Sometimes you travel far and wide to see some great places and tend to overlook what in your your own backyard.This is how I felt when Viji and I planned a day visit to Mudhena halli combined with a revisit to Nandi hills after few decades.Checking the place out on the Net for nearby places in this area - Mudhena halli(home of India's greatest Engineer Sri Mokshagundam Vishveshwarya fondly known as Sri M V) and Skandhagiri drew our attention along with Nandi hills.
We decided to venture out early Saturday morning on Jun 30, 2018 - plan was to visit Mudhena halli (Sri M V home, Museum and Samadhi ), Skandhagirifollowed by Nandi hills and get back after sunset in Nandi hills.
We left by a comfortable taxi Etios at 7:40 AM on a 60 KM ride to Mudhen halli on NH 44. We had a decent breakfast on the way at Krishna Gardens which is some distance after the airport.Roads are good but there is also the sad sight of stone quarry which has almost destroyed huge rocks on the way. Reached our destination by 9:30 AM, GPS was handy and precise. There is no introduction required to this pioneer Sri M V - visit these links for information on Sri M V ( www.itslife.in/travel/sir-m-visvesvaraya-memorial-muddenahalli and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Visvesvaraya ). This sign board about Sri M V pretty much sums up his personality.
Museum timing on the gate of the complex that houses Sri M V's ancestral residence and museum said it opens at 11:00 AM. We were told by KSTDC it opens at 10:00 AM on weekends L . Across from this property is Thaluk office. We saw a local man sitting outside office, went up to check with him. He said the guard will open the gate by 10:30 AM on weekends and recommended in the meantime we go to the Samadhi area which was open. I was surprised to hear how knowledgeable the villager was about M V. He gave us some interesting info including how the family of M V helped local community. They built all the houses across from their house for villagers with a compound wall surrounding the area. There are some remains of this compound wall. Over the years, villagers have updated or rebuilt the houses.
We walked towards the well maintained garden and Samadhi. It is a peaceful place at the base of Skandhagiri hills.Payed our respect and enjoyed lovely old trees especially Ashoka trees with huge trunk reflecting its age.We tried walking towards Skandhagiri base from behind the Samadhi area.As there was too many obstacles we turned back. One of the villager said Skandagiri is now closed for trekkers.
On the way back saw this huge Hutha/snake pad.It has been many years since I saw one.There was a time when we used to see these not far from my house near Bugle rock/A P S grounds.It was 10:30 AM and we walked towards museum and the guard was opening the gate!
Museum is operated by the family trust. It is maintained well retaining the old charm of the building with its original red oxide floor etc., this building was built after M V got his Bharath Ratna and he used to lived in it.Museum has 3 rooms full of nice collection of his photographs, awards & certificates and writings.It was amazing to read how disciplined he was , his time table on what he did in a day did not change much when he was 25 Yrs to when he was 95 Yrs. His schedule was almost same.They even have his personnel belongings like passbook from Bank of Mysore. The bank he started, his passport and his Jathaka (Birth horoscope) ; They have also kept his bedroom as-is. A simple humble man!
Next to museum is ancestral home where visitors are not allowed inside. Understand his grandson who is the care taker uses this house during his visits. It has an old style typical lovely garden at the back with the trees and plants which were once in most of the house gardens like Karabevu, Goose berry, veggies, a big Tulasi plant and flowering plants. Glad to have visited the place of a great man whose maxim says "Make out a straight line and walk on it, regardless of other people's crooked curves". To touch the soil once walked and conquered by great thinkers and doers, is an intriguing experience and this place was no different.
We decided to skip Skandagiri as we did not get proper information on whether it is open or closed.I was told it takes 2 hrs to trek up. But, after fire in the Tamil Nadu forest trekking has been banned. Instead we proceeded towards Nandi hill which is about 20 KM from here.
Our first stop was at the base of Nandi hills to Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple, This 1100 yrs old temple is one of the oldest in Karnataka.Original temple was built in 9th century with a large courtyard. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, it was first built by Nolamba dynasty ruler Nolambadiraja and the Rashtrakuta emperor Govinda III dated c.806, and later by the Bana rulers Jayateja and Dattiya of about c.810. Later it has undergone many additions and modifications, spread over five dynasties - Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas, and the Vijayanagara rulers.
Architecture has the best of each dynasty. It has 3 temples inside - Arunachaleshwara, Uma Maheshwara and the Bhoga Nandeeshwara.Outer wall and the two additions to the temple - the Kalyana Mantapa and the Tulabhara Mantapa were built by the Vijayanagara rulers in 16 Aurnachaleshwara temple, built by Gangas has a unique form of Ganesha as Simha Ganapathi and a Shiva Lingam and Nandi.Next is Uma Maheshwara temple built by Hoysalas, this has the presiding deities of Uma and Maheshwara in the Sanctum, depicts the wedding scenes between Shiva and Parvati. The Kalyana Mantapa is surrounded by four pillars each of which have a divine couple carved on them - Shiva and Parvati, Brahma and Saraswathi, Vishnu and Lakshmi and Agni Deva and Swaha Devi. Pillars and walls have wonderful intricate carvings, a typical Hoysala architecture. The main temple, the Bhoga Nandeeshwara built by Cholas in 11th Century has a majestic Shiva Linga. There is a figure of a Chola King in this temple, believed to be of Rajendra Chola. There is a very nice Nandi Idol in front of the Sanctum in this temple. Outer wall and the two additions to the temple - the Kalyana Mantapa and the Tulabhara Mantapa were built by the Vijayanagara rulers in 16th century.
