Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kotilingeshwara Temple, Kolar

The only picture I took... from the outside.
After an energy sapping trek to Anthargange, we were back on the road, towards Kotilingeshwara Temple. Tired and thirsty we entered the first hotel we saw at Bethamangala. Though shabby-looking, we ate whatever was on the menu. The intake of food finally lifted our spirits for the road ahead. The Kotilingeshwara Temple (here on referred to as KT… yes I’m that lazy) resides in a little village called Kammasandra. It is about 6 kms from famous erstwhile Kolar Gold Fields (KGF).

Now, KT is famous for two things – One crore Shivalingas and the world’s tallest Shivalinga, standing at 108 feet. KT is spread across 15 across and dotted with Shivalingas of every imaginable size and shape, so much so that you doubt if it will be qualified to be called as a “shivalinga”. Inside KT you can also find eleven temples devoted to different deities.

But despite having so many “attractions”, this is one temple I would never come back to or even recommend to others to visit. Reasons? Here are a few:

- The KT is highly commercialized. Entry fee to the temple is Rs 10. Cameras are charged Rs.100!!! And yet there are instructions written all over the temple campus saying “Photography Prohibited”. I didn’t even bother carrying my camera!

- The priests of the eleven temples can easily give the fish-market sellers a run for their money. They literally stand outside the temple asking to devotees to walk-into their temple and of course get an “Aarthi” done. This will of course benefit the Priests in a wicked way. We didn’t bother to enter any of the remaining 10 temples!

- Inside the temple complex there are umpteen number of stores, selling everything from cool-drinks to toys to slippers to music CDs. All have their own blaring loudspeakers and hawkers who want your attention, time and money.

- If you feel, the temple authorities, priests and shopkeepers are all after your money, wait till you come across the beggars! That’s right, beggars right inside the temple!

- Oh, and did I miss to mention the dogs and their kin?

- None of the temples are aesthetically done. Well, almost all structures lack any kind of symmetry. Even the 108 Ft Shivalinga has been clumsily built. In fact it can easily be mistaken for badly-done commercial complex.

- Almost all of the 1-crore lingas are badly maintained. And a majority of them lie on the ground and take abuse from visitors and nature in equal measure.

- The Basava (Nandi) in front of the 108 Ft Linga looks utterly malnourished. Ok, I guess I’m going overboard, but then that’s what it is. You don’t get to feel the devotion of being in a temple, right from the time you step foot here.

The perceptions of KT might vary from person to person. And this is just the way I saw KT. I didn’t feel blessed coming to this temple, nor did I get to watch any work of marvel. The only take-away from this trip was that I could strike-out one more item from my must-see list.

Getting-there: 6 kms from KGF and couple of kms from Bethamangala.

Must-Do: Avoid visiting, if you can.
Must-Don’t: Carrying a camera inside. It’s not really worth spending Rs 100.

My Rating: 2/10.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kolaramma Temple, Kolar.

The Kolaramma Temple is only three blocks from Someshwara Temple. Kolaramma is the presiding deity of Kolar town. So it’s no wonder that this temple is a prominent one in this town. The temple was built by the Cholas. It has two shrines in Dravidian style of Architecture. The main temple faces east whereas the larger shrine faces north and they share a common entrance. The Saptamataras is worshipped in one shrine and Goddess Durga in the other.
The Scorpion Goddess Chelamma is also worshipped here. It is believed that by offering prayers to Chelamma, they will be guarded by Scorpion bites. The most interesting part about this temple that inspired me to drive down from Bangalore is the presence of the Kolaramma Hundi (which accepts coins from devotees). Right next to the Chelamma is a small opening in the floor that acts as a Hundi. The Hundi is believed to be a huge well dug into the earth. On an extremely quiet day you might actually hear the clicking sound of the coin falling into the well, which has been accumulating millions and millions of coins over hundreds of years. We however, could hear only a faint sound a split second after we dropped it.
There’s also a nice lawn and garden maintained around the temple for you sit and relax in the peaceful atmosphere of a sleepy town. It is a must-visit place if you are in Kolar along with Someshwara temple and Anthargange – where we were headed next.

Getting-there: About three blocks from Someshwara Temple.

Maps: From Bangalore.

Must-Do: Drop a coin into the Hundi when (and if) you have a deafening silence around you.

Must-Don’t: Destroying the serenity and up-keep of the temple and its monuments.

My Rating: 5/10

Someshwara Temple, Kolar.

The brand new Ritz lying in the parking lot for a week has been crying for attention. With the arrival of the weekend, we took her out for a spin. Even though the plan to go for a long drive was made in the eleventh hour, there was no shortage of destinations to choose from. We zeroed-in on Kolar. Even the places we to see in Kolar was a no-brainer. Since I’ve already to Kolar once, there was no need to take a peek at Google maps either. All I needed was a good night’s sleep so we can start early in the morning. But that was not to be, as I kept tossing and turning in bed till close to midnight and then very reluctantly dragged myself out of bed at 4 in the morning.

After picking up a couple of friends from KR puram, we were quickly onto NH4 headed towards Kolar. First stop was Kamat Upachar (or was it Lokaruchi? What’s the difference between the two anyway?) some 10 kms before Kolar. Next up we drove right up to Someshwara Temple in Kolar town after asking for directions from the locals. The Someshwara Temple was built in the 14th Century by Vijayanagara Empire. The temple was built in distinct Vijayanagara style with Chinese, European and Thai influence. This inclusion of foreign styles is a prominent feature of Vijayanagara architectural style as witnessed in Hampi.

The temple complex, among others, has a huge Mantapa, Yoga Shaala, Kalyana Mantapa and a shrine for Goddess Parvathi. The temple was unusually quiet when we were there. Just a handful of devotees came along at that hour, which was fine by me, as I hate crowded temples. We spent a few leisure moments relaxing and taking pictures before we decided to move to the next item on the list – Kolaramma temple.

Getting-there: Take NH4 out of Bangalore. Some 60-odd kms later you will find yourself at Kamat. Make sure to have some food here, since there aren’t any good hotels in Kolar worthy of mention. Some 10 kms later take a left deviation to Kolar. You can ask for directions once you are in Kolar.

Must-Do: Have food at Kamat before you get to Kolar. A good camera is handy to capture to the splendor of Vijayanagara style of architecture.

Must-Don’t: Destroy the serenity and aesthetics of the place.

My Rating: 6/10

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nandi Hills through D90

The last time I had been to Nandi Hills was in the July of 2009. Even after two years, I still distinctly remember the images of that trip. I remember that I couldn’t differentiate the mist from clouds. Two years later, I still faced the same problem. Only this time, the clouds and/or mist were even more intense. To add to my woes, I could not differentiate the rain from the dew. That is also probably why Nandi Hills will continue to be one of my favoured destinations around Bangalore.

Just like last time, we were there very early in the day. But this time round I explored Nandi Hills with a different set of people (Photography and Trekking enthusiasts) and a different set of eyes (Nikon D90). Here’s some of the best moments frozen in pixels: