The LASSI

“Lassi is a Lassi is a Lassi is a Lassi”

When Gertrude Stein in 1913 wrote, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”.. she might not have thought that people across the globe would use it for any article that could suite them..

Sweet white LassiWell not every Indian would add and agree to that statement with Rose and the “Quintessential Lassi”… When the world talks about the white sweet lassi, one place in Bhubaneswar, says Nah!! we do not like it white, let’s make it brown. Why should every thing from curd be white.

Well, welcome to “Lingaraj Lassi centre” . A bustling city space right in the heart of the city at Shahid Nagar (Near Durga Mandapa). Bhubaneswar being a foodies delight, this place adds to the flavour and it is very difficult to resist not going there and gulping down a glass of chill Lingaraj Lassi.

Having heard about this lassi, we happened to head out to have this beautiful sweetened

34493708331_9668a6c207_olassi. At first, the place being crowded makes you think about the popularity and fan following. There was ample space to park our car though slightly away, but the pull was strong for a nice walk. I struggled to first understand what to be done because of the crowd. Then we slowly made our way to see the whole jamboree of activities that happen right in front of you.

On the left as one enters, there was one who was scraping heaps of coconut, while right in front was a small cemented space to hold big blocks of ice which was being broken and taken for mixing it up with the lassi. As this was happening, what caught my fascination was the four huge furnaces on which there were huge pots of Khoa (Milk Product) was being made. The lassi here is made different with loads and loads of Khoa (Another milk product), which is basically what gives it the brown colour and the sweetness that it brings.  It is fascinating to see that there was this one man who kept staring the pots to get the right thickness and flavour to Khoa. Once this was done, curd along with sugar and Khoa was put in a mixer and served. There were close to fifteen mixers kept just for this purpose,

There are close to three people manning the serving area but one held the money and was mouthing the instructions while he himself went on serving. The coordination was so smooth that, only when the money was paid the glasses were held out to the customer.   This gentleman held a thick wad of money in his hand, explicitly saying he is the cashier without even having a board.

The prices were economical, a large glass (Approx 500 Ml) is priced at Rs50/- while the small glass (Approx 300 ml) was priced Rs 40/-. Now one can have a sugar free lassi too, but then when you have so much sweetness in Khoa, what is sugar free?? 2ecff44b86293d926068010b3c6f176d

 

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What ever said and done, once the liquid flows down the throat, there is a sense of peace 34624310715_a28409af3d_oand pure bliss. Well the only caution that it is really a sweet concoction and could hit you really heard, so choose your glass accordingly.

And.. if you are in Bhubaneswar, you could place an online order too..

Having said so, will always say.. “If in Bhubaneswar during summers (Available only in summers), never ever miss this heady Lassi”

Oh!! you can check their humble space on facebook too but not that active, it just says that the focus of these guys on the product and not on publicity. It is truly for its loyal customers like me to do.. 🙂

 

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My first book.. Maya. Do pick up a copy at Amazon or Notionpress.com

 

 

 

Fort Art!!!

“Expect the unexpected!!”

fortkochi-1The word fort raises so much expectations and imaginations of what could be there. I too had an imagination of huge walls, fortification, palatial place … Well, all that was about to happen when we stepped into the ferry to go to Kochi Fort, a small island off the mainland.

As we stepped out, we were welcome by the beautiful Chinese nets that adorn the shoreline of Fort Kochi island. They seem to be a symbol of Kochi, standing there fabulous against the beautiful cloud cover and the ever present Arabian Sea… As we walked further into the fort area the realisation dawned in that there is no more of a fort existing and there are only remains of those classic era in the form of few monuments spread across the island. Today there are many beautiful shops and restaurants that cover the expanses of the island.

As we walked further, I was stunned with what caught my eyes. It was an expression offortkochi-2 love, emotions, life and most important to me was.. an expression of freedom… All that was spread and beautifully captured on the walls of various houses and shops. Letting people and artists use these empty spaces to express their feelings and emotions in an open public canvas. It was just not one wall that was let to get decorated rather there were walls all through out the space that we walked around.

fortkochi-3On one where there was the expression of freedom and free thinking, there was another talking about an emotional connect. Some showcased the modern trend of love to that of just geometrical graphic designs to express the elephant inside.. There were more of metaphorical connections that one could think off as we walked across the streets and feel awe around.

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Free Birdie

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Life and Fun

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Get those colourful wings on..

