Sunday, July 27, 2008

Banglore Palace

Bangalore Palace is a palace located in the city of Bangalore, India and is built to look like a smaller replica of the Windsor Castle in England.

It was built by Rev. Garrett in 1884, it was bought by the Maharaja of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar.Now owned by the current scion of the Mysore royal family, Srikanta Datta Narsimharaja Wadiyar. The palace was built in Tudor style architecture with fortified towers, battlements and turrets.

The ground floor consists of an open courtyard containing granite seats covered with fluorescent blue ceramic tiles.

It also contains a ballroom for holding private parties.

The first floor containing an elaborate hall called as the Durbar Hall can be reached by climbing a decorated staircase. This is the hall where the king used to address the assembly. The walls along the Durbar Hall are adorned with paintings and the staircase has a massive elephant head mounted on its wall. After climbing the stairs we find the photograph of the king on his golden throne in the Mysore palace, which is taken out only during the Dassera festivities.

After that we enter the elegant Durbar hall with its magneficient chandlers, and beautifully ornamented mirrors. One side of the Durbar hall contains stained glass windows in Gothic style. The colour yellow is used profusely and the walls and the sofa set in the hall are in yellow. A screen on one end separates the area where the ladies used to sit and watch the assembly proceedings in relative privacy.

The interior walls of the palace are also adorned by old paintings belonging to the mid-19th century, including some Greek and Dutch paintings.Some paintings of Raja Ravi Verma are also present here.

Some of the other attractions include a dining table belonging to the Diwan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail. This table contained a mother-of-pearl inlay with Chinese lacquer work.Also the numerous photos of the royal family, depicting the various generations of royality and splendor.

The interiors were decorated with elegant wood carvings, floral motifs, cornices and relief paintings on the ceiling. The furniture, which was neo-classical, Victorian and Edwardian in style, was bought from John Roberts and Lazarus. A total of 35 rooms were built in the palace with most of them being bed rooms, which demand our special attention.

The palace is open to the public who can visit it after paying a nominal fee. There are also plans to rent out the ballroom for private parties and also to sell silk scarves, photographs and other articles used by the royal family to the tourists. Illumination of the palace and renovating the gardens using Mexican grass is also being planned.

Story relating to Lepakshi

There is more than one story or a legend attributed to the origin of this place. Some say that the name Lepakshi was given to the village when Lord Rama, asked Jatayuvu, the mythological bird who was injured, to “le-Pakshi” i.e. “get up”. Every one knows that when Ravana kidnapped Sita, there came Jatayuvu to the rescue of mother Sita and got killed trying to save her. Legend says that this is the place where it all happened, and as the bird lay injured on the hill, Lord Rama came there in search of mother Sita. Jatayuvu informed Rama as to who took mother Sita and where they went. This helped Lord Rama in waging a war against Ravana thereby getting back mother Sita and getting rid of a cruel king. The temple also has an imprint of a lady's leg in the rock, which the locals say it if the foot print (which is unusually large for a person) of mother Sita.

As per local legend Lord Shiva and Parvati were married on the spot where the Kalyana Mandapa stands.

Another story of how the place got its name is attributed to a story centuries later to the builder of the temple which stands today.Veerabhadra temple is a notable example of the Vijayanagar style of architecture. A reference is made in the 'Skandapurana' to Lepakshi as one of the hundred and eight important 'Shaiva Kshetras' (shrines). Though the temple of Veerabhadra is claimed to have been constructed by Saint 'Agastya' himself, it was developed into the present exquisite shrine by 'Virupanna', the treasurer of the Vijayanagar Kings.He conceived the idea as he found the image of Veerabhadra.He executed the plan in the absence of the king and used the treasure when he was away at Vijayanagar. When the construction was almost finished and it was being supervised the king returned and found the treasure empty. The king ordered, as a punishment to this heinous crime, that he should be blinded. The treasurer being a loyal person carried out the punishment spot with his own bands. Even today one can see two dark stains upon the wall near the 'Kalyana Mandapa', which are said to be the marks made by his eyes, which he himself dashed against the wall. The builder did not survive for a long time and the village is called "Lepa-akshi Lepakshi", i.e., a village of the blinded eye.

