Monday, 28 January 2013

The lost capital of the Gangas

Just over a thousand years ago, the present day Bangalore was nothing but a thick forest. There was no mention of Bendakaluru or any pother place by the name. Yet, this place formed part of a once prosperous and bigger City that finds mention in ancient texts and copper plates of yore.
The Cholas knew about it and so did the Rashtrakutas. Both the Cholas and the Rashkrakutas tried their best to exterminate the city but to no avail. However, nature did to the city what several dynasties could not.
Today, the city is gone and in its place is a small sleepy village which still has some links to its once glorious past. All that remains are three temples that stand as mute sentinels at the very place where the once magnificent city of the Gangas flourished.
The Gangas as a dynasty have long been consigned to the pages of history. However, the buildings they built such as the temples of Talakad, the sculptures that they left behind like the Gomateshwara at Shravanabelogala still continue to tell their tale.
Unfortunately, apart from Talakad and Shravanabelogala, both people and historians seems to have forgotten the other monuments that the Gangas left behind. Infact, we seem to have entirely forgotten the small village of Manne in Nelamangala taluk of Bangalore rural district.
Manne, more than a thousand years ago, was a  thriving city. It was also the capital of the Gangas. The earlier Gangas had Talakad near Mysore as their capital. However, one of is powerful rulers, Sripurusha (725-778 AD), shifted his capital from Talakad to Manne.
Sripurusha killed the Pallava ruler Nandi Verma, the second, at Vilande in 731 in a war. He also wrote a book in Sanskrit on taming of wild elephants called Gajashasthra. He assumed the title Permanadi after killing the Pallava King.
Sripurusha assumed the title of Muttarasa. The Javali inscriptions says that Sripurusha ruled for 62 years. He married a Chalukya princess and was given the titles Rajakesari, Bhimakopa and Ranabhajana.
The Devarahalli inscription calls Sripurusha as Maharajadhiraja Paramamahesvara Bhatara. The Salem copper plates of  Sripurusha and a few other plates are very useful in reconstructing the history of medieval Kongu and Ganga emperors. He was a close ally of the Chalukya King Vikramaditya.  741 or 742
Sripurusha  established Manne as his capital, which today presents a desolate and pitiable sight. There are just three temples to showcase the Ganga architecture here. The other structures have long crumbled to the onslaught of modernization and official apathy.
What once was a bustling city is now a mere hamlet with a few thousand people. Apart from a welcome arch that proclaims Manne to have been the capital of the Gangas, there is no other written material in and around Manne to give more details of the once beautiful city to tourists and visitors.     
All that remains are a few inscriptions scattered about the village, testifying to the grandeur of the long gone days.
Manne was also called Manyapura. The main temple in the village or rather the chief temple of Manne is Mannemma. Interestingly, this deity is reckoned to be the sister of Annamma, who is the grama devathe of Bangalore. Apart from them, the other sisters are Madapuradamma,  Madhugiri Maramma, Kuralliyamma and  Dandina Sirada maramma.
Another ancient temple is that of  Kapileswara. This is believed to be 1200 years old. Though it is in ruins, it can still give you a feeling of awe. The life-sized Dwarapalakas at the temple, beautifully carved windows and pillars are all that remain of the grand temple that it was.
Apart from this temple, another interesting structure is the Sule Gudi or the temple constructed by a prostitute. This is a Jain Basadi. Inscriptions uncovered by B. L. Rice, an epigraphist and historian, ascribed this temple to a general in the Ganga Army named Srivijaya.
The inscription says Srivijaya built the Jina temple in Mauyanagara or Manyapura. It say Sripurusha granted his General the village of Kru-Vekkur. The priest of the temple was
apparently Prabhachandra, a disciple of Pushpanandi, the learned head of his gana or group.  Pushpandi, in turn, was one of the many disciples of Toranacharyya, who is described as the wisest man of this country.
Thee inscriptions, were engraved on plates and found at Manne itself. They were engraved by Virakarmmacharya, the Royal Engraver.  
Another fine structure is the Someshwara temple which  too is in ruins.
Others temples in the village are dedicated to Hanumanthraya swamy, Eswara, Maramma, Ganesha and Kukkalamma.
Sripurusha had a palace here and once Manne became the capital, it prospered. At that time, Bangalore perhaps was so small that it did not even merit a mention. The Bangalore we see today had not been formed.
Manne soon became the centre of  the Ganga trade and commerce. Sripurusha endowed Manne with some of the most beautiful temples, palaces, lakes, wells, and other structures, including a fort. None, of them survive today.
After Sripurusha, Manne slowly began losing its importance. The Gangas too began losing ground and towards the eleventh century, they were overwhelmed by the Cholas. Manne was their second capital after Kolar.
After the decline of the Cholas, Manne was an important city for the Rashtrakutas. Tamil records state that Mannekadakam or Manne was the headquarters of Rashtrakuta Governor Kambarasa.       
Manne is about 24 kilometres from Nelamangala. To reach the place, travel on the Tumkur road till you reach Budhihal. Take a right turn there and travel for about 16 kms till you reach an arch.
The arch proudly states that this is Manne, the capital of the Gangas.
Interestingly, Sripurusha’s wife, Kanchikabbe, ruled over Agali principality in Andhra Pradesh. Today, Agali is a small village in Ananthapur district. Inscriptions dated 748 AD confirm Kanchikabbe as the ruler of Agali.

