August 2018 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Malnad Homestay: Perfect Rural Holiday in Karnataka

Enjoyng a monsoon holiday at Athihally village, Malnad, Karnataka

While luxury holidays and staying in five star hotels have their own charm, I think I connect more with who I am when I go on rural holidays and become one with the authenticity of local traditions and nature.

Last week, while going on a monsoon holiday to the Malanadu region of Karnataka, I opted for one such lesser known location for my rustic holiday. The place was totally remote, but it was endowed with rich nature and super friendly people. There was no phone coverage except that of BSNL, which meant my Airtel connection stayed dormant for 3 days, a real luxury in today’s time and era. The place was surrounded with traditional homes, beautiful spice farms interspersed with coffee estates, dense tropical forests, misty mountain tops, fast flowing streams and a total laidback environment.

The motorcycles and the rural homestay at Athihally

Located at an elevation of 3500 feet above MSL, this village of Athihally is one that you would normally give a miss and I am so happy that I discovered it. Located somewhere between Somwarpet in North Coorg and Sakleshpur in Malnad, this village is tucked right between the Bisle State Forest and the Kaginahare Reserve Forest, two gorgeous tracts of tropical rainforests.

Monsoon Motorcycle Rural holiday to Athihally, Karnataka

As my visit happened to be during the peak rains, I was treated to heavy rains almost always during my 3 day stay. While it did take a few hours to getting used to, the monsoons ensure that the environment is fresh and clean, the greens are as vibrant as possible and the rivers and waterfalls are as full as they can be. Athihally was no different. And boy did I enjoy riding in the rains!   
Traditional Lip Smacking Malnad Breakfast at Athihally village, Karnataka

My base at Athihally was the home of Mr Mallesh Gowda and his family, who manages a family run homestay called Malnad Homestay. In his own words, the specialty of this homestay is personalized experience, which means that he doesn’t entertain more than one group at any given time. Set in his 2 acre home and next to his 10 acre plantation, Malnad Homestay offers a traditional home like setting right next to the home of the Gowda family.

Traditional breakfast at Malnad Homestay, Athihally

He offers all the modern day luxuries like gas heater based hot water (which doesn’t depend on electricity), power backup (to charge all those gadgets), super delicious and organic home cooked food and a total noise free environment. The reason I opted for Malnad Homestay is because his property is where he himself lives with his family and he doesn’t run it like a resort or guest house like the other ones in the region.

Fresh green colors seen during the monsoons in Malnad, Karnataka

There is no loud tour groups or drunken sessions. All there is pristine nature, a traditional Malnad family, their warm hearts and oodles of good ‘ol relaxation through good food, good environment and pleasant nature walks. Mr. Mallesh himself is a jovial person and will keep you entertained at many times. If you like pets, you will enjoy the company of Gundu and Kulla, their two dogs, who are as adorable as they come.

Malnad Home Stay, Athihally, Karnataka

Mr. Mallesh’s wife is a seriously good cook and dishes out all traditional vegetarian and non vegetarian fares. Be it spicy pandi curry, pepper chicken, egg masala, beans with coconut, bamboo salad, Kadubu, Akki Roti, Kessa greens with local tamarinds or biryani, her food is bound to cause your mouth to water and make one happy place.

Yummy Malanadu Breakfast at Athihally, Karnataka

And after you have a happy stomach, you could potentially go on a plantation walk, take a bath at the Mookana Mane waterfalls nearby, trek to the Kaginhare Fort, soak in the stunning views of Bisle beauty spot, explore the famous Manjarabad Fort and visit Malalli falls, Coorg’s tallest waterfall. Most of these places are just a short drive away and the drive in itself is a stunning experience during the rains. During my visit, I could not see Malalli falls due to landslides and Mookane Mane falls due to heavy floods, but I got a chance to experience everything else.

