ancient temple where it is believed that Lord Shiva proposed to Parvati Devi. There is a tank in front of the temple, from which the water of rivers Ganga and Yamuna flow through two Lion heads on top of the temple tank. After the darshan here went back to the hotel and relaxed. The dinner was also good although with a limited variety of food items.

Thus ended day 1.

Dhanaulti – A Weekend Getaway

Dhanaulti is a picturesque hill station. Located at an altitude of 2,250 m in the state of Uttarakhand, it is a beautiful tourist spot. Placed on the edge of Tehri Garhwal District, it is 37 Km from Dehradun.

Two years ago, in the month of May, we had gone for a trip to Uttarakhand. We started at about 2 pm after having lunch at Dehradun. Till we started climbing the ghat road, it was sunny. Once we climbed a part of the ghat, it started raining heavily with hailstones. It was quite an adventerous journey as we couldn’t stop, fearing someone would dash into us in the low visibility, nor could we proceed quickly due to the visibility. Let me tell you, hailstones banging on the roof, windows and windshield of the car, with you inside is not a happy circumstance. Proceeding slowly, we finally reached Dhanaulti at 4.30 pm.

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Surrounded by Deodars, Oaks and Rhododendrons, it is a peaceful and relaxed place. It has beautiful scenic trails and has views of the Himalayas.

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Resort

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Cottage with Dining area

We had booked two Eco tourism cottages. These cottages are lovely in scenic surroundings, made with bamboo. Checked into our cottages and after taking a few pictures, settled down to enjoy the cool surroundings. Though it was May 12th, and the areas where we came from were hot, it was quite cool in the evening. My cousin had warned us to carry jackets as it would be cold and so we were fine in the evening. At the onset of nightfall, the air became a little more chilly and night was pretty cold. Maybe because the huts were of bamboo and hence didn’t have proper insulation to save us from the cold. A boy got us food from a nearby outlet, and the food was good.

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Got up a bit early as I wanted to enjoy the sunrise. If we do not enjoy sunrises in picturesque locales, I feel we are missing something precious.

After getting ready and having breakfast, we went to the Eco park which is opposite the resort. It has lovely trails and we went in, enjoying nature and beautiful views. After that we went to an Apple Orchard resort. Since it was not the season, we hardly saw apples, but had beautiful views to enjoy. Surkanda Devi Temple which is one of the Shakti peeta was located a few kilometers from there, but we didn’t go as the roads at that particular point of time were bad and we had to trek 5 km inside, which we were not up to doing.

Beside our resort, there were a few shops selling various items, of which the juices caught our attention. Rhododendron and Mint juices, where a small quantity was to be mixed with water, were tasty, so bought a bottle each to take home.

After taking lunch, we started back to Dehradun.

Dhanaulti is supposed to be very popular in winters as they have snowfall occasionally. But summer too is enjoyable. For those who love nature, Dhanaulti is a must see and the Eco tourism resort is the most beautiful place to be.

 

Qutb Shahi tombs of Hyderabad

The Qutb Shahi dynasty ruled the Hyderabad region for 169 years in the 16th and 17th century. The Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, is one of the most significant historic medieval necropolises anywhere in the world, comprising mausoleums, mosques, step wells, garden structures etc. The tombs of the Qutb Shahi rulers and their family members lie here.

It is a serene place and a famous tourist spot of Hyderabad. It had been closed for 5 years, from 2013 to 2018, for restoration works. The restoration was taken up by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) with an agreement with the state government. Though restoration is still in progress in some places, a lot of restoration has been completed thus enabling visitors to enjoy the beauty and architecture of the work done on the tombs. The tombs are built on raised platforms, with Persian, Pathani and Indian style of architecture.

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The first tomb as soon as we enter.

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Two more tombs
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A step well and the steps leading to the lower level.

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Beautiful ornamentation on top.

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Inside view of a big tomb.

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Ornamental designs

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This was the most beautiful one for me.

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Well restored tombs.

I found late afternoon to be the best time to visit the tombs.

The tombs are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm every day, except on friday which is a holiday.