The park which nursed the freedom movement in Mysore

One of the most famous temples of Mysore is the Raghavendra Swamy Matha at Subbarayana Kere off  Chamaraja Double Road.
The area was a tank as the name Subbarayana Kere itself suggest. But this was several decades ago. The Amble Anniah Pandit Park was part of the place where the tank was situated.
Today, the tank has vanished and there is no trace of the once huge water body that the water body was. The Wodeyar Kings of Mysore had developed the water body and constructed steps leading to the tank as there were several temples around it.
However, over a period of time, the Kere fell into disuse and it was breached several decades ago. It had water till 1910.
The Subbaraya Kere has given way to a park which has some big trees in a green space called Amble Anaiah park. Though Subbarayana Kere and Amble Anaiah Park evokes instant recognition of the locality, few Mysoreans remember the two names behind the lake and the park.
Subbaraya was one of the teachers of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868). He taught Bhagawatha to the young Prince or rather King and, hence, got the name Bhagawath Subbaraya.
A grateful King, who wanted the name of his teacher to be remembered for posterity, named the lake as Subbarayaba Kere. Incidentally, Subbaraya happens to be the great great grandfather of Cricketeer, B S. Chandrashekar, the legendary leg spinner.
Amble Annaiah also known as Amble Anaiah Pandit was a member of the Mysore Representative Assembly.
Amble Annaiah along with other members M. Venkatakrishnaiya and had confronted the then Dewan of Mysore, Sir M . Visvesvaraiah, about entire families in Mysore that were wiped out due to the influenza epidemic that struck the kingdom in 1918.
The epidemic had reportedly claimed lakhs of lives and the administration of Dewan Visvesvaraya faced these angry members at the Dasara session of the Mysore Representative Assembly.
Amble Anaiah Pandit had castigated the Dewan for the shortage of medicines, movement of people from villages and towns where there was no treatment and the acute shortage of both allopathic and indigenous doctors.
Very, soon, Subbarayanakere and the neighbouring Anathalaya became the cradle of Freedom Movement in Mysore. Mahatma Gandhi came and gave a speech ere as did many other stalwarts. People gathered in large numbers to listen to these speeches.
Leaders like Agaram Rangaiah, Tagadur Ramachandra Rao, M N Jois, Bhashyam gave speeches.
By the way, though the entire country celebrated Independence on August 15, 1947,  it was subdued in the then princely state of Mysore. When the Tricolour was unfurled publicly, it was at this very park and that too in early September 1947.
The park was the venue where the Mysore Chalo agitation, the last phase of the freedom movement, was declared to be over with Mysore Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar accepting the demands of the protestors to install a responsible government.
History has it that at the start of the `Mysore Chalo' agitation on September 3,1947, nationalists hoisted the national flag publicly for the first time at Subbarayanakere. But police intervened later and removed it. But as the agitations intensified, the Maharaja agreed to install a responsive government, which was announced by K C Reddy at Subbarayanakere.
Today, or elected representatives and the Government are finding it difficult to maintain this park. Perhaps they would do so unfailingly if they have e a sense of history. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