Yet another story goes that in ancient times, the village was used for the preparation of “Akshi Lepam” i.e. eye make-up, hence the name. For those who are content with any version, it is the treasures of Lepakshi that allure one to its sites.

also read...

A visit to Lepakshi

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Visit to Lepakshi

Lepakshi is a small village, set back in time. Situated 480 km from Hyderabad, and It is 15 km east of Hindupur and about 100 km north of Bangalore.

We thought of starting early and got up at 5 a.m but since both me and my husband hate to wake up early on a weekend we stayed in bed for a while and by the time we started out it was already 8a.m. But not to worry we got a bus to Hindupur from majestic bus stand and we were off. But our trip was not going to be a smooth one. The bus broke down around 12km from Hindpur so we took an auto rickshaw from there. Lucky for us there are a lot of service autos connecting all those small villages to Hindpur. when we told the driver that we wanted to go to Lepakshi temple he dropped us at a bus stand where a lot of private buses to Lepakshi are available. By that time it was already afternoon and we were hungry. We searched for a restaurant but all we can find is a small hotel that provided meals, which I should say that we were able to eat only because we were hungry. I suggest u take ur own lunch if u r planning to go.

From there we got a bus to Lepakshi, just a 15 min ride in a crowded bus is not that bad. We reached the temple and to our shock we realised that the batteries in our camera were not charged. Since we took 3 sets of batteries with us I tried all combinations and one of them worked so I was not able to get as many pictures as I wished I had. We hired a guide who basically told us the story of how and why the temple was built. Want to read the story? I think you would like it better when a professional told it, and the place also would add to the mystic. but if you are still interested read my next blog, because this one is for my visit only. Now where was I, yes we hired a guide, took the tour. And had some great pictures.
The weather was favourable, thank God. It was cloudy all day and drizzled a bit when we were in the temple. The light shower of water on an already heated rocks has rather cooling effect. The place looked even charming in the rain.

The Temple is built on a turtle shaped hill called 'Kurma Saila' . There are 5 'Lingas' in this place and each one has its own history. One of which was placed by Lord Rama when he found 'Jatayuvu'(A bird which tried to Save Sita). Another was placed there By Lord Hanuma and so on...All these small temples were noted and a huge temple was rebuilt in its place by 'Virupanna' a treasurer of Vijayanagara Kings, when he had a vision from his deity 'Veerabhadra' asking Virupana to build a temple for him.

The temple is divided into three parts - the 'Mukha Mandapa', (also called 'Nitya Mandapa' or 'Ranga Mandapa'), the 'Artha Mandapa' and 'Garbha Griha', and the 'Kalyana Mandapa', with 38 carved monolithic pillars in grey sandstone is unfinished. These three form a triangle with a common Mandapam.The temple sanctum stands in the middle of two irregular enclosures and the entrance is through a huge hall which is the 'Mukha Mandapa'. The pillars in this hall bear sculptures of different deities major and minor. We can see Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma, Devi Parvathi watching a dance performance of 'Rambha' who dances according to the steps of 'Brungeeswara' (the three legged dance teacher of the Devas, who keeps on danceing with any of his two legs at any given time.....tiring isin't it). There are musicians also.

Adjacent to the main hall is a pillar , hanging from the ceiling. A heavy pillar of it size hanging from the celing is quiet intriguing. A British Engineer — studying the uniqueness of the pillar about a century ago — disturbed the delicate balance. The ceiling here that is more interesting. The frescos that cover the entire space are reputed to be the most important specimens of Vijaynagar pictorial art. Painstakingly done, these narrate events from the life of the patrons of this temple as well as episodes from the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. In one corner, the brothers Viranna and Virupanna are shown worshipping Shiva and Parvathi in the company of courtiers. These are of great interest, as they provide details of costumes,ornaments and hairsyles of an bygone era. Apart from these, these are many sculptures depicting puranic episodes like those of 'Ananthasayana', 'Dattatreya', 'Chaturmukha Bramha', 'Tumburu', 'Narada' and 'Rambha'. The 'Artha Mandapa' and 'Garbha Griha' is where we find the main deity is an almost life-size image of Veerabhadra carrying weapons. And in the ceiling is a painting of Veerabhadra with Virupanna dutifully offering obeisance. There are also minor temples of Durga, Vishnu, Vinayaka, and the 'Nava Grahas'. A pillar here shows the pefect images of man and woman.

