June 2011 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doddagaddavalli Lakshmi Devi Temple–Lesser known destination on the Hoysala Map!

When one thinks of the Hoysala Kingdom, it is Belur and Halebid that first come to mind and hence it is these places that are high on the tourist’s itinerary. But, the true essence of the Hoysala kingdom lies in its lesser known jewels. Such a jewel is the Lakshmi Devi temple at Doddagaddavalli village that is located about 16 kilometres from Hassan and enroute to Belur.

Silhouette of the Lakshmi Devi Temple against the dark monsoon skies at Doddagaddavalli 
This is a 12th century temple built by the Hoysalas during the rule of King Vishnuvardhana. In spite of it being one of the oldest Hoysala temples, it has withstood the vagaries of time very well and stands in pristine condition. The entire temple area can be spotted from the road that leads to Doddagaddavalli from the Hassan-Belur road.

Doddagaddavalli's Lakshmi Devi Temple Campus from the lake behind 
This long distance view of the temple is spectacular as one can see the temple vimanas glimmering in the sun against the surrounding dense green vegetation and near a large water body. This water body is a pond that is situated to the back of the temple. This pond also adds a new dimension to this temple from a picturesque locale standpoint.

Entrance view of the Lakshmi Devi Temple at Doddagaddavalli 
According to the legends, this temple is said to have been built in 1114 A.D. by a merchant called Kullahana Rahuta, a merchant or high officer in the Hoysala court. And this was for his wife Sahaja Devi. It is one of the earliest known temples built in Hoysala style and is built with Chloritic schist or Soapstone.

Happy face at Doddagaddavalli Temple 
It was a dark and cloudy monsoon day when I was here recently. The soapstone did not get a chance to gleam in the sunshine, but stood plainly in the dark and grey weather. But it was the surrounding lake and the greenery that caught my eye first. Then, came the series of long granite steps along the outer wall of the temple compound. It is these steps that separate the temple compound from the lake. One can get to see the high vimanas of the temple from this place.

In the rains at Doddagaddavalli temple 
The entire temple area comes under the purview of the Archaeological Society of India who have maintained it very well. In terms of current functioning, prayers are still being offered daily to the temple deity, though the temple is open only during designated time slots. But, in case, you are interested in exploring this temple and are unable to make it during the allotted time slot, then you can reach out to the temple priest who stays in the house that is just opposite the main entrance of the temple. Generally, the temple priest is very kind and often offers to open the temple doors for tourists and devotees alike.

A rainy afternoon at Doddagaddavalli 
Inside the temple inner sanctum, one can see the following deities. The main shrine facing east has a 3 foot tall image of goddess Lakshmi with an attendant on either side. In her four hands, the image holds a conch in the upper right hand, a chakra (discus) in the upper left, a rosary in the lower right and a mace in the lower left.

Behind the Lakshmi Devi Temple 
In the shrines facing north, west and south are the idols of Kali, Vishnu and Boothanatha Linga (the universal symbol of Shiva). A sculpture of Tandaveswara (dancing Shiva) exists in the circular panel at the centre of the ceiling of the mantapa. Other important sculptures are those of Gajalakshmi (form of Lakshmi), Tandaveswara and Yoganarasimha (form of Vishnu) found on the doorway of the temple.

Moss covered carvings at the Doddagaddavalli Hoysala Temple 
Overall, the temple has the older Hoysala style where there is only one eaves running through the temple wherein the main towers meet the wall of the shrine. On the whole, the temple complex has nine towers, which is unusual for a Hoysala Temple. Another unusual feature of the temple is the existence of four more shrines at each corner of the temple complex with two sides of each shrine attached to the courtyard wall. Each of these minor shrines has its own tower,Kalasa and Hoysala emblem.

In the rain at Doddagaddavalli Lakshmi Devi Temple 
The temple compound may not be very big, but each bit of it has a lot of culture and history to offer to the interested traveller. The lake side of the temple also offers a different view of the temple. One can walk along the lake banks and see a long range shot of the entire temple campus.

