Of Memories and Sacrifices- The Hero Stones

A sense of wonder envelops me when I gaze at these stones. Lying neglected under the harsh sunlight at Cubbon Park, they tell a thousand stories of centuries gone by. No amount of dust and years can mar their value. These are the hero stones of yesteryear dedicated to brave men or women who laid down their lives while protecting others.

Hero Stone

The story of the hero:

Also known as Virrakal, these belong to a period between 3rd century BC-18th century AD. Such stones are common in Karnataka and have been found in Tumkur, Shimoga, Bangalore etc. They tell the story of the hero, the battle he fought, the cause of his death and ultimately his union with God. There are 3-4 panels sometimes more, on such stones depicting each event in detail.

Various panels of hero stone:

The bottom panel shows how a hero died. He is shown larger than the others and his cause of death can be understood from this. Bows, arrows, swords, soldiers, horses -a typical battle scene may be described here if the hero died during a battle defending women or livestock. The middle panel shows the hero being taken to heaven by the angels and the top layer shows him being one with God. Inscriptions could also be written sometimes on the stones, narrating the act of bravery done by the person. A hero stone could be dedicated to a man, woman or even an animal. A hero stone for a hound that had killed 70 boars  can be seen in Kolar district.

hero stone

Types of hero stones:

The hero stones are of different types. Some are Sati Stones also known as Masti that tell the stories of women who immolate themselves  on hearing their husband’s death. The widow enters the pyre either with her husband’s body or without. The widow is worshiped as a goddess thereafter and is shown with her right hand rising upwards conveying her blessings to all.

Some are religious like the Nisidi stones that depict Jains who have taken the last vow of Jains- the Sallekhana where they have  voluntarily left the body by reducing food and water. The Pendirudeyurchu hero stone is where the hero died protecting women, the Turugol is where the warrior died defending cattle, the Gadi Kalaga is where the champion died defending border, forts or territories.. The bottom panel generally depicts these scenes in detail.

The era of these stones may have long gone. Yet their heroic deeds, sacrifices cannot be put aside. Dead in any form should be respected and those who gave their lives should be honored, be that centuries may have passed. So the next time you see them, don’t just pass. Pause, take a look at the panels, show them to your kids. Let knowledge transfer happen so that these stones don’t bite the dust over time.

If you wish to see these stones come for an Unhurried Walk with us. The walk schedule is put up here.








Understanding the Indian temple architecture @ Aihole

A visit to Aihole helps understand the Indian temple styles better. Here the writer details how.

Belur,Halebidu draws  millions of visitors each year. The stellar plan of temples, the lathe shaped pillars, the exquisite craftsmanship on temple walls, niches, the intricate motifs and yalis,the fine figurines of gods and goddesses-each inch of temple space has been effectively used and is a masterpiece in itself.  But surprisingly I was not effected much, the reason being I could not comprehend the Hoysala architecture . But things changed when years later I got a chance to visit Aihole.


Hundreds of temples now most of it in ruins lie scattered at Aihole. The sandstone structures were a beauty, most of it had no idols in the inner sanctum only the statue of Nandi-the bull that was looking forlorn without its beloved deity Shiva. But the carvings on the walls, the latticed windows, the ornamental door frames, the peculiar designs on the ceilings, the massive pillars-these simple designs helped me understand the Hoysala styles better.

There is a reason for that. Aihole was an important architectural center of the Chalukyan dynasty that ruled between 450-750 AD in South India.There are about 123 odd temples in this town-it was the playground for sculptures then, who were practicing  their art and styles on these almond colored sand stones abundantly available all around the town.

“Aihole is the primary school of art and architecture, Badami the secondary school while Pattadakal is college and Belur is PHD, madam,” said a grinning Basavappa, our guide. Ah.. that made sense because I was able to understand the layout better here and could draw comparisons to the fully evolved Belur-Halebidu architectural wonder.

The foundation:

Temple layers Aihole

Take the temple layers for instance. The foundation layers, all beautifully sculptured look seamless at Halebidu temple. Though we sing praises of the motifs and patterns on each layer we seldom give a glance at the temple construction itself. We do not understand that these are layers of stone pilfered on top of each other and that it does not have mortar to bind them together.

But this clarity comes when you see the prototype temples at Aihole.Each stone slab is placed one above the other and iron rods keep them in place. There are holes drilled in each slab and a rod inserted that aligns the top and bottom slab. Fascinating isn’t it?

Now you know the effort that goes in to placing these slabs and you start questioning how in the world did they bring these slabs or place them on top without crane, some 1000 years back?