Nava Nandis of Nandyal

Mahanandi is a famous temple near Nandyal, Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Many people do not know that there are 9 Nandis totally and are around Mahanandi in a 15 km diameter range.

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The iconic Nandi statue built in front of Mahanandi temple.

It is said that we should have a darshan of Mallikarjuna Swamy at Gudipatagadda area before we start forthe Nava Nandis darshan & end with a darshan again after going to all the 9 temples. Also Sakshi Ganapati is supposed to see our trip. So we took a cab and started with the trip, making Mallikarjuna Swamy temple our first stop.

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The beautiful gopuram of Mallikarjuna Swamy temple.

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Gajalakshmi carved on the doorway of the Garbhagriha.

Mallikarjuna Swamy temple, the Shivalinga is said to be svayambhu. It is at a lower level and we have to descend steps to have the darshan. Entrance to garbagriha has dwarapalakas carved and Gajalakshmi on top. After the darshan, started on the Nava Nandi tour.

1. Prathama Nandi

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This Nandi is big. Since my focus was to photograph all 9 Nandis, first had a darshan of Nandeeshwara, then turned to capture Prathama Nandi.

2. Naga Nandi

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This Nandi is located in the Hanuman temple. Had a divine darshan of Hanumanji. The aura is amazing. Beside it there is a small Shivalinga and Naga Nandi in front of him. It is said that the nagas worshipped for Shiva here.

3. Soma Nandi

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This temple looks very old.

4. Shiva Nandi
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This temple is ancient. Said to be from the time of Chalukyas.
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The entrance with the dwarapalakas and Gajalakshmi on top.
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Shivalinga here is supposed to be svayambhu and the garbagriha has an aura. Ceiling of garbagriha is low & we have to be careful during parikrama.
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All around the temple there are structures like mini temples with Shivalinga inside them.
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Ganesha carved beside on one of them and Ma on one.
5. Vishnu Nandi or Krishna Nandi.
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This temple also is out of the regular road. A little into a wooded area & peaceful. This temple also looks quite old.
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Temple tank                                                   Vishnu nandi
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Sagara manthan and Elephants and nandis on the wall
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Nandis and Rishis on the wall.
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Doorway to garbagriha of Shiva again very beautiful. It has Vishnu & Lakshmi on one side, Brahma Saraswati on other and Shiva Parvati on top. Nagas also are there and notice the banana tree with fruits.
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Door of Amma’s temple with lovely carvings. Dwarapalakas below, on top we have Ganeshji, Gajalakshmi in between & Trimurti – Brahma, Shiva & Vishnu above. Mayuras (peacocks) beside.
6. Mahanandi
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Temple                                                                     Mahanandi
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Brahma and Shiva carvings
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Dasavataras carved
7. Vinayaka Nandi.
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The way to this temple is from the inner prakaram of Mahanandi temple.
8. Garuda Nandi
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This temple is within walking distance of Mahanandi entrance.

9. Surya Nandi

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This temple is special because the rays of the sun fall on the Shivalinga everyday. And this temple too has an peaceful aura. Of all the Nandis I found this Nandi most beautiful. The face has life in it, what we call jeevakala (lively presence), ornamentally carved too.

With this, finished darshan of all Nava Nandis. Returned to Nandyal, stopped at Mallikarjuna Swamy temple again, thus finishing the tour. Anybody going to Nandyal, do not miss these nine nandis.

Papikondalu – In the lap of serenity

Papikondalu or Papi Hills is a range of the Eastern ghats between the West and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh state. The river Godavari flows through this hill range and tours to Papikondalu are famous as a weekend getaway.

There are various tour operators, that start from Rajahmundry. Few who take you on a one day tour, some tours have an overnight stay at bamboo huts and some tours club the trip with a drop at the holy shrine Bhadrachalam, the temple of Lord Rama.

My colleagues and me planned on a trip to Papikondalu with an overnight stay at the bamboo huts at Sirivaka, with a drop off at Bhadrachalam. It was an all ladies trip and we planned to enjoy the tour.