The photographer is photographed

The Lakshmi devi temple at Doddagaddavalli village is truly one of Hoysala’s lesser known jewels and for its stature and importance, it is far unrepresented in the tourism map of Karnataka. This also offers a pleasant deviation from the crowded touristy attractions. Personally, I like this temple a lot, especially for its location, its excellent current state and its rich culture and history. I would definitely recommend this temple to all those who are interested in visiting the Hoysala Empire. If you are interested in planning your vacation, then visit Playa de Las Americas on holiday.

The first step out 
How to reach Doddagaddavalli village from Hassan town?
From Hassan, head towards Belur. Take the Bangalore – Mangalore road that runs right through the middle of Hassan town. Head towards the Mangalore direction (i.e. towards West from the town centre). As you come out of the town (after SDM Ayurveda college on your right), a junction appears with the Belur road on your right. The traffic thins out suddenly as you get to this road. This is the State Highway 57 (SH57).

Reflections on the temple floor at Doddagaddavalli 
After about 10 kms from Hassan, drive slowly and keep watching to the left of the road for directions to Doddagaddavally. Turn left at the place where you see a Karnataka tourism map hoarding or a picture of the Lakshmidevi temple of Doddagaddavalli. Take this small road to the left of this hoarding. This road takes you to the Doddagaddavalli village square after about 3 km of winding through some rocky outcrops. Even before reaching the village square, you should be able to spot a large lake to your left.On the bank of the lake, you can spot the protruding towers of the temple. However, you need to cross the village to reach the temple gate. Ask for directions in the village. They would point you the path through some narrow village lanes.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Abstract Photography–Hoysala Style Window

There are so many interesting objects and subjects that come our way every day. Some of them are so abstract and yet so interesting. I spotted this abstract setting inside the Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Doddagaddavally near Belur in Karnataka.

Soapstone Air Vents in Hoysala Style

This abstract sight was a soapstone window with air vents that is designed in Hoysala style. The thing special about this window is not its design or construction, but the divine effect it had inside the dark temple room. It felt as if this was the only source for radiating light. A totally amazing effect.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Indian Roller–Karnataka’s State Bird

The Indian Roller is one bird that is very easily spotted in nearly all corners of India. When it is perched on a branch, it looks pretty, but not spectacular, but when it is in flight, its beautiful blue wings are known to captivate all birders.

Indian Roller takes off 
The Indian Roller is such a pretty sight when it is flying that a lot of my birder and photographer friends try to disturb it and make it fly. Well, this action goes against my conscience as we are disturbing the bird, but I generally give in as this allows me to see it in its true colours.

Indian Roller - Karnataka's State Bird 
In this case, my friends were not with me, and this Indian Roller chose to fly without us disturbing it. The bird was pretty far away and hence this is the closest I could go with my 100-400 lens. The green landscape in the background just forms the perfect contrast for the blue jay (another name for the Indian Roller).

Indian Roller in flight displays its true blue colour 
For all those who do not know, the Indian Roller is also Karnataka’s State Bird. I spotted these birds during a jungle safari into Kabini and Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka, India.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Deep Thought

Temples and historic monuments are a great place to capture some deep photographic moments. Portraits in front of historic architecture have always been very popular with the masses and it is this retro touch that gives the subject a classic look.

In Deep thought 
In this case, I spotted this elderly individual sitting alone and lost in deep thought at the Channakeshava Temple in Belur. The rich carvings on the temple in the background formed a formidable background and I was tempted to capture this moment in monochrome to ensure it is etched in time.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Portraits: Adorable Kid at Channakeshava Temple, Belur, Karnataka, India

A travel photography trip took me to the Channakeshava temple at Belur recently. During this visit, all the group members (travel writers and photographers) went their own ways to capture their images. Even I was on my own way trying to explore this stunningly intricate structure that took more than a thousand years to build.

Adorable Kid 
It was late evening and the soft golden glow of the sun and the succeeding sunset kept me busy with my frames, angles, compositions and controls. I had been shooting for a while now and needed a break. No, not a break from photography, but a change in my subject to keep my excitement levels going :-).