The Pillars:

Aihole pillar

Consider another example, the pillars. At the 8th century Cottage temple at Aihole, so named because of the roof type, each  pillar was an amalgamation of five stones put together as one. You could make out the base, the square or circular  cylinders and other stone structures placed on top of one another to form each pillar of the temple. In Hoysala this distinction is difficult to make out. They may not be all monolithic and two or more structures may have been placed to make up one pillar. Yet the techniques are sophisticated and only a keen observer can make out the distinct structures.

You learn more styles and techniques as you go around looking at the various temple complexes at Aihole. Looking at the various Shikaras of temple you understand how the North Indian(Aryan style), the South Indian(Dravidian) and the Vesara styles(a mix of both Aryan and Dravidian styles) differ. And the understanding that comes, helps you appreciate the advanced Hoysala architecture better.

So if you have the time and inclination go visit Aihole . Some of the temples worthy of visit are the Durga temple, Ladkhan temple, Gowdar temple, Ravanaphadi cave etc. You will truly appreciate the work, effort and skills that has gone behind building these great temples.  Things become simplified here at Aihole- rightly called the Cradle of Indian Architecture.




Corn kosambri Navaratri special recipe

Kosambri that essential element in our foods without which no traditional festival food feels complete. Your tangy Saru, yummy Sambhar and hot curry feels incomplete without this simple fare isn’t it? Here our food blogger Vidyalakshmi details a simple recipe of Kosambri with a modern twist.


Wikipedia defines Kosambari as a typical south Indian salad made from pulses (split legumes) and seasoned with mustard seeds. The pulses generally used are split bengal gram (kadale bele in Kannada) and split Green gram (Hesaru bele in Kannada). These salads are sometimes eaten as snacks, but usually as a part of full course meal in Udupi cuisine. I have wanted to give our traditional Kosambri a modern twist using a combination of corn, fruits and vegetables. This is not only nutritious but also very tasty.


  • 1 Cup Corn, Pomegranate Seeds, Carrots, Cucumber, Apple, Onion, Grated Coconut
  • 2 Tbsp Golden Raisins
  • 2 Green Chillies
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 Pinch Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste.

kosambri ingredients

Preparation method:

Peel and de-seed the cucumber and chop into small cubes.
Cut Onions and carrots into small pieces.
Core the apple and cut into cubes.
Freshly Grate the coconut.
Steam the corn with little salt for 5 minutes and rinse twice in cold water.
In a wide bowl add all the ingredients and mix well with  asafoetida and lime juice.  Add salt as per your taste, mix well and garnish with either coriander or candied cherry. Serve as side dish with any south Indian meal…Enjoy…:)


For more recipes do check out Vidya‘s blog

Gazetteer the go to books anytime

You wouldn’t have missed these books-thick often dusty volumes indexing each state/district giving you descriptive information about a region. Whether you are a student, a professor, or a historian or just an explorer you would have put your hands on these big books and probably sighed with relief when you got what you were looking for. Could you guess the name of the book? Off course it is the gazetteer!


If ever you have been to the Sheshadri Iyer Memorial library popularly known as the State Central library in Bangalore you will get an entire set of these books categorized district wise -Kolar, Mysore, Tumkur, Coorg, Mandya to name a few. Ever wondered why there was a need for these gazetteers in Karnataka?

When the administration of Mysore was under British control , the officers posted here could not relate to the regional issues faced by the state or grasp it. So the compilation of these books began for each district in 1867 and in the next two years at least 8-9 volumes prepared. Out of these only two got printed- Mysore district by H.Wellesley and Kolar by Krishna Iyengar. They were edited and published by B.L Rice- Benjamin Lewis Rice. He was also responsible for bringing out the Mysore and Coorg gazetteers.

Born to Missionary parents in Bangalore, B.L Rice has a list of accolades to his name. He was the principal of Bangalore High School, Inspector to schools of Mysore and Coorg, the Chief Census Officer and Secretary of Education department. He was fluent in numerous languages like Kannada, Sanskrit,Tamil etc and has translated nearly 9000 inscriptions most of them in Hale kannada.

His Mysore gazetteer is comprehensive and this is due to his systematic methods to uncover information. An article in Persecution mentions that when Rice was made the part time director of Archaeological research he visited about 654 towns in 215 days. Such was his passion for history!

Gazetteer un-knotted:

Today there is the gazetteer department in Karnataka, started in 1958 and it has published 20 gazetteers of the state.These are descriptive gazetteers providing you complete information about a particular city,town or village coupled with other particulars like settlements inhabiting the place, the industrial progress, information about government and municipal bodies, the history -old maps and photographs etc. In other words what you are referencing has a gold mine of information- you get significant details about the locality from the time when the gazetteer was published. Jurisdiction and city limits, information about heritage buildings, old names of the villages if any , the topology of the land, its latitude, longitude-these are some finds.

What does the gazetteer say about Bangalore let us see….