Heavy rains in August 2018, Malnad, Karnataka

Apart from the modern day luxuries that I mention above, the accommodation is basic, but it is comfortable. With a private sit out, a hard bed, 24 hours running water, backup power, hot water and a supremely green and quiet environment, Malnad homestay offers more than expected in a rustic holiday. Usual prices per person are 1800 rupees, but Mr. Mallesh is known to offer discounts depending on group size, week days or lean season. Personally, I paid INR 1500 for the 1st night and INR 1000 for the other.

For bookings, you can contact Mr. Mallesh at 94827 24214 or 94489 28393. Hope you enjoy your rural holiday in Karnataka’s Malnad as much as I did!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Monsoon Holiday to the Green Paradise called Kaginahare

Appreciating the view of the rolling hills at Kaginahare Forest, Karnataka

The monsoons happen to be my favorite season of the year. The freshly washed earth, the clean air, the abundance in mother nature, the busy activity in the food chain and last, but not the least, the various shades of mind, soul and body relaxing green that is present almost everywhere this season is what makes the monsoons so special. And one of the best places to experience the rains is the Western Ghats, a gem in nature and one of the perks for all those living in central to Peninsular India owing to close proximity.

The greens of the Western Ghats that you see during the monsoons only

Last week, I was at one such gem in the Western Ghats called Kaginahare. This tract of state forest located in the Malnad region of Karnataka is an off beat holiday getaway and makes for a spectacular panorama of green rolling hills in the rainy season. This place came into prominence during the reign of Tipu Sultan (1750-99) when he built a small fort here to serve as a watch tower for the larger and more important Manjarabad fort.

Rolling hills of Kaginhare Forest, Malnad, Karnataka

Today, the entire fort is in ruins and all one can see is a heap of red bricks stacked together. But, one doesn’t go here for the fort, but for the experience of being surrounded by a green paradise.

Lush green of the Monsoons at Kaginahare, Western Ghats, Karnataka

Overlooking Bisle rainforest at one end and the Kagenari State forest through which the Mangalore – Bangalore NH 75 highway passes through at the other, this fort is situated at a dead end. One can drive to this place via the villages of Athihally, Hiligallu and Hongadahalla. The drive is serene and covered with tropical forests, very small villages, spice farms and coffee estates. One can also stop by the Mookana Mane waterfalls, which falls enroute.

Taking a break enroute to Kaginahare Fort, Malnad, Karnataka

One can drive all the way till the Chamundeswari temple, post which, one will have to embark on the rest of the journey by foot. 4 wheel drives can take you all the way to the top during the dry season, but during the wet season, one will have to depend on their two feet to take them to the top of the various peaks.

Kaginahare - an offbeat monsoon getaway of Karnataka

To be honest, I kind of prefer the walking route as it gives you a lay of the land and you can soak in the beauty of these rolling hills and forests at every turn and at every place you stop to catch your breath. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the top from the Chamundeshwari temple. Do prepare for slush, rain, cold winds and heavy mist cover during the rainy season. A good pair of boots, a bottle of water, a solid rain jacket and rain cover for your gadgets are heavily recommended. There are no leeches here due to the cold and the altitude, but do keep an eye out for them in case the weather turns warmer.

Gorgeous Kaginahare View Pint in the Monsoons

Do not be disappointed if all you get to see is a blanket of mist on the top. Be patient and stay on the top for at least 30 minutes. The mist usually clears from time to time and more so if there is heavy rain. You can keep hopping from peak to peak to get different vantage points of the green rolling hills. The view from each peak will leave you dumbfounded and pretty soon you will fall in love with this green blanket of a view.

Kaginahare - that special green of the Western Ghats in the monsoons

If monsoon treks, monsoon holidays, getting wet in rains, rural holidays and Western Ghats are your thing, you will definitely find this offbeat destination to be truly special. For me, it is simply a ‘Green Paradise’ that is called Kaginahare!

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Karnataka Floods: Humbled by Mother Nature’s Fury

Mookana Mane River, Malnad in full floods

For the last month or so, we all have been hearing about the unprecedented rains, floods, landslides and  sufferings in Kerala and Karnataka. The scale of the deluge and the damage has been massive and I got a first hand view of it when I went on a monsoon motorcycle ride to the northern edge of Kodagu and Malanadu in Karnataka.

