Dilapidated Glory!!!

Tattered and haggled,
Waiting to be known
Yearning for someone to come by,
Hold me and give me back my pride!!

Cud-43On my way to Chidambaram, was enticed by this place, “St. David Fort” at Cuddalore. WoW!! a fort and that too at Cuddalore, a must on my list now. South India having a fort, so what if the google search threw up a small one. I have to go and see it. Set on my GPS to help me reach the destination. As Google map kept showing a closer place, I was getting all eager and excited. As I turned the last right to reach the destination, I could hear the female voice yelling, “You have reached your destination”… And I was like, what, where?? This is a broken place. I went ahead and hit onto to the silver beach just 150 mts away from my fort…

I turned around the vehicle and slowly parked my car next to the gate of a dilapidated house. I could finally connect with that place by looking at the gate which stated that this “Was capital of the english possessions on the coromondal coast, before the French demolished it and later restored in 1785 by the British.”

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Today it is a ruined place waiting for someone to recognise and tell the world that there is a rich history that it owned once. Even though it is 350 Years old but still provides shelter to the locals who seemed to have occupied this place as their own. No one to ask, no one to wonder that this was a glory of yesteryears.

Disappointed I noticed a familiar structure. Aha!! this was the one that I saw in the web, it is the other castle bang opposite this so called fort. As I moved my car inside the compound wall, I was in two minds if I should step down. This place had a haunted feeling. Well at 11.30 am in the afternoon, I pulled in my guts to step up my adventure. My partners in crime decided to chill themselves in the AC environment of the car.

The first sight that welcomed me was the dead tree in front of the castle. WoW!! nice welcome.Cud-38

Well I pulled in my guts and made my steps further into the castle.All my fears vanished and I was only left with sadness and felt pity. This small castle must have really seen its glory days. One could see the richness in the design and layout of the building. The steps would have witness the powerful and rich stepping on them and walking about giving their instructions. The kitchen and Utility space does talk about the richness in concept then itself. The barren broken down bedroom reminds of the lavish spread of space. The Chimney in the back yard gives the feeling of castle in a place which is known for more thatch or flat roof structures.

What is left today is broken stairways, walls scribbled all over with obscenity and vulgar creativity, the tiles and slabs that others could not break and take up. People seemed to have looted it well over the last 200 years and left it to the bare minimum for it to survive with its tell tale signs of lost and grief. They seem to be looking up for help and asking for some recognition from the locals who would use its verandah for their afternoon siesta or their drinking sessions.

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Backyard view of the castle

As I got into my car, I was wondering a past glory well recognised by Google but in reality is a history in wanting. I felt it as a piece of history lost in the sands of time which could have been an attractive site for tourism.

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Shelled Shore!!!

She sells sea shells in the sea shore,
But would she sell on a shell shore…  🙂

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Sea Shell Beach – St. Mary’s Island, Udupi

Nature, has built in its own ornaments and placed it beautifully across the globe. Am sure, while building its ornaments, it did ensure that India has a fair share of jewels and treasures hidden in the various parts of the country. The more I travel and explore, I realise that the less I know about this beautiful country. One of such lovely treasures is a small island called “St. Mary’s Island“. A very small island 6 kms off the Udupi beach into the pristine blue waters of the Arabian sea. An Island that seemed to have been discovered by Vasco da Gama.

It was a very tiring day for me as I have been driving for 6 consecutive days travelling from East coast (Chennai) to West coast (Mangalore / Udupi) of India. After having visiting the famous Krishna temple at Udupi (Odipu in Tulu), I wanted to head back to Mangalore which was our base for the day. Half hearted I said yes to heading towards the Malpe beach. I kept saying, “Same water, same blue, yeah!! may be more clear”. Still my partner insisted and I said ok.. I would I have cursed myself more, had I not head her. (Lesson: Listen to your partner often ;))

West coast travel-390The beach brought back my life in a flash, it was the humid breeze that lifted my sagging spirits again and we started to walk around. It was 2.30 pm in the afternoon but was certainly a very busy afternoon, with kids and locals jumping and playing around. The street vendors were setting up their shops.