It is a delight to see how beautifully these walls have been used as a form of expressions. I had never expected Fort Kochi to be a such a beautiful treasure-house of art work in an open frame… It was like peeking through the Veil..

Such an incredible place and incredible art… Imagination flew along with me as we caught the ferry back to the main land..
What mesmerizes me is how do people get such beautiful creative ideas to express.??

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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Belum -underground wonder

Dark & dingy.. slimy & slippery,
Crevasses so slim and deep…
Slithering through the spine
a sense of fear, like a spear

Underground cave!!! and I freaked… have you gone mad, it would be suffocating. Have you seen the batman movie, no way!!! A few days later, as my partner nudged again, I took Andhra-178solace from the wired world trying to find out more about this place called Belum, close to 400 kms from Chennai. To my surprise, many from the Andhra belt were not even aware about any such place… Well the net was of help and did give me some solace. The biggest kick was to the photographer side of me, which was mesmerised by the beautiful pics by the earlier travellers. That bolstered my confidence. plus the other biggest motivator was the 400 kms drive into the state of Andhra Pradesh. This was the first time I was going to be driving in Andhra. Just before the d-day, I got my car filled with nitrogen & also tank up. As a ritual, kick off started at 6 am with the plan to leave the city as early and enter the road to Tirupati and the from there on to Kadapa. Folks told me that the roads are very good in Andhra but unfortunately that was not the case. The road till Tirupati was good but the moment I left Tirupati, I was struggling to keep the car constantly at the top gear. The roads would either turn out to be single lane or filled with pot holes. I was desperately missing my Tamilnadu Roads. Well could not complain more as my mission was now to reach Belum by 3 pm.

It was around 3.40 pm finally that we crossed the Kolimigundla village and inched closer to Belum caves. As we rolled down the windows, a very strong sent of dhania (Coriander) us and we were wondering are we at the right place. But what a sight… any direction that one would look at it is just small green plants with white toppings.. I have never had seen or heard of such lush flourishing fields of Coriander…

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Just as one enters

As I turned the car into the huge entrance saying Belum Caves, i was wondering where the caves are, there was no signage saying this way. Well I must say we humans do rely on networking and guessing :).. As I inched further we reached the mouth of the of the caves.

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The entrance

 

One would be invited by the hum of motors and strong scent of Coriander as you get to the ticket counter. The surprise was when I was said that there was no charge for my camera. Off course the charges for us was really nominal. As one looks around, the first thought is where is the cave… There is no cave to look around. Curiously I asked at the counter, where is the counter.. “Sir, down there”.. Puzzled I again asked What, where?? He seemed infuriated and he said, “Please go there sir.. Just go ahead, at the gate the man will help you..” and he turned to attend to the next customer. Well help myself and headed to the gate..

Behold right there in front of me was the man and the ticket checker… “Sir, down here you will reach the place come sir, the place will be closed in an hour’s time”. Come Andhra-102quickly. He said all that in his beautiful broken english.  We asked him, for a guide and he again said, sir I come no problem. Well we looked at each other before we alighted the steps.The rocks were extremely smooth as we got down to see this natural wonder. This lovely place was discovered way back in the 1884 by the then geologist, Robert Bruce and then was completely unnoticed for the next 100 years till it was rediscovered by a german team in 1982 by Herbert Gebauer. The entrance hall has been named after him. Well as you get inside the cave, you are welcome by smooth limestone tunnels. These are as big as 25 ft high and a width of 40 ft. They are are very smooth like that of a baby’s cheek.

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Smooth walls

A total of 3.5 kms of beautiful intricate tunnels have been discovered and mapped but only 1.5 kms have been made accessible to the public. There are crevices that are extremely narrow while some are very broad for an easy passage. The pathway have been well lit artificially. There is no way that the natural lights could pass through. As I walked through the undulations of the places, I was mesmerised and captivated by the way nature has these hidden treasures. There seems to be a history that river Bhadravati used to flow through these tunnels but I have not been able to find any literature with regard to this. One theory that I could correlate is that of a place that is named as “Patalganga” where water does flow through but only during a rainy season. The water there has cut through the rock so beautifully that it has given one of the rocks the shape of a Shiva Linga. We were not that lucky to actually see any water filled channels. Patalaganga is the deepest point that we had gone down to in the cave.