A flooded river in the Western Ghats of Malnad, Karnataka

Video Note: Watch it in 4K resolution for best quality.

I could not enter proper Kodagu (Coorg) as all roads were closed, but I could get a good feel and understanding of the prevailing conditions. Heavy rains were omnipresent, trees had fallen at a lot of places, many roads were closed either due to washed away bridges or due to landslides and where it was open, the road quality was poor or the water was flowing right under the bridge, the reservoirs were full and overflowing and in simple terms, the conditions were challenging.

While Malanadu region did not see calamities like Kerala and Kodagu, it did experience a similar amount of rainfall and suffered significantly in loss of crops and plantations. Even though I knew beforehand that the conditions would be challenging for a monsoon motorcycle ride, I had to experience this once in a lifetime event and I have to say that after experiencing it first hand, it was totally a humbling experience.

Mookana Mane river in floods, Karnataka

However big, strong, powerful or rich we become, we are mere pissants in front of mother nature. She patiently takes all that we throw at her and one day, she just bursts to show us her power and put us in our rightful places. During this trip, I could sense and see her wrath at many places and I have to say that it scared me at times or should I say that it brought me back to my true senses. I know I should not be saying this, but such events are necessary to restore the balance to our world and make us understand who is the real BOSS! The only good thing about natural calamities is that it brings human kind together and that there is a display of compassion, common sense, real strength and immense intelligence, which we seem to be missing from our normal day to day lives.

Do help Kerala and Karnataka in any way you can and hopefully, both these states and their people will return to normalcy soon.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Upcoming Travels: Monsoon Ride to Bisle Ghat, Karnataka

Monsoon Ride to Bisle Ghat, Karnataka

Finally!! After 3 cancellations due to extremely heavy rains, landslides and road closures, I am finally heading to the paradise called ‘Bisle Ghat’, that is one of the most pristine tropical forests and rainforests in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. It has been a good 11 years since I visited this region and I can’t express how excited and pumped I am about this trip.

It is still raining heavily in the Western Ghats, but thankfully the roads are open and I am all prepared for a wet monsoon ride through green heaven.

On the agenda are:

1) Wet Monsoon Ride through some of the lesser known roads between Sakleshpur, Kukke Subramanya and Somwarpet

2) Malalli Falls – the tallest waterfall in Coorg

3) Bisle Beauty Spot, Bisle Forest and Addahole View Point

A green monsoon ride is one of the perks of living in Bangalore

4) Kaginahare Forest and Fort for a different green vantage point

5) Mookane Mane Falls

6) Manjarabad Fort

7) Kukke Subramanya Temple and the view of the lush Kumara Parvatha (No trek on this trip, but that needs to be repeated soon)

8) Coffee Estates of Sakleshpur and the railway track between Yedukumeri and Donigal, the green route (one of the best train journeys of India)

9) Stay in a traditional home in a rustic setting surrounded by forests, spice farms and coffee estates. No AirBnB or online bookings, but just a good ol traditional homestay.

Hope Mother Nature keeps the roads free of landslides and floods

…and whatever else comes on our way and looks worth exploring. Nothing on the agenda is set in stone as most of the Western Ghats across Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been battered by heavy rains for the last 2 weeks or so and most of the roads are either blocked, inaccessible due to floods or have heavy traffic backed up. As I am not sure of the availability of roads, I will form a route as the roads make themselves available. I am so looking forward to this three day ride. Look me up if you happen to be in the region or catch me on my social channels where I will be posting regular updates.

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Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple: Traditional Wedding Destination close to Bangalore

Vasantha Mantapa or divine marriage alter at Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple, Karnataka

Lord Shiva is worshipped here in three different forms. One as a child (Arunachaleswarar), then as a Brahmachari (Bhoga Nandeeshwara) and the third as a married man (Uma Maheshwari). The specialty of this 9th century temple wonder does not end there. Each kingdom that ruled from the 9th century till date have added a bit of their heritage to this temple. Whether you call it a stamp of authority or some architectural class from that era, this amalgamated architecture is a sight to behold for all those art, culture, history and temple lovers.