The travels were charging us Rs 3,000 to start at Rajahmundry at 8 am, with a night stay at Sirivaka bamboo huts till 3 the next afternoon and dropping us at Bhadrachalam at 6 pm. We had got tickets for APSRTC bus to get back home at 6 pm at Bhadrachalam. Hence we asked the tour operators to drop us at Bhadrachalam by 1pm. For this he had to book another boat exclusively for our party of 12 ladies, hence he charged us an extra 1,000 per person.

We took our trip in the second weekend of November. The weather was pleasant. Neither too hot nor too cold.

At 8 am we boarded the bus arranged by the travels to take us to the boat.

Previously, the boats used to start at Rajahmundry, but now they add Polavaram project to the sightseeing and hence take us by bus till the boats. Honestly, it is not worth it. The road is so bad that we can feel all the bones in our body, by the time we reach the boats. And the journey is close to 2 hours, thus even more painful.

By the time we departed from  the bus, we were thanking our stars that the ride was over. Then a colourful scene awaited us.

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Boats of various tour operators were waiting for the passengers. Got onto the boat and went to the seating area on top. The boat ride was good. Each tour operator arranges music, DJ’s and dancing on their boats for the passengers to enjoy. Our boat had a guy who was a good dancer, who not only danced, but also made many passengers participate in various dances, thereby thoroughly entertaining us. Lunch was served on the boat. Simple vegetarian fare that was good.

We stopped at Perantallapalli, which is a small tribal village. A 20 minute break is given for us to go for sightseeing. There is a small Shiva temple inside and many tribals selling their tribal products.

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After that, we were dropped at the bamboo huts of Sirivaka.

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There are a few cement cottages and the rest are Bamboo huts. The huts don’t have any doors, except for a curtain for a little privacy. As this was a new phenomena for us and we were not expecting it, we didn’t know how to react. But within 10 minutes, seeing some families around, we were assured of safety. The huts are a feet and a half to 2 feet above ground level, so getting in can be problematic if older people come to stay. Inside, 3 mattresses were placed with pillows. Since we were carrying our bedsheets, that was enough for us. The washrooms for the tourists are decent, so no worries there. We can pay a little money and ask for hot water to bathe.

Towards the left side in the above picture is where food is served for all the tourists. People who want to have Bamboo chicken, which is a tribal delicacy can order beforehand and have it during dinner. The organisers provide vegetarian food.

Few of our friends went for trekking into the forest. Going in past 5.30pm is strictly discouraged, as the terrain can make you lose yourself in it. We had some anxious moments when the ladies who went for the trek didn’t come soon. Thankfully everyone returned safely, though a couple of them had got lost for a few minutes in between.

Some parties arranged for campfires. We all just sat out, enjoying the rustic and peaceful surroundings, in the lap of nature. From the time we get onto the boat, we do not have phone signals, hence we are not disturbed with any distractions. Nowadays everyone is so addicted to whatsapp and facebook, that no matter how peaceful your surroundings are, instead of enjoying it, people tend to spend time with their phones. Here that chance was not given, so it was a blessing.

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Early morning the next day, I was up by 5 am as I didn’t want to miss the sunrise. The above picture is before sunrise, with lots of fog and mist. I enjoyed the beautiful sunrise, though my pictures didn’t come out well, so I am not sharing it and later at 8 am had breakfast.

The boat that was booked exclusively for us arrived at 9.30 am, but we started at 10 am.

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Having an entire boat exclusively for us was fun.

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Beautiful scenery around

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This is the narrowest place where the Godavari flows between 2 hills. It is a mere 500 metres. The serenity envelops you and you are at peace.

Later we were dropped at a point from where we had to board a van to go to Bhadrachalam.

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Bhadrachalam is in the Bhadradri district of Telangana state. Built by Kancherla Gopanna in the 17th century, it was built for Lord Rama. The deities are Lord Rama with Sita Devi and his brother Lakshmana. After having a darshan of Bhagvan, had lunch and  took rest for sometime as we had to take a bus at 6 pm to get back home.

Thus ended our weekend getaway to Papikondalu. Peaceful and lovely.

