We left Belur early in the morning and started our return journey to Bangaluru via Shravanbelagola. Yes, the well known Jain Teerth was in our itinerary of the last day of the trip.

We reached there at about quarter to nine. Most of the shops were not open but the streets were full of sounds of waking morning. The tea shops and small eateries were ready with breakfast options.

We knew that to reach the magnificent monolith of Bahubali, atop Vindhyagiri hills, we needed to climb about 620 stairs and we were a bit apprehensive about that. I mean it is quite a flight and I was thinking whether I would be able to traverse that height easily. But all my apprehensions proved to be futile; we could reach the top without much difficulty.  It was morning time and that too in the month of December hence climbing bare footed was no problem at all rather the soft warmth of the rock gave a comforting feeling to soles. There is no shade over the steps hence morning is the best time to scale the hill. The steps are quite rudimentary and are cut on the rock with metal rods running along the steps.

walking towards main gate, in the background are the pond and Chandragiri hills.

We reached the main gate and sat there to rest for few minutes. The view of the town below was mesmerizing. The pond, Belagola shone like an emerald stud midst the surrounding structures. Chandragiri hills across beckoned to its arms to explore more of history and the breeze were soothing and exhilarating. Whenever I climb a hill to visit any Buddhist cave, a sacred Jain shrine or a Hindu temple, I thank my ancestors who built these sacred places at a point which is high and not easily accessible. The feeling which I have after reaching there is beyond words. Atop there I feel detached from all the worldly tentacles of day to day routine, a serene calm dawns upon me and I feel my mind purified enough to surrender to the divine powers with all the humility.

The view from the top.
Mesmerizing view of the pond and birds.

After walking further the first structure we came across was Vadegal Basadi. This is a trikuta Jain chaitalaya having shrines of three Jain teerthankaras. The dimly lit chaitalaya was cool and quiet. The idols of three thirathankaras Adinath, Shantinath and Neminath are made of shining black stone and they sparkled with all their serenity even in the semi dark of the hall. This chaitalaya too is said to be erected in 10th century by the military commander Chavundaraya.

inside vadegal basadi.

Outside vadegal vasidi. Ah! the bliss of breeze and peace.

front exterior of vadegal vasidi. To feel the wind was such a liberating experience.

Walking towards main enclosure from Vadegal Basidi.

Walking a bit more towards the enclosure around Gomateshwara we found the Tyagada Khamba, a beautifully carved pillar with reliefs of creepers and flowers. It is said that the pavilion which supports the pillar presently was erected on much later date while the erection of the pillar is attributed to the times of Chavundaraya only. The inscription put up by the archeological department was faded hence could not gather much detail about it but read somewhere that this was the pavilion where commander Chavndaraya used to distribute gifts to poor.

The Tyagada Khamba

Another remarkable structure on the way to reach the main enclosure around Gomateshwara is this big rock. The rock is on the side of the way leading to main shrine. Intricately carved rows of tiny figures make the rock a valuable monument in itself. Captivated by the beauty I marvelled whether it was a planned work in total scheme of things or some passionate sculptor found this rock to be a perfect canvas to carve his art. I was inclined to go for the second option and was happy to imagine the times when people, nature and arts survived in harmony.

The Rock

Entering the enclosure we straight way headed to have darshana of the magnificent monolith. To have a close up view of colossal statue is awe inspiring. Standing erect under the open sky more than 58 ft high monolith carved out of single granite rock spells the concept of inner strength, the courage, the power possesssed when one is at peace with oneself. It reflects serenity, calm, and reliquishment without any anger or rage. I mean it’s an experience to feel. Words miserably fall short in capturing the massive impact the world’s highest free standing monolith has on you. This massive monolithic statue of Lord Gomateshwara aka Bahubali aptly conveys the enriching principles and ideals lived by him.

Lord Bahubali

The story of life of Bahubali goes like this – Bahubali and Bharata were the sons of first jain Tiranthakara Rishabhnatha. They were the descendants of famous Ikshavaku dynasty of Ayodhya, the dynasty to which Lord Rama belong. Rishabhnatha was king of Ayodhya but he reliquished his kingdom to become a Jain monk. He handed over his kingdom to his sons. Bharata got Ayodhya and Bahubali got Asmaka, comprising southern part of India. However Bahubali challanged his elder brother to a fight to claim his supramacy. Both of them were great warriors but ultimately Bahubali defeated his elder brother Bharata, But the fight and the materialistic concerns goading him to have this fight with his own elder brother somehow disgusted him. He was full of remorse to be a cause of insult to his brother. He renounced not only the kingdom but cut himself from all worldly and materialistic ties and started performing penance. He is said to be in the posture of Kayotsarga, standing immobile, oblvious to one’s own body. During the period of penance many creepers grew on his body and ant hills too developed around him. The creepers are carved on the statue too. The feeling of absolute peace which is achieved after renunciation is aptly displayed on the countenance of the statue.

