Monday, 29 August 2016

Hooli - Temples & Temples


Hooli is a small village, about 10kms north-east of Saundatti, a major pilgrimage centre. The village is quite small, flanked by a small rising hill on the north and the Hooli lake on the east. The top of the hill has the small Hooli fort, while the rise of the hill has about 15 temples scattered throughout.

The Hooli village, along with the lake, temples and mobile towers ...
... as seen from the upper group of temples 

The major temple of Hooli - the Panchlingeshwar Temple - is maintained by the ASI, and has a small museum attached. The rest of the temples are at best partially dilapidated and are used by the locals as regular hang-outs. I've divided the temples as lower, middle and upper group according to their position on the rise of the hill for convenience.


Getting In And Around

Hooli is located 10km north-east of Saundatti. The connecting road is not in the best of conditions and is serviced by local buses and tum-tums. Once in Hooli, the Panchlingeshwar temple is close by, inside the main settlement. The rest of the temples are located outside the main village on a path that leads up the hill. The Hooli fort is located towards the west and has an approach of its own.

Hooli on the map

A shepherd's pen on the way to the temples


The Panchlingeshwar Temple

This is the main temple of interest in Hooli. The architecture resembles that of the Kalyani Chalukyas, though lacks in intricacy. True to the name, the temple has five shiv-lingas in their individual compartments inside the main sanctum. A makeshift museum maintained by the ASI houses some aretefacts found in the temples of Hooli. Photography is prohibited inside the sanctum and the museum.

The Panchlingeshwar Temple

The inner pillars of the Panchlingeshwar temple 

The spire of the Panchlingeshwar Temple


Lower Temples Of Hooli

The lower group of temples are located close to the Hooli lake (more like a pond). This probably includes Kallameshwar and Banashankari temples, but lack of signage and/or other identifiers makes it difficult to pinpoint. The approach is along the stream - Sivakashi - that feeds the lake.

 This temple looks rather sad ...

An upgraded and modernised stepwell ...

Probably the Kallameshwar Temple ... partially restored

 As seen from the rear

 The original doorframe

 Some temples on the other side of the lake too

 Another temple in the lower group

 The stark pillars of the dilapidated temple v/s a partially restored temple

 The entrance of the dilapidated temple


The Middle Group Of Temples

The middle group of temples are packed together in a common compound. The temple-fronts are white-washed to uniformity and are used by the local men as a den for playing cards.

The entrance to the compound

 A temple with Hooli Fort in the background

 A random temple

 Locals playing cards ...

The Upper Group Of Temples

The upper group is located uphill from the middle group, approached through a shepherd's trail. The main temple here is the Tarkeshwara Temple, with other ruins scattered about. Here again we found a few local men loitering. The stench of bats at the Tarkeshwara Temple was overpowering.

A ruined pillared temple

Some more ruins in the upper group

A ruined temple next to the Tarkeshwara Temple

The inside of the Tarkeshwara Temple - cue overpowering bat stench

The Tarkeshwara Temple ... and local men loitering


Signing Off

Hooli is an ancient village. Much here has been lost over the years - tales of burglary and treasure hunts in the old temples are very commonly told by the locals. Much remains to be conserved too, though. Some effort is being made by the ASI, but its still a long way off.

I'm hoping the best for the future of this place. Responsible tourism can be a good boost to this small village. Happy traveling!


Other Places on the Karnataka Chalukyan Trail

Lakkundi || Gadag || Badami (Monuments and Caves) || Aihole || Pattadakal


© One Of The Road

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Saundatti - Two Forts & A Temple


Saundatti is a small but significant town located in Northern Karnataka. The temple of Yellamma (Renuka) located on a hill nearby sees quite an influx of tourists/pilgrims and has been famously associated with the 'Devdasi' cult. Apart from that, Saundatti region houses the two forts of Saundatti and Parasgad of the Ratta dynasty, of which the town once served as a capital. The Renuka-Sagar Dam is located to the north of the town, across the Malprabha river, and is a beautiful place.

The Renuka-Sagar as seen from Saundatti Fort


Getting There And About

Saundatti is best approached by road. Belgaum is 80km to the West and Dharwad is 40km to the South. Both cities have frequent bus connections to Saundatti.

 Saundatti on the map - zoom in for Parasgad

The Saundatti fort is inside the limits of the main town and can be approached on foot. Yellamma Temple is about 5-6 km away, but share rickshaws are available for a princely sum of Rs. 10. Parasgad is located close the the temple, but sufficiently off-route to warrant special rickshaw rates. One can easily walk from the road-junction to the fort though, the open plateau and wind-mills make it a pleasant walk.

The windmills are a constant presence


Saundatti Fort

The fort belongs to the 18th century ans is located in the main town. The fort has a temple of Kadasiddheshwar at the highest point. The fort is uniquely built in white-ish sandstone, presenting a very Mediterranean ambience. The palm-fronds at the entrance help too. The top has views of the entire Saundatti town and the Renuka-Sagar Dam in the distance.

The entrance of the Saundatti Fort

The inner gates with palms for that Mediterranean effect

The spire of the Kadasiddheshwar Temple

The inner courtyard and the Kadasiddheshwar Temple

The town of Saundatti as seen from the fort


Yellamma Temple

The Yellamma Temple is a very important pilgrimage centre in Northern Karnataka. The main shrine is surrounded by a small walled courtyard, around which the small market radiates. A series of steps descend from the main roads towards the market and the main temple. A couple of deep-maal are also seen. The temple has long been associated with the Devdasi tradition, although it is claimed to have been abolished presently.