 

ALAMPUR 4 – Papanasi

From the Sangameshwara temple, we went to the Papanasi Temples which is a cluster of 23 temples. The Papanasi Temples were also relocated to avoid damage by the Srisailam hydro power project.

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These temples built between 7th & 11th century CE. Some started at the time of early Chalukyas but completed during the time of Rashtrakutas & later Chalukyas. The site has two main temples with carved pillars, the rest are small temples.

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Papanaseshwara Temple

The largest temple is the Papanaseshwara temple. It consists of pillared mandapa, antarala and garbagriha.
The Shiva linga of Papanaseshwara is a 1400 year old markata lingam. Greenish in colour and shining.

After entering the temple, sat down to hear the sthala puranam from the Panditji. And casually looked up and saw Nataraja with the Asta Dikpalas on the ceiling.

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Panditji has a commanding voice and had us listening to him with interest.

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To one side we have Mahishasura mardini in the temple with latticed windows and another side we have Vidya Ganapati and Saptamatrikas.

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The Saptamatrikas Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi & Chamundi are the 7 Mother Goddesses, different forms of Aadi Parashakti.

After the darshan and archana of Eswara, concentrated on the pillars.

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The middle carving of the 1st pillar is Narasimha slaying Hiranyakashipu.
2nd pillar is a 10 century inscription.

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Sita Devi being taken away in a chariot, Hanuman, Rama beside a fallen Jatayu. Down last image is of Rama.

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Top line, Shiva Gajasura episode. Bottom middle is Lingodbava Murthy with Brahma & Vishnu on either side.

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Middle in top line is Rama, Lakshman talking to Hanuman mostly. Last is Sita Devi in Asokavan.

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Gurulingeshwara Temple

The temple on the left of the main temple is called Gurulingeshwara. This temple also has a sculpted pillared mandapam and a garbagriha.

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The entrance has dwarapalakas on either side. Note the difference in the stone on the ceiling. While the garbagriha is of the same type of reddish stone as the main temple. The Mandapam and pillars have blackish stone and the carvings on these pillars are better preserved.

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The 1st pillar depicts a war scene with two warriors on chariots. I think it is the Rama Ravana Yudh.

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On the pillar is a beautiful depiction of Shiva Parvati Kalyanam, with Brahma Vishnu on one side and rishis on the other. Below you can see dancers.

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Mahadev in center, I think with Deva’s on 1 side & Gana’s on the other. Below we can see scenes of Tapasya on one leg.

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Story of Trivikrama

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Sagara manthan

Notice the kirtimukhas on each pillar

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10 headed Ravana fighting Rama. We can see the vanaras too.

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Episode of going to kill the golden deer.

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Ravana abducting Sita Devi, Jatayu telling about it to Rama & Lakshman.

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This is an entrance to a smaller temple, with Gajalakshmi on the doorway and I think Ganga & Yamuna below.

After doing pranam in all the small temples, finished the Papanasi Temples visit.

For lunch we stopped at AP tourism, Haritha Hotel which is nearby. If we have a Haritha Hotel or Resort in any tourist destination, we can be assured of decent washrooms, which is an issue during travel in India, specially for women.
Sadly there was nothing much to eat. They just had Fried rice and curd rice. Had to make do with it.

Though we went to Alampur during December ending, it was pretty hot over there, which we did not expect.

Thus ended my Alampur visit.
Blessed to have seen these wonderful temples.

For anyone interested in ancient temple sculpture, do not miss Alampur, if you are nearby.

ALAMPUR 3 – Glory of Badami Chalukyas

Sangameshwara Temple

Today I will share with you a temple showcasing the splendor of the Badami Chalukyas.
The SANGAMESHWARA temple was first located at the Sangam of Krishna & Tungabhadra rivers at a village called Kudavalli, 16 km from Alampur.

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Though the board mentions that it was built during the time of Vikramaditya I (655-81CE), it is believed to have been built by Pulikeshin.

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Nandi in a mandapam opposite the steps to the temple.

Due to Srisailam hydro power project, the temple was at risk of submerging, so it has been relocated to outskirts of Alampur by ASI.
ASI did a fantastic job of replanting the temple, without disturbing the architecture. They took pictures, removed the stones layer by layer & rebuilt it

The interior has 12 carved pillars in the interior and place around the garbagriha for a pradakshina. It has flow of air and light through the latticed windows.