The courtyard from three sides is surrounded by covered verandah .Statues of many Jain Tirthankaras are installed in the verandah.

Sitting quietly in the verandah, looking at the tall statue of Lord Gomateshwara fills heart with unexplicable peace.

The Vindhyagiri hills has a lot to offer. The outer walls also have many beautiful carvings. There are other Basadis too.

The gigantic statue was specially made to fulfill the wish of Kalala Devi, mother of a 10th century military commandar, Chavundaraya of Ganga dynasty. Every 12 year Mahamastakabhishekam festival, in which the statue is anointed with milk, curd, ghee, coconut water, saffron water, flower petals, turmeric, sandalwood powder and this grand jain festival is being continued since 981 A.D. It appears mahamastakabhishekam was initiated during the time of Chavundaraya.

We can Darshana of lord Bahubali from about 30 ft away.

All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.


Hoyasaleshwara temple is not very far from Chennakeshava temple Of Belur. We left our guest house at Belur early in the morning and reached Helebidu in about half an hour. In fact we were the first visitors to temple that day i.e. 14. 12. 2021.. Guides were the only people to reach there before us.

front view of temple

As I walked slowly towards the main building of the temple imbibing the grandeur of the 12 th century architecture, the refreshing greens of the garden, I felt the weight of baggage stored inside falling away bit by bit and blue, soothing calm descended within. It felt as if the temple with outstretched arms welcomed me to it’s protective folds.

The temple was built by king Vishnuvardhana Hoyasaleshwara. the temple has four porches for entry.

one of the entry door

All the entry doors are embellished with large, intricately carved figures on either sides. The temple is treasure trove of masterpieces on soap stone all around its walls and inside temple too. I thought that first I would go to the shrine directly. I mean visiting a temple, surrendering to the divine is always the first priority. Later on I enjoyed it as an open art gallery of exquisite art pieces.

interior hall of the temple

It was early in the morning. Natural light was entering the hall with hesitant steps. Few shy sun-rays were peeping through the interspersed stone lattices on the wall. The dimly lit hall was bathed in the mysterious but peaceful aura, which cuts you off the humbug of outside world and you feel divinity all around. A journey within commences.

Shrine in the temple

There are two Shiva shrines in the temples. It is said that one was built by king Vishnuvardhana while other by queen Shantala. The time we visited there doors of only this shrine were open. Other shrine was closed. As we were informed this shrine is from king.

The ceiling of the hall too has richly carved designs.

carving on ceiling

This is only one example of finely carved images on the ceiling of the hall. Even the small squares have a detailed story narrated by the sculptors.

Now let us come out of the hall and walk towards Nandi Mandapam. As the temple hall houses two Shiva shrines obviously there have to be two Nandis. Yes, there are two Nandi Mandapam and each of them very richly and exquisitely carved. They are masterpieces in themselves.

Here are both the Nandis: one with its mandapam in full view and the other one in close up. These nandis are listed among few biggest nandi statues in India but carving and finery wise these are considered to be top ranking ones. In fact no words, and images can replicate the detailing, the fine lines and the over all mesmerizing impact.

Hoyeshaleshwara temple is poised on a star shaped base. The base consists of eight rows of friezes. Images of elephants, horses , floral scrolls and lions are carved symmetrically in these rows.

rows at the base.

The walls of temple have elaborate and sophisticated carvings of Hindu deities, mythological episodes from Mahabharata, Ramayana and Gita, scenes from daily social life of that time. The images of deities on walls are highly ornate and each image has its own way of casting its spell on you.

Brahma on his vahana

Shiva and Parvati on Nandi.

Our guide told us a very interesting story about it. It seems nandi did not enjoy Parvati riding over him. He considered only Shiva to be the one to ride on him, hence his stride is a bit different with an intention to make Parvati uncomfortable.

krishna holding Govardhana

This magnificent Ganesha idol is installed in one of the lawns on the backside of temple.

This Jain Muni statue is found in the lawn near the museum. Dakhin Karnataka and many dynasties ruling there followed Jainism. We found many Jain monuments and temples in the area. Queen Shantala too was follower of Jain Dharma, though she took interest actively in Hindu shrines too.

A view of open campus of museum. There is a big hall having many beautifully sculpted idols and images. The art part is being preserved very nicely.

This is the moment I savoured most, sitting outside the Nandi Mandapam. On one side is temple and on the other the open space, green trees, flowers, sky and water beyond. All the elements as if unite to take you deep into the serenity of just being.

This corner of one lawn ablaze with reds and yellows was quiet and adding colours, as if manifesting different aspects of existence. it was so inviting that I could not resist myself from going nearer and whispering a ‘thank you’.

The splendid view of water body.

Presence of this sparkling waterbody makes Hoysaleshwara temple all the more alluring. It was calm and beautiful. Due to it’s presence Halebidu was also known as Dwarsamudram.