West coast travel-391As we strolled there were couple of young guys who kept asking, “would you like to go to the St. Mary’s island?” and I was like what’s there??

He said, “Sir, nice beach.. very different from here!!”

What, how can a beach be different, it is a beach and it will be the same all over.. Half hearted I said yes and gave the money after consent from my partner.. It was Rs 150/- bucks per person.

Well we had to wait for 20 mins before we got our ride on.. Clutching my camera bag, water bottles (a must, the sea makes you more thirsty) and cap we started. Once all the Landmass looked so different, and my fear of deep waters started getting the better of me. My little champ kept nudging and asking his 100 questions, which seemed to have helped in my journey of 6 kms in the sea.

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The boat ride

As we got down we were welcome by extremely soft white sand and round pebbles everywhere. While getting down the boat man said one hour and 5.30 pm is the last ride back. Alright, we got down and was admiring the coconut trees and the kids playing in water. I saw a lot of smooth small pebbles that looked like volcanic rocks smoothened by sea waves. At that moment we saw a lot of people walking though the bushes. The curiosity got the better of us and we followed them through a 150 mts patch of bushes to the other side of the island.
Woho, what a view!!! I was awe struck…

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Shell beach

I seemed to have been transported to a different place. The beach felt different against a crystal clear blue sea and hexagonal pillared rocks marking the outlining the beach. A closer look and I was stuck by the beach.. It was a beach filled with sea shells. Never in my life had I seen so many sea shells on a beach. First reaction, it is fake and let’s dig it and I did just to feel the pain of the sharp shells. It was not man made rather a natural phenomena where sea shells had been deposited on the beach along this part of the coast. I was jumping on the beach like a Kid. (Had I continued a little longer Mr.Vasco da Gama would have come down to cool me off)

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Rock with Shells glued to it!!

We spend more than an hour soaking the beautiful sea shell beach and the amazing hexagonal rock structures, which seemed to be prehistoric and volcanic in nature. I still was amazed by this beautiful phenomena. But did feel sad looking at the glass bottles (some broken) people have left behind at various places. One needs to be careful which climbing the rocks and explore.

 

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Shells, water, rocks and horizon… Aha!!

It is a small island but really a phenomenal place to explore and soak in the nature’s beautiful creation.

I am surprised that Indian / Karnataka tourism does not speak much about this natural wonder at all. I do not think across the globe you would see such a marvellous nature “Sea shell beach.”

As we hurried to catch our ferry and head back, I was even more charged up. I was thinking of the rechargeable battery and me. For me St Mary’s was a free soul charging point. I was jumping like the Duracell bunny all the way back to Mangalore that day.

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Shell, Oh Shell, which Shell do I choose!!

The funny part was, normally I had a tendency to pick some shells from any beach that I visit, but here I was spoilt for choice and I could treasure the moments and awesomeness of the place…

St Mary’s.. you will always be shelled in my memory….

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Indian Grand Canyon – Gandikota

They are persistent,
He is all pervasive
They cut through to make their way,
He says, I will show you the path to make.
They giggle with joy in the lap of beauty he created…

 

I could think of how mighty and wonderful can nature be, the Penner River flowing so peacefully but grande, passing through huge 100 ft tall walls guarding the sacred water. Welcome to the Indian Grand Canyon, Gandikota!!! (I really wonder why do we have to add a western connotation when the place could hold and attract many on its own…)

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This amazing place sits beautifully in the lap of Kadapa district in Andhra. Kadapa, a place famous for the Kadapa slabs that it supplies to the whole of India. One thing that I have noticed is that, any of the beautiful picturesque places in India always has some amazing royal history to it and Gandikota is no exception to that. The gorge and the river gives a natural protection to the fort that any kingdom in the past would certainly look out for.  The Gandikota fort has a glorious history which is now 893 years old.