There is a pond called Shringi Theertha. It is surrounded on all four sides by a walkway and a running mantapa. There is a kalyani/pond called . Legend has it that this pond was created by the Bull Nandi plunging his horn into the ground to draw out water from the Ganga. This pond is said to be the source of the South Pinakini (South Pennar) River. This temple complex is a n amazing culmination of different architectural styles and a "must see" temple!
On a side note, we saw a marriage shoot "Bollywood style" happening in the temple complex... I have noticed nowadays youngsters opting for an elaborate fantasy Disney style wedding. What a waste of resources, food and flowers! :-(
Time for our next destination : Nandi hills. Drive from Nandi base to the hill parking lot is a winding up hill of 8 KM. One can trek from here as well.From the parking area you can walk up or take the car. Either way the charge is 100 Rs/person. We decided to walk up and cover all around the top of the hill in a loop around the fort wall. Nandi Hills is 1479m above sea level and comprises of 5 peaks; Nandi Giri, Brahmagiri, Skandagiri, Chandragiri & Govardanagiri. Brahmagiri Hill is popularly known as Nandi One. It is the twin peak of Nandi Hill View Point. It is also believed to be origin of 5 rivers. I was very curious to see Nandi hills as we had visited this place as kids!Viji and I recalled the wonderful memories of going there with our father for couple of days and we did this couple of summers or more.I must have been 5 or 6 Yrs old I think...Playing in children park is something we vividly remembered which was across from travelers' bungalow where we used to stay.
Our first stop was Amrutha Sarovar - A Beautiful Lake that apparently has water all year round and is the source of water to this region. We took the walking path uphill around the fort (fort was originally built by Gangas and later expanded by Tipu Sultan ) with views of peaks and valley. Next we saw nellikai basavanna/Nandi an ancient, 1300-year-old Dravidian-style Nandi temple situated on this hill. One of the theories goes this place got its name Nandi from this temple. A winding path from here and few steep steps down took us to the Palar river origin (a deep well). Did not see any water... and finally we reached the top of the hill.
By now it was 1:15 PM and we took a lunch break at KSTDC Restaurant at the top of the hill.Better than expected lunch.Lot of monkeys here on the hill busy snatching food, water bottle and even ice cream... some entertainment we got from them!
After lunch break, we went to see Yoga Nadheeswara temple - Built by Cholas on a monolithic rock. This 1000+ year old temple is beautiful with Shiva Lingam and Nandi.It also houses a small parvathi temple with a very cute lion facing parvathi.Not far from here is the Tipu drop where he had his condemned prisoners thrown to death. From here, after some back and forth due to lack of sign boards we finally found Origin of Arakavathy river only to find absolutely no water in it.From here we proceeded back towards entrance to see Tipu summer palace... what a disappointment! It is anything but... a very filthy and falling apart place.
Horticulture Dept is doing some interesting work here and have few gardens. Children's park is one of them. I think this is the same park from childhood days but bigger and better... also we saw one huge nursery type near Amrutha sarovar but were not allowed. When questioned how come they allowed few people before us, Guard said they have paid for marriage shoots a fee of 6,000 Rs .After this we called it a day, there are couple other places like Gandhi bhavan (now a hotel) and a cave.We took about 3:30 hrs including lunch to cover these places and we were mostly on our feet... except lunch break.We thought of skipping sunset as it had started to be cloudy.Although it was Saturday, crowd was not too much! I understand this is a hot spot for bikers who line up by 5:30 AM to see sun rise.
I must say road from base to top of the hill is good & a decent walk way on top of the hill all around. Biggest problem though is lack of a sign board to lead to tourist attraction spots; this is a "must" in any place!!!They just have a map at the entrance and on top of the hill on various tourist spot: need much improvement here. They do have public toilet on the top but did not venture in
Viji ended up buying a huge jack fruit on the way back to Bengaluru...she was inspired by a whatsapp video on how to cut a jack fruit easily and with all fruits intact . Our driver said it would not be possible for her...so I am curious to see the outcome Although we travelled around 200 KM, since taxi charges 300KM/day@11 Rs/ KM, cost came to 2200 Rs/head - taxi + food + entrance. A day with the nature & our Karnataka's own Engineering pioneer was totally worth it!
Checkout my blog site for this write-up with pictures - https://radha-travel-prayana.blogspot.com/2018/07/day-trip-from-bengaluru-to-mudhena.html