Being lost even when GPS seems working I think is something that we have taken up for granted. And, finding newer things and pausing to find something beautiful is a new normal then.
Well Bankapur fort was one such place. We had read about the Nagareshvara Temple inside the fort and wanted to check that out post our trip from Galaganath.
The fort is some 360 odd kilometers from Bengalore and 23 kms from Haveri. Haveri, does not have great places to stay. It was an “ok” place, where we could sleepover as a pit stop before we headed off further north of Karnataka. We started off after a sumptuous breakfast.
The fort is off the main road in the Bankapur area, which is well known for Peacock sanctuary and for Black Bucks (Well we could see none). Bankapur was a glorious place in the past. It was ruled by Rastrakutas, Chalukyas, Suenas, Hoyasala before being ruled by the Bahmani Sultans. This place was also ruled further by Bijapur’s Ali Adil Shah and then by the Suvanur Nawabs who had to pledge the fort to the Maratha Holkars, who fell to Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. The fort was finally seized by the Britishers. In the due course of time, the fort lost its glory and its structure too.
Not knowing Kannada and following the GPS, we seemed to have gone around the barbed fencing of the fort and reached at a spot where we realized we were lost. That is where we paused and shot some lovely little birds.
We finally reversed and parked outside a wall and people said, you got to walk through this gate. As we started to walk, we were welcomed by a deserted feel. It had wild vegetation all around and the broken walls. From there on it was a deserted walk for close to one kilometer. The good part is that, there is a shade cover that the government has built. There are no signage to lead to the temple space though.
As we walked to a small junction point we happened to meet a bunch of school kids who had come on a school excursion. What energy and fun. Reminded us of our school fun days.
After chatting up with them and asking for directions, we headed on our right side towards the temple place. The placed looked deserted yet had a charm of its own. May be still saying I have my mesmerizing effects still on.
This place was the fort area though deserted and not much of visitors except for the locals, there is a habitation. People come and farm inside too. The government has given the local people the lands to be used. The spaces unused are huge.
Cultivation inside the fort
As we neared the place, the first side was that of the roof and then the temple space opened up for us. The smallness was grandeur for us. The temple today would be some seven feet below the normal ground height as of today. As we took the flight of stairs, one could feel that ASI has been working on the space. It was very clean and gave a feel of the care that the government is taking for preserving these pristine pasts of ours.
This ancient Western Chalukyan temple is also called as “Aravattarukmbhada Gudi” or “Temple with Sixty six columns. It was built in the later Chalukya or Kalyani Chalukya rulers. And yes, this is again another Shivan temple, similar to what Western Chalukya kings have been creating. This temple was created in the 12th century.
We had to remove our footware and get into the temple space, even though we did not find any prayers being done to the linga. The young Bengali ASI person who was bought up in Bihar and had an Odiya girlfriend who wanted to go for a kannada movie that morning with a local friend that day ensured that we all remove our footware there.
As we discussed and started to ask him more questions about the place, we realized he hardly had any understanding of what this place was. He was eager to close the main sanctum and move on for the day.
Exquisite carvings on the door of the sanctum. There is a lot lost with time and still this art work stands tall.
The sixty six pillars forms the part of the small mandapa, which must have been a place of congregation. Though we stepped into the sanctum, we could one see a small shiva Linga and it seemed to have been shut because of ASI work. Our ASI man did not let us click any pics inside too.
The intricate designs on one of the pillars
The first impression that we got were the beautifully chilled pillars. It would remind anyone of the Belur & Belvadi temples. The only difference is that, they were build for Vishu and these Chalukyan were for Shiva. And yes, Hoyasala architecture is heavily influenced by the Chalukyan creations. This temple is a great example for it.
When one enters the temple, one could feel the chillness in the space. The floor and the sandstone pillars chill the place. The sandstone structures also gives in to the fact the carvings and structures suggests that it could have been the beginning of stone carvings. Bankapur has a dense population of peacocks and it shows in the carvings too.
A normal life then
Peacock Symbol of Banakpur
Peacock feather design
Typical Chalukya Design
We spent a lot of time, walking and feeling the beautiful carvings on the walls. The door especially had some intrinsic workings and one see how the stones have hollowness as well as liveliness at the same time.
The raised platforms around the inner part of the wall did have similar impressions as that of Galagnath temple, where people must have used this for playing board games. There is something about that place that could get peace and tranquility.
The subsequent time that flew post the creation, the fort’s occupiers in the later years broke a lot of artifacts, statues and today what we see could just be a small part of that beautiful history.
Some of the monuments have been placed at different places of the palace, just as a reminder as to what this place would have been.
As we walked back to our car, we could only talk as to what the stars above us would have seen when the plans for this magnificent temple was laid and then its destruction. Thanks to ASI for having preserved such jewels for this and the subsequent generations to cherish and feel awe about.
Things to check:
- Haveri is a small place, cannot expect great hotels. And if you are looking at staying before heading to Bankapur, this is the best place only.
- Food is local but nice and clean. If you are experimenter then a great way to taste local food.
- Own transport is the best to discover new places.
- The Bankapur fort is dilapidated and the entrance would like some government place. So check with locals if you feel lost. People GPS is best.
- There is no ASI fees to enter the place and no one asks money in the temple.
- There is a lot of walking to be done from the gate to the temple space.
- If you are travelling during summer time, carry your own caps and shades.
- The place is very peaceful and soak the beauty.
- Carry your own food & water bottles. You do not have shops to buy what you may like.
- Finally, ensure “Swatch Bharat”
Indeed, Incredible India!! and a glorious history of India!!!… Only wanting us to come back again and again.