Saturday, 2 September 2017

Orvakal- a hidden tourist destination

Orvakal- as unfamiliar as it sounds to anyone who has been in the state (Andhra Pradesh, now Telangana) for 10 years, it also exists as an 'unnoticed place' even though located just a few kilometers away from the bustling town of Kurnool.

I had raised my brows when hubby asked me to 'google' about this place but once I did, I was not disappointed. We had immediately decided that 'this' is going to be our stop over place before we proceeded our trip to Mantralayam.

Orvakal is a small village just 20 kms away from Kurnool on NH 18. The place is home to rich rock formations of Silica and Quartz. These rocks are geologically called 'fully weathered' rocks and are in great demand by the glass industry. These rocks are believed to give out equi- granular particles on crushing.

The Andhra Pradesh Tourism (APTDC) has developed a Rock Garden with cottages and a restaurant midst 200 acre igneous rock formations. There are walkways all around the garden that can be explored either by foot or your own four-wheeler.

Here are few images of the garden:

Rows of monsoon crops along the high way...


























Rock formation inside the garden...













































































Witness a beautiful sunset midst the rocks...


























Dusk and the silhouettes...



























The quiet moon at night...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Tales of Pondicherry...continued

This is my second post about Pondicherry. Read the first post here.

Being my second visit to the beautiful beach city, I was both curious and nostalgic about this trip. Curious because I wanted to see how city had changed ( or maintained its' old charm) from the time I had visited it 10 years ago; nostalgic because it was the first trip that I had ventured out with my friends alone.

2007 was a time when I had just started earning. With a few bucks in pocket, had set off with my friends to Pondy from Bangalore. Taking a state transport, staying in Ashram guest house (as it was the cheapest) and savouring the French connection either by Tourism Dept. bus or by foot had a charm in itself. Without a camera, I had to capture the beauty of the town in my eyes (of course one friend did possess a digital camera and we did click some pictures). One thing I could ever remember were the neatly laden streets of the French quarters; which compelled me to visit the place for the second time I think.

Now, when I visited in 2016, I was bestowed with all the luxury: the comfort of a flight/ cab, stay at a Heritage hotel, extravagant eateries, a DSLR hanging down my shoulder and the company of my family. But one thing that overshadowed everything was the 'city' itself. It had changed. Nothing looked familiar (except the sea): nor the streets or the buildings.

This post is an attempt to give a glimpse of the city (though I don't intend to present pictures of all important landmarks). These are few places that we, as a family enjoyed spending time around.

A walk through the Goubert Avenue/ the Beach Road...View of the lights during night, didn't dare the picture of the complete street as it was completely packed...



























View of the pier at Rock beach...


























Sunrise at Rock Beach...





























One among the numerous cafes... all decked up for Christmas...





























Wall art at Cafe De Arts...


























The Gothic architecture and the stained glasses of Sacred Heart Church...
















































































































A boat ride through the backwaters to reach the Paradise beach...



























At Paradise beach...



















































Some serious contemplation at Matrmandir, Auroville...


























The less popular but equally beautiful Serenity Beach...


























Hues of orange at Serenity beach...



















































Though these pictures speak a lot about Pondicherry which is crowded now yet beautiful, the real beauty of the place is still intact in my memory!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Tales of History from 'Malenadu' of Karnataka...

Rains, evergreen paddy fields, an overload of fresh air are the words synonymous with 'Malenadu' in Karnataka- an area that covers the slopes of Western Ghats or the Sahyadri mountain ranges that stretch up to 100 kms. Literally meaning 'the land of mountains and rains', Malnad is enriched with dense forest reserve and is origin to many rivers.

Morning scenes from the streets of Malenadu...

























































While there are many destinations in Malnad area that are very popular with tourists who love nature and trekking such as Kudremukh, Chikmangalore, Mullayanagiri and Sakleshpur, it is a host to many off- beat destinations too.

One such place is Keladi in Sagar taluk of Shimoga district. Keladi is about 8 kms from the town of Sagar and around 45 kms from the well- known Jog falls.

Turning back to history- Keladi was a part of the Vijayanagara Empire in 15th century but it was looked after by the Nayakas of that region. When the Vijayanagara empire disintegrated, Nayakas became independent rulers. They remained so till mid 18th century; finally defeated by Hyder Ali. After their defeat to Hyder Ali, they were absorbed into the Kingdom of Mysore.

Keladi was the first capital of the Nayakas which was later shifted to Ikkeri. The earliest ruler to rule Keladi was Chaudappa Nayaka (or Chaudappa Gowda). It was during his reign that the double temple of Rameshwara and Virabhadra were built. A story goes that two of Cahudappa Gowda's servants- Yadava and Murari discovered that one of their cows had shed her milk on an ant hill digging onto which they found a 'linga'. Because of this Chaudappa Nayaka built the temple.