Wondering: how could our ancestors create such marvels! They left such rich heritage for us. We don’t know the names of the artists and creators but they left their indelible marks for posterity. The thought in mind was- would we be able to leave for our generations to come something like this, something, which gives peace to their world, soul and mind.

Al the pictures by Sunder Iyer.

Hampi in Karnataka, India is an UNESCO site, a site of rich heritage of sculpture, architecture, culture and history. Hampi, the glorious capital of  the great Vijayanagara empire.The area of about 26 sq, Km. is studded with ruins of temples, small  and grand temples. Many of these are restored to great extent and others might have been buried under the ground completely destroyed.

Among this large bevy of magnificent temples Virupaksha temple holds a special place due to many reasons.

Virupaksha temple , we can trace it back to our mythological references. Hemkuta hills on which this temple is located is said to be the place where Lord Shiva was doing his penance[ tapsya, dhyan] when Kamdev, God of love disturbed Him in order to help the local girl Pampa who was deeply in love with the lord and wanted to marry Him. Pampa was ultimately successful in impressing Lord by her severe penance and deep devotion and He agreed to marry her but in the process Kamdev had to bear the burnt of Shivas anger and that too literally. Shiva opened His third eye in anger and Kamdev turned into ashes. So here Shiva opened His third eye. Does it have any relation with Shiva being worshiped here as Virupaaksha? Aksha means eye, Virup means formless- formless eye. In deeper sense it refers to consciousness — seeing without eyes, feeling without skin, means absorbing everything without the help of sense organs and that is the state of yoga samidhi. On these hills Shiva was in samadhi awastha.

The recorded history of this temple is from seventh century A.D. Inscriptions from ninth century are still there in temple premises. The inner sanctum of temple is older than the Vijayanagara empire. This temple has a history of active worship of more than 2000 years.It is believed that despite various attacks, destruction of mighty Vijayanagar empire, ravages of Hampi in the hands of time, the puja, archna in the temple continued uninterrupted. This in itself is very reassuring. It strengthens our faith in the Super being, the divine entity.

Exterior of temple-—The east facing gate is the main gate of the temple. In front of it is about one kilometer long bazar with shops on both the sides of wide path. The lines of colonnaded shop reflect on the great planning skills of the people in power at that time. At the end of the Bazar there sits a giant monolithic Nandi on high platform facing the temple. In Lepakshi too the big monolithic Nandi sits about a kilometer away from Virupaksha temple. What could have been the thought behind this? Why Nandis were not made just in front of the temples or inside the temples? In Brihdeshwara, Tanjore too the Nandi idol is mammoth but it is inside the temple. Though placed under a separate canopy, on a separate high raised platform but inside temple premises just outside the door leading to Garbhgrah but in these two Virupaksha temples they are placed at a distance. Does it have anything to do with this particular form of Shiva?

Gopuram of Virupaksha temple – The gopura on the bazar side was under renovation when we visited Hampi. However even the horizontally, vertically rods fitted all around the lofty gopura were not able to mar the grandeur, the majesty of the nine storied gopura. Another gopura is on the tank side. This too is built almost in the same style and grandeur. The progressively narrowing figure of gopuram is built of brick and mortar. there are exquisitely sculpted characters and figures on the lower tiers of the nine story Gopuram. In every storey in the middle is a small door like open structure. Somebody told that there is provision of going to the top of the Gopuram, May be there are stairs inside the structure. Not sure about that. just a thought. On the top of Gopuram there are two horn like projections at each end and in the middle is placed Kalash.



The shape of Gopuram always remind me of hands with folded palms. The entire structure as if speaks on behalf of us…. we send our reverential salutations to Almighty, up there.




This is Kanakgiri gopura side of the temple, the holy tank side of the temple. I spent an evening on it’s bank. The still waters of the tank with reflection of Gopura nestled close to it’s heart appeared to say a clear heart is the abode of the sacred and pious entities. How pacifying and calming was it’s impact. Far and wide the distant blue horizon invited one to drop all the binding chains and soar high with stretched wings and light heart to pastures unknown. The deep waters of tank locked the gaze and took it deep up to the core of the being. These are the moments when I forget that I exist.

Kalyan Madapam


This Mandapam in the temple courtyard with carved pillars and painted ceiling is an exquisite example of the impeccable skills of artists of the Vijayanagar empire period. This mandapam is said to be the contribution of one of the most famous king of Vijayanagar empire, Krishnadeva Raya. It is known as Kalyan Mandapam or Rang Mandapam. The mythological figures carved on the pillars, the carving on the panels above the pillars and the colourful depiction of various mythological anecdotes leave one spellbound.Such treasures of our rich heritage not only fascinate us but prompt us to explore more, to learn more, to go deeper.



A closure look of the paintings on the ceiling of the mandapam. The colours still retain their brightness though centuries have passed.



