A Spiritual Photologue

Gangai Konda Cholapuram Temple

Vaitheeswaran Koil







Dwarasamudra – Architecture at its very best

Have you been to Dwarasamudra? Have you tried searching for this place in google maps? Aren’t you able to locate it? What is its new name?

A tank was built opposite the temple to serve the water needs and due to huge inflow of water, tank always had waves and looked like an ocean and hence the name Dwarasamudra, entry by ocean. The new name which everyone can relate to translates to “ruined city” in Kannada, Halabeedu. We visited this temple during our return journey from Western Ghats to Bangalore. Halabeedu was the capital city of Hoysala empire. This Hoysala temple construction was not completed when Muslims invaded the city and hence inside the temple you can find many unfinished structures.

This is a Shiva temple. When it was designed, it was decided to construct it twice the size of Belur Hoysala temple. Belur has 650+ elephants and this temple has 1300+ elephants.

For complete details of our trip: A short trip to Western Ghats
For Belur temple: Belur – A hoysala Jewel

The name board

Huge open space and lots of greenery outside the temple


Royal Entrance: King would enter the temple from this entrance after worshiping Lord Ganapathi

Which is the largest built Nandi? Many would say the Tanjore one, but that is a close second. The first biggest Nandi is in Lepakshi and the one in Halabeedu is the seventh largest one.

In all the temples, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva will be in order. Creator, Protector and the destroyer. But since Halabeedu is a Shiva temple, the order is Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.

Look at the intricate details on the roof – These are soap stones just like the Belur temple which is as soft as a soap but hardens on getting exposed to atmosphere.

Below sculpture looks like a British man with a stick on his right hand, a hairdo and a long over coat. Isn’t it? But British came to India after 1600s and this temple was built in the 13th Century. A mere coincidence? But as per temple books, these are Saints and this was their attire. So did British copy the dress code of our Saints? Hard to believe, but definitely creates enough doubts.

Who invented or used telescope first? Galileo? Year? 1600s? But look at the below sculpture. This is again from 1300s.

Astronauts of that age?

Chakravyuh in Mahabaratha.

Bhima killing elephants during the war. Anyone remember “Ashwathama is killed”? The famous strategy to kill the Guru Drona?

Rama killing Vali in Ramayana

Rama giving his ring to Hanuman to be delivered to Sita

Dresses of that age? Three fourths and a skirt

Krishna lifting Govarthana Giri

Look at the upper right corner of the above picture – An interesting thing to note is that on top of the mountain, there is a banana tree and a monkey is trying to pluck bananas. Who would have thought of all these minute details ? A magnified view of that.

Spellbound by their architecture. Granular level details at its very best.

Look at the hind leg of the cow – its slightly bent, signifying Shiva’s weight. He weighs more than Parvati. Simply wow !!

And another one: Look at the bench they are sitting. It is tilted towards Shiva

Because of his weight, Parvati is getting tossed around when elephant moves !!

Some commonalities with Belur. Ravana lifting the Kailash mountain and Arjuna during his swayamvar.

On the outer walls

Guides are available in English, Hindi and Kannada. They are part of ASI. They take a paltry amount of Rs 300 for 45 minute tour. The guide said that there are 24 guides in Halabeedu and they share their earnings for the day. They are not monetized by the Government of India.

Halabeedu as the name suggests, a city of ruins, but the architects have left enough sculptures like these which stand tall amidst the test of time and all the invasion and local vandalism.

For complete details of our trip: A short trip to Western Ghats
For Belur temple: Belur – A hoysala Jewel

A short trip to Western Ghats


It was summer and we as a family had not gone for any trip since my last visit to Muzhappilangad drive-in beach and Bekal fort with cousins. Off late the travel bug started hitting me hard. Chikmaglur, the last time we planned, we could not get any accommodation. My wife’s usual wish is to go to a place and be sure to cover maximum number of tourist attractions there. This time though with the advent of our daughter we were looking for a more leisurely vacation. We were looking mainly for home stays and we zeroed in on Forest Home-stay – Gowdahalli lured by the splendid reviews on tripadvisor.

5th May, 2017 – Friday

We left home 20 minutes past 6 AM. We took Hebbal, Yeshwantpur and Nelamangala exit to reach NH75. Traffic was sparse, but we missed the service road at Nelamangala to take the exit. Hence had to go around and take a ‘U’ turn. Going with my brother, its not new. At least I am glad the ‘U’ happened early . NH75 was smooth but with lots of toll booths. We did a scheduled stop at Swathi Delicacy for breakfast. Butter Dosa, Vada and coffee were too yummy. The restaurant was jam packed. Not a surprise though given the delicious food served. The place also has good parking space and clean washroom.