The temple complex has three temples- Rameshwara, Veerabhadreshwara and Parvati. The temples are built in green-grey stone in Hoysala- Dravidian style. The roof and pillars are made of carved wood. The entrance of the temple has pavilions on both sides supported by wooden pillars. This gives the temple more a 'homely' appearance than that of a temple. The ceilings inside the temple are depicted with carvings of Navagraha, Gandaberunda and Nagamandala.

The pavilion with wooden pillars at the entrance...































































The carvings on the exteriors...































































































A massive 24- feet 'Mahasthamba' or 'Dhwajasthamba' pillar can be found in the backyard of the temple complex. The pillar has depictions on all four sides.

Depiction of Ganesha on one side of Mahasthamba. (Below, Rani Chennamma paying respects with her consorts...)






































Keladi was Nayakas' capital only for 14 years, later it was shifted to Ikkeri- about 6 kms south to the town of Sagar. Ikkeri remained as the capital for almost 120 years. Another beautiful temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva was built is Ikkeri- the Aghoreshwara temple.






























The Aghoreshwara temple has an eclectic style of Hoysala, Chola, Vijayanagara and also that of Deccan Sultanate. Mainly built with granite, the tourists are welcomed by a huge idol of Nandi at the entrance. The doorways of the temple has ornamental figurines with equally intricate and detailed carvings on the interiors and exteriors. During my visit, the sun rays of the golden hour gave a golden hue to the stone walls of the temple and made look it all the more beautiful.

The doorway...




A trip to Keladi and Ikkeri can be completed in half a day. So it can also be clubbed with a visit to Jog falls (insanely famous among the locals). The drive between Sagar and Jog falls is definitely worth a try. 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Dudhsagar Falls

A visit to Dudhsagar falls was in our (that includes S and me) bucket list from a long time. But we had never given serious thoughts about it.
We finally decided to tick it out from our list last October.

So we headed to see the falls in early October, soon after the monsoons. With a senior citizen and an 8 year old kid accompanying us, we completely ruled out the thought of trekking through the way. For that, we had figured out take one of the jeep rides available from the nearest village of Kulem. As we were driving from Karwar, it took us almost 3 hours to reach Kulem. On arrival though we learned that Jeep rides had not been started operating due to continuous downpour and the only rides available were the 'bike rides'.

Even before we could say yes to the offer, the bike owner threw a bomb shell saying the rides would cost around 2000 per bike! And we needed 3 bikes!!! Our instant reaction was a complete NO. Then came the negotiation and the bargaining. The final amount still came out to be around Rs. 5000/-We were still in double minds considering the age of my MIL which is 70+.

When we started, it just seemed like another bike ride on the rugged roads of the Western Ghats (much like what we usually experience in the native villages of South Canara). But less did we know about the later part of the ride, 10 odd kms next to a railway track literally riding on the edge and on the rocks. That's when the fact of charging such a huge sum struck us, it was a very dangerous ride (plus adventurous too).

We reached the foot of the waterfall after an hour, half drenched (because of rains) and half exhausted (because of the ride). At the foot of the falls, we just get a glimpse of the falls; we had to further pass through small streams to watch the waterfall from close.

After trekking for more 30 mins, we were finally there! It didn't actually seem like "Sea of Milk" though, as that's what is the literal meaning of Dudhsagar. But for all the pain that we had taken to reach the falls we had to admit it was good, more for the ride than the view of the waterfall. From what we witnessed, it looks like the train journey and the subsequent view that we get to see seems more promising than the option that we had taken. Nevertheless, no regrets.

Here are a few pictures:

The railway track that one can trek through to reach the waterfall...






































The waterfall...






































Water streams...



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Bangalore Palace- a photo blog

Just for a change (and more for not being in a mood to write about the history of the palace :) I have decided to post only the pictures of Bangalore Palace. Though beautiful, the entrance fee and camera charges are priced exorbitantly because of which one may not want to carry a camera inside the palace premises. The following photographs were shot from a smartphone.

The entrance of the palace...









































































The ball room...






























The durbar hall...













































































Elaborate corridors with ornate chandeliers...






































Maharani's courtyard...






































Tile work with intricate patterns...








































Family portraits against unique wallpapers...






































The wall that I liked the most...






































Maharaja's courtyard...with detailed Spanish tiled bench and fountain...







































































































Though not as majestic as the palaces in Rajasthan, Bangalore palace is definitely worth a visit (without a camera, a smartphone is enough to do the job :)

Orvakal- a hidden tourist destination

Orvakal- as unfamiliar as it sounds to anyone who has been in the state (Andhra Pradesh, now Telangana) for 10 years, it also exists as an ...