Another look of the Kalyan Madapam






Second Courtyard

A small three tiered gopura leads us to the second courtyard of the temple. The outer and the first courtyard houses architecturally beautiful structures but this second courtyard houses the soul of the temple. Not only the main shrines of Virupaksha Shiva, the consort of the local goddess  Pampa[ pampa is associated with river Tungbhadra] but also many shrines are fitted in between the collonaded pathway encircling the courtyard. Even when the day is sparkling blue and gold outside certain niches and antechambers in this section are dusky with some sun rays filtering  in at some places. A small shrine tucked in the wall, a lone deepak burning steady, devotees sitting here and there engrossed in their own inside world– the entire area pulsate with deep positive energy. You sit quietly with your eyes closed for few minutes and the murmurs of tourists gradually turns into whispers and then a complete silence engulfs you and a little blue glow suffused your inside. The pervading energy makes you feel secured and protected , a feeling of being in womb.






















Some other deities are Bhuvaneshwari, Pataleshwara, Navgrah, Nagas, and Ganesha, Hanumana

There are some shrines outside Kanakgiri Gopura, on the side of tank.



The inverted  shadow image of the gopura on the wall of one of the ante image is another attraction of the temple. The pin hole camera effect.The shadow falls on the wall which is close to the rear end of the temple, quite far away from the entry gopura.




Another special feature of the temple is a big kitchen and the water connectivity system here. Water from river Tungbhadra was carried directly to the the temple kitchen through underground canal system. I am not very sure whether the system is functional presently or not but the network of pipelines can be seen.

The annual chariot festival celebrated in February every year and marriage festivity activities of Virupaksha and Pampa too take place with great fervor.


Visiting Virupaksha temple at Hampi was an enriching experience for me in more than one way. It took me back to glorious pages of history of my land, my race and strengthened my being like that tree whose roots go deep inside earth and it faces the rough weather with  faith on bonds that hold it firmly.

All the pictures by Sunder Iyer (more…)


The Sunrise

We decided to have a date with rising sun on Matanga hill. Started climbing the steps to top at about 5 A.M. It was quite dark. Though steps are there but not well laid down. Diversions too are there in between hence it is advisable to be accompanied by some local person while venturing on hills in dark. If possible take a torch with you. We had our auto wallah with us. The climb is not too high. We reached the top in about twenty five to thirty minutes time. Four persons — two girls and a young couple were already there with their cameras all set and ready to capture the majestic entrance of sun. We too settled down on the side facing valley and hills beyond.

I feel we can never appreciate the charisma of sunrise to it’s full extent if we have not waited for it in the darkness. The tranquility all around, the soft silky wisps of air, the mystique translucency of darkness and that expectant gaze fixed on horizon for the glimpse of the first hint of emergence of sun….every thing for the time being as if stood still. Slowly the sky behind the hills started changing colours. Just a hint, little bit of diffused light. Chains of hills, the boulders in the valley stirred slowly into existence.  The illuminated clouds were suffused with ethereal glow.Hearts set on prayer tune with batted breath we waited and then we felt it…. the red orb behind the clouds. Slowly the curtain parted and there was the smiling , big red sun on grayish blue sky. To hold an eye to eye communication with the celestial being was a divine experience. Slowly I let go my breath. The realization dawned upon me then only that I was holding it . With this descended a feeling of being burden free, a quiet strength to face to face what lies ahead.









I stood up to look around. Down there in the valley the entire  Achyut Rai temple complex lay spread. We have been to this temple day before but this aerial view presented entirely different perspective. The gopuram stood high. The temple enclosures spread wide but the entire complex mingled homogeneously with the surrounding rocky terrain. Not only this temple complex, ribbon like serpentine Tungbhadra, the roads meandering through the green trees, big rocks jutting out into the valley,each and every boulder scattered all around, the big tall trees, the tiny blades of grass… all looked like an essential part of a bigger scheme of thing. The scene before eyes filled the heart with all embracing emotions. The elevated perspectives do widen and deepen our thoughts.





View of Achyutrai temple from Matanga hill …. If one wants one can come down from hill and directly go to visit this temple.


Every boulder there has a story etched in it’s heart.


The Tungabhadra….

By this time the silky golden sun rays had descended on the earth. The delicate tufts of slender grass blades on hill top glistened with fresh beauty. Gentle morning zypher tickled the grass blades and they danced with mirth. I turned around and for the first time noticed a modest white colored top of temple on the rock.





Veerbhadra temple

This is Veerbhadra temple. In fact while coming up we passed through the courtyard of this temple and then ascended steps to reach the hill top. But due to darkness we couldn’t notice the arch of entrance, the courtyard .Most of the part of the temple is in ruined condition yet a long covered varandah with view to valley was kept clean by the Sadhu, who frequents this temple. In the niche of the verandah in a dark corner we found two idols too . The main shrine is of Veerbhadra. It is a cult of Shiva followers and it appears that during it’s prime time significant number of Humpi population followed this cult. Veerbhadra is one of the raudra form Shiva.



