Gulbarga fort is located not far from the Gulbarga city center in the Gulbarga district of the Indian state of Karnataka. The fort was originally built by Raja Gulchand, a feudatory of the Kakatiyas of Warangal. The fort was strengthened with heavy fortification by Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah, the ruler of the Bahmani dynasty. Gulbarga was the capital of the Bahmani Kingdom from 1347 to 1424 AD with its headquarters at Gulbarga fort. In the year 1434 AD the capital was transferred to Bidar. It is said that with the establishment of the Bahmani Kingdom, the Muslim rule took firm roots in the Deccan. The Bahmani Sultans facilitated the immigrants from Iraq, Iran and Central Asia which changed the socio-cultural and religious life in the Deccan but was well amalgamated with Hindu traditions.
The fort was surrounded by a 30 feet wide moat and double fortification. A citadel was made in the center of the fort. This monumental structure was surrounded by 15 ramparts from inside with 26 cannons, some which are 8 meters long and is still well preserved.
The Jami Masjid is the most impressive structure inside the fort. It was built by Muhammad Shah I to commemorate Gulbarga as the capital of the Bahmini Sultanate. The Masjid was designed in line with the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain by a Moorish architect. It has a dimension of 216 x 176 feet. The mosque has no open courtyard. The outer passageways surround the prayer hall on three sides and have low open arcades with arches. They form a rectangular layout with ten bays each on the north and the south and seven bays on the east. It is an excellent example of Bahmani architectural style a combination of Persian, Moorish and Indian styles.
Shravanabelagola is a city located near Channarayaptna of Hassan District in the Indian state of Karnataka. The Gomateshvara statue at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important tirthas (pilgrimage destinations) in Jainism. The town is a prominent centre for Jaina art, architecture, religion and culture for over 2,300 years. It is a town of ponds and temples. The name of this holy center is derived from the pond called ‘biligola’ (white pond) between two hills. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Dynasty and the Maurya Empire died here in 298 BC after he became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style.
Shravanabelagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. The 58 feet tall monolithic statue of Gomateshvara (it is also referred as “Bahubali” by the Jains) is located on the Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic stone statue. The statue is carved beautifully from a single block of rock with accurate sense of proportion and expression. Gomata has curly really nice hair in ringlets on the head and long, large ears. His eyes are open as if viewing the world with detachment. The facial features are perfectly chiseled with a faint touch of smile at the corner of his lips and embody calm vitality. There is an anthill in the background which signifies his incessant penance and from where emerges a snake and creepers which twine around both his legs and his arms culminating as cluster of flowers and berries at the upper portion of the arms. The posture of meditation, of the digambara (nude) statue is known as ‘Kayotsarga’, symbolizing renunciation, self-control and subjugation of ego as the first step towards salvation. It represents the complete victory over earthly desires and needs that hamper spirtual ascent towards divinity.
The statue at Shravanabelagola was voted by the readers of “Times of India” a leading daily, as the first of the Seven Wonders of India by scoring 49% votes.
The base of the statue has an inscription in Prakrit, dating to 981 AD. The inscription praises the king who funded the effort and his general, Chavundaraya who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is anointed with water, turmeric, rice flour, sugar cane juice, sandalwood paste, saffron, and gold and silver flowers.
The Vindhyagiri hill is about 470 feet above the ground and is of solid rock. It must be climbed barefoot. Tourists can use the main steps from the town consisting of dual flights of about 660 steps to the top which was cut out in the rock. You may see old people climb these steps however they are steep and it can be a hard climb. In summer the rock can get hot, so you may carry a pair of socks to be worn while climbing the steps. Old people who cannot climb can avail palanquin services. The palanquin bearers carry them on chair.
Chandragiri hill is a small hill located just opposite to the Vindhyagiri hill. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty, breathed his last in this hill. Steps have been cut out in this hill and the ascent is similar to that of Vindhyagiri. It is steep and hard to climb. The hill has memorials to numerous monks and shravakas who have meditated here. Chandragiri also has the tomb of Chandragupta Maurya. There are also several monuments of interest scattered around this hill.
Sringeri is the site of the first matha (Sringeri Sharada Peetha) established by Adi Shankara in the 8th Century AD located on the banks of river Tunga. A ‘matha’ is a Sanskrit word means “cloister, institute or college” and it also refers to a monastery in Hinduism. Adi Shankara was the Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta and is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.
According to legend, Adi Shankaracharya is said to have selected the site as the place to stay and teach his disciples, because when he was walking by the Tunga river, he saw a cobra with a raised hood, providing shelter from the hot sun, to a frog about to spawn. Impressed with the place where natural enemies had gone beyond their instincts, he stayed here for twelve years.
Sringeri is home to the historic temples of Sri Sharadamba Temple and Sri Vidyashankara Temple. The Sharadamba temple is dedicated to the Goddess of learning and wisdom. The temple structure made in wood was damaged by a fire in the early 20th century and was rebuilt in the traditional south Indian Chettinadu style of temple architecture.