Outside the compound is a magnificiant multi-hooded Naga shielding a granite Linga. It is shaped out of a natural boulder and is an awe-inspiring spectacle. The big granite bull is on the main road, about 200 metres from the temple faces this Linga. 'The Kalyana Mandapam' is a standing monument to the exuberance of Vijayanagar art but it is left unfinished. Here we find on one pillar Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi in the middle of their marriage ceremony. Parents and other deitys attending the ceremony. Lord Bhrama Inviting the guests and many more sculptures. The best specimens of the Vijayanagar style of sculpture and mural paintings are found in the Natya and Kalyana Mandapams (dance and wedding halls). The different pillars of the Kalyana Mandapa contain different designs on each face which are used as borders for sarees now a days.

Lepakshi is a must see if u are a devotee, or interested in history and architecture or just like taking photos. This place will not disappoint you.
All in all a day well spent. We had no more troubles getting back to banglore, and we spent the next day resting in the comfort of our home.

also read...

Story relating to Lepakshi

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Daasavataaram is a Kamal Hassan movie. what can I say when it is a Kamal movie it has to be different. There is no other choice but to watch it in the theater, so we went. paid Rs70 each for a ticket in a theater in banglore where there was no numbering, no AC, and they sold more tickets than the number of seats so people for fighting for seats. we were lucky we got two in the front row. The movie started great, like "in 12 centuary BC when people fought for their gods" there were some powerful dialogs in the narration and cool special effects. Being a fan of fiction and mythical movies I was quiet intrigued. After the prologe the story shifts to 2004 from where we take the journey of 10 kamal hassans appearing in different makeup. some are good and some are bad. well the hero had no makeup but kamal being the villain too was great. He was an American ex-CIA agent a rouge agent who wants to have the virus which America developed as a biological weapon(come on......) then there is this scientist who wants to save it from falling in the wrong hands. There were some cool special effects and too good to be true camera angles. It was great in the beginning but as the movie went on they seemed to drag the story just to include the script. and finally at the end of the movie they seem to suggest that everything happens for a reason and for our own good but they failed to justify the lose of life. Ok its a movie so let us skip that. but I felt that when Asin and Kamal were quiet insensitive when they were having a light romantic moment when the people were shown suffering in the background as being quiet insensitive. Actually I saw no connection, what so ever between the prolog and the movie except the idol comes back to shore. But why? I was disappointed at the end for the storywriters are too busy to include 10 kamals that they had no time for an actual story. U comment...........

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Coorg / Kodugu

Coorg or Kodagu(originally called Kodaimalenadu) means 'dense forest on steep hill', roughly dubbed as the Scotland of India.
Coorg was one of the coolest vacation we had since or marriage. The place had such a reputation that we simply HAD to go and we did to celebrate the birthday of my dear hubby.
We started in Banglore at about half past ten by bus in Kempagowda bus stand. Though we searched the net and got a lot of good hotels and homestay reviews we decided we go there and then decide where to stay, so we did not make any reservations.
We reached Madikeri at 5:30 in the morning, but did not know where to go as the sun did not rise yet and it was still cool and foggy, so we stayed in the busstand until there was a little bit of sunlight. There we found that the auto drivers are trying to sell us the idea of a homestay which is consired to be a pretty nice way of staying in coorg, but since its just the two of us in a strange place, we decided we would rather stay somewhere we would feel secure, the ever reliable KSTDC Mayura hotel.
KSTDC Mayura Valley View Hotel: cost us 1200/- per day and the check-in counts from 12 in the afternoon no matter when you arrive.

View of the valley below from our room
view of the small town of Madikeri from our hotel with its charming little cottages

Madikeri or Mercara is the main town of Coorg and is also a well known hill station.