Gopuram of Veerbhadra temple.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”


A view from covered verandah of Veerbhadra temple. Many such mandpam are found on hills ,on way to temple.


veerbhadra Swami…. The main deity of temple.

The sadhu in the temple informed us that still an annual fair takes place there and many pilgrims belonging to a particular community and cult gather here in large number.



The Sadhu we met in the temple. He was making these trinkets with thread tatting and displayed them for sale.


view of Virupaksha temple from Matanga Hills.

Mythological references

As per our mythological stories Matanga Rishi is one of the very first crusader against untouchability. By birth he belonged to  lower caste. Caste system at that time used to be very rigid. Once unknowingly he crossed the path of princess of the kingdom and was beaten for this so called offense. He protested against this injustice outside king’s palace and  later on attained a place and respect of a Rishi by his severe penance, knowledge and divine powers.

We find another reference of Matanga Rishi  in Aranyakand of Ramayana. Near Hampi on another side of Tungabhadra it’s Kishkindha Kshetra. The kingdom of strong,powerful monkey king Bali. The story goes like this.

Once a mighty bull named DunDubhi arrived at Bali’s kingdom and challenged him to fight. Bali could never ignore a challenge hence he fought with him. After a long and ferocious fight Bali killed Dundubhi. He caught the corpse of mighty bull with two horns, raised it high in air and threw it far. The corpse landed on Yagnavedi of Matanga Rishi at Rishyamuk parvat. Matanga Rishi cursed that who so ever has polluted his Yagna would be blown into pieces if he ever stepped on this hill. Indra informed Bali about this curse in presence of Sugreev and Hanuman and this curse of Matanga Rishi proved to be a boon to Sugreev.  When due to certain misunderstanding Bali was after Sugreev’s life, Sugreev along with Hanuman ran to this hill only as Bali could not dare to step on this due to Matanga Rishi’s curse.

I feel most of us know about Shabri. The lady who tasted every Jujuberry fruit in her basket before offering it to Rama, when during his fourteen year exile period he once happened to meet her. Shabri was disciple of Matanga Rishi.

And that was glorious start of the day for us…..divine sunrise, enriching emotions, panoramic nature specters, people we met, faith and belief. Matnga hills. I wrote this morning with sunrise colours, dipped in early morning scent and kept it deep in my heart.



“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”


All pictures by Sunder Iyer








We started our three day Hampi monuments tour from Kadalekalu Ganesha. A very apt start. After all we start every auspicious work by worshiping Ganesha first. Kadalekalu Ganesha is located on the eastern slopes of Hemakuta hills

Dated to fifteenth century Kadalekalu Ganesha is a giant statue of Ganesha carved out of a single rock. The statue is about 4.5 meters high and really magnificent. Bengal gram is called Kadalekalu in local language and the idol got it’s name due to the shape of it’s belly resembling it. His favourite modak in one hand and another in var[blessing] mudra posture Ganesha sat there peacefully in his signature style almost filling the entire sanctum.I was specially fascinated by the var mudra palm. With the lines in palm etched clearly it almost looked live .

The pillared mandpam in front of sanctum is aesthetically very beautiful. The exceptionally slender pillars with carving of mythical figures provide a kind of delicacy to this stone structure. Standing on a raised platform this  mandpam is an ideal place to enjoy a distant view of Hampi Bazar, Matanga hills and other monuments dotting the nearby area.

Behind Kadalekalu Ganesha on a slightly higher rock stands a Shiva temple. May be at certain period the temple was  surrounded by boundary wall but now only a gate stands there. The gate leads to a simple verandah in which a small Nandi sits facing Shivlinga. Shivlinga is there but no pooja Archna is being conducted in the temple. The feature which make this otherwise simple temple unique are two big rectangular inscribed slabs on the side walls of the verandah. If interpreted these inscriptions might tell us some historical facts. May be something about this temple. One of the slab is clearly in Devnagri lipi. The language might be Sanskrit perhaps.

Outside the sun was bright and hot but the quiet verandah of the temple was cool. The silk like tender green, white blades of grass standing on the broken top of the gate simmered and vibrated in the golden day light…perhaps the only form of life which never abandoned the glorious stones of Vijayanagar empire, however dark the times would have been.




