The pictures on google really got us excited to head towards this beautiful, majestic place. The pictures reminded me of Hampi (the vijayanagar dynasty)

We reached Gandikota by 10.30 am and I was worried that the Kadappa heat will kill us. Surprise surprise, it was way better than I thought. As I turned the car towards Gandikota, was surprised to see the vastness of open spaces and the lone road leading us towards the fort. The nothingness all around is stunning meandering road in the midst of vast empty lands. In the distance one could see the huge wind turbines.

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Road to Gandikota

As we came closer to the fort, we were welcomed by the huge walls of the fort, which tells how well these were fortified and it has stood witness to the history of the past. At first as I parked my car outside hesitantly, that is when the shopkeeper there suggested you could take it inside. Inside!!! Alright… oh boy what a feel as I turned my car inside those huge walls.. could feel the pride an army would take marking in an out of the fort.

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As I took the final turn inside, I was stuck in a huge traffic .. Oh boy, not here too was the thought as I smiled end to end. This was a different kind of traffic, there was this simple old shepherd with his flock blocking my passage. This was one traffic I could really wait to clear without honking 🙂

 

I moved in and parked it next to the Jama Masjid there. A replica of the Charminar at Hyderabad. A magnificent structure which am sure was very much in use in its pristine times. It had a square structure which seems like a fountain structure build by the rulers then. The pipe structures carrying water are still there.

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Jama Masjid

Right next to that is the huge Granary. We had the privilege of meeting up with the man managing the place now. He took us to the top of the granary. After having walked through the narrow steps we were awed by the scenic view around. I do not think my camera could do justice to what the eyes saw. On one side we had the beautiful Gorge made by River Pennar, while the other side were the beautiful mountain ranges with the windmills on it.

Could not hold any longer to see the beautiful gorge and we slowly rushed towards its. Low and behold as it opened up, the beautiful gust of sweet chill breeze rising from the gorge welcomed us. Telling us to hold back the moment and soak oneself in the eternal natural beauty. We seemed to have been fortunate to see a good amount of water flowing through. The rocks looked very artistic and over imposing. But at the same time peaceful. We stood at the rock cliff for a while before we started climbing and shooting our selfies.

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Pennar River

After having spent time at the gorge we started walking towards the other end in search of some hidden treasures near Madhavaraya temple. As we walked around the temple, we were welcome by this beautiful uneven road made by the villagers for their daily usage. On one hand we saw the lovely fields while on the other was bushes and small trees. The beauty of the fort boundary wall pulled us, but there was no proper access road. Well when you are out for an adventure why not be one with that. We hopped through boulders and small crackers just to be standing in front of the 40 ft tall rock walls.

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Magnificent walls

Which seemed to have been testimony of time. We climbed up the wall stairs and explored the beautiful length. The sun heat did not deter us and our caps were very handy. After a good photo shoot we headed back to the temple.

After a hot day of walk the Kakatya style temple was a bliss. The entrance of the temple is huge but welcoming. While the inner sanctum is a flat structure with a well laid out carved pillars. The inner walls did not have much carvings but there seemed to be etched art work on them depicting the lords. There seems to have bee significance of Lord Vishu and Seshnag (The snake lord). We removed our shoes, and stretched ourselves out and caught a wink soaking in all the energy. Our flat feets on the cool floor of the temple was like being in a spa.

Finally we started after about 4 hours of roaming and soaking ourselves in the lost beauty of the Pennar river and the magnificent structures of history. This place does have many visitors and the calmness was a treat to the ears and body. There is no major restaurant that we could find. And you would certainly need loads of water there to hydrate and explore. Do not forget to have your exploring shoes on as there is so much to walk around and be surprised.

The rock structure around it looked more like an UFO carved picture. It was truly a Colorado moment. It is not only beautiful but also gratifying.

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