The village where Garuda was born

This is a village full of legends. Not only is it considered to be the birthplace of the legendary bird, Garuda, the vahana of Vishnu, but also the place where Narasimha appeared in the form of a pillar.
This is also the place where the revered sage, Shuka Muni, meditated.
Shaka Muni  is the son of Ved Vyasa and also the person who gave a discourse on Bhagavath Gite to Parakshit to rid him of the curse of  death by snake bite.
This is the village which was named after the revered sage. It was originally called Shukapuri and subsequently became  Shukanahalli. Today, it is better known as Sugganahalli.
Suggenahalli is in Magadi taluk and it is a pleasant getaway from Bangalore.  
The presiding deity of the village is Kambada Narasimha. The idol of Narasimha is on a stone and, hence, the name Kambada Narasimha. Kamba in Kannada means pillar. The other idols in the temple are that of  Mahalakshmi, Garuda, Andal, Hanuman and a Brindavan of Shuka Muni.
According to legend, Shuka Muni travelled all over India and he offered penance at six sacred places and attained siddhi. The six places are Badrinath and Naimisharanya in Uttar Pradesh, Melkote and Shukapuri in Karnataka and Vanamamalai and Ahobilam in Andhra Pradesh.

When he was meditating at Shukapuri, he heard a divine voice and then Narasimha appeared in a stone pillar. The Sage then consecrated the pillar and constructed a temple which popularly came to be known as Kambada Narasimhaswamy.
This temple is unique as it is built as per Vastu Shastra. There is a Badri Vruksha in the temple backyard, which is always evergreen. A few feet away from the tree, is a Brindavan where Shuka Muni attained siddhi.
The temple has twp courtyards and they symbolise Brahmacharya and Gruhastya. Nearby is the temple of Katari Veerajaneyaswamy where the deity faces west.
Narasihma also asked Shuka Muni to install another pillar two kms away from the temple. Here too, Narasimha is in the same pose as he is in the Kambada Narasimha Temple. This is a very beautiful spot and one can have a fascinating view of the surroundings.
Nearby is a temple of Rama.   
Another legend here is that Suggenahalli is the birth place of Garuda Vahana. There is a bronze statue of Garuda here whoch has healing powers. 
Sugganahalli is about 75 kms from Bangalore on national highway No  4 (Bangalore - Kunigal Road). After reaching Nelamangala Circle, take a left turn and travel up to Marur cross (around 60 kms). Take a right turn to Kudur town (about six kms) and then continue to Sugganahalli temple which is nine kms away.
Suggenahalli is well conncted by KSRTC and private buses.  KSRTC buses to Thondekere ply via Sugganahalli from Majestic bus-stand in Bangalore.
The temple belongs to the Muzrai Department. The temple is open at specified times in the morning and evening. The temple needs three persons to be present while opening. The key to the main door is nearly 2 feet in length.

