Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Shimoga

Shimoga is considered the Heart of Malenadu and the 'Rice Bowl of Karnataka'. I am from the Karavali or coastal region. Malenadu refers to the 100 km region of the Western Ghats and the Sahyadri mountain ranges. 'Male' in Kannada means rain and 'nadu' is city or place.

Three things you can't miss noticing in Shimoga.

One, cows on the National Highway. They were resting, standing, watching vehicles, sleeping, placing their heads on other cows and looking around - in groups and solo ones - in all varieties and positions - right in the middle of the road. They could as well have rolled over into the grass of the adjacent fields and rested but no, they preferred the warmth of the tar roads!

The vehicles would manoeuvre around them. The cows never budged. Even big trucks, buses and lorries would slow down and move past the cows, making sure not to hurt them. 

All was fine until once, we almost crashed into the car ahead of us because there was a calf in the middle and a biker zoomed past, the car stopped abruptly and Thank God for Sathya's split second response to the situation or there would have been an accident. Did the calf notice the mayhem? Naah! It was blissfully unaware.

Twomandakki (puffed rice as shown in the pic on the left) and churmuri (shown right). There were SEVERAL stalls selling it at almost every shop and tourist place. It was hard to miss it! Of course, puffed rice and churmuri are not unique to Shimoga but it is definitely ubiquitous, just like the Udupi hotels, the Shanthi and Sukh Sagars of Bangalore.


Three, the big 'dairy flower', the big, round ones. It looked something like this below, but was much bigger than this. It comes in so many colors! It is the preferred offering to deities during poojas and shringar (decoration). It is also worn by elderly women on their tiny buns, the flower covering half of the back of their heads! Most houses grow the plant in their front yards, in
cement covers, with long sticks to support the tall plant.     
The entire trip we had good roads especially since we were mostly on NH206 and SH 1 except the Honnemardu road and the roads in the town of Sagar which are actually non-existent.

Shown below is the residence of Shivappa Nayaka (1645-1660), a ruler of the Keladi Nayaka Kingdom and later successors of the Vijayanagara Empire. The famous Bekal Fort of Kasargod, Kerala (as shown in the Hindi movie Bombay, the song 'Tu Hi Re'?) was built by him!!! 
The house is made from sagoni mara (Teak wood), the most expensive of all woods. One single main door made of teak wood would set you back by at least Rs 40,000 by today's standards.
  
The stone sculptures neatly arranged by the Archelogical Survey of India in the premises with beautifully landscaped and nicely maintained garden. On the left, is the carving of Lord Vishnu from 14th Century A.D and on the right, is a veeragallu or victory stone with the depiction of the worship of a Linga or Shiva in the first column of the panel.
This huge statue of Lord Shiva was at Rameshwara Temple, Harkere.
We stopped here to pray as it was Monday (somavara Shiva darshana) and luckily, there was an Anna Prasada Seve going on & we ate our lunch there. Temple food is so simple & yet so delicious!

Here, for the first time, I saw a practice called "Linga Snana". You hold a linga over your head and the priest bathes the linga. Then you do the pradakshine (walk around the temple).

We stopped at the Tunga Hydel Project or Gajanur dam. When do I get to see dams with the water gushing forth? Alas! Never I guess! Whether it was 
Harangi Reservoir or KRS in Mysore or Tungabhadra in Hospet, most often we have seen dams where they had not let the water out. So no fun in seeing just the structure.

We sang the Shivraj Kumar song "iva gajanurina gandu kanammo" loudly in the car as we approached the dam as my first memory of the word 'Gajanur' was that song. It was very famous when I was in school and often played on the radio. 

This I saw in one of the smaller temples.

The "floor mat" you see is actually dried husk/peel of the arecanut.

It was soft to walk on and worked to keep your feet clean from the slush of the rain.


We visited Koodli too.

It is 16 kms from Shimoga.

It is called the Varanasi of South India.

It is the place where the two rivers Tunga and Bhadra join and and form the Tungabhadra river. 
The Nandi denotes the exact point where the rivers meet .

There is a nearly 600 year old mutt of Shankaracharya.




Here is a seventh standard boy selling pineapples by the roadside. The whole national highway stretch of 206 is lined by these small make-shift stands. For Rs 20, really juicy and sweet pineapples.




Tiger Safari in Tyavarekere

It is a well-staffed and well-maintained zoo. The tiger population is more than the lion and the tigers, when our van passed its cage, came so close to the van that we all shrieked for joy. There's something magical and majestic about a tiger's slow gait. It is threatening, scary and yet captivating. It is impossible to take your eyes off a tiger.

We were also lucky to witness this peacock displaying its lovely bloom while trying to impress one of the peahens around.

It was only here in this zoo, when I saw a panther in the cage with 6-7 other leopards, that I learnt that a panther is actually a leopard, born along with the other cubs, but suffers from a rare skin disease called melanosis, wherein excessive production of the pigment, melanin, causes the leopard to have a black skin! It was written on the information board of the cage. I really thought till then that panthers were a separate category of animals!

As we drove back to Shimoga from Thirthahalli, there was a road under construction on the state highway and right beside the road, was this sight! As a friend of mine remarked on Facebook, it reminds you of the Bobby Deol-Manisha Koirala song "Bechainiyan" from the movie Gupt. That song was shot in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala but the resemblance is uncanny.
As our three day trip ended, we felt both rejuvenated and sad to bid adieu to such a lovely district. Our legs were sore from all the walking and climbing but it was, what I call, "sweet pain". I would love to be pained thus all my life.

As for the cost, it cost us Rs 15,000/- for three people, three days, exploring three major towns. Rs 5000 for petrol, Rs 5000 for hotel stay and the rest for food, parking tickets, entry fees and so on. I have realized that keeping aside a minimum of Rs 5000 a day for any trip helps with the budget. 

6 comments:

  1. now that makes it a beautiful place worth visiting...

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    Replies
    1. Yes, especially during or just after monsoon :)

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    2. Mysore is a superbly beautiful place too.. just about any time :)

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  2. Your statistics for the finance looks pretty good :-)
    Had learned about the Tunga and Bhadra in school. Now I know where it is.

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