Sunday, April 22, 2012

Haddinakallu betta and Melukote temples

Haddinakallu betta (Eagle hill when translated directly to English)

From Markonahalli dam, we moved ahead to visit this place just located after Yediyur town that we avoided taking the bypass.

Route: 4kms after Yediyur, you will reach a village Tirumalapura. Immediately after this village, take the turn to the right (boards indicative of this place is put up on the main road), you will reach Byrasandra village and from there you can’t miss the track to the foothills of the cliff.

The temple at the village was not any big structure, temples dedicated to Lord Rama and Hanuman and lots of pilgrims from nearby villages visit here regularly (it seems by the development activity around). We just took a look and proceeded in the direction of the cliff. Except Dhiraj’s blog (http://teamgsquare.blogspot.in/2010/07/places-to-visit-around-bangalore-part-5.html), there was no other source of information about this place. Two things struck us as we approached closer to the base of the cliff – there were lots of raptors seen around (raptors are birds of prey) and we could see lot of sacrificed hen feathers strewn all around.
Yes, we realized that it was a place for animal sacrifice (mostly hens being butchered and taken away right in front of us) and that explained the presence of many birds of prey near that cliff. They got protective shelter in the cliffs and meals in the form of leftovers by the people who came there. But, what surprised me was animal/bird sacrifices to Lord Hanuman… never have I seen anything as such before? Just as we looked around, an Shikra perched close to us and up in the sky we saw the Egyptian vultures hovering near the edge of the cliff and also another of the raptor perched on a tree branch on top of the cliff. It was out of reach of my binoculars and camera and the only option we had was to climb up and go and see for ourselves what the bird that perched was?
Crazy it may sound, but fueled not to miss the opportunity I started climbing briskly loaded with two of my cameras on my shoulders and Nag and Guru following closely behind with the binoculars and some water to quench our thirst. The sun was blowing hot and climbing a bare hillock on an uneven inclined path was not easy. We had to reach the top with the hope that the bird would not fly away and also before any other group of people ascended the cliff and lest the bird fly away! Panting and gasping for breath, we reached the top only to find the bird not on the branch that we had seen; in fact we could not identify which branch it had perched on! A few steps ahead and there I found it perched in the shade and I was quick enough to sign others to view the beauty. It was the beautiful Peregrine Falcon, an avid hunter and has the tag of the being the fastest flyer in the animal kingdom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peregrine_Falcon).
My first sighting of the elusive raptor and we sure will remember this for long. It just gave us a few seconds before it took off and we could not trace it there after. Happy for the sighting and disappointed of not getting a good shot of it, we moved ahead towards the edge of the cliff where a sort of temple is there. In fact we could not find any shrine inside the temple complex but a lone pillar stands with carving of Lord Hanuman on it and true to its name as soon as few other visitors ringed the bells tied over there, a horde of monkeys descended near the pillar from nowhere to feast on the coconuts and bananas offered.

The view from the top was good but the heat was getting to us. With the lone water bottle frisked away by the monkeys, we were all left high and dry under the hot sun. A lone Egyptian vulture soared next to the cliff which we were intently waiting for and it kept soaring and soaring and showed no signs of perching anywhere near the cliff. All of our tiredness was forgotten till the vulture was around and after a good fifteen minutes of soaring; he vanished from where he came! Alas, again we could not find out where he went. We wandered around the cliffs sneaking in all corners and all pathways available to try and see if we could find any of the vultures around but to no luck. After wandering around like lost souls, we came back down the cliff and towards our next destination Melukote.


Melukote (or Melkote)
Route: From Yediyur town, you need to travel up to Nelligere and then take a left towards Nagamangala and again a right towards Melkote temple (the best option would be to enquire the directions before proceeding).

Melukote had been on my wish list since long and I was more than happy to visit the place. For the first time visitors, reaching the place without having sufficient knowledge would be a little confusing as we found out. There are 2 temples here (the main temple at the base and another atop a hill).
Something about Melukote (from Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melukote)
Melukote in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district, Karnataka, in southern India, is one of the sacred places in Karnataka. The place is also known as Thirunarayanapuram. It is built on rocky hills, known as Yadugiri, Yaadavagiri and Yadushailadweepa, overlooking the Cauvery valley. Melukote is about 51 km (32 miles) from Mysore and 133 km (83 mi) from Bangalore. Melukote is the location of the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple, with a collection of crowns and jewels which are brought to the temple for the annual celebration. On the top of the hill is the temple of Yoganarasimha. Melukote is home to the Academy of Sanskrit Research, which has collected thousands of manuscripts.
We first drove straight to the temple atop the hill only to find it closed, we had reached at a wrong time and the temple would open only by 5pm! Then we came down to visit the main temple shrine after visiting the sacred temple pond and passing through the small by-lanes of the village and looking at the ancient old buildings, I felt as being in a village centuries old. The old style buildings have some good feel about them that you stop and exclaim Wow! We took a quick darshan of the lord Cheluvanarayana Swamy and then halted for some rest, time to explore the Galaxy S2 phone of Guru, eh!
Time was running out and we had to reach Ramanagara to get a glimpse of the vultures around and had about 80kms to cover in an hour and add to that the busy Mysore-Bangalore highway would be choked with traffic returning home to Bangalore. Odds stacked upon us, we quickly moved from Melukote to reach the highway bypassing Pandavapura on the way. As expected, the traffic rush wash high and I had to slow down many a times owing to the slow moving vehicles and to give way to the super speeders! Unluckily it was almost dark as we reached Ramanagara and still I took them to the place as they had never been seen it before. Alas! We were late by about thirty minutes as the sun had already set and the few rays were diminishing very rapidly. From there on, it was a slow and steady drive back home negotiating the mad traffic and driving at leisure reaching home by 8pm.

What a day and what a drive! 335kms drive in a day and got to see a lot of good places never seen before :)

Thanks to Dhiraj (http://teamgsquare.blogspot.com) and my buddies Guru and Nag; 
Raja-we missed your colorful company.

Route outlay: Bangalore-Nelamangala-Kunigal-Markonahalli dam-Yediyur-Haddinakal betta-Nelligere-Nagamangala-Melkote-Mandya-Ramanagara-Bangalore.

Food: No food or water available near Markonhalli dam or Haddinakal betta. Melukote is self sufficient being a touristy place.


Other Info: Markonahalli dam suited for a family getaway, Haddinakallu betta for those interested in climbing and Melukote for all the pious people :)
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