The seer of Abbur near Channapatna

There are many places in and around Bangalore that combine sight seeing with religion. One such place is Abbur in Channapatna taluk of  Ramanagar district.   
Abbur is a holy place for Madhwas and it is situated on the banks of  Kanva. It has the Moola Brindavan of  Brahmanya Theertha of the Kundapur Vyasaraja Matha.
Madhwas owe a great deal to Brahmanye Theertha.  It was he who recognized the potential of  a young Yathiraja at Bannur near Mysore and took him under his wings. He later sent Yatiraja to Mulabagal for being tutored under Sripadaraja Theertha, the seer of Mulabagal.
Yathiraja was among the first few students of the Padmanabha Theertha Patashala opened by Sripadaraja Theertha. He was an outstanding student and very soon he came to be known as Vyasa Theertha or Vyasa Raja. Over the next half a century or so, Vyasa Theertha proved to be the most outstanding  scholar and Madhwa saint of the 16th century. Thus the credit should go to Brahmanye  Theertha first and Sripadara for having brought up Vyasa Theertha and honed his skills.
By the way, both Sripadaraja and Brahmanye Theertha are cousins from their mother side. Both were born at Abbur Doddi, near Abbur and both became heads of mathas. Both were exceptional scholars and both performed a number of miracles.
Brahmanye Theerta went on to become the head of the Vyasaraja Matha, while Sripadaraja headed the Mulabagal matha which subsequently came to be known after him.
Purushottama Theertha was the Guru of  Brahmanye Theertha and he gave Deekshe to Brahmanye before disappearing in a cave near Abbur. The cave is still there and it is a little away from the matha at Abbur.
After Brahmanye Theertha, it was the venerable Vyasa Theertha who headed the Vyasaraja Matha. However, the Vyasaraja matha split into two during the period of Rama Theertha.
Both Lakshmikantha Theertha and Sridhara Theertha took Sanyas from Rama Teertha. Thus the Abbur Matha or Kundapur Vyasaraja Matha and Sosale Matha came into existence.
In Bangalore, the Abbur Vyasaraja Matha has its premises in Hanumanthnagar and the Sosale Vyasaraja Matha at Gandhi Bazar.
The Matha at Abbur belongs to the Kundapur branch and it has the Brindavana of Brahmanye Theertha and a few other saints.
The matha is located right net to the Kanva and it is a very scenic place.
Since Brahmanye Theertha traced his lineage to Surya, neither he nor Sripadraraja or for that matter Rogathama Theertha have any shelter over their heads.
The matha has a very strict tradition of “Madi”. Please do not bring flowers, fruits and other offerings in a plastic cover. As far as possible bring them in paper bags or hand baskets.
Enter only with panche and Shalya. Otherwise you are likely to get an earful from the matha officials.  A woman has to wear a saree if she wants to enter the matha and perform seve.
Apart from the matha, the cave where Purushottama Theertha disappeared is just a few minuets away. You have to climb a small hill to visit the Purushottama Guhe or cave.
Since you have to touch Chennapatna while visiting Abbur from Bangalore or even Mysore, you can stop over for food there. It has some excellent eateries. Buy the famous vegetable dyed toys at Chennapatna. There are many temples in Chennapatna worth visiting.
Coming back to Brahmanye Theertha, he is supposed to have written one book which is not available. He made Vyasa Raja the head of the matha and entered Brindavana on Vishaka Bahula Dwadashi.
Some of the idols worshipped in the Abbur Matha are Lakshminarsimha, Venugopala, Bhoo-Vvaraha, Ramachandra, Sita, Lakshmana, Madhwacharya-Karachita, Yogapattika Sri Lakshminarasimha, Lakshmidevi and Satyabhama Devi.
Abbur is about 75 kms from Bangalore and you can reach it in two hours time from Bangalore.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