The wall of the Yellamma shrine covered in haldi-kumkum

The entrance to the inner courtyard

The main spire of the temple, and the queue of the paid darshan


Parasgad Fort

The Parasgad fort belongs to the 10th century and probably served as the capital of the Ratta kingdom for some time. The construction is divided in two parts: one part faces the plateau of the Yellamma temple and the approach resembles that of a pure landlocked fort; the other part covers the steep gully that descends to the Ramteerth spring and Yadravi village below. Pictures will give a better idea. We did a trough trek from the Parasgad fort, down via Ramteerth to the Yadravi village and then took a rickshaw back to Saundatti.

The windmills and the walls of Parasgad in the distance

The windmills and the fort

A Maruti (Hanuman) idol at Parasgad

 Shepherds keep a watch at Parasgad

 A view of the plains below

Looking down through the gorge

 A monkey cleans off lice from a goat ...
Another monkey analyses contents of a plastic bag in the background

The views were coming up ahead

 We descended these stairs ...

 ... to reach Ramteerth

 ... and this view

 The last view of Parasgad from below ...
The descent path is through the central cleft


Signing Off

Saundatti is a common day trip for the locals. A balance of religion and history makes this is a good 'package' of sorts. A minor adventure can be had by trekking down from Parasgad, though people bringing their own vehicles will face some trouble here. There are other places like the Renuka-Sagar Dam and the temples of Hooli that can be explored as well. Happy travelling!


© One Of The Road

Thursday, 25 August 2016

A Chalukyan Wandering In Gadag


We sampled excellent specimens of the 'Gadag School Of Architecture' at Lakkundi. The capital of the Gadag district - Gadag city - also has a few artefacts from the same period. The monuments in Gadag city are located in well populated areas with narrow roads. We chose to walk; this would end up being a 3km route in the soft evening light.

The statue of Basaveshwara welcomes you to Gadag


About Gadag

Gadag city is the headquarters for the Gadag district. The city is well connected by road to various parts of Karnataka, and is about an hour's drive from Hubli, a major commercial centre. Railways connect the city of Gadag to all major areas of the country. Considering the number of small tourist places that surround Gadag, the city could well be developed as a minor tourist hub.


Trikuteshwara Temple Complex

This complex has the temples of Trikuteshwara and Gayatri which are actively worshiped. There are other minor shrines which are devoid of deities. An intricately designed temple of Saraswati exists, but not in active worship. A step-well is also present.

The Trikuteshwara Temple Complex

 The rear of Trikuteshwara Temple

 The withering walls of the temple

The Nandi statue in the temple

The stepwell in the complex

The Gayatri Temple

 The Saraswati Temple - of intricate pillars

 The pillars of Saraswati Temple

A sample pillar with intricate details


The Guard, The Priest and The Travelers

The Trikuteshwara Temple Complex has a few signboards in Devanagari script, while others are in Kannada script. It became a bit difficult to read the names of the temples and hence I consulted a security guard nearby. Actually, he was the only one in the complex. On his enquiring about my wherabouts, the initial discussion quickly dissolved into a quick tour of the shut-off places, followed by a introduction to a mapped guidebook of Gadag. He insisted that we 'had to' check out the hidden places of the district. I couldn't refuse.

Our details - travelers from Mumbai interested in exploring the place - were relayed to the temple priest as well, which resulted in the following conversation:

Priest: How do you feel about this place?
Us: Its good, liked it very much. Thanks!
Priest: (smiles)
Us: Can we take some photos inside?
Priest: Yes, yes. Take photos as you want except the main deity. Tell me, you like this place? Does it have potential?
Us: Yea, its good!
Priest: But there is nothing outside, you see. When you go back, put these words in your Youtube video. Say that the temple is beautiful. You agree, right? But there is no development here! You have seen the roads. Its non-existent and littered. There has been no provision to develop the place. Please put this in your videos. We need more people to come here for the government to notice.
Us: (confused nodding - I don't make any videos) Yea, sure we will. (Hence, this)
Priest: Thank you (politely goes off to attend a family that has just come in)

Well, the responsibilities of a traveler are aplenty!

And yes, if any of the readers happen to be in Gadag, they would agree that the place needs some infrastructure support. The site itself is beautiful for sure!


Someshwara Temple

We stumbled across this Chalukyan structure while on our way to the Veeranarayana Temple and distracted by radio-drones. The temple is simple, yet beautiful.

The Someshwara Temple, side pic


Veeranarayana Temple

The temple is located in the centre of the complex, surrounded by a rectangular courtyard with Dravidian towered entrances and a gaushala. We saw a chariot here too.

Veeranarayana Temple - entrance tower

 The chariot outside the Veeranarayana Temple


Signing Off

We made our way to the bus station through the Sarafa Market and then the regular markets. The Sarafa Market street boasts some old and beautiful buildings.

We found an Akhada too ... shuddh deshi lal maati nonetheless

It was a fun walk.


Other Places on the Karnataka Chalukyan Trail

Lakkundi || Hooli || Badami (Monuments and Caves) || Aihole || Pattadakal


© One Of The Road