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Wasn’t able to take pictures of the interior and pillars except for this statue. Veerabhadra with Daksha Prajapati beside him.

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Yamuna standing on her vehicle, the turtle. Makaras carved above.

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Harihara in a carved niche.

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Lord Vishnu with Adisesha on his head.

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All the stone windows have different designed lattices. Makaras, Mayuras, Vidyadharas, Kinnaras and Gandharvas are carved above them.

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This looks like a different version of Gajalakshmi. The Gajas are carved in such a way that you may get confused thinking they are Makaras.

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Though this window design looks like a flower, it is a matsya yantra, 8 fish converged together. You can enlarge and see. Kinnaras above the window.

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Mahadev slaying asuras. Ganesha beside him.

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Of all the sculpture of this temple, This Nataraj was the only one that was damaged similar to the ones at Nava Brahma temples, making me wonder whether this Nataraja was brought from a ruin of the Nava Brahma temples.

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The wall full of sculpture

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The temple is on an elevated platform which is richly sculpted all around.

The pujari who does the worship of Deva is the descendant of the family of archakas who have been attached to the temple for the past many centuries. They have shifted to Alampur, along with the temple from Kudavalli.

I had planned to go to Pattadikal and Aihole last May but the trip didn’t materialize. Luckily this trip to Alampur in December has shown me the splendor of the Badami Chalukyas.

 

Alampur – 2 Nava Brahma

Continuing with the Nava Brahma Temples, the 9 temples of Lord Shiva which are around the Jogulamba temple of Alampur.

 

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5. Kumara Brahma Temple.

This temple was probably built during the time of Vikramaditya, 655-681 CE. The outer walls dont have much carving but the pillars in front are carved.

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Floral carving on the ceiling inside. This design is in almost all the Nava Brahma ceilings.

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The next temple is

6. Arka Brahma Temple.

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This temple is completely ruined. All sculpture has been destroyed.

7. Veera Brahma Temple.

 

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On the vimana we can see a Nataraja sculpture. This temple also has been badly damaged.

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Dwarapalakas on either side of the door. One is so badly damaged.

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A naga on the ceiling inside. These nagas were sculpted in a couple of temples along with the floral carving.

 

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A beheaded Nandi.

8. Vishwa Brahma Temple.

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This temple, atleast parts of the sculpture were visible.

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Through the destruction, you cannot fail to appreciate the sculpture.

 

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It makes me so sad seeing the destruction.

ASI Museum

The ASI museum is right beside these temples. Though it is small, it has some wonderful pieces salvaged from the ruins and displayed.

 

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The first picture is of Lord Shiva as Pashupati, the Lord of animals.

The third picture is of Shiva, Parvati with Nandi being worshipped.

Fourth depicts the story where Mahadev comes as a tribal hunter killing the boar, that Arjuna was chasing, to teach humility to Arjuna.

 

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The upper portion of sculpture is Shiva slaying Gajasura. Lower portion is Narasimha slaying Hiranyakashipu.

9. Taraka Brahma Temple

 

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Badly ruined Taraka Brahma Temple.

When you cannot make something, you have no right to destroy it. That is what i  believe strongly.

Thus ended my Nava Brahma temples visit. Beautiful but heart breaking too.

Alampur – 1. A jewel of Telangana

Alampur is a town in Telangana state of India which has historical and spiritual importance. Alampur which was previously in the Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, became part of the Gadwal district of Telangana, post the Bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is on the bank of the River Tungabhadra. It is primarily a Shaivite piligrim centre with Shaktism also worshipped. Historically, Alampur was under the rule of Shatavahana Ishvakus of Nagarjunakonda, Badami Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, Vijayanagara Empire and Qutb Shahis of Golconda. The Chalukyas (a large part) and Rastrakutas left a wealth of architectural beauty in the temples.