A trek to a Puranic Hill

There are many places in and around Bangalore that are off the tourist map and even today are not all that well-known. One such is the Hill of Halatti in Nagamangala taluk of Mandya district.
You will not find the name of the village in any map. Details about the village and the hills surrounding it are almost non-existent. However, the hills have their own story to tell and they offer a trekker a secluded and quiet place.
The hill is of puranic significance a good spot for picnicking. It is located half a km from the village of Alati situated nine km northeast to the taluk centre of  Nagamangala.
An inscription from Nagamangala dated 1173 A.D., refers to this place Halatti, while another inscription recovered from Dodda Jataka dated 1512 A.D., refers to this place as Aletigrama. The  villagers refer to it as Halti and the nearby hill as Haltigiri.
This is the Puranic hill in the mountain ranges along the road from Nagamangala to Tumkur in the south-north direction. The hill has a beautiful cave at the top called the Malleswara cave.
The peak is also called Malleswara Peak. The climb to the hill is from east to west. The Malleswara cave temple has two inscriptions.
One record dated 1605 A.D., refers to the grant given to  Singalideva Odeya by his disciple Muddanna son of Chikki. The grant included 14 gulige honnu (money) for the construction of a mud bund to a tank called Devarakatte and the interest of three Hanas or annas per Gulige Honnu for the purpose of lighting a perpetual lamp to the God.
The reference to the coin ‘Gulige Honnu’ is significant. Another record of the same date refers to the construction of a door to the main entrance by Mallayya.
The Malleshwara or Linga  is located in a spacious cave. There is a beautiful legend associated with this. Parashurama visited the cave here after killing his mother Renuka.
He wanted to cleanse the sin of killing a mother (matru hatya) by getting the darshana of Malleshwara. He used his well-known axe to splinter the boulders on the hill and make a way to the cave.
He then worshipped Mallewswara and only then sat on a high boulder to eat.
When he opened the food packet, some of the food spilled down the boulder. He had brought some milk which also spilled down the boulder. Hence, the place got the name Halti.
The cave starts of as a spacious structure. As you go inside, the cave narrows down and one has to almost crawl to see the deity. This is a natural cave.  
Nearby is another hill village called Palakere.
Palakere was in ancient days an Agrahara-a Brahmin centre. It is situated between two hills called Fort Hill and the Narasimha Hill, Both the hills are about 2 km from the village of Palakere.
The Fort Hill is smaller of the two hills.  It has  a beautiful temple of  Koteraya or Venkataramana (Srinicasa) temple atop the hill.  A legend says that Parashurama first installed Koteraya, by entering  the Hill through the hollow barks of  trees in the area. Only after consecrating Koteraya, he did go to Alatagiri and consecrate the Shivalinga.
Locals say  Singararya, a brother of Thirumalaraya, a minister of a local chieftain, constructed the temple. There are several other temples dedicated to Hanumantha, Shiva, Nachyaramma (Vrindavan) and Sathyanarayana here.
The cattle fair of Koteraya is held along with the annual Jatra of  Venkataramana during February.
The other hill called Narasimha Hill is higher in height than the Fort Hill. There is temple of  Kambadappa on it. This is a small temple and it has a three feet tall square pillar which is popularly referred to as ‘Pillared Narasimha’ or Kambada Narasimha.
The temple has carvings of Shankha, Chakra, Trishula and a bow.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Around Mysore-A trek to Hosa Hollalu