Beautiful sculptures on the walls of Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple

The original structure was constructed in the 9th century under the rule of the Nolamba dynasty,  and many additions were made in the following years by the Rashtrakuta, Ganga, Chola, Yelanhanka, Hoysala and the Vijayanagara kingdoms. If one has explored the temples of South India, they will realize that it bears close resemblance to the Vittala temple in Hampi, the Hoysaleswarar Temple in Halebid and the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur. The resemblance is not in entirety, but in bits and pieces.

The Gargoyle, the monkey and the gorgeous sculptures at the Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple

The Arunachaleswara shrine was built by the Gangas of Talakad, the Bhoga Nandeeswara shrine was built by the Cholas, the Ume Maheshwari shrine and the mantapa in front of it by the Hoysala dynasty and the Vasantha Mantapa outside, the Yali pillars, the large mantapa, the Kalyani and many other mantapas was built by the Vijayanagara empire.

Sculpture in the Vasantha Mantapa at Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple, Karnataka

All these additions from different eras gives the Bhoga Nandeeswara temple a special look and feel. And then there is the gorgeous looking Kalyani (Pushkarni) or temple stepwell where one can sit and feed the fishes and tortoises and the massive courtyard in front of the main temple entrance that is surrounded with trees.

Kalyani or temple pond at Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple

It is kind of hard of believe that such a wonderful place exists just an hour away from the traffic and chaos of Bangalore. Further north from the Bangalore International Airport, the Bhoga Nandeeswara temple is located right at the foot of the Nandi hills. You can simply make a quick day trip to this temple or make it a full day trip that includes the vineyards and farms of rural Chikkaballapur, Gudibande Fort and the stunning Lepakshi temple on the Karnataka – Andhra Pradesh border.

As you enter the main shrines of Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple

Whatever is your plan, one can easily immerse themselves for 2 to 3 hours in the art, history and culture that exists here and even more if you prefer taking a nap on the green lawns of the temple grounds that is surrounded by a tree canopy. The temple opens at 7 AM or thereabouts. Hence, one can catch the sunrise from the top of Nandi hills and head straight to this temple for a fairly quiet and uncluttered experience.

A pathway connecting the 3 shrines of Lord Shiva at Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple

As soon as you wash your feet and enter the main temple, it is the Vijayanagar style pillars with the mythological Yali creature that will capture your attention, but since you are just entering the temple, I would recommend offering your prayers at the sanctum sanctorum of the 3 shrines first. This is also where you will see the most cultural drama through rich carvings and picturization.

Stunning Sculpting, carving and inscriptions at Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple, Karnataka

The highlight is the Vasantha Mantapa or divine marriage alter that is located in front of the Uma Maheshwari shrine. This 13th century addition during the region of the Hoysalas has ornate pillars in black stone that depicts the main gods and their consorts (Shiva and Parvati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Brahma and Saraswati, Agni and Swaha Devi) and decorative creepers and birds in bas relief.  This Uma Maheshwari shrine and the Vasantha Mantapa is the reason why many newly weds visit this temple to seek the lord’s blessings.

Side view of Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple

There is also a larger Vasantha Mantapa without any shrine just next to this temple complex that was built by the Vijayanagar empire. This is where many people actually get married in a traditional destination wedding kind of setup. This mantapa is right in between the main temple complex and the Kalyani. This was one of the main reasons I visited this temple as I always used to see photos shot by wedding photographers here.

Hoysala style pilars at Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple

Whether it is the Yali pillars in the Vasantha Mantapa, the window art and relief work at the back of the main shrine complex, the ornate sculptures, the pillar carvings, the temple Kalyani, or any of the shrines, you are never too far from our rich Hindu heritage, our mythological stories and a combination of some of South India’s best temple architecture.