Take the case of one of the oldest markets of Bangalore-the KR Market..

–>That it  stands on the site of old tank called Siddi Kate -Siddi being an old lady from the Kempe Gowda family who contributed towards the tank’s construction.

A bit of the life in the market….

–>That the stalls of the market had ledges in front of them, people had space here to chit chat and bargain.

–>While some of the markets had heaps of grains discharged from the carts especially at Taragu Pete, Arale Pete had bales of cotton in the verandas of warehouses.. Homes and verandas were swept clean and cow dung applied, then colorful Rangoli used to adorn traditional homes while  mango leaves were tied at the entrance. Women carrying pots used to chit chat while collecting water for their homes.Can you imagine life like this now in the dingy,narrow busy lanes of the city market?

Now is the time to get your hands on that gazetteer and understand a bit about your roots and ancestors.So if you haven’t seen a gazetteer  yet, do head out this weekend to one of the central libraries in the State and browse through.





Of Dates and more-Russel Market Walk

So far I have always been gulping on Lion dates. Why?No particular reason, except that my mother insisted that I have them to supplement iron in my body. I did not like their fibrous texture or their sweetness but I nevertheless had them, whenever I remembered my mom. But this time during Ramadan when the Russel market was flooded with dates, these making the journey from afar-South Africa,Iran, Saudi Arabia to name a few, my love affair with them began.



I first sighted them in the dingy market area of Shivajinagar. Black, soft and plump these tasted like a slice of chocolate. May be I exaggerate but they definitely tasted like a slice of heaven.  After the Kimia dates I bit in to a Tunisian variety and lo I was hooked. Seedless dates, stuffed dates, chocolates stuffed with dates.. all lush, juicy and sweet.


The muslims may be breaking their fast with these dates but for a walker like me who has been exploring the market for the past three hours going past the century old heritage structures, clock towers and churches of Shivajinagar not to mention the oldest gujri market, think 120 years or more, the dates provided a welcome respite from the heat and the fatigue.

Dates are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber and are a great way to break a fast as it is high on natural sugar and gives the quick energy required for the muslims to do their sunset prayers. There are plenty more reasons why it is particularly used to break the Ramadan fast but that is for a later post.According to National Geographic report there are more than 3000 varieties of dates and you see a minimum of 64 varieties in Shivajinagar itself.

For now, do check out our Unhurried Russel Market Walk if you would love to gorge on these like I do. Vidya our food blogger promises more of these delights in her bazaar walk.




Bond easy with #unhurried food walks

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”

Ah, well it may have been quoted by Ruth Reichl but this is always happening at our Unhurried food walks. Last week we had two beautiful walks and here is  what we did, unhurriedly off-course:-)

medu vada

Medu vada may have started out as an evening snack but it is good that somebody joined it into the breakfast club too. We don’t mind, we enjoyed having crispy vadas with coconut chutney at our Malleshwaram Unhurried food walks.


Who doesn’t love Puliyogre? We did too, amidst a four decade old eatery. Stories and love flowed along with tangy Puliyogre.

Amrith ice creams food walk

Reliving  your child hood days is simply easy when you have a flavored cone in hand.

No matter what part of the world you are in, food does not care, it bonds the young and the old, men and women and in our case Singaporeans,Saudis and Europeans at Russel Market Walk.

Russel market food walk

Cakes are healthy too, you just eat a small slice! A quote by Mary Berry but loads of truth in it. Anyways with a foodie food blogger on your walk, you cannot escape cakes,pastries and puffs:-)


Ah, how can we forget the Biryani and kababs:-) Spicy,hot Biryani always bonds and in our case loosens quite a few tongues too of our walkers.


If you enjoyed the photos you are welcome to share the joy and fun with us on our city walks next month.




Few surprising facts about Basavanagudi

For the old kannadigas, the Basavangudi with its wide roads and temples is a sheer delight. Be it shopping at Gandhi Bazaar, gorging at Masala dosas or Rava vadas at Vidyarthi Bhavan or buying the numerous traditional snacks at Subbamma angadi, there is an old world charm in this extension. There may be no surprises here or they may be plenty, depending on how mindful you are walking the open streets of Basavanagudi.


Nevertheless here are  few tidbits about the place.

  • There is a large monolithic statue of Nandi(Basava)in the Bull Temple and people know that the locality got its name from the Basava. But not many are aware that the source of the river Vrishabhavati lies underneath this hillock.
  • There is a unique idol of Lord of Fire -Agni in the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple. What is special about this idol is that praying to this idol Agni cures all eye disorders that you may be suffering from.
  • One of the watch towers of Bangalore lies atop Bugle Rock. Every night a sentry used to blow the bugle and light a torch to signal that everything was safe within the city.