Bidar Fort

One of the amazing trip from the year 2014, was trip to a friend’s native. Bidar, once the capital of Bahmani Kingdom, is now a district in the northern part of Karnataka state and hence known as Crown of Karnataka. Although its history goes back to B.C, it became historically significant when Bahamani sultan Ahmad Shah relocated the capital of his kingdom to Bidar in 1422.

Gagan Mahal

Gagan Mahal

Solah Khamba Mosque

Solah Khamba Mosque

Among the many attractions of Bidar, the fort tops the favorite and is one of the most formidable forts of country. Persian architecture can be seen in the fort which houses the Mahals and Mosque along with a lake. It is has triple moats which is very rare.

Triple Moat

There are several gates to the fort among which Gumbad Darwaza and Sherza Darwaza are main entrance gates. The walls, bastions, gates and barbicans of Bidar, though in ruins, are well preserved and will be the main attractions in Bidar Utsav.

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One of the most unique features is the historic Karez  system which is nothing but the underground canals, built to underground water streams which are meant to provide drinking water to civilian settlements and garrison inside the fort. It is also said, beneath the surface, there also lies numerous tunnels within the fort area which is actually like two layered fort.

Rangeen Mahal

Rangeen Mahal

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Ceiling from the Rangeen Mahal

Rangeen Mahal is one of the integral parts of the Bidar Fort.  The Mahal is also titled as the colored Mahal as it is decorated with tiles of diverse colors and as seen in the above pic, the colors haven’t faded yet!

Takht Mahal

Takht Mahal

Diwan-i-am

Diwan-i-am

Tarkash Mahal

Tarkash Mahal

Takht Mahal is the throne palace of the Bidar Fort. Diwan-i-am was the ceremonial focus of the Bahmani and Barid Shahi rulers. The large rectangular court seen here once had timber columns of which only the granite bases remain. Tarkash Mahal  lies in the west side of the Bidar fort. It was extensively used by the rulers during the period to address private audience of the kingdom.

Sherza Darwaza

Sherza Darwaza

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Having the historic significance, centuries old structures, architecture and mysteries in the tunnels passage, we wandered the fort two whole days trying to imagine ourselves going back to the time and tried to visualize the scenario from the  kings and queens along with their guards and soldiers point of view. Also wondering, if at all any of the princesses trying to send love messages to her lover outside the fort/mahal through chits tied to pigeons by sitting next to a window :)

The Good Food

Before saying anything, I must say that I’m a big fan of food. Food is one of the lovely thing for a lively life. It is must for everything living being and I want it more than for living, sometimes! Once I was prepared for the National Trekking Expedition-Goa (2014), organized by YHAI, I was little worried when I read that there will be ‘simple nutritious food’ provided during the expedition. Simple…..:( Just days before the start of our journey, Mayur messaged to bring necessary things that are required for the trip, which included a mug/cup as usual. From the info he collected by others who has made trekking expedition  with YHAI, he said that they also provide ‘Bournvita’ as a beverage. I was delighted to hear this and so carried pretty  big mug that can be found in my home. On the first day, for the breakfast, we were served ‘avalakki‘ (Flattened rice) with lots of peanuts and veggies in it. First thing I had as meal came like a shock. Because, I thought avalakki is made only in south Indian regions. Along with this dish there was also a side item and some sweet. ( I only concentrate on quality and quantity of food so I don’t know  most of dishes names, in English as well as Kannada).

Avalakki (flattened rice)

Avalakki (flattened rice)

They said it is simple nutritious, but here we had more nutrients in different form of green leaves and vegetables.  My first meal, I enjoyed it to the full of my stomach’s capacity. Then came lunch, Roti and rice with combination of Dal and vegetable curry along with another type of sweet item, made a perfect mid-day meal. The sweet I’m talking is actually ‘keer‘ as said at few places and ‘payasa‘ in my place. And actually I wasn’t sure if it is keer/payasa at first place , as I was in mood of savoring it till last drop.

Daal-Roti

Roti Dal

In the evening, got the chance to have tea. Tea tastes different in different places. Initially, I felt little difficulty adjusting to this kind of tea. But, when few sips went through Adam’s apple there it is…in my entire journey I never had tea less than 3/4th of my mug. And at times, I used to have twice!