Entrance to the Bhoga Nandeeswara Temple Complex

An amazing day trip from Bangalore, Bhoga Nandeeswara is one of the perks of living in Bangalore. Whether you ride a bicycle with friends, go on a motorcycle trip or head in a car with your family, this place has enough charm to appeal to all. And for all those couples planning to get married, this place has all the ingredients for that traditional destination wedding and given that it is just an hour away from Bangalore, you get an awesome combination of an ancient temple wedding and the modern day comforts of a large metropolitan city.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Weekend's Guide To Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

Rome is dubbed the Eternal City, and one stroll down the ancient cobbled streets of this atmospheric and mesmerising city will tell you why this city is one of the most popular European holiday destinations. If any city will forever draw people in, it’s Rome. This sprawling, cosmopolitan city has an undeniably rich history. Here you can find some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, as well as the world’s most revered art; the culture is magnetic, and the food absolutely delicious.

They say that when in Rome you should do as the Romans do, but you’re going to have even more possibilities to choose from. It is a place that could entertain you for weeks on end, so a weekend here should be carefully planned. You’ll find of few of Rome’s choicest picks in this guide, as well as some general advice about where to stay and eat, and how to get around.

Getting around Rome

Roman public transport could prove a little challenging if you’ve never had to navigate it before. The city has two metro lines that will take you to most of the major attractions, but it’s a good idea to do as much as you can on foot – this way you’ll miss out on less. A good way of getting around Rome is to hop onto one of the open top buses that tour the city. Jump on and off at most major attractions, and familiarise yourself with the city while you do so.

A good way of saving time and a bit of cash is to get hold of a Roma Pass. This gives you access to all city metros and buses, but note that the city buses (not the open top ones) can be overcrowded, late, and confusing. With the Roma Pass you’ll also get free entry into some of the best museums around, and a queue jump entitlement to boot.

Things to do in Rome

This is the hard part. Where to start? The following sites are definite must-visits, and there are some unmissable activities coming up too:

Visit the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica

Beautiful skyline of Rome, Italy

You can’t come to Rome and not visit the Vatican. Most will agree, so it will of course be busy, but don’t let that put you off. Vatican City is home to the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, home of the Pope and the site of some of the country’s most captivating architecture.

This is where you will find St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world with an interior so fascinating you’ll never forget it. Built in the Italian Renaissance style, you can view some of the world’s most famous artworks, and many popes have been buried here. In the Vatican’s museums you can see masterpieces like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes and the stunning golden ceilings leading up to the Chapel.

Try to visit the Vatican on a Thursday or Friday if possible, as it isn’t open to visitors on a Sunday. This makes Saturdays and Mondays the most hectic time. You’ll probably get more out of the experience on a quieter day. It also helps to pay for an advance ticket that allows you to skip the queue.

See the Colosseum
Inside view of Colosseum, Rome, Italy

The Colosseum (a.k.a Coliseum or Flavian Amphitheatre) is an oval-shaped amphitheatre in the heart of Rome. It is made from travertine, tuff, and brick-faced concrete and is utterly amazing for its scale and size alone. The Colosseum was once the site of events and theatrical shows, some of which included animals like tigers and bears.

If you want to leave no stone unturned, invest in one of the four-hour tours around the Colosseum. Get photographs with gladiators outside the world’s best-preserved amphitheatre (expect to pay a hefty fee for that, mind) and find out about the fascinating but spine-chilling history it holds.

Relax by the Trevi Fountain

Piazza Ramona, Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain is situated in the Trevi district, and was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi before being completed by Giuseppe Pannini in ancient Roman times It is a massive 85 feet tall and nearly 65 feet wide; water pumps from multiple sources and the front of the fountain contains a large pool. Apparently the fountain pumps out around 2,824,800 cubic feet of recycled water each day.

The fountain doesn’t contain drinkable water, so do as the Romans do and use a nearby drinking water fountain if you’re thirsty… or grab a bottle of Italian wine and relax on the steps. There is no law against this in Italy, so make the most of it! Throw a coin into the fountain and make a wish, and you fountain visit will be complete.