The Hoysala temples of Belur, Halebid and Somanathapura are very well-known and a large number of tourists visit them to view them. However, there are a few villages and towns that have equally impressive temples that seems to have been forgotten by a traveller.
One such temple is in Hosa Hollalu near KR Pet in Mandya district.
The temple of Lakshminarayana was built by the Hoysalas and it rivals its counterparts of Belur and Halebid in architecture and finesse.
The temple was built in the 13th century and the intricate carvings in stone depict various images from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and other epics.
The temple is classified as a trikutachala structure or three-celled temple.  Only the main cell has a sukhanasi and a tower.
Some of the images carved on the walls are about two and a half feet high.  The images are carved in proportion and they are a sight to see.
The figures of Panduranga, Dakshinamurti and Mohini are particularly noteworthy.  Groups of dancing women in different poses accompanied by musical instruments are carved on the pillars in the navaranga or inner hall.
 There are also some interesting sculptures in the friezes, the scroll work and the railing panels.
The temple stands facing east on a six feet high platform with six pattikas and polyangled ground plan.It has three garbhagrihas and the main garbhagriha only has antarala or inner hall. A common navaranga at the centre has unified the three garbhagrihas or entrances.
The doorframe of the main garbhagriha is artistically decorated and it  houses some beautiful sculptures as well as a grand sculpture of Nambi-Narayana holding Padma, Gada, Shankha and Chakra in his arms flanked by his wives Sridevi and Bhudevi.
The shikhara in the temple is attractive with minutely carved sculptures of Ganapathi and Mahashisinamardini.
One of the lathe turned pillars holding up the navaranga has a carving of a monkey sitting in a majestic posture, drinking tender coconut water. This is referred to by the locals as Hebbatu Anjeneya.
The carving seems to tell us the opposite of the proverb that says does a money know the value of a tender coconut.
The Platform of the temple is decorated with pattikas of elephants,
horses, creepers, crocodiles and swans. It is inscribed with Puranic tales.
The temple walls have been constructed at two levels so as to increase its height. The lower panel has sculptures of Chaluvanarayana, Brahma, Vishnu, Lakshminarayana, Keshava,
Chaturvimshati Vishnu, Paravasudeva, Yoga Narasimha, Lakshminarasimha, Indra, Rama-Lakshmana, Harihara, Bhairava, Bhairavi, Kali, Adishakti, Govardhanadhari
Krishna, Kalinga mardana, Lakshmi, Natya Saraswathi and other carvings.
The upper panel is decorated with Pillars, shikharas and small devakoshtas as well as small sculptures. Here you can see carvings on Pattikas depicting the tales from Mahabharatha, Ramayana
and Bhagavatha.
The scene of  Vasudeva standing in front of a donkey with
folded hands refers to the proverb “ To get one’s work done, one has to prostrate even before donkey”.
Similarly, behind the kakshasana to the left of the temple are beautiful dashavatara sculptures of Vishnu and some couples. On
the east, north and south walls outside the garbhagriha are two tier devakoshtas with beautiful but small shikaharas. The devakosthas are empty.
To the left of the Lakshminarayana temple, is a Devi templewhich has been constructed recently.
The Parshwanatha temple on the road to the fort’s main
entrance it faces east. The garbhagriha has  sculptures of Parshwanatha, Ananthanatha and Padmavathi
Yakshi as well as Dharanendra-Padmavathi.
The idols are said to have been brought from the Bellibetta. Near the temple is a tall and beautiful sculpture of Bahubali. It has been damaged.
There is a ruined Harihara temple referred as Somanatha
temple in a record dated 1306 A.D. The three frieze hero stone in front of the Lingabasaveshwara temple in the outskirts of the village has makara torana decorations.
The arms of the soldier are decorated with significant armband
ornaments. The scene of a hero attaining the abode of Shiva is excellently carved.
Vadiraja Theerytha of Sode Matha has  installed the six feet tall
idol of Hanumantha in the local Anjaneya temple.
There is a 30 feet tall Garuda pillar in front of it. There are other temples in the village such as Anjaneya, Ganapati, Navagraha, Bhairava, and others, as well as a Masjid and some Dargahs
A Jatra is held for the deity Hanumantha, a week after the Yugadi festival. The local Ranga festival and the lion costumes are significant features of the festival called Ranga Habba.
This festival is unique to this village and it resembles the Holi festival in some respects.  The villages put on various disguises, sing the praises of god and dance the whole night, dunking each other with colored water and saffron water.
Hosahallu is small village near Krishnaraj Pete town. One can reach Hosaholalu by road from Mandya (60 kms), Mysore (50 kms) and Bangalore (160 kms).
It is located located 3 kms southwest from Krishnaraja pete (KR pete). It is also well-known for  its weaving. The weavers of  Hosa Holalu are well-known for their skill and artistry.
If you are coming from Bangalore take the Mysore road upto Mandya. After Mandya city, take the right on the Melukote road. There is board giving directions to Melukote and Sharavanabelagola just before the right.
Once you take right, you will come to a railway crossing which is just a few hundred metres ahead. The distance from Mandya to  Melukote is 35 km. On this stretch you will come to Jakkanahlli which is 6 km before Melukote.
Four kms from from Jakkanahlli, there is a deviation to Melukote. Take the road to KR Pet from here. On reaching KR Pet, drive towards the busstand from there take the Hosaholalu road.
Hosaholalu is about 2 km from KR Pet.
You will get a small lake and then the Anjaneya temple. Take the right just before the Anjaneya temple to reach the Laxmi Naryana temple.
After Mandya, it is only at  Jakkanahalli you can buy fruits, biscuits, water. All the other villages are very small and they do not have any facilities for rest or eating.  On the Hosa Hollalu road there is a petrol bunk. After Mandya, this is the only petrol bunk.
So make sure, the petrol tank is full and head for Hosa Hollalu