 

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Towering smooth tunnels

There is a place, which is called the meditation centre where one had to literally crawl to get into that place. It is said that the Buddhist monks used to use these places to pray and meditate. The place does give you a feel of being in a trance. As we walked through, we saw the beautiful art work of nature, The lime drops have created some beautiful Stalactites and Stalagmites. At one place the two have come together to form an amazing banyan tree structure.

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Well lit path ways

Thanks to the pressurised air vents that the government has put it, which let’s fresh air get circulated into these caves. Am sure one could otherwise have a sauna bath down there. These air vents were the reason for those pump sound when we were at the entrance.

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Smooth holes give you a feel of an UFO structure

We came out and had made a plan to stay in the dormitory there. It was a ok stay for Rs 600/- per night for the whole room that we took. Very functional in nature and no other support. APTDC really needs to do something to better the amenities there.

Though there are no decent restaurants where one could go and have food. We enjoyed the starry lit night and the evening walk to the road side place to have some food for the night. Well, will not complain as I had some authentic spicy Andhra food. Thanks to Ramadevi & her hospitality. The beauty was in the simplicity of the food that we had. It was really nice!!

As we were leaving the next day morning, it left us in a very mystic feeling. I was in mixed emotion of happiness and awe. But what ever said and done, “India is really Incredible!!!”. There are so many beautiful man-made and natural treasures that one will never be tiered off…

Belum is well etched in my memory….

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PATALI… A hidden trek

Dhana bala hele, Puri
Mana bala hele, Patali
(If you have money power, you would go to Puri; but if you have will power, you would go to Patali!!)

Utkal, in today’s term well known as Odisha. An east Indian state of this beautiful, bountiful, mystical and mythological country.  Any number of adjectives, it never satisfies what this country and its states throws at you. Odisha is no less.. a state that is rich in tradition, culture, minerals, resources and all but largely left unexplored and virgin. I was born in this beautiful state and had spent a significant part of my growing up, but never had stepped out beyond these three cities of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri. It has been that long pending guilt of not having seen much of my own roots that I made my plans to explore. A pull that I could not resist.

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                 Sonepur

And what better than the western part of this state, Sambalpur. Being oriented towards more of mythology happened to go to a place which is 300 kms from Bhubaneswar called Sonepur or Subarnapur (City made of gold).  In true terms it is a town made of gold, when one goes there during harvest season.. a town that is located on the banks of Tel & Mahanadi river.

My place of interest was some 35 kms off from Sonepur called Patali. It is also known as “Patali Srikethra”. The reason for being so called is that Lord Jagannatha‘s idol was kept in hiding for 144 years. Kala Pahada the Islam converted general was convinced that idol worship was not right and in anger he was behind destroying all Idols in the temples of Odisha (Kalinga then).

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                      Village path to Trikuta hills

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  Roads as we reached the place

That day we had started late around 10 am for the Trikuta Hills where the idol was kept in hiding. We did not have much of idea with regard to the demographics or the reach to the place and to top it up my GPS kept saying that we have arrived but could not figure out where. Finally came my favourite “Human GPS” it works best in these place. At last after having asked people we reached at the foot hills of Trikuta hills. The route is quite scenic with forest and hilly terrain and was quite surprised that the road leading to the foothills was well laid. The government seems to have done well for the access. I was little quick to jump to that conclusion as i reached the base. Our little car came up to a challenge to drive up a rocky bed. After driving having driven for 300 mts, decided it was better to rest the car and put the two legs to better usage.

At the foothill car path

      At the foothill car path

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        Pathway

To begin with the walk was fun and was more excited that we were on trekking trip. Well it was not long before I could sense that this is going to be a real long uphill task. To add to the woes of my family members deciding not to move ahead, there were no signs to
say that you are on the right track except for the single pathway. My son and I decided to hike it and we went on. The sun was relentless and determined to test us out. Though the trees provided the shade but it was testing times especially for someone who does not exercise much 🙂

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              Up to the summit

After 45 mins of putting my willpower to test, father and son managed to reach onto the hill top where the lord’s idol were kept for prayers and rituals. Tiered almost yelled out asking if there is anyone. Realised how desperate humans can get to hear another human being. It does not matter how strange the other person could be. There was an old lady who literally greeted us and said to come under the thatched structure where “the pandit” was doing his prayers. It was a wonderful feeling. I was still searching for the cave and started my discussion just to be told that it is a small hike further up the hill and the old man will take you there. That is when I met up with Mr Samant, the old man (Husband of the old lady). He did not look so old though.

