Tag Archives: India travel

Land of forgotten monuments- Bidar

Karnataka Bundh- The whole city of Bangalore is protesting against the Kaveri water verdict- 32 buses vandalized in the city and other jazz…

Well… I’m away from the entire hustle bustle- Very far away…

Left Bangalore on Friday night by bus- and after a journey of 12hrs- I landed in one of the least preferred Holiday destinations in the state- Bidar. I had a roaring welcome to the city- quiet literally..!! An IAF “Hawk” flew past right above my head- during their daily flying practice sessions. There I had my first GK (general knowledge) moment of the tour- Bidar has been an IAF training base since the early 1960’s for IAF and it is the main base for Hawk AJTs & the Suryakiran HJTs.

Day 1:

We freshened up and headed straight to “the Jharani Narasimha Swami Cave temple”. The myth mentions that Lord Narasimha killed Hiranyakashipu and then proceeded to slay the demon Jalasura who was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. After being killed by Lord Narasimha, the demon Jalasura turned into water and started flowing down the feet of the Lord Narasimha. Today, devotees have to walk across a cave with water (1.7mts depth) to worship the idol. With bats flying around, roaches swimming with us and dimly lit path to lead us- it was a very nice experience.

Inside the cave- enroute to the Narasimha idol
Inside the cave- enroute to the Narasimha idol
The Karanja dam
The Karanja dam

Once, in Basavakalyan- we visited the Basaveshwara temple, 108ft high Basavanna statue, Basavanna Guhe and Akkamahadevi Guhe. Then it was the right turn that lead us to “Anubhava Mantapa”.  This is a replica of the ShivanubhavaMantapa- an academy of mystics, saints and philosophers of the ‘Lingayata’ faith in the 12th century.

An open air theatre at the entrance of the fort
An open air theatre at the entrance of the fort
A view of Hyder Mahal from the Kadak Bijli Toph view point
A view of Hyder Mahal from the Kadak Bijli Toph view point

Day 2:

Started the day by spending some tranquil moments at the “Nanak Jhira”this Gurudwara is the second super natural occurrences of Guru Nanak, whereas, the first one was ” Sri Punja Sahib (Now in Pakistan & strictly prohibited for free visits), Hence Gurudwara Sri Nanak Jhira Sahib is ” Second Punja Sahib” of India. The sweet water flowing from a spring is believed to clear you off your sins. – Hence, a must visit.

The Nanak Jhira Gurudwara

The Nanak Jhira Gurudwara

Next, on the list was the Bareed Shahi park- The tombs of the Bahamani rulers lay here. This is small but a nice park maintained just to provide some lung space for morning joggers and evening walkers. This was a neglected piece of history just a year ago.

The Bahamani tombs
The Bahamani tombs
The Main tomb- At the entrance of the park
The Main tomb- At the entrance of the park

The last and final destination was the Bidar Fort: This does not have a quantifiable boundary though a few localites specify some digits to measure its expanse. The entire city is actually within a fort wall which was the area where the citizens lived back during the rulers’ time. Then, 2ndround of the wall is where the ministers lived and next is where today’s tourism is concentrated- the area where the King & the queen lived. This needs a minimum of half a day to explore for a person interested in history, architecture or archeology.

The Royal Residence within the main fort
The Royal Residence within the main fort

This place has so much to offer for a backpacker on a tight budget. Apart from the travel distance, everything else is very cheap here. The entry to all the places on the “To visit” list is free. Even then, very few people plan a trip to Bidar- Maybe because the name pulls down an image of a dry, barren, hot, poor, drought prone etc. What my eyes met here was contradicting my own thoughts. The city was lush green, raining heavily, clean (at least compared to the cleanest places of Bangalore)…

So- A lesson to take back: Stop imagining how a place would be; go there and see it yourself.

Devanahalli- The town within a Fort

On a casual weekday off, dad and I decided to take a train trip to some place nearby.. So, We bought 2 tickets of Rs.4 each for Ypr-Devanahalli Passenger and headed to the platform. We boarded the train with 5 bogies with 5 passengers for a round trip. That makes it 1 passenger per bogie 😛

We passed through more of a green route- considering that the train still plies well within Bangalore. And soon after arriving at Devanahalli Rlwy Stn, it was time for some exploration…

Devanahalli railway station
Devanahalli railway station

As we started walking towards the main town area, we were welcomed by a large pond(we could say that there once existed an old temple) which was all dried up now… And here onwards- we came across numerous temples along our way.

An Old temple pond
An Old temple pond

Next we arrived at a small mantap- This is the Birth place of Tippu Sultan. Not a very exciting architectural monument considering the fact that Tippu was born by the road side (or so it seemed).

Tippu's Birth place
Tippu’s Birth place

And then… we enter— Fort Devanahalli..!!