For the dinner, once again we had same amount of dishes but a different one. On the first day when it was about half an hour to bed, during the campfire programs , we skipped the last part and were arranging our blankets, at that time we heard an announcement. At the end of program, the camp leader said that ‘bournvita’ is being served. Next moment we took our mugs from the bag and ran to join the queue which was just started (actually we stood first in the queue). Filled our mugs to the top most point with hot bournvita and had it. Washed our mugs and returned to tent happily. We spent first two days in the base camp so we had same routine with different dishes and sweets. Puri, Uppit/Upma, Chapati were few among them and also had the opportunity of eating boiled eggs. I said eggS.

Puri (Poori)

Puri (Poori)

Upiitu (Upma)

Upiitu (Upma)

From the third day on wards , we used to leave one  camp site in morning after breakfast and reach other camp by evening. So for the lunch, we carried food in the lunch boxes from the camp we left. And when we left our base camp, we got fruit juice in a tetra pack, couple of biscuit packets along with pack of ‘chikki‘ (ground nut bar chocolate) and lots of toffees. Well, we finished the juice on first day itself, but we kept on eating biscuits, chikkis and toffees for days. There were few toffees left, even when I returned home.

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Chikkis

After reaching every new camp, we were greeted with welcome juice(unlimited), followed by tea with snacks like biscuits, nippattu and pakodas ( Honestly, I don’t know its meaning in English). Because of these amazing, mouth watering food we never had any idea of getting food from outside.

nippattu

Nippattu

Pakoda

Pakoda

First four days, our campsite was next to amazing beaches and was actually near to markets, as I think so. But, from the fifth day onwards we were in forests. And guess, what we got as food… Its same fresh food in the middle of forest! Where there was no electricity, there we had amazing food. And during same journey in forests there were people who quenched our thirst with lemon juice and lacci. The more surprising food item came on 6th day at Caranzol camp. When we reached the camp, we had welcome drink followed by tea, couple of hours later as usual. And then suddenly a rumor started to spread that they are preparing ‘Gulab Jamun‘! That night was perfect because of Gulab Jamun in the dinner and, bournvita as usual.

Gulab Jamun!!!

Gulab Jamun!!!

At our last campsite, before returning to base camp, we got one more mouth watering dish, ‘pulov’.  Wait, its veg-biryani… Not sure what it is exactly, but I can still smell the taste of its freshness.

Pulov

Pulov

Last day before checkout in morning, we had noodles as breakfast and there came an end to amazing combination of YHAI and its food. We didn’t leave the YHAI’s trekking expedition with lots of amazing memories, but while leaving we also carried noodles in our lunch box. :P

(Photo source: Goooogle)

Year’s First Trip

Following 2013’s new year resolution about visiting new place every year, was achieved very early in this year with the Trip to Melukote and other places within Mandya district of Karnataka. It was trip to some of the temples and when I say temples it means it was a trip with my parents. These temples which are centuries old, were constructed by early Hindu rulers of the region. Since these temples were of historic significance which is amusing, it eventually influenced some of my friends to join me and so it was trip with family, friends and fun!

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Melukote, Mandya

Mandya, famously known as ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ನಾಡು ಮಂಡ್ಯ [ Sakkare Nadu Mandya] meaning sugar land, is a district in Karnataka. Blessed with river Cauvery, it is one of the prominent agricultural land since the times of Vijayanagara Empire and was most prominent during the reign Mysore Kingdom. Located at distance of around 100 kms from Bangalore, Mandya has some of the best historic monuments (Temples and Forts) as well as natural beauties (Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls, Ranganathittu and Kokrebellur Bird Sanctuary, Bheemeshwari wildlife Sanctuary etc.)

Sculptures from temples of  Melukote

Sculptures from temples of Melukote

'Kalyani' of Melukote Cheluvanarayana Swami Temple

Kalyani‘ of Melukote Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple

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The Hill on which Yoganarasimha Swami Temple is located

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From the hill, the view of Melukote

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40 km from Mandya, is Melukote, a sacred pilgrim center. The Cheluvanarayana Swamy and Yoganarasimha swamy temples (both being Lord Vishnu’s different ‘avatar’) of Melukote has a history of more than 1000 years. Few km from Melukote is Lord Parthasarathi and Lord Nambiyar Temples (once again same God) which is located next to huge Thonnur Lake.