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The festival of beans

The Sajjan Rao Circle in VV Puram in Bangalore is a landmark. It is well-known for VB Bakery and also the long line of shops that dish out delicious dosa, idli and other mouth watering south Indian dishes during the evening and night.
The huge roundabout or circle is one of the few that have been left alone by the civic authorities. Many such roundabouts such as the one at the junction at Queen’s Road and Indian Express have been demolished to make way for smoother movement of traffic. Whether they have led to smooth flow of traffic is debatable.
Coming back to VV Puram, it becomes an ocean of beans during the first week of January every year when the Avarekai Parashe is held.
Lovers of baked beans and those wanting to relish one of the specials of Bangalore throng VV Puram in the first two weeks of January to taste the many varieties of dishes prepared from beans.
The Old Market road in VV Puram is the cynosure of all eyes as a variety of beans are dumped here. Shops here begin bean based eatables, which are a treat to the palate. 
The dishes may vary from Hidukida Bele Payasa, Mosaru Kodbale, Avarekai Sambhar, Masala Vada,  Avarekai soanpapdi and jamoons to another 40 other varieties, Uppitu included, all of which are sold out at the end of the day.
The Avarekai Paddu and Baked Nippattu is another dish which you have to taste. While more than 40 farmers from Magadi, Kanakapura, Bidadi and surrounding areas are taking part, many shops have joined in the preparation of Avarekai based dishes.
However, keeping in trend with the rising inflation, the prices for Avarekai have almost doubled to Rs 400 a kg for fried avarekai from Rs 280 last year. While soaked (raw) avarekai will cost Rs 100 to Rs 120 per litre and the cashew mix Rs 500 a kg.
The Avarekai Mela is worth a visit as it is a completely native gastronomic treat of Bangalore. You can buy several varieties if  beans from the bushels  that are dumped on the footpaths. If you want to buy skinned beans, shell out a little more money.  
Beans belong to the botanical family of Fabaceae also called Leguminosae. India is reckoned to be the world leader of beans followed by Brazil and Myanamar. Currently, the world genebank holds 40,000 varieties if beans if which only a handful are consumed domestically.
In Bangalore, the avarekai season is generally between December and March. This crop can be grown in short span of time, using little water and ever lesser quantity of fertilizers and chemicals.  Most farmers grow 1250 to 1500 kgs of avarekai in one acre of land.
The Avarekai variety of beans is called Lablab purpureus It is also known as Dolichos bean, Hyacinth bean or Field bean.
Botanists say this is one of the most ancient crops among cultivated plants in Asia and Africa.
Karnataka is a major cultivator of Lablab followed by the states of  Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Karnataka contributes 90 per cent, both in terms of area and production in the country. Karnataka produced 18,000 tonnes of Lablab from 85,000 hectares.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

All for the sake of a handful of beans

Bangaloreans are always complaining about how cosmopolitan the city has become and how it has completely lost itself in the race of modernisation.
For those who love the sights and sound of Bangalore, the old localities of Malleswaram, Shankarapuram, Chamarajpet and Basavanagudi still give them glimpses of the old world charm that Bangalore once possessed.
But what these people do not realise is that the old Bangalore still lives on in its many localities, festivals and structures.
Come December and Basavanagudi hosts the famous Kadalekai Parashe.
The entire stretch of Bull Temple Road in Basavanagudi from BMS college till Ramakrishna Ashrama becomes an open granary for groundnuts.
Farmers from Bangalore urban and rural district and even from Tamil Nadu join their counterparts in Karnataka in celebrating this festival. Apart from groundnuts, you can enjoy the makings of a rural fair as people from all walks of life unveil their goods on the road.
In January, it is the turn of  the Avarakai Parishe. This is also a unique festival of Bangalore.
The VV Puram Circle just off  Minerva Circle and off  KR Road becomes an impromptu market for baked beans. This tradition perhaps has its origin on the story of Bangaluru and the baked beans.
The avarekai and its many avatars are dished out to its affectionados in and around VV Puram circle where farmers from Magadi, Hoskote and other places congrete and sell their Avarekai.
Some of the shops in the area sponsor the event and also prepare only during this duration all dishes made or containing Avarekai.
During March it is the famous Karaga which is a tradition going back to the time of Kempe Gowda. The Karaga startes at midnight from the Dharmaraya temple and goes around the old city or petes of Balepet, Chickpet and City Market before returning to the Dharmaraya Temple.
The small Kalyani or body of water adjacent to the Indoor stadium at the beginning of the Kasturba Road near Hudson Circle is the place where the Karaga festivites commence with the preparation of the Hasi (wet) Karaga.
Bangalore is among the handful of cities in Karnataka that still have the Karaga tradition. It is a sight to behold and one must see it to know our tradition. The entire Karaga tradition is steeped in the stories and legends of Mahabharata.
Come April, then Bangalore turns into an open air concert with Rama Temples and Rama Seve Mandalis vying with one another in hosting Carnatic music concerts as part of Ramanavami.
Though these concerts are only a few decades old, they have quickly acquired a local flavour and they are the toast of all musicians.
These music concerts have seen the likes of  MS Subbulakshmi, ML Vasantha Kumari, Balamurali Krishna, Bhimsen Joshi, Yesudas, MS Gopalakrishnan, Sudha Raghunathan, Kunnikudi Vaidyanathan, Lalgudi and many others perform.
The music concert at Fort High school in Chamarajpet by the Rama Seva Mandali and at Seshadripuram, Shankarpuram and NR Colony concerts draw huge crowds and they are a delight to listen.
Another festival native to Bangalore is the St Mary’s feast. This feast goes back to several decades and the area of Shivajinagar comes alive when the festival is organized as part of the celebrations of St. Mary’s Church in Shivajinagar. The church has been elevated to a minor bascilica.
The festival of Infant Jesus shrine in Viveknagar draws huge crowds. It takes place every January and people from all walks of life throng to the deity.
The Mahavir Jayanthi by the Jains in Bangalore has also a totally local flavour. 
Apart from these events, the regular santhe, jatre or fair at Yeshwanthpur, Madivala, Banashankari are famous for direct selling of products by farmers.
It is time that the people and the authorities got together and preserved these traditions. It is in them that Bendakalooru still lives on.