Swathi Delicacy

Kid Friendly

Nicely laid NH75

After having sumptuous breakfast, we left for Belur – Chennakeshava temple. It was a two hour journey. After Hassan, there is a road on your right that takes you to Belur. A scenic route but with lots of unmarked speed humps. We hit one of them really bad – worst to the point of all three who were sitting in the backseat going and hitting the roof –  and we slowed down thereafter.

We reached Belur Hoysala Chennakeshava Temple fifteen minutes past 11. Sun was at its scorching best. Parking is just opposite the temple. Its a Vishnu temple. This temple was built in the 11th century. It took 103 years to complete this marvel. I decided to dedicate a separate thread to Belur temple just because I didn’t want to miss out on any of the micro details. For more details and photos on Belur temple, look at the thread Belur – A hoysala Jewel.

Architecture, skill and perfection at its very best

We spent close to 1.5 hours at the temple. From there we left to our home stay at Gowdahalli. Turn on your GPS early otherwise it’s very difficult to get the network connection after a point. We reached our rooms little past two and lunch was awaiting us. The care taker Dileep looked after our stay and food. A thumbs up to this guy.

Our home-stay in the middle of forest. It reminded me of my days in Mettur.

From the top

The entrance

A simple and a neat cottage.

A cooler and a TV (which we never switched on)

And a very basic roof

Parking is just in front of the stay

Car’s ramp, a bit risky but nevertheless drivable

They have badminton rackets, shuttle, cricket bats etc. One basically comes here to unwind and laze around. The network connectivity is poor with only airtel and BSNL working at a few places but its a blessing in disguise given that people come here only to switch themselves off from the outside world. We had an amazing time. They had couple of kids’ ride-ons as well. In addition, they have rifle shooting, carom, chess and cards.

The toy horse

Post lunch, we slept for a while. We were served our evening snacks consisting of bhajji, pakoda and hot coffee. Again food was delicious. Post that , we spent the evening playing badminton and my brother did a bit of rifle shooting. After our dinner we retired for the day, but because of terrible power cuts and a lack of in-house UPS, we had a disturbed sleep.

6th May, 2017 – Saturday

My brother and dad went for a trek to a nearby bull shaped mountain called Ethirbujha. It took them close to an hour to climb up. First three fourths of the trek didn’t require much efforts but the rest was literally an uphill task with close to 90 degrees inclination. But if rain gods decide to shower, the first half can become equally treacherous with leeches and the entire place can become slushy and soft. At some places, you had pebbles and the trek was slippery.

Parking at the trek spot

Even with very little rain on the previous day, the path has become slushy

Go though the vegetation

And here is the first glimpse of the summit. The near 90 degree trek !!

From the top

Wow !! Worth the effort

Imagine this place post monsoon

The climb down took around 40 minutes. We spent the entire afternoon in the home stay with the sun beating down hard. At around 4 PM, climate suddenly changed and it became very cloudy. We went to nearby Devarmane hills. The backdrop of sun setting, heavy winds and a light drizzle made our stay at the top very pleasant.

Devarmane Hills

View from the top

Sun setting. How many shades of orange and pink?

And not a lot to climb from the parking,

Western Ghats – You beauty !!

After spending close to fifteen minutes at the top, we descended and visited the Kalabhairava temple. This temple was built by Hoysalas prior to Belur and Halabeedu. It was built in 900 AD.

Tank opposite to the temple


It was a nice short trip and we returned back to our stay for dinner. We had neer dosa, a malnad special.

7th May, 2017

We woke up to the tunes of birds chirping on the last day of our trip. We went for a short cycling around the estate. We saw peacocks at a distance. But before we could reach them, they disappeared.

We had idly and kesari for breakfast. We also packed water melon juice for our onward journey and bid good bye to our stay and proceeded towards Halabeedu via Belur. It took close to an hour and a half to reach Halabeedu, a Shiva temple. This is a twin city of Belur and warrants a separate thread and can be reached at Dwarasamudra – Architecture at its very best.

We spent close to ninety minutes in the temple. With not so good vegetarian restaurants in Halabeedu, we proceeded towards Hassan and after an hour journey on the highways just opposite to the famous Kamat, there was an A2B. We had a very good Tamil Nadu style dosa and sambhar. Rains lashed us on our entry to Bangalore and we reached home little after 7 PM.

It was a nice short relaxing trip to get ourselves rejuvenated. The trek and visits to Belur and Halabeedu were the highlights . Both these temples stand the test of time amidst all the invasion and local vandalism showing the greatness of yesteryear artistic skills, perfection and dedication to work.