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Temple of Lord Parthasarthi

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My parents and friends inside the temple of Lord Nambiyar

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Lake Thonnur

Lake Thonnur

Another temple, belonging to Lord Bhoo Varahaswamy (once again one of Lord vishnu’s avatar) is located at Kalhalli and once again its next to a lake! With great history of centuries  old, it was undiscovered and unprotected until a few years back. The story of Bhoo Varahaswamy and about this place as said by my mom goes like this…One fine day when a king (probably Hoysala king Veera Ballala III, a slight guess of mine since he built the temple) went to hunt animals, as was in practice, the dogs which were used for hunting, chased a rabbit. When the rabbit reached a particular place, it stopped and tried to scare away the dogs. Stunned by this wonder, when in pursuit of the reason for this incident, he found idol of Varahaswamy which is about 15 feet buried in the ground. Since it was found in ground literally meaning ‘bhoomi‘ as in kannada, it got the name  Bhoo Varahaswamy and so the story ended and construction of temple started.

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Bhoo Varahaswamy Temple at kalhalli

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A boat ride in a lake nearby the Bhoo Varahaswamy Temple, with friends looking at amazing sunset, was the last thing I did during the awesome trip with family and friends to some of Incredible India’s incredible monuments.

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Along Came Sisya

Sisya, meaning student is a kannada word and here, the sisya is Aakash. Aakash a 11th grade guy from Pune was such a boy that, everyday he runs for about 20km, goes to school just for the sake of attending practicals and studies theories by himself in home. He has dream of getting into NDA- National Defence Academy and is actually preparing for it. He hasn’t watched much movies, except few recent hits and few all time hits. He has no girl friends and was never in love nor had crush on any girl.

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I met him during our trekking expedition in Goa organised by YHAI, earlier this year. Mayur, Sachin, Vinodh and I reached the base camp  pretty early because of which we were able to get a tent. Later came a 40yo or something fellow from Pune followed by another Bangalorean. After some rest in the tent, we went out for exploring nearby places and returned. Then all four of us had chat with Pune fellow and got to know there will be another guy coming to our tent.

Sometime later when we entered our tent after a round of wandering the camp, we came by a guy who looked in his last teen, fair and had his hair spiked and being without any sign of moustache or beard. He was sitting in left corner of the tent and was arranging his things from his backpack. We introduced ourselves and in reply got to know his name.

Since inside the tent it was stuffy during noon, for the most of the time we  remained outside. And whenever we are about to leave the tent for another round of roaming within the camp, he asked, “Are you all going out?”

Actually we had plan of going out in the evening so at that time we said no. This happened again and in reply we said, “We will let you know if we ever go.” Moreover, whenever we started a conversation with him, his first line was, “sorry, pardon me.” That line made me to think, ” Does my english suck?” But this happened with all four of us and got know it may be because of our accent.

Finally, when we left for the Miramar beach for the first time on first day, he came with us. There we stayed for a while, after seeing few dead jelly fishes and feeling jellyness of those fish. From there we went to the market which was on the other side of our camp. During that journey, we came to know that he is a runner. So when it was about half a km to our camp, Aakash and I decided to run, as he was longing for a run  and he already missed the practise of running on that particular day. With all the energy I had, I ran quickly and he followed me running casually. When he came to me, he asked for another run, for which my exhausted body said Nooooo. By this time he became our friend and I started to teach him kannada so he became my student aka sisya. But on the first day sisya wasn’t with us all that time and spent most of the time in reading a book.

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In the next morning, during breakfast, we came to know that he went for running, in the ground next to our camp, before we all were awake . On the same day, after 3-4 km of acclimatization walk along the beach, we went to have rest at bank of river Mandovi which was adjacent to our camp. Except Sachin who remained back in the tent, we had little personal chit chat. For sisya, as said earlier wasn’t in a love and neither had a crush nor attraction to any girl. But he is boy and a boy must have some or other type of feeling to a girl. Asking on the same topic and doubting his boy thing, we finally came to know that he too liked a girl. That was just a like by the way. But, to get to know about his feeling for that girl, Mayur, Vinodh and I bribed him. Bribed with stories of our attractions and crushes! From there onwards he stayed all the time with us, even though he didn’t knew kannada and there were other hindi speaking people. He became so close with us on second day itself that he showed one of his hidden talents just for Mayur and me. It is the dance.

