A day after our cousin’s wedding, Lakshmi called and that was it!! She and a friend were organising a tour, for close friends, as an inaugural offer.. Without a blink , i said YES,AM IN!! She then sent me a mail with info about the tour- we were to cover about 5-6 places, stay at a lovely resort and maybe do a coffee trail as well .. The only i got in was Sharada, cos i knew she would love it as well ..
The temples at Doddagadavalli

Booked our tickets to Blore for the friday, 29th May and packed our back packs.. 30th Morning was when it all began… Lakshmi’s friend and avid bird watcher V came over, and we waited for the van… Which came close to 7.45… After piling in, the intial Hi- hellos to the rest of the troops [Arun’s friends, V’s friends, and Sharada], we were on our way!! Excitment filled the air, and hunger pangs in our tummies..lolz…

Pillars at the entrance at Doddagadavalli
The 1st pitstop was Hotel Mayura where we had a sumptuos breakfast and got on the road with full speed.. Drove straight to Doddagaddavalli, where we spent close to an hour.. A temple that marks the reign of Hoysala Dynasty, each pillar telling a tale… After a tour of the place, we all assembled in the hall near the entrance where Lakshmi and Arun gave us a peek into the history, and some insights into the rulers and the Dynasty.. During this, a rock agama came to keep us company- rich orange in color, he posed for us!!! Amidst all this, we managed to spot some interesting birds as well .. 🙂
Rock agama…

Beautiful architecture.. intricate sculptures and more were what welcomed us through the trail.. The layers of the temples were almost piled on top of the other like lego blocks. No cement was used in sealing the space, they were all interlocked …
From there, we hit the road and drove down to Green Orchards Resort which was our home for the 2days.. A quaint little place with about 9 rooms, of which we occupied 6.. Furniture from Rajasthan, a court yard with a cute little tortoise sitting still [was a statue]… 2 beautiful swings outside where we spent most of our spare time, getting to know each other and laughing over a game of Housie- where err, some people cheated and others slogged it out!! 😀
The road that led to the Resort
Post lunch, we venture into Halebid or Halebidu or Dwarasamudra which has a cluster of Hoysala temples…The main is called Hoysaleshwara and its a tourist spot, so we were prepared for a crazy crowd, but still managed to have a good time. Lakshmi and Arun had hired an ASI guide, who gave interesting descriptions for each of the sculptures..
The Hoysala emblem that is found in all temples

Lush gardens, dark skies threating to spill over, a serene lake behind the temple all had us in awe… Clicking pictures, soaking every word the guide said, we relished the experience… The temple is said to remain incomplete, and to have taken over 190 years to build…

The Nandi in front of the Shantaladevi shrine
The Hoysaleswara temple is home to Hoysaleswara and Santaleswara. Hoysaleswara is named after the builder Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and Santaleswara after his wife, Queen Santala. The sancta are built on a stellar plan, with a sukhanasi, navaranga and Nandi Mandapa. Each of these resembles the Belur Chennakesava temple in layout and structure…
Basadi halli
Around the corner we visited the 2 Jain temples… Basadi halli (Jain Mandir) – and the Kedareshwara temple.. The Kedareshwara (Shiva) Linga made by Krishnashila, a variety of black stone. To the south of it is Brahma linga and the statue of Janardhana at the north. The temples are filled with Bats, so there was enough stink to keep us at bay…
Within the Basadi Halli campus, there was a temple tank/well, and plenty of greenery around for us to soak in… We also spotted a Rainbow, feeble but pretty nevertheless…

That night after our return and dinner, we were out walking along the lit pathway within the estate late into the nite..
Having decided we are going Bird walking next morning , we decided to be up by 5.30 and scoot, all scampered to their rooms… Post the bird watching, we were to start off Sunday at 7.15, with a visit to the nearby Biccode coffee estate [belonging to my uncle and family] , starting with the morning Muster call to a coffee trail…

Path inside the coffee trail…
The morning came, troops went for the bird watch and then we joined them in the Coffee trail.. After a quick shower, we went off to the estate, waiting for the workers to pour in.. Vipin, the manager was to be our tour guide for the hour.. but that went on for nearly 3hours, and we covered about 6kms in distance around the coffee estate, exploring venues never heard of and clicking pictures all over..

Wild mushrooms, paw prints, a tree covered in cobwebs, rows of coffee plants, and the long stretches of trees…. In between, we also managed to do a bit of bird watching – spotting and trying to identify birds, geting some quick lessons from the pros- Arun and V… 🙂

Longing for a cup of coffee, we found just that at the estate office.. Bidding adieu to him, we decided to check out more places related to the Halebid trail… the Ruins spread across acres of land, and then came the best part of it all ..
Hulikere- the tank where Shantaladevi used to go for her showers.. The security was so high then that even a tiger could enter, hence the name… !!

The Hulikere with small shrines all around it..fascinating..
Some local kids followed us around, mustering enuf guts every now and then asking us – Do you have chocolate? Or atleast a pen? … we were stumped at their fluent english!!! 🙂

Belavadi in all its glory
Spent a few minutes in the serene surroundings, lost in thoughts we were all in heaven… like school kids asked to get back to the van, we crawled back into the van and looked fwd to the next location… It was nearly 3.30pm, and even tho the driver decided to take us to the Belur Chennakeswara temple, we steered towards the resort to have a bit to eat, pack up and then venture to Belur before heading back to Blore…

The Belur temple is magnificient – again in similar architecture styles.. There are over 40 sculptures of women in different poses outside, all said to be inspired by Shantala devi, and pillars across the temple each in a unique style.. Two of the pillars are simply mind blowing- the Mohini and Narasimha pillar, they are filled with intricate work, minute designs, unimaginable amount of creativitiy.. The God is also in Mohini avtar here, and i got a chance to talk to the priest about the temple…

Oh, just remembered- we also visited the Belavadi temple, a small one with three gopuras, and is called Trikoota temple… The priests here were more than willing to give us insight about this temple, how long it took to build, the God housed within… Veera Narayana, Vishnu and Krishna are the Gods here… What was interesting was that the Sunlight streams in straight to the Vishu shrine on March 23rd and Sep 23rd every year, the day of Equinox, the priest said!!

Phew.. What a weekend it was!!! Got back to Blore on 31st nite around 11.30 and back to Chennai on monday at 6pm… Had a day in town and then was off on a trip to Sringeri with mom & Dad.. more on that in next post..

Think this is long enuf…… way too long a post!!!
For more pics.click here

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