Trip to Chikmagalur: Day 1: Chennakesava temple at Belur, Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid and Castle Rock Homestay, Chikmagalur
Date of journey: 25/05/2008
Starting from: Bangalore
Crew: Maneesh, Bharani, Sailaja, Payel, Arunava, Sasmita and Varun.
It was an official trip and due to the unfortunate delay in our cab we started late in the morning around 8 am from Bangalore. On the way we had breakfast and moved to Hassan which is situated at a distance of 194 kms from Bangalore. Our plan was to check out the temples in Belur and Halebid and then go to Chikmagalur. Around 12.30 pm we arrived to Hassan and went to see the Chennakesava temple at Belur which is situated at a distance of 38 km from Hassan. The Chennakesava(meaning handsome Vishnu) Temple originally called Vijayanarayana Temple was built on the banks of the Yagachi River in Belur, an early capital of the Hoysala Empire. It was built by king Vishnuvardhana in commemoration of his victory over the Cholas at Talakad in 1117 AD. Legend has it that it took 103 years to complete and Vishnuvardhana’s grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task. The main entrance to the complex is crowned by a Rayagopura built during the days of Vijayanagar empire. It was about to rain and the atmosphere was cloudy. I took a nice shot of the temple entrance from inside:
There are many magnificent buildings in the temple and the material used to construct the temple is chloritic schist (soapstone). Check out this pillar:
The intricate workmanship includes elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and sensuous dancers (Shilabalikas). There were a lot of beautiful mandapas(hall) and ornate pillars in the temple but what was really amazing was the sculptures:
For more photos of Chennakesava temple, click here.
After that we went to see the Hoysaleswara temple, Halebid(a.k.a Halebidu) which is 16 kms. from Belur. Halebid means ruined city. It was the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century. It is home to one of the best examples of Hoysala architecture in the ornate Hoysaleswara and Kedareswara temples. The Hoysaleswara temple was built by Ketamala and attributed to Vishnuvardhana, the Hoysala ruler. It enshrines Hoysaleswara and Shantaleswara, named after the temple builder Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and his wife, Queen Shantala. The entrance of the Hoysaleswara temple was magnificent, there were gardens on the sides of the entrance:
The temple has similar beautiful stone sculptures as of Chennakesava temple, the most impressive was this Nandi bull:
Inside the temple there were ornate pillars and I took a nice shot from inside the temple. The view of the light coming from a small exit was amazing:
There is a beautiful garden near the temple and we found a cute baby playing over there. Payel was the first one who went to the baby and we took lots of pictures:
There is a beautiful artificial lake near the temple “Dhwara samudhra” which means entrance from the ocean:
For more photos of Hoysaleswara temple, click here.
Then, we moved to Chikmagalur, which is at a distance of 35 kms. from Hassan. I was having an advance booking for 7 people in Castle Rock Homestay in Arainoor, 27 kms away from Chikmagalur. From Chikmagalur we took the Sringeri road and arrived at Aldur. The roads from there to the homestay were awesome.
There was greenery all around the place and the route was curvy. After driving for some time we found a board “Castle Rock Homestay” at the right side in a small hill. The homestay was at the top of the small hill:
It was an amazing place to stay, amidst the coffee estate. The rent was Rs. 700 per day per person including food and campfire. It was a bit cold out there due to the rains and the atmosphere was astonishing. I met Shashwati, her mother and her father Mr. Nachappa, the owner of the homestay and they were very friendly. Basically they are from Coorg and Shashwati works for IBM in Bangalore. We kept our bags in the room and went for the lunch. The lunch was very delicious cooked by Shashwati’s mother and I took some chicken curry, chapattis and chicken fry. After a nice lunch I checked my list for the next spot which was Mullaiyanagiri, highest peak of Karnataka, but it was 4.30 pm and it will be late to go over there. So we dropped the idea and thought of going there the next day. Actually, the plan went wrong on the first place, if you are going from Bangalore try to go about 5 am in the morning then you can reach Chikmagalur easily by 1.30 pm after visiting Belur and Halebid. Well, that plan will be useful for the next time to check out Sringeri and then Kudremukh. Outside the homestay I found a beautiful view of the hills:
Then, I went down to see the coffee plantation. In this area you will find a lot of coffee estates. For me it was the second time I was visiting the coffee plantation the first one was in Coorg:
For more photos of Castle Rock Homestay, click here.
Check out this video of Castle Rock Homestay:
The other plantation grown here includes pepper. Then, after a nice walk in Coffee estate I returned back to the homestay and coffee was served. I had experience of raw filter coffee but this one was amazing. Hats off to them! Later in the evening we had campfire and then dinner. Dinner was again awesome and we had mutton biryani with Rayta. After dinner we went for sleep as the next day we had plans to move early to Mullaiyanagiri.
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