Other must-do Rome activities for your list

Romano Forum - Rome, Italy

There are many things you won’t want to miss out on, so do your best to put some of these on your list:

  • See the Pantheon
  • Lounge in the Piazza Popolo, Piazza de Spagna and Piazza Venezia
  • Tour the Castel Sant’Angelo
  • Take an evening stroll on the banks of the River Tiber
  • Check out the Ponte Milvio Antique market on the Tevere River
  • Photograph the Roman street art and graffiti

It’s also great to just wander around and see what unfolds, if you can spare some time for that. Rome won’t let you down, that’s for sure.

Where to eat in Rome

Rome Colosseum Outside view

For great baked bites, try out the Panificio Bonci bakery close to the Vatican. Founded by an internationally renowned baker in 2012, this bakery is proud to offer you classic loaves, cookies, pastries and cakes to sample to your heart’s content. You can also get meals from roast chicken to pizza. You won’t be disappointed!

For a classy experience, you should head to Antico Arco on Janiculum Hill. Antico Arco is famous for its fine, contemporary cuisine using seasonal ingredients. If the markets allow for it, you’ll be able to fill up on such delights as ‘cacio e pepe’ with fried squash blossoms, or perhaps a delicious hazelnut-crusted lamb fillet. This place is never closed, so the chances are you’ll get a table… but book in advance if you can!

Where to stay in Rome

Bridge Vittorio Emanuele II at Sunset, Rome, Italy

You’ll have plenty of options for places to stay in Rome, but be warned: this is not a cheap city! Plenty of people opt to share Airbnb apartments with friends, which should save you a bit. Hostels are also a better option if you’re on a budget, but even those are more expensive than plenty of other European cities. It’s a good idea to pick a place near to a Metro stop for those days when your legs have been put through their paces.

One particularly nice place to stay is the Retrome Urban Retreat. It’s well decorated in a vintage style, with handpicked furniture throughout the singles, doubles and apartment suites. The staff are friendly and helpful, and the hotel is well situated for those who plan to a lot of exploring, as it’s near to the Colosseum.

For hostels, try the Generator Hostels for a comfortable experience while immersed in cool and funky design. They can be found close to the Colosseum and Roma Termini station, and the 75 rooms are laid out over seven floors with a bar and chill out lounge. Here you can expect to pay between $50 and $100 per night.

So, the choice is yours. Your Rome weekend could consist of walking the streets and drinking in the sights, or you could spend it lounging outside cafes, watching the world go by and drinking classy Italian wines. Whatever you choose to do with your precious time in this amazing city, the only thing you’ll regret it is having to leave.

Author Bio: Sam Ross runs the blog - a travel blog focused around the digital nomad lifestyle. Over the past 3 years, he's travelled to every continent, so writes on a broad range of countries, cities and destinations.

Photo Courtesy: All photographs have been borrowed from wikimedia commons under the Creative Commons license. Each photograph has been linked to their host page on wikimedia commons.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Bangalore’s Iconic Dargah: Go for those lucky talisman

Entering one of Bangalore's most famous dargahs

Most visitors to Bangalore think of Church Street and MG Road as Bangalore’s heartthrob places, but I know that is the narrow, crowded and bustling lanes of Cottonpet, Chickpet, Akkipet, Upparpet, BVK Iyengar road and KR Market. Not only is this area the merchant trail of Bangalore and the warehouse of nearly all of Bangalore’s goods, but it is also steeped in rich history and culture. One such location in this region is Dargah Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Shah Saharwadi R.A., a 250 year old tomb of a Sufi saint and it is also one of Bangalore’s oldest and largest dargahs.

Shopping time on the traditional bazaars of Chickpet, Bangalore

Legend has it that Haider Ali, father of Tipu Sultan himself initiated construction of this dargah and the mosque attached to it and the construction was completed by none other than Tipu Sultan himself. An integral part of heritage walks in Bangalore, this iconic dargah brings to light the life of the Sufi saints who migrated to Karnataka from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East during the Adil Shahi rule in the 17th century.