On our third day of the expedition , we were damn exhausted in our 15km beach walk. But compared to us, he was kinda less exhausted and was enjoying with water and waves. Also he was longing for a swim in those beautiful beaches. And his wish got accepted after a km. Even after swim, our journey was kind of boring and exhausted.  There we started to talk about the birds. Foreign birds in the Indian beach. Since sisya had no knowledge about the birds, we taught him about liking the birds based on the rating, which included the type of bird, it’s feathers and figure and other things. He learnt so quickly that he started to show us some birds, saying , ” look at 2’o clock”, ” look 10’o clock” and so on. After some time he became more concerned about these birds than us.

Sisya being with us all the time, made others wondered  if he was from our place and actually our friend even before this expedition? This wonder kept us together till the last day, at all times. If we were in the last walking slowly, he would stick with us matching our pace and if were ahead of everyone he was with us there too. Not a single time, he had food without us during our entire journey.

During fourth day which is again another beach walk, we were damn lazy to do it once again. So we bunked the walk and left to the next camp in a bus. When it is about a km or two, we reached the camp by walk after a swim. And sisya was with us all these moments. And in the camp on same day, when we were lazy enough to attend the camp fire in the night, he remained with us in the tent, being lazy in a cozy nook.

On the fifth day, when we started our journey through train , we all sat in one compartment along with two more Bangaloreans from our group, who were pretty amazed by now, because of sisya being with us all the time and almost at all the places except when we went to finish our daily karya.

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Sixth day was toughest yet beautiful trek in our whole journey. When we reached the Caranzol camp, we took bath in nearby river. And for the first time he was with us during a bath, and involved in catching the fishes using our towels.

At certain times we were unhappy with our sisya. Because whenever we offered him snacks or juices, he denied it most of the time. And when he accepted it , he tried to pay for it, for which we ruthlessly denied.

Since our expedition was in the western ghats which is home to the different kinds of animals, birds and reptiles, he was longing to see a snake in his whole journey, although he saw one during one of our beach walk and during the demo about handling the situation whenever we encounter a snake. Because of this craziness, on the seventh day of our expedition, at Nandran camp, he went alone in search of snake. We didn’t go as we were taking rest. Poking bushes and holes in the ground with a stick, he went into the forest. After an hour he returned and went directly to the tent. When we went to the tent, we saw him in pain, due to the injury he had in one of his leg. Then when asked about it, he said- as he was poking in a hole, a snake suddenly came out and in fear when he stepped back, he missed the balance and fell down because of which he injured himself . From there he returned to the tent hopping slowly. After examining from a group medical students who were part of our journey, they said nothing to worry about anything as it is only a cramp and suggested to use a spray and not to make any sudden moments or apply sudden loads. Because of his craziness he paid a little prize.

On the eighth day, for the first time he was ahead of us all and reached the destination pretty early. We didn’t ask about it, but we were worried about his cramp in the leg as there wasn’t any hurry to reach that early. When we reached there, he was with his book as usual, even though there was other people from our group.

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Our sisya was so good at following us. In the ninth and last day, after checkout from the camp arounf 10 am, he had a seat in a bus booked at 7 pm from Goa to Pune. He said he will be going to the bus stand now itself and started to bid farewell. But, we asked him to come with us near our room booked in a Hostel on the other side of Goa and in reply he nodded and came with us. He stayed with us till 3 pm and left. When he boarded the bus, he called us and informed about it and when he reached his home safely, he sent a message.

Two days later, he sent a friend request in Facebook. And few days later he messaged saying ” Nin th*ka k*ya” meaning ” F*ck your a**”. He did so, because ‘Hi’ in kannada means ‘Nin th*ka k*ya’ as we taught him, but not the one it is supposed to be in original.  And in a bracket he also messaged ‘Hi’. What made me proud of being master to sisya is, during the chat on that day, he asked me suggestions about asking out a girl!

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