The Vidyashankara temple was built in commemoration of the pontiff Vidyashankara, around 1357-58 AD by Harihara and Bukka, the brothers who founded the Vijayanagara Empire. The temple, has a number of stone sculptures from Hindu mythology. Inscriptions in the temple record contributions made by several Vijayanagara emperors but the temple was probably built on an earlier Hoysala site as it combines Hoysala and Vijaynagara architectural features. The architecture also exhibits the astronomical expertise of medieval south Indian temple builders. The main temple hall features 12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Windows and doors along the temple walls are arranged such that the equinoxes sunrise rays reach the deity. The temple was built in the year 1338 AD. It is a unique monument built entirely of stone combining both Hoysala and Dravidian architectural styles. The structure, stand on a high plinth and commands a magnificent view from the hills and their slopes all around.
The twelve pillars in the Vidyashankar temple are popularly known as Rashistambhas (zodiacal Pillars). Symbols of the twelve divisions of the zodiac are engraved on these pillars. It is said that the design of the pillars involved certain astronomical concepts like the first rays of the rising sun fall on specific pillars with the zodiacal symbol on the pillar corresponding to the position of the sun.
How to Reach & Where to stay
KSRTC Buses operates from Bangalore. It is 95 km from Shimoga which is connected to Bangalore through bus and rail routes. Sringeri can also be reached from Mangalore which is at a distance of 105 km by road. From Udupi it is at a distance of 80 km via Hebri and Agumbe.
The town has guest houses run by the temple administration of which the details can be obtained from the Sringeri Mutt web site. There are many private lodges available as well.
Malpe is a natural port about six kilometers to the west of Udupi town in Karnataka. It is an important port and fishing harbour on the Karnataka coast. It is situated on the mouth of Malpe River. Malpe is a hub of Mogaveera population. Mogaveera were originally a fishing community, reside mainly in Dakshina Kannada. Blessed with scenic views the harobour is the hub of busy fishing and commercial activities. There are frequent local buses available from Udupi bus stand to Malpe.
Mahakuta group of temples are located at Mahakuta village, 15 kilometers from Badami in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. The temples are dated to the 6th and 7th Century AD and where constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. The temples share the common Chalukya style followed at Aihole temples. The most important temple is Mahakuteshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built in the Dravidian style. It has a Shiv Linga in the shrine topped by a curvilinear tower. There are many other temples in the complex. There is natural spring fed tank inside the temple complex known as Vishnu Pushkarini. This is one of the major attractions in the temple complex and you can see many people taking a holy bath in this tank.
The Mallikarjuna Temple on the other side of the tank is very similar to that of the Mahakuteshwar temple but small in size. There are around two dozen small temples in the temple complex.
How to Rach:
Mahakuta is well connected by road to Badami. There are local transport available from Badami. There are regular Autos & Tum Tum plying between Badami and Mahakuta.
Aihole and Pattadakal located on the banks of Malaprabha River are often considered as the cradle of South Indian architecture. The south Indian Temple architecture was experimented and evolved in these places in the 5th and 6th centuries. Once in Badami, these are a must visit for any travel enthusiast. You can visit both Aihole and Pattadakal in a single day from Badami if you set out in the early morning. It is best to start with the morning bus to Aihole (one hour). Frequent buses run between Aihole and Pattadakal (half an hour) and from Pattadakal to Badami (one hour).
Aihole was earlier known as Ayyavole and Aryapura in in the ancient inscriptions. It was established in the 450 AD as the first capital of Chalukya kings and has about 125 stone temples some of which were constructed as experimental structures by artisans of Chalukayan period. The early Chalukyas inherited architectural styles largely from their neighbours to the north and south of their kingdom. The Chalukyan artisans brought together the prevailing styles in their neighbourhood to create the Chalukyan style. The prominent temple groups at Aihole are the Kontigudi group and the Galgantha group of temples, although historians have divided all the temples into 22 groups.
The most impressive temple in Aihole is Durga Temple which dates to the 7th century. It is notable for its semicircular apse which was copied from Buddhist architecture and for the remains of the curvilinear sikhara. Intricate carvings adorn the colonnaded passageway around the temple sanctuary. To the south of the Durga Temple are several other collections of temples the Gandar, Ladkhan, Kontigudi and Hucchapaya groups with pavilions and slightly sloping roofs.
Lad Khan Temple consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The shrine bears Shiva Lingam. The mukha mantapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs. The temple was built by the Chalukyan kings in the 5th century.
Ravan Phadi cave is one of the oldest rock cut temple in Aihole. The Temple dates back to the 6th century, with rectangular shrine, with two mantapas. There is a Shivlinga in the sanctum sanctorum. The walls and sides of the temple are covered with large figures including dancing Shiva.