The glittering Dargah Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Shah Saharwadi, Bangalore

There are quite a few folklore associated with this dargah. One says that 3 Sufi saints and brothers worked as manual labourers without wages during the construction of Haider Ali’s Kalasipalayam Fort. This piqued Haider Ali’s interest, who offered to pay, and was requested to build a mosque instead. The three Sufi saints were Hazrat Tipu Mastan, Hazrat Manik Mastan and Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan.

Portrait of a shop owner - Dargah Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Shah Saharwadi

There is another folklore according to which, Haider Ali had a son after seeking the blessings of Sufi saint Hazrat Tipu Mastan, and thus the name of Tipu Sultan.

The Talisman giver at the dargah

Did you know that this mausoleum is equally popular with both Hindus and Muslims and in fact, a lot of Hindus visit this dargah to seek the blessings of the saint and pray for good health? There are a couple of folklores for it too. One says that the Sufi saint was trampled during a Hindu Karaga procession and was revived by the Hindu priests. Afterwards, all processions during the Hindu Karaga festival stop here. Another legend has it that during the annual Karaga from Dharmaraja temple, a person stopped at the dargah to seek the saint’s blessings so that the Karaga would not fall off his head and that tradition continues.

A shop right outside Dargah Hazray Tawakkal Mastan Shah Saharwadi

This mausoleum of Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan is open all year around, but it takes special character during the weekly prayer days (Friday Jumma), during the holy month of Ramadan, during the Hindu Karaga festival and during the annual urs (death anniversary) of the Sufi saints during Muharram.

Dargah Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Shah Saharwadi located in the heart of Bangalore

The pilgrims and devotees believe that this dargah and the blessings of the saint help ward off ill health and fulfils many wishes. And that is why, a lot of people visit this dargah with their kids every Friday afternoon to get a lucky talisman or tabeez for them. It is said that such talismans ensure good health of body and mind for the kids. A lot of poor people and those suffering with ill health visit this dargah and pray for good health. Some even tie locks on the gates of this dargah for the same reason.

Religious fervor seen at Akkipet bazaar, Bangalore

There is no particular way to pray at this dargah. Hindu devotees pray the same way they would in a Hindu temple. Muslims pray the way they would in a mosque. There is no right or wrong here. At some places inside the dargah campus, you will feel it is pretty much like a Hindu temple. At times, you will feel it resembles a mosque especially during prayer times and at other times, it will resemble a mausoleum. The only caveat is that one needs to cover their head while visiting the inner sanctum of the mausoleum and leave their footwear at the entrance of the dargah. Apart from these two, there are no other rules as such.

One of Bangalore's iconic dargahs

As soon as you enter the dargah, you will feel its strength through religious fervor, serenity and the rich incense aroma. You will come across singers, helpers, handicapped, under privilged, your regular devotee and a whole bunch of people from different sections and stages of life. Each visit this place in faith for peace of mind, a feeling of good and an overall sense of calm.

Video Note: Watch this video in 4K resolution for best effects.

While it is totally calm inside the dargah, the street in front of the dargah is totally chaotic, vibrant and colorful. Made up of a myriad of shops that sell everything from flowers, incense, religious paintings, fruits to food and beverages, these stops are surrounded by pilgrims, famous Bangalore traffic and all those shoppers and traders headed deep into the merchant trails of old Bangalore. I find it very interesting to just walk in front of the dargah and lose myself in the chaos that surrounds it.

Whether you are visiting Bangalore’s iconic dargah to know a bit about our city’s history and heritage, to get yourself a lucky talisman or just to wish to soak in the chaotic merchant trails of central Bangalore, Dargah Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Shah Saharwadi R.A., is bound to leave you calm and at peace. If you have time at hand, do carry on further and head deeper into the colorful bylanes of Balepet, Chickpet, Mamoolpet and BVK Iyengar road. And if you are starting real early in the morning, pay the flower market a visit for those divine colors and fragrances.

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