Rocky path to the cave

Rocky path to the cave

He then took us further up. The trek up for on a rocky bed with grass covering and not much of there. 12 pm was good challenge to move up. He took us on a real bed rock path of 400 mts further up where he asked us to rem
ove our footwear. We both started jumping the moment the naked feet came in touch with the hot rock. That is when he said, babu it is not so hot and we have almost reached. “Almost”.. oh boy!! that word
scared me.. Well let’s do it, I could only say.

After reaching the top of the hill where you could see the Jagannath flag, which stated that we have reached. Then our lovely old guide then took us down the hill on the other side. Oh man, that was a rock climb down and i was remembered of the mountain goats and their walk. It really pushed me to explore this part too. As we meandered through the think rock path, we reached a small rock base and then there was the cave. As we faced the small cave path we had our backs to the cliff fall. 5-6 steps backward and one could make the way to heaves :)…

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With Samanth Nana with cave behind us

We sat there for 20 mins and i was trying to absorb the rich energy and free air around. Then started the ascend, Well i was literally on my four to ensure that I reach to safety. Our guide kept me that it is easy and nothing will happen. (A motivation and experience that most leaders do forget to share with their team members). Fin22167289110_102446a328_oally we reached to the top and then descended to the lord’s place. While being there, how come one to miss the simple prasad of Rice, dal and lentils. It was pure bliss. The water that I had there was nectar. No packaged water could have tasted sweet and chill.
After that, we started our way down. I was in a pleading state by then, “Oh my legs, please let me carry myself down quickly”.

What ever pain, but the journey to the place has been enthralling and an everlasting etch in my memory lane… The two lines still keeps ringing in my mind… “Mana bala hele PATALI!!!”

The Tranquil past and a quiet Village

इक नयी मंज़िल की खोज में ।
चल पड़ा तंग गलियों से ॥
पर मिला जो प्यारा सा मंज़िल ।
किसी गांवों की सुनी राहों  में ॥

(In the search of a new place, I started off into the busy lanes. But ended my destination in a quite lanes of a village)

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                  Belvadi

On the way to Chikkamagaluru, we landed up in a place called “Belavadi”. In true sense one could say that our Indian beauty is hidden in a lot of corners and quiet lanes. This particular temple built during the Hoyasala empire.This place has its relevance also from the mythological point of view. It seems that during the times of Mahabharata when the Pandavas were in angyatavasa they had stayed here in hiding. Bhema, one of the brothers had slayed the deamon “Bakasura”. Well, that mythology and the Hoysala history pulled us to move towards Belavadi.

Temple

                                                        Temple

We had reached Belavadi after the hustle and bustle of Halebeedu. It must have been 3 pm by the time we reached tired with the sun literally breathing down. The 12 kms between tired and Belavadi seemed to be an eternity due the  construction. The stretch of off-roading did remind me that I do have calf muscles and a very flexible spine. This quiet secluded place is a wonder in  its own. As we entered the village, a calm but friendly feeling welcomes us. It made me completely forgot the troubled road that I just made through. I parked my car on the narrow lanes as there was no parking space as such. (Forgot that I was in a village).

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Typical to the Hoysala structure, a flat non decorated “Gopura” welcomed us. Right infront the lamp post seem to be dividing the temple into two equal parts. As I stepped into the temple area, the was stuck with the West coast travel-152beautiful sculptures of the typical Hoysala West coast travel-160architecture. The stones seems to be having a life of their own. The chillness inside the temple just sucked the heat out of my body and I was feeling the tingling sensation of being at a power zone. The
calmness seem to have added to the overall feeling. I actually did go off to a beautiful nap full stretched feeling protected by the lords of the  Belavadi Temple.

While lazing around there, we happened to meet the priest (Mr. Bharadwaj). At first my perception told me that he may not be able to connect because of the language, but when we started conversing I realised my own block. He was a learned man and was had done his MPhil in English from Mysore University. A humble man who stuck to following his family tradition while fulfilling his own dream of pursuing his own educational dream.

We spent quite a time at the temple admiring the architecture and creativity at the temple. West coast travel-157West coast travel-161We stepped out from the beautiful history and chilled ourselves with some lovely coconut water. Oh yeah!!! was surprised to see the “Jugad” that Indians are well known for. The Pepsi crate holding the local flavour drinks. Could not dare much to explore that side of Belavadi!!!

With some lovely remembrance of living in the past we moved on the future. But that memory of Belavadi being strongly etched into my memory….