Friday, 4 January 2013
This is an exclusive domain on Raghavendra swamy, his life, miracles and Mantralaya and all places associated with Rayaru. This is available in wordpress.  

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The palanquin that carried itself

It is generally accepted that after Purandara Dasa and the demise of the Vijayanagar Empire, the Haridasas shifted their place from south Karnataka and Hampi-Vijayanagar to north Karnataka, particularly Raichur.
However, there is a Haridasa from Bangalore about whom much is not known. Belur Keshavadasa, a well-known Harikatha scholar, claimed in his book “Karnataka Bhaktavijaya” that the Haridasa movement was inspired by Achalananda Dasa, a saint of Turvekere which is now in Tumkur district.
He assigns the Dasa to the 9th century AD and this makes him the first Haridasa not only of Bangalore but also in the entire State.  However, neither the language used by Achalananda in his  compositions nor the history of Dasa Sahitya back this theory. Moreover, a composition with the pen name Achalanada Vitthala,  mentions the 13th-century philosopher Madhvacharya, and this does not support the 9th Century AD.
However, what we know of this Haridasa is that he was born in Haiganpura in Bangalore District and that he was an ardent devotee of  Lord Narasimha.
He toured the entire country barefoot and propagated the Bhakti movement. His devotion to Narasimha was so great that he had the idol placed on a palanquin, while he walked besides it. He used to sing the glories of Hari by stringing  the Tamburi.
According to folklore, the palanquin of Narasimha was carried by the invisible Rudra Ganas To the people, the palanquin moved by itself and this was a miracle.
Thousands of people followed the dasa to see for themselves the palanquin that carried itself. The palanquin was well-decorated with flowers. Many people were overcome with devotion and became his followers.
He once came to Pandharapur, where he was blessed by Panduranga Vithala. It is said that Panduranga Vittala gave him darshana one afternoon when he was offering  Arghya (the religious worship) to the Sun in the Chandrabhaga river.
Achalananda Dasa was so overcome by the incident that from that day onwards all his compositions were dedicated to Achalananda Vithala.
Once, when he was touring Nepal,  the prince of Nepal had died of snake bite. The king of Nepal humbly prayed to Achalananda Dasa to save his son.
The Dasa chanted Garuda mantra, summoned the serpent that had bit the prince and made it to suck back the poison. The Prince got up hale and hearty as if he had emerged from sleep.
Apart from Achalananda, other family members like Mudduvithala, Gopinatha, Haridasa, Timmannadasa and Panduranga joined him in propagating the Bhakti cult.
The first reference to Achalanada by a fellow Dasa is by Vijayadasaru.
In one of his compositions Vijaya Dasa has referred to  Achalananda Dasa and some other names of  the Adya family.  The Karnataka Bhaktavijya speaks of Achalananda Dasa who travelled all over South India during the period of the Rastrakutas.
The book says the Dasa lived in Turvekere for most part of his life.
Prof BNK Sharma says Achalananda Dasa might have been the link between the period of Narahari Theertha and Sripadaraja Theertha.
He says Achalananda Dasa and the Adya family could have been Smartha Brahmins who had taken to Dasa Sahitya, possibly under the influence of  the Vachanagaras. However, he males it clear that much of their lives and compositions are mired in obscurity.