At the first glance, it seems like a neglected piece of history with rain water stagnating by the side, excavation waste from the city dumped at the entrance, unpaved dusty roads…

Entrance of Fort Devanahalli
Entrance of Fort Devanahalli

As we passed through the super narrow entrance of the fort- We decided to walk along the fort walls for the rest of our exploration..

A view of NH7 from a view point along the fort wall
A view of NH7 from a view point along the fort wall

We soon realized that it is one whole town that actually exists within the walls of the fort. But apart from the walls, there was nothing much that spoke about Tippu’s valour that is often spoken about in history books..

Remains of the old town
Remains of the old town

We walked till evening and were able to cover one half of the Fort- and we had already exited from the other end of the town. From there we boarded a BMTC bus back to the city.

The Great Indian Western Ghats- To Save or to Not Save ??

There is much ado about the Western Ghats getting tagged as a World heritage site by the UNESCO.

So, like everyone around me here, I too am excited about sharing my views on it.

Firstly the stronger points for consideration:

  1. The western Ghats is home to very rare species of flora & fauna- many snakes, frogs, birds etc. are critically endangered and also unique only to these Ghats.
  2. These ghats stop the wind from the east and bring rainfall to the south.
  3. The major rivers of the South are rain fed and originate here.
  4. I being an ardent nature lover would definitely support to save the ever lush green ghats.

Now, the points not to consider:

  1. There are a no. of tribes living in these Ghats like the Soligas, Kurubas, Maleya-kudiyas etc who will all be forced to vacate the forests and will be disturbed from their natural habitat though the government may promise them of providing alternate homes.
  2. The Coorgs (Kodavas)- by themselves are a very small community fighting hard against the “Jamma Bane” issue and now have yet another blow. Many localites holding lands in the identified areas will be forced to vacate and this will inturn force them out of Coorg.
  3. Myself being a hardcore Kodavathi, I would never be able to take this by my stride.

And now, the strongest of them all:

  1. The Ghats are a rich source for mining, timber and a major hub for tourism leading to severe deforestation in the name of building resorts, nature sports and the likes.
  2. It is important to consider that our beloved elected representatives are frequently in the limelight for the mining scams. The major share of resorts in this region are owned by big names and are tucked away deep in the core area of the jungles which compete for providing the best tiger spotting, elephant spotting, wild hunting, etc. etc, activities for their guests. So there is a valid point for these scamsters to fight against the prestigious tag.
  3. The heritage tag limits the human entry to most regions. Let alone restrictions on activities like trekking, hiking etc. just walking around this place without knowledge would lead to high penalty.

But, what if this has an impact on a Coorg’s lifestyle: the tag has come as a much needed  respite for a nature lover like me. We are Coorgs at the end of the day. We have lived our way through thick jungles, heavy downpours, deep dark nights, wild animals in our porticos. And that’s the way we enjoy our life at it’s best. So we can definitely live strong with thick jungles. We want our Green cover to be saved…!!

I am frustrated of being helpless and just a mute spectator watching the depletion of green cover in the name of development. I can hardly see any development in my area other than the fact that big names (let me say powerful people) are buying properties by offering good money and settling down in Coorg, becoming stake-holders in resorts etc and turning all their black money white.

I used to eagerly wait for the rainy season to start so that I would get my monsoon holidays while I was in school. And now, I am even more anxious that this rainy season may pass by without even seeing a “rainfall”. Yes, only conservation of these ghats can bring us the rains that we need.

I am frustrated with the fact that the place where is grew up catching little fishes and crabs with my cousins as a little girl beneath big boulders is now nothing but a fully concrete platform for the tourists to rest on.

What I once knew as a beautiful waterfall and a place where my grandpa gave me my swimming lessons is now nothing but a pool of sewage flowing from the town littered by ruthless tourists. The stench of this mess gets tears streaming down my eyes everytime I stand on the very same concrete platform and try to recollect the good old greener and cleaner grandpa days…

The Bramhagiri hills
The Bramhagiri hills

And here I sum up…:

Give me some sunshine… give me some more rain….
Give me another chance… I wanna grow up once again…
I want more rains….. I want to re-live my grandpa times…
PLEASE SAVE THE WESTERN GHATS..!!!

Studying ‘Bachelor of Cycle-logy’ at IIT-Madras

I’m just back from my business trip to Chennai : Infact a supplier audit…. My 1st one- all alone…

I landed at the Meenambakkam international airport at around 8.00.a.m. and hired a taxi to the supplier’s place.. this is when my tryst with Tamil started.. The driver did not know my language and I did not know his. But yeah.. Since, he was already booked by my company, he knew where I had to go..