All pics by Sunder Iyer













Sitting on the edge of that rock which plunged miles below in the vast valley strewn with boulders, dotted with greens of bushes and trees I was all set and ready to merge myself with the sunset sky. My gaze fixed on the stretch of the sky above the layers of hill range at the other end of valley, I absorbed the stillness of the moment. There were other groups of tourists scattered over the rocky terrain and murmur of voices could be felt but a kind of hushed expectant silence spread over the area. Every heart there was as if filled with deep reverence towards the most majestic, grand show of the day end. Sunset is there since humans are there on earth. So much has been said, written about it. We all must have witnessed more sunsets than we could count yet it’s charisma never fades. Every time we see the twilight slowly descending on earth, the lights gradually fading in oblivion, the majestic sun gliding on the sky, in and out of clouds and the blaze of colours…the golden yellows, the vibrant oranges, the silky blue turning into deep purple, the dashes of pink, our heart is filled with awe.
This sun there, must have seen the rise and fall of India’s one of the most prosperous empire. The setting sun must have kissed the Gopurams of the temples scattered all over Hampi with same equanimity whether they dazzled in their glory or lay buried in dust and mud. The thought gave me a feeling of timelessness. The whispering leaves of the lone tree near the small shrine on rocks fell into a silence. Wind too sang in hushed notes. All around us a sweet tranquility prevailed. Occasionally the sound of bells from Virupaksha temple groups reached us. It was a wonderful moment. A reassuring one when, suddenly that trust, that belief takes deep root within you that….everything is alright, everything happens for good.
After the curtain fell over the majestic show of the sunset, I lay there on the rock watching the tiny pale stars slowly walking in….life felt just so perfect.



sipping the light….drop by drop I inhale and glow…..Hanuman temple


Slowly Sun wraps up it’s golden orange extravaganza and starts fading into oblivion leaving stage to softer, subtler colours….. yes, the stage has to be shared to make the display more beautiful deep and complete.. Every one deserves a chance and each has it’s special attributes.


The distant echoes of sunset sky are silently absorbed by the puddle . During the long, dark night every colour comes alive to whisper soothing lullabies to still waters.


Reaching out to departing sun…. May all your yearnings be satisfied.

Before the curtain is finally pulled…. tender caresses of wind makes me feel light and feathery, the silky blue spreads in eyes and pearly pink nestles inside….. I am ready to surrender.


All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.

As I sat there  amidst the stacks of prayer stones erected all over that particular hill at Talacauveri, I could feel the potent energy, the sanctity of the prayers said by various unknown people over the period of time. Those prayer mounds or the stacks of stones stood like folded hands raised in silent prayers towards the sky over head. Slowly moving rhythmic wind like a fairy with soft dainty steps halted besides the stacks and the stones whispered the prayers entrusted to them in her ever attentive ears. She in turn passed it on to fluffy clouds floating endlessly on the blue expanse of sky and clouds, the eternal carriers ensured that the prayers spread across the entire universe binding all of us in one thread of sacred brotherhood. What a blissful feeling it was, to be one with the moment and the entire world.


I looked at those prayer stones and could imagine hands carefully choosing  and picking the stones that touched their soul, communicated to their hearts. Picking the stones for prayer stacks in itself  is an exercise of total mindfulness, of getting merged with the moment. Then placing stone upon stone with total concentration, balancing them one upon other with utmost care ensuring that the stack remained intact that in itself is akin to meditation. During the entire process one gets totally merged with the prayer and that complete surrender imparts the potent energy to the prayers .
One can also add pebbles to already existing stacks. when one carefully places a stone to an existing stack, our prayers and our thoughts merge with those of others who placed those stones earlier to us and thus the impact of prayers intensifies, each energizing other. What an enriching feeling this belief gives. Unknown we might be for one another yet we stand tied with that ethereal bond.

cooorg1 (2)n

Rocks and stones have been used as an expression of our spiritual urge from times immemorial. Be it rock cut temples, images of Gods and Goddesses carved out of rocks or a stone kept under sacred trees and worshiped with all rituals, all these are manifestations of our sacred thoughts but these stacks of prayer stones are perhaps the earliest expressions of our spirituality.
Those mounds or stacks of prayer stones dotting the entire hill stood there under the open sky bearing the rains, the wind and other vagaries of weather. They as if represented firm beliefs withstanding all the tests of time and life.


All pictures by Sunder Iyer

Talacauveri is said to be the origin of mighty river Cauveri. It is around 48 Km from Madikeri. The source of the river does not look like as one would have imagined, a gurgling, foaming stream gushing down the hills . At the place there is this spring originating from Brahmagiri hills. An enclosure is built around it and same is connected to a small pond where pilgrims take the holy dip. The pond is surrounded by concrete steps and wide platforms from all sides.The spring runs underground from here and becomes visible after a few kilometers to flow as a river. Green hills from three sides stand there in silent reverence.