We were staying at Nandyal, and thus booked an Innova to take us to Alampur. The distance between Nandyal and Alampur is 104 Km and takes close to 2 hours. But since most of the way was on the highway, we managed to go in about 1 hour 45 minutes. An acquaintance arranged a person to guide us to all the temples. And we met him at Jogulamba Temple.

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Jogulamba Temple                          Brahmeshwara and Jogulamba

JOGULAMBA TEMPLE

Jogulamba Temple is a Shakti Peeta of Sati Devi.
Sati Devi was Lord Shiva’s wife. She once goes to a yagna conducted by her father Daksha Prajapati, uninvited, and against the wishes of Shiva. Shiva unwillingly sends her, at her insistence. At the Yagna, Daksha insults Sati and hurls abuses against Shiva in front of all the other Gods. Unable to bear the insults towards her beloved husband, Sati jumps into the ceremonial fire and commits suicide. An enraged Shiva sends Veerabhadra, who emerges from his fury, to go and destroy Daksha. Veerabhadra destroys the yagna and decapitates Daksha. As nature would suffer if a yagna was halted midway, Lord Vishnu and Brahma come to pacify Shiva and to request him to come to the Yagna sthal. Shiva goes there and gives permission for the Yagna to continue. A Ram’s head is fixed in place of Daksha’s head and life is given back to him. The grief stricken Shiva carries the half burnt body of Sati and wanders around. To make Shiva come out of his grief and since he was not willing to let go of Sati Devi’s corpse, Lord Vishnu cuts the body with his Chakra. These body parts, which fell at different parts of the Earth are worshipped as Shakti Peeta’s, or sacred abodes of Mother Goddess. The 51 parts are scattered mostly over India, a few on places of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal.

Of these 18 are known as Maha Shakti Peetas, of which Jogulamba is the 5th Peeta. It is said that her upper jaw with a tooth fell at Alampur Shakti Peeta. She is in an Ugra Roopa (fearsome appearance) here. Her hair is piled high and a lizard, owl, scorpian and human skull are in her hair. It is said that worshipping Jogulamba removes ill effects.
The temple of Jogulamba was destroyed by the Bahamani Sultans in 1390 CE. Broken idol was safeguarded in the Bala Brahmeshwara Temple. The temple of Jogulamba was rebuilt after 615 years in 2005. The temple is surrounded by water so as to keep the temple cool, as the wrath of Mother Goddess heats up the place.

After the darshan of Jogulamba, we went to see the Nava Brahma Temples.

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NAVA BRAHMA TEMPLES

Brahmeshwara is the consort of Jogulamba. The Nava Brahma temples are nine temples of Lord Shiva spread around the Jogulamba Temple. These temples are constructed by the Badami Chalukyas starting from 7th century CE. The Badami Chalukyas were great patrons of art and these nine temples have lovely sculpture on it. Sadly many parts of the sculpture was destroyed by the Muslim invaders.

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Balabrahmeshwara Temple

1. BALA BRAHMA TEMPLE
It is in this temple that the broken idol of Jogulamba was safeguarded from the invaders. This temple was built in 702 CE. Regular temple rituals are performed here and Shivaratri is celebrated here every year.

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Swarga Brahma temple

2. SWARGA BRAHMA TEMPLE
Built during 681-696 CE in the Vinayaditya era, it is the most elaborately sculpted temple.

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Lord Surya in the center, Lingodbhava murthy on the right with Brahma and Vishnu doing Pranam to him, left side could be Tripurantaka.

 

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Gandharvas flying above and couples in courtship below.

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Trivikrama. Just notice the multi layered carving. Even through the destruction, we can see the glory of the carving.

Moving to the next temple.

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3. PADMA BRAHMA TEMPLE

Probably the last to be built, it is unfinished in terms of work on the temple.

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Garuda Brahma temple

4. GARUDA BRAHMA TEMPLE

Built between 848-891 CE during the time of Vijayaditya.

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Garuda above the Garbagriha doorway

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Dwarapalaka

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Latticed windows in the stone walls. The alcoves are empty which could mean that the sculpture in it was destroyed.

I will continue with the rest of the Navabrahma temples in my next. I have taken many pictures of the sculptures, though I am posting only a few.