Mystical Marvel…

इक नये ऐहसास की खोज मैं ।
निकल पड़ा अंजानी राहों पे ॥
मिल बैठा कई अजनबी रिश्तों से ।
हर मोड़ पे इक नयी कहानी  के  संग ॥

(In the desire to experience something new, i ventured into the unknown roads. Just to meet up with unknown relations at every turn and to learn a new story) 

India is a beautiful and mysterious place. With each passing time, there have been kingdoms and dynasties that have left behind a treasure trove of art and fascination. One such era was that of the Hoyasala kingdom spread in the western ghats…

 Currently spread in the most picturesque location of western ghats, where nature engulfs the past in a very mystique manner. We had halted at Hassan tiered of driving and not much of strength left. But did hope if we could see some historical monuments but were disappointed. But, I must say that the food was really nice. It was far different from that of what I had tasted so far. Do try out Bonda soups and the dosas out there. They are so so different and yummy.
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Bonda soup

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Hassan’s mini tiffin

My first visit was to a very less known place Doddagaddavalli (some 15 kms away from Hassan). Well must say that sometimes, when your GPS does not work, you could end up into some fascinating rural Indian place. That is exactly what happened, we took an early left turn and landed up in this beautiful village. I rolled down the car windows and could breath the fresh early sprinkled with water by the women in the house. Asked some of the local village girls where the temple was and they coyly responded stating where we could find find.

Ma Lakshmi Temple

When we really ended up,  after going through the inner village roads was this beautiful small temple well preserved by ASI. It took us to another era altogether. Thanks to ASI, the place has been kept clean and neat. As we enter the temple, we are greeted by this beautiful carved stone pillars, mounted just by clay, lime and egg shells. Wow, this simply marvels one that even after so many years, they are just intact. Lucky, we managed to get a farmer boy (Shibu) who helped us in explaining the place and the architecture in his broken hindi. He opened the sanctum doors and as the light filled into the dark spaces, I held my breath to see a disfigured grotesque looking figure. That when he says, that is the “Betal”. I do not think anywhere in India would you find a 6 ft tall “Betal” and not just one, there were two guarding the lord “Kali”. Along with the Betals you have “Vish Kanya” and “Naga Kanya” who guard the deity.

                   Betal

          Entrance door

The inner sanctum, apart from having “Ma Kali” has a beautiful idol of “Ma Lakshmi”, “Kalabhairava” and “Lord Shiva”. They all are placed at opposite to each other. The inner pillars are so smoothly rounded and polished that they could cut your fingers off if one is not careful

The whole temple had been carved out of stone and each stone, did talk about a story that has been carved. They are so mesmerising that you could keep looking at them and create a story of your own while discovering what the creator would have thought. If you look at the below pic what is that you could think off. The story is that of praying and sacrificing to the lord if they are blessed with a child. The sacrifice has been depicted by the headless human bodies.

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Sacrifice Story

Now there are many such stories that have been depicted across the temple. They are fascinating. the place from where the offering water comes out is carved in the form of Yali, depicting that this was built during the Hoysala dynasty.

 Though this temple is known more as “Lakshmi Temple” but for me the most striking feature was that of the “Betal” and “Kali”.
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                   Yalli

If you ever happen to go towards Hassan, do not miss this temple on the way to the world famous, Belur & Halebidu. This place will give you a prelude to what is in store at Belur. And off course, do visit this place early morning hours when the mist is still there. The people are very simple and will help you go through this place.  It will leave a long lasting impression.
It is a Mystic and you will be mesmerised..
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     The Guardian

Oh my Stary eyes!!!

Oh! you tiny beautiful dots far above the sky. You keep shining away every day, every night. Blinded to my eyes in the day, you keep shining right there! You the constant up in the sky have witnessed what came to live, built, grown and perished!!

As I travel to unravel the places of my interest, my humble request, “Can you lead me to the wonderful insights you witnessed from the past?”

I hear from others their story, can you help me with your story of these lovely places… Am sure, you would leave me spell bounded and always asking for me… I want to douse myself in the richness of the kings, the pain of loss & revenge, the enthusiasm of the newer discoveries, wins and victories, the far cries of longing and the varied emotions of this mortal life..

Come, lead me into those bitter sweet past that you have witness in these so many years. I am not only all ears but eyes wide open to hear and feel it.. to treasure it till I leave to become one with you..

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