Madikeri Fort

This 19th century fort, in the centre of Madikeri, houses a temple, a chapel, prison and a small museum. The fort offers a beautiful view of Madikeri.Now it is used to host some governament offices.
Raja's seat
Raja's seat is a small, square 'mantapa' with a commanding view of the valleys and cliffs to the west is an attractive spot for lovers of nature. here we can sit and enjoy the glorious scene of sunrise and sunset as the raja and his consorts did in the past.

A view from the Raja's Seat

Omkareshwara temple
There is a beautiful Omkareshwara temple in Madikeri just a 10 min. walk from the Raja's seat.

kushal mantapa

The Kushal mantapa lies right in the middle of the tank just outside the temple.It is said Lingarajendra killed an honest and pious Brahmin to fulfill his political ambitions. That Brahmin became a “Brahmarakshasa” and started troubling the king. The king got rid of the so called “Brahmarakshasa” only when he brought a “Shivalinga” from Kashi and installed it after building a temple. The shivalinga was named as “Omkareshwara” and regular rituals were performed.

Abbi Abbi falls
Then we took a local autorickshaw to see the famous Abbi falls. The Madikeri stream, also called Muttaramuttu, falls 21.3m to the huge boulders to a deep rocky valley to form this picturesque waterfalls called (Abbi Falls (abbi means waterfall in kodavatak-a tribal local language). The British called it the Jessey Waterfall in memory of Jessey, the daughter of Madikeri's first chaplain.

First view of the falls

A scene of the valley below while returning from Abbi falls


Entrance of Kaveri Nisargadham

Nisargadhama is situated about 36 kms from Madikeri. This is an ideal picnic spot. It is an island in the middle of the river connected by a rope bridge. You can do boating or go for elephant rides as well as visit the elephant training camp run by the Forest Department at Dubare (8 kms further). This place is also home to a few animals sort of a petting zoo where people are encouraged to interact with the animals. It also has tree houses made of bamboo.


When the river Cauvery flows downhill, it is joined by two more tributaries - Kanake and Sujyoti. The spot where all three converte (the Cauvery, the Kanika and the Sujyothi) is called Bhagamandala. The temple here, built in Kerala style, has smaller shrines dedicated to various gods. It is about 40 kms from Madikeri.

Road to Tala-Kaveri


The birth place of river Kaveri, is an astoundingly beautiful place which is surrounded by mountains. Talakaveri (head of Cauvery) in the Brahmagiri hills, at about 4,500 ft above sea level. This place is marked by a tirtha kundike or Brahma kundike (small spring/pond) from where the river emerges as a small perennial spring, but flows underground again to emerge a short distance away. It is about 48 kms from Madikeri. There is a shrine near the kundike and a big tank in front of it where devotees baths before offering prayers. There are 2 temples, a Shiva temple and with a rare and ancient Shiva Linga, and another temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This temple has a holy Ashwantha tree where, according to legend, the Trimurtis - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh gave darshan to sage Agastya.
Legends also has it that every year on Tulasankramana day (approximately on 17 October) Goddess Parvati appears in the Kundike as the sacred teerthodbhava. This occasion is marked by the sudden unsurge of water in the kundike and is considered very auspicious
From Talakaveri, steps lead up to the nearby Brahmagri peak, where the 7 great sages called the Sapta Maharishis had performed a special yagna. From the peak, as well as on the drive to Talakaveri, tourists can enjoy a good view of the misty blue Brahmagiri hills.


Some of the popular items to buy are coffee, honey, spices, cardamom, pepper, pineapple papads and oranges ( season). Coorgi silk saree are also very famous and they have a different style of wearing them.


Ummathat, the lively dance of kodugu is set to the bent of cymbals, which resemble the exuberant Ummat flower (Datura metel) from which the dance gets its name. Ummat flowers and seeds have both medicinal and poisonous properties depending on the parts used and the quantity administered.

Tasty medicine

Abundant in this region, Madduthoppu (Justicia wayanadensis) is attributed medicinal value believed to peak on the 18th of Kakkada (July - Aungust), when it is used as an ingredient in various delicacies.