A view of the temple premises from hilltop
There is a shrine dedicated to Kaveriamma just in front of the pond. Ascending few more steps one reaches a wide open courtyard encircled by covered verandahs from three sides. In the courtyard are two temples, one of Lord Shiva, and another of Lord Ganesha. Lord Shiva here is known as Agastyeshwara. Ganesha, Muni Agastya and Cauveri…..that made me remember a mythological tale related to these three. If I remember correctly Agastya Muni brought waters from Shiva’s abode Himalaya on Brahma’s advice to make it flow as a river in Southern India to end the water woes of that part of our country. He was carrying  it in his kamandal and Ganesha in the form of a crow toppled the kamandal and the river Cauveri flowed. Or was it that in anger Agastya muni had arrested Cauveri river in his kamandal and then Ganesha in the form of crow toppled it to let the river flow.



The Temple premises
Talacauveri is a holy place for the people of Kodagu. It was told to us that on Tulasankranti day that is the first day of the tula masa, which usually falls on mid of october, water from spring gushes up at a predetermined moment. Thousands of pilgrims flock here on the day to witness the fountain head rising . This sudden spurt of water is known as Thirthodbhava and the belief is that Goddess Parvati emerges as Thirthodbhava. Pilgrims carry this holy water back to their homes. People observe the sacred tula snanam on the banks of Cauvery on this particular day. People of Kodagu believe that on this day Cauveri reaches every water body of the region be it well, pond or lake. Those who can’t reach the banks of Cauveri carry water from the nearby water body to their home.
This place of origin of the river is about 1300 meter above the sea level. from here beautiful view of the distant blue hills and green valley can be enjoyed but the view from the hill top after ascending  near about 400 stairs is heavenly.
The blue canvas
The place is very well maintained. As the steps leading to the hill top can be reached only after crossing the temple courtyard, we have to walk bare footed but who cares for that when one feels like floating in paradise.
While climbing the steps I stopped in between and glanced all around . With every few steps  the view became more ethereal. And once on the top…Ah.. I could have spent my entire life there standing and imbibing the beauty, the feel, the solitude.
The Verandah of clouds
White fluffy clouds rolled all over the hills, pushing, nudging one another, somersaulting on velvety emerald expanse. Somewhere from womb of valley rose tall columns of clouds. The Master painter was at His work spilling pure white clouds on bright blue canvas overhead. Swiftly changing shapes of clouds created mesmerizing patterns.
Deep down in valley a tiny water body sparkled like a gem between grove of green trees. A solitary hut tucked midst greenery, a lone cart walking languorously on ribbon like road, hushed silence pervading the surrounding, filled my heart with a sense of gratitude.
This was a glorious moment, a moment to celebrate being a part of this magnificent world, a moment to be thankful for experiencing the pure joy and contentment of just being.
 Feeling Blessed
In every walk with nature one recieves far more than he seeks.
-John Muir
All pictures by Sunder Iyer

Waterfalls— I have seen and been to many waterfalls from Uttaranchal, Dhunadhar of Jabalpur, Kodaikanal, certain places in Maharashtra, Hogenakkal, Shivasamudram, many others and the recent ones in Coorg. Some of these are known and famous, others are obscure and unknown. Some are seasonal, others perennial. Some are gigantic, wide spread others comparatively smaller and when viewed from far off appears to be like a stream trickling down vertically . But each of these has it’s own symphony, own music , own beauty and own distinct personality too.
A river in it’s entire life journey flows through level surfaced planes, meanders through rocky terrains, skirts around big boulders trying to block it’s course and then sometimes feels restricted by it’s own disciplined, adept and accommodating  way of running it’s life. That’s when breaking it’s own chains it leaps down the hills, mountains, gurgles with free abundant spirit, thrashes along freely with glee, with arms outstretched dances pivoting from rock to rock and once the adventurous urge is satisfied it again starts flowing in it’s own previous disciplined way. Waterfalls to me appear to be the representation of that urge to break free for some time and indulge in reckless, adventurous enjoyment of sheer happiness.
During our visit to Coorg in oct. 2014, I got an opportunity to indulge in the exultant company of two waterfalls. We visited these waterfalls on different days and were fortunate enough to experience the excursions in two entirely different kind of weather conditions.
The day we were with Abbe falls was a sparklingly blue day. Abbe falls are  at about 8 to 10 Km distance from Medikeri town. Paid parking is available outside the gate from where about three hundred meters  down hill walk commences. This gravel path is shady and easy to walk. The way to waterfall runs through a private coffee plantation farm.
We started our walk down. On both the sides were bushes, tall erect trees with creepers entwined to them. Soft, diffused morning light filtering through shady green vegetation haloed the leaves in silken gold hues. Though the path was full of to and fro tourist traffic yet it was not at all chaotic. A graceful calmness spread all around. As I always say, company of nature brings out the best in us.
While our way down, we could here the birds chirping somewhere deep in denseness but could not locate and see them. Spiders and their webs were there in a large numbers. I had never seen such colorful spiders earlier . They were in various sizes too.