Cute kid surrounded by colourful ladies 
It was then that I spotted this adorable kid standing amidst colourfully dressed elderly ladies. This frame was enough to grab my attention and I was happy that I would get to take some portraits.

A Monochrome Portrait: Side view of a Kid 
This adorable girl also seemed amused by the camera man at work and seemed to oblige by indulging in a series of emotions. At times, I would get smiles, then I would get a shy look and then once she was done with posing, she would give me the normal look.

Cute kid at Belur 
All these different emotions helped me capture my subject, this cute kid, in different moods and I think the photographs, do perfect justice to it.

A colourful moment! 
And when I got the ladies dressed in bright colours along with this kid and with the Channakeshava  temple in the background, I thought I got the perfect street photograph. This portrait and street photography session topped a great travel photography session for me at Belur.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Skyscape Photography: Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga

Sunsets are generally very pretty and a classic one has a great emotional undertone.

The colours of the sunset has a trailing effect in the colours of the clouds or land or water making it a very attractive moment.

Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 10 
I was a spectator to one such attractive moment when I noticed the colour of the sky change at the end of my evening jungle safari at Kaziranga National Park in Assam, North East India. I could not see the setting sun as it was disappearing behind the hill range that stood in front of me. Instead, I got treated to a vivid and vibrant evening sky that seemed to have absorbed the evening sky colours.

Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 9 
The different cloud patterns just seemed to accentuate the sunset colours. It seemed as if the clouds were coming to life. It felt like a very happy moment. The spectacle was so great that I could not keep my camera down and ended up taking shots till it became dark.

Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 8 
Here are some more shots of this vibrant evening skyscape. I fiddled with a lot of my camera settings and hence have got the same sky in different tones and shades.

Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 7 
Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 6 
Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 5 
Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 4 
Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 3 
Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 2

Vivid and Vibrant Evening Sky at Kaziranga - 1

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wildlife Photography: Proud Antlers of a Barasingha (Swamp Deer)

It is the branched and interconnected antlers that give the Barasingha its unique look. The Barasingha or Swamp Deer is one of the deer species that is found across India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. It is most popular at the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh and the Kaziranga National Park in Assam where it is found in huge numbers.

The proud antlers of this Male Swamp Deer (Barasingha) 
Only the male species of the barasingha grow antlers. These antlers are shed every year and then a new set replaces them. As is the case with most of the animal kingdom, the one with the best set of antlers gets to call the shots. These antlers, when fully grown have 12 different branches on the same antler piece and hence are rightly called Barasingha in Hindi, which translates into Twelve Horns.

Male Barasingha 
I got these shots of this beautiful mammal during an elephant safari at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. If I remember right, it was evening time and a huge herd of swamp deer were grazing in front of me. However, it was after a lot of waiting, that I managed to single this one out. This guy was just re-growing his antlers and hence they were not fully developed.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bird Photography: Peacock Mating Dance

When I was a kid, I used to see a lot of peafowl and their vivacious dances in my residential area. Sadly, peafowl are not that common in our cities anymore and one has to go to the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to catch them in their full splendour.

Peacock Mating Dance at Yala National Park - 2 
This time around, I was at the Yala National Park in Sri Lanka and was lucky to be treated to a lot of peacock mating dances. It looked like the monsoon had come early here. I would have spotted more than 50 peafowl here and all this within 3 hours of jeep safari. It is only after I got out of the Yala National Park did I find out that that the peafowl density here is the highest in Sri Lanka and much higher than India. So much for it being the national bird of India.

Peacock Mating Dance at Yala National Park - 1 
The peacock mating dances are always a very pretty sight. During this dance, the peacock opens up all its feathers, looks at the pea-hen and dances in such a way that all the feathers shake right from the top to bottom making for a thrilling experience. And at the same time, the peacock kind of jumps and runs behind the pea-hen with the same formation, but this time its feathers are tucked closer to its body.

Peacock Mating Dance - 5 
Below are some more pictures of the peacock mating dance. Hope you enjoy the show.