About a kilometre from the Durga temple on a hilltop is the Jain Meguti temple. It is the only dated monument built in 634 AD. The temple sits on a raised platform, and flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof of this temple one can have panoramic view of the surrounding plain with 100 or more temples scattered all around. This temple which was probably never completed gives important evidence of the early development in Dravidian style of architecture. The inscription on the outer wall of the temple records the construction of the temple by Ravikeerthi, a scholar in the court of emperor Pulakeshin II.
En route to Meguti temple on the same hillock there is the 6th century two storied Buddhist cave temple which is partly a rock cut temple.
Pattadakal also spelled as Pattadakallu is located on the left bank of Malaprabha River and about 10 kilometres from Aihole. It is here that the Chalukyan kings were coronated. There are ten temples at Pattadakal including a Jain sanctuary belonging to various architectural styles. The Chalukyan style of temple architecture originated in Aihole and evolved their distinctive style at Pattadakal. There are many Kannada language inscriptions at Pattadakal. The site displays both Nagara and Dravidian style of architecture.
Virupaskha temple is the largest and grandest of all temples in Pattadakal built in 8th century by Queen Lokamhadevi to commemorate her husband’s (Vikramaditya II) victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.
Sangameshvara Temple is the oldest temple in Pattadakal, built by Chalukya King Vijayaditya Satyashraya. The temple is in Dravidian style.
Mallikarjuna Temple is smaller version of the Virupaksha temple and was built by Vikramaditya’s second queen Trilokymahadevi in 745 AD.
Papanatha Temple is made in the Vesara style in 680 AD. The temple was started in Nagara style but later changed to more balance Dravidian style.
Apart from these major temples, several small Shiva shrines are seen here. The abundance of Shiva temples here clearly indicates that the place was a great Shaiva center in ancient times.
Badami is located in the Bagalkot district of Northern Karnataka. It was the capital of the Chalukyas from 540 AD to 757 AD. At its height the empire was enormous, stretching from Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu to the Narmada River in Gujarat. The Badami fort is the most famous attraction in Badami which is spread across two hills dotted with temples, fortifications, carvings and inscriptions dating not from the Chalukyan period, but also from other times when the site was occupied as fortress. In between these two hills lays Agasthya Tirtha Lake, the waters of which are believed to have healing powers. This manmade lake is named after one of the Saptarishis, Agasthya. As per legend Badami has origin in the Vatapi legend of Ramayana relating to Sage Agasthya.
The two demon siblings Vatapi and Ilvala used to kill all mendicants by tricking them in a peculiar way. The elder Ilvala would turn Vatapi into a ram and would offer its meat to the guest. As soon as the person ate the meat, Ilvala would call out the name of Vatapi. As he had a boon that whomsoever Ilvala calls would return from even the netherland, Vatapi would emerge ripping through the body of the person thus killing him. Their trick worked until Sage Agastya countered them by digesting Vatapi before Ilvala could call for him, thus ending the life of Vatapi at the hands of Ilvala. Two of the hills in Badami represent the demon Vatapi and Ilvala.
The Bhuthanatha group of temples are located on the east side of the lake and the Mallkarjuna group of temples are located on the north-east side of the lake.
Another major attraction of Badami is the four cave temples carved out of sandstone along the ravine at the foot of the rugged hill surrounding the lake. These are considered to be the best examples of Chalukyan architecture. These temples are dated to 6th to 7th centuries AD.
Cave no. 1
This cave is just above the entrance to the complex, is dedicated to Shiva. It is the oldest of the four caves, probably carved in the latter half of the 6th century. The cave depicts the Thandava dancing of Shiva as Nataraja.
Cave no. 2
The cave is primarily dedicated to Vishnu and is simpler in design. It depicts Vishnu as Trivikrama. Another depiction of Vishnu as Varaha can also be seen in this cave.
Cave no. 3
This cave was carved in 578 AD under the orders of Mangalesha, the brother of King Kirtivarma contains some carvings of Vishnu to whom the cave is dedicated. It is the largest and most intricately carved temple in the complex.
Cave no. 4
This is the smallest of the four caves and was carved between the 7th and 8th centuries. This cave is situated higher than the other caves. This one is a Jain cave and depicted Mahavira sitting on a lion throne.
KAPPE ARABHATTA INSCRIPTION
Kappe Arabhatta was a Chalukyan warrior of the 8th century who is known from a Kannada verse inscription of 700 AD, carved on a cliff overlooking the north east end of the Agasthya Tirtha lake. The inscription consists of five stanzas written out in ten lines in the Kannada script.
Getting There & Around
There are enough buses from Hubli to Badami (3hours), Bijapur to Badami (3.5hours) and from Bengaluru (12 hours). Badami’s train station is 5 km from town. For exploring the nearby areas there are Auto rikshaws available.