Long before we saw the fall we could hear it’s carefree, roaring laughter. Head along descent of Cauveri from a height of about 70 ft. mesmerized me.White foamy sheet of water spraying it’s pearly drops all around felt energizing.I stood there on the hanging bridge across the gorge facing the fall. Water hurtled down in gorge in ferocious urgency and surged forward with mighty force submerging the rocks and boulders on the way and then I turned 180 degree and faced the river on the other side of bridge. How quickly it’s mood has changed. In a comparatively composed mood the river flowed on in a playful way nudging the rocks in river bed, whispering to branches which bent to kiss it’s ripplets. That’s what is so magical about nature—- it surprises you at every other bend.

view of Abbey falls as it came into view. People are far away from fall. From here a side view of falls can be enjoyed.


This is front view of falls taken from hanging bridge. Railings and people can be seen on left side.
Next day we were at Iruppu falls. We planned to visit Iruppu falls in the morning and then be there at Nagarhole national park for 3 P.M. safari.Two safaris are conducted every day one at about 6 A.M. and another at 3P.M. As suggested by our home stay host we confirmed from the office at national park that afternoon safari would take place as per schedule. Some times due to heavy rains the trip inside jungle is cancelled. When we started towards falls it was cloudy and on the way it rained heavily. Somewhere on the way the driver lost the way and instead of taking the turn to falls he drove us straight to Nagarhole. Falls are about 20 Km from national park. We thought that after booking our seat for safari we would head towards fall but in the office we were informed that due to heavy, incessant rains for last two hours the afternoon safari was cancelled. We were disappointed a bit but then nothing should mar the spirit when we are out to enjoy. Keeping that in heart we proceeded towards Iruppu falls and the day turned out to be simply thrilling.


on way to Iruppu falls
From wide open parking space the far off hills beyond the curtain of rain allured us.For some time rain poured down continuously like sleet, then intermittently it drizzled and this changing pattern of rain provided us with an opportunity to enjoy myriad beautiful frames of lush green hills. A moment slender white columns of clouds arose from the hills and walked tantalizingly towards sky, on other hoard of clouds rushed to hills and hugged them so tightly that we could not even see them.

Purchasing our tickets we entered the gate .A gravel road run between airy grass fields with multi colored wild flowers. after some distance there was a building and this board was displayed there.

On other side of the road stood a big Peepal tree with a Shivlinga under it’s shade.After some time the vegetation on either side started becoming denser and then steps leading to fall started. There must be not less than hundred steps to reach the fall. On one side of steps are hills laden with tall trees, creepers and bushes. A board there proclaimed that the area belonged to Brahmagiri wild sanctury. However entry without prior permission is not allowed here. What I gathered that participants to the organized treks are permitted to venture in the dense forest.On other side of steps run deep gorge but so dense is the vegetation that we could see only the wilderness. It was raining all the time yet the there was continuous flow of tourists. On the place from where we could have the first glimpse of fall, quite a spacious concrete platform was built and benches were laid down. We stayed there for some time taking in the untamed beauty of nature.
Iruppu falls cascades down the  Brahmagiri hills and jumps on a bowl between rocks to form a pool. Many groups of people were taking bath, standing in the pool, under the sprays and streams of fall. From there water flows down in number of streams separated by rocks in between. Those who were not taking bath sat on the rocks enjoying the natural beauty all around . There after all the streams collectively roaring and gushing take a steep jump  and later on meet the river Laxman Tirtha, a tributory  of Cauveri.
As per the legend when Lord Rama and Laxman were wandering in forests searching for Sita, who was kidnapped by Ravana, Rama felt thirsty. Inorder to quench thirst of elder brother Laxamana shot an arrow and brought the river Laxamn Tiratha into being.Hence the place is considered to be sacred. It is believed that water of Iruppu fall possesses magical power to absolve one of one’s sin. During Shivratri time many devotees, pilgrims throng here to take part in the ongoing fair and take bath in waters of Laxamana Tirath river and Iruppu falls.
Water drops from heaven above pattered on the rocks, leaves. mingled with  the gushing waters of fall, bouncing water gurgled happily and the forest came alive with harmonious symphony of nature elements.This was a truly spirit uplifting experience.


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Iruppu falls


I have seen many strong, gigantic trees uprooted and destroyed by ferocious rush of waters but these humble grass blades danced and frolicked stating that many storms could be won by shedding vanity and embracing humility.

From one side of the Peepal tree near the gate concrete steps slope down to peaceful waters flowing slowly between rocks. This quiet secluded place invited us to it’s fold and we spent some time there too. May be those who are not able to cover the distance upto the fall can take bath here and be in commune with nature, pay homage to Lord Shiva.


”We all flow from one fountain Soul. All are expressions of one Love. God does not appear, and flow out, only from narrow chinks and round bored wells here and there in favored races and places, but He flows in grand undivided currents, shoreless and boundless over creeds and forms and all kinds of civilizations and peoples and beasts, saturating all and fountainizing all.”
                                                                                                                      John Muir

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All pics by Sunder Iyer