I finished my job at the supplier quite early than what I thought. So, I had to spend time from 2.00.p.m to 7.00.p.m in this Tamil land. I had my flight at 9.00.p.m.

I had no idea where to go- To hang out alone means to communicate through sign language with the locals. But one thing I learnt quite fast was- Being a South Indian really helps… U can mix up bits of Malayalam and a little more of coorgi- and make it sound pretty much like Tamil. And it worked in my case. The driver managed to understand most of it- and the rest- Sign language it was !!

My Friend studying at IIT-M was my rescuer for the day..

What if I did not crash the GATE?? That did not stop me from learning at the prestigious IIT-M..!! Thanks to my friend pursuing research at IIT-M, This is where I completed my “Bachelor of Cycle-logy” which I had left unfinished way back in primary school. My friend and I were cycling all afternoon around the 600+ acres of lush greenery.

One of my cycling tracks- The Bonn Ave
The Gajendra circle

IIT-Madras is located adjacent to Guindy national park(the 8th smallest in India)- the last bit of the tropical dry evergreen forest in India.. I witnessed the co-existence of man and the wild(sort of a thing) with black bucks, spotted deers etc. walking around fearlessly.

A White Buck on the IIT campus
The cycling stretch from the boy’s hostel
Near the admin office

Also, this campus is where the “Cheapest” Café Coffee Day exists.. Since, this CCD is exempted of most taxes- things are pretty cheaper than anywhere else.

It was 5.00.p.m something and I had checked into almost every corner of IIT-M already. So, there was scope for some more exploration. Next we decided to hit the “Elliot Beach” in Besant nagar about 6.kms from IIT-M.

A corn vendor @ Besantnagar / Elliot’s beach

We had some corn, I bought a Rajnikanth mask, flew a kite etc. on the sea shore. I waited patiently to see the sun set. I waited and waited… n it was dark already… Only then did I realize that the sun only rises in Elliot beach :P. The beach attracted crowd with more of a traditional mindset contrary to those on the west-coast.

The beach at sunset time

It was going to be 6.30.p.m and we thought it would be wiser to leave- because we had to brave through the Chennai traffic inorder to make to the airport on time.

All in all- a day well spent. Looking forward for many more business trips 😛

India… On the go…

India.. one of the fastest growing economies of the world.

We boast of being the land of ultra-mod skyscrapers, world’s top billionaires, multi-storeyed residences, luxurious amenities, so on and so forth.

What we have been ignoring are- the little things that are just within our vicinity. We think it is something usual and there is nothing to break our heads about. We spend more time following our celebrity idols- where they go, what they do etc. An actors’ progeny is bound to be a talented actor and so with a politician.

One evening, while I was walking back home from college, I came across a man pushing his cycle which was loaded with goods. He was walking in the opposite direction- towards me. From the front view- his cycle had a 4-5 rug sacks tied on to either sides of the handles filled with goods. 2 plastic pots were tied onto either sides of the carrier at the rear. My eyes fell on something that looked like a random bundle of clothes placed at the rear end of the cycle. As we walked closer, I noticed something unusual. What I thought was a bundle of rags was infact a baby…!! Roughly 4-5 months old, sleeping peacefully on a tin trunk box covered with just a piece of rugged bedspread. I walked closer and made sure what my eyes just saw and what my mind just thought it was, was right. The Little baby boy was having a peaceful nap without ever knowing the realty of this cruel world. He had no idea about the kind of hardship his fragile parents were going through just to bring him up.

Theatre on wheels
Theatre on wheels

This cycle was his home. This cycle was his office. This cycle was his mode of transport. Oh.. Did I say “His”? He does not live alone in this makeshift home. He lives with his wife and 3 kids. He also carries his makeshift “Drama Company” on these wheels. He stops where he thinks it is right; performs a few acts and earns a few pennies enough to feed his family with a 1 time meal per day. I was confused how to react on hearing this story. I did not understand whether I had to feel bad because he was poor or whether to feel happy that he was content with his life (or atleast for what he seemed like). But, all I can do is, speak about it in a little more elaborate context but can never think of getting into that man’s shoes and exploring his world.

Theatre on wheels (6)
towards facing the drama of life

When asked for, he gladly posed for a picture with a warm smile. The only gesture I could show was to offer him the fifty rupee note that I had in my wallet which he received with a bigger smile. This “Small and Happy home” kept my thoughts disturbed atleast for a week. Maybe I can try to get him a job in some theatre, movie or make a documentary which could earn him enough money to support his family’s needs- lot of ideas came popping in my mind. But I felt like a helpless little creature in this evil wide world where the scope for growth is meant only for the rich. The rich is getting richer and there is no scope for improvement for the lesser privileged. The others who fall in between these two categories are just mute spectators.

I can see India growing…Yes.. India is really on a go.!!