Peacock Mating Dance - 4 
Peacock Mating Dance - 3 
Peacock Mating Dance - 2 
Peacock Mating Dance - 1

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Featured on TeachStreet

One more piece of happy news! This time I have been featured on TeachStreet. TeachStreet is a Seattle based company that delivers a dynamic online community, which brings together learners and teachers from different areas of interest and expertise. They offer classes that range from cooking to music, photography to yoga, Spanish to Piano, GMAT Prep to Zumba and many more.

I am very happy to be a part of their ‘Featured Bloggers’ community. This also helps me contribute to their great learning initiative. And hopefully, this feature will help widen the reach of ‘BE ON THE ROAD’ and thus help share my love for traveling in India and travel photography in overall.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Painting Moment–Wild Buffalo at Kaziranga, Assam

I had just finished an excellent wildlife photography session from atop an elephant at the Central range of the Kaziranga National park in Assam, North East India. For 2 hours straight, I saw and shot Rhinos, Wild buffalos, elephants and other mammals in different conditions making it a brilliant wildlife safari. But, the irony is that my best wildlife photograph came when I had finished my safari and was back standing on my feet and mourning that the day was over.

Wild Buffalo stares at us while attempting to cross the jeep track 
This photograph was shot in very low light and with my 100-400 f4.0 Lens. The wild buffalo in picture is a male that I had spotted during my elephant safari. He was looking to cross the jeep track when my eyes fell on him and I guess vice versa. This photograph captures that jungle look in a very hazy background giving it a very painting like feel. Do you agree?

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Indulge in some Parasailing at Rajbaga Beach, South Goa

The exotic tropical destination, Goa, is the land of many personas. It has the wavy beaches, the pristine waters, the chilled out lifestyle, the bustling nightlife, the beach facing coco huts and many more. But, the one thing that is fast catching on in Goa is water sports, which ranges from scuba diving, snorkelling, parasailing, banana boat rides to jet ski.

Parasailing at Rajabaga Beach - 3 
Most of these water sports are fiercely popular with the local and foreign tourist population as there are a lot of adventure operators catering to the needs of these adrenalin lovers. The one adventure sport that is easily accessible to all adventure lovers, is affordable and is accessible across all age groups and health levels is parasailing.

Enjoying the parasailing show at Rajbaga Beach 
Parasailing is an adventure sport, where the tourist is strapped onto a parachute in a body harness and is then pulled by a long rope that is connected to a speed boat. As the speed boat opens throttle and heads off into the open waters, the adventure lover is lifted high into the air along with the parachute.

Parasailing at Rajabaga Beach - 2 
This is a sport where you are totally airborne without your feet being on any surface. It is the easiest way to fly, let yourself loose, feel the adrenaline rush and enjoy the views of the wide open seas all at once.

Parasailing at Rajabaga Beach - 1 
There is no certification or practice required to participate in this sport, though a basic training session is provided by the instructor before the adventure activity begins. This adventure sport is generally organized during the afternoon hours when the gentle sea breeze blows in towards the land. None of the operators offer this sport during rough weather conditions.

Parasailing at Rajabaga Beach - 4 
A typical parasailing session lasts about 5 minutes and costs around 800-1500 rupees per person. Though, when in flight, the adrenalin rush is so high that the 5 minutes seems like 30 seconds and people often complain that the high gets over too soon. Parasailing is offered at many beaches in Goa along with other adventure sports. But, the operators at Rajbaga beach in South Goa are more reliable and have trustworthy equipment.

Parasailing at Rajabaga Beach - 5 
So, if you seek that adrenalin rush and are planning that holiday in Goa, then you know where to go and what to do!

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Jackfruit Tree House

Tree houses are a very interesting concept and they offer a whole new meaning and elevation to your living. I am sure we all have seen our fair share of tree houses during our life. Even, I have seen a lot of tree houses. In fact, I used to play in them as a kid. However, this was the first instance when I came across this tree house built on a jack fruit tree.

The jackfruit tree house 
It is a pretty unique concept as I had never seen large jackfruits hanging below and around the tree house. The sight looked totally inviting. No wonder the kids were totally ga ga over it. I saw this jackfruit tree house at the Hoysala Village Resort, a luxury yet aesthetically designed resort on the Hassan-Belur road in Karnataka.

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