Travel

Shrines of Old City

There is something pleasant about being in Pete in the early part of the day. For one there is no crazy crowd that you see in the mid-afternoons or evenings. And another is the chime of temple bells at the various shrines of Pete- signaling that the early morning prayers to the numerous idols of Shiva, Vishnu, Venkateshwara, Ganesha, Shanmukha are in progress. The myriad lanes of pete be it Aralepete, Cottonpete, Cubbonpete, Nagarthapete, Tigalarapete are full of temples. And an interesting thing about these! There are some 44 plus temples that are associated with the old communities of Pete. Don’t believe me? Then here is a brief overview of some of these shrines and their backgrounds.

Take for example the Chenigaraya temple at Ganigarpete. It is a temple belonging to the community of Ganigas. Ganigas are oil-pressers who used to reside in Ganigarpete and extracted oils such as castor, sesame oil manually. With the demand for such cold-pressed oils disappearing, this community has slowly moved out and has taken up other businesses in the city. What remains today after their profession is the stone oil press –gana in Kannada in front of the Cheluvarayaswamy temple. This gana is said to have belonged to an oil merchant-Doddana Setty. Both wooden and stone presses were in vogue. The last of the oil presses disappeared some 50-60 years ago. The only memory of this once thriving community is the temple of Cheluvarayaswamy -their patron deity.

A couple of minutes away at Nagarthara Pete is the famous Nagareshwara temple for the city merchants or the Nagartha community. Nagareshwara happens to be their patron deity. The temple of 1884, has an idol of Shiva installed in the shrine. The linga is said to have been brought from Kasi. An inscription outside the temple declares this. There are beautiful idols of Nataraja, Shanmukha and the blissful idol of Annapurneswari made of Saligrama stone. Another interesting fact about this temple is that the Tigala community and the Ganiga community visit this temple when they want to start the auspicious process of writing a wedding invitation for marriages in their communities.

A temple closeby the Kamateshwara Kalikamba temple is a shrine that sees the followers of Vishwakarma community-craftsmen, goldsmith, carpenter, etc. When I entered the shrine of the goddess a priest was predicting the future looking at a persons’ horoscope. Apart from the beautiful idol of Kali there is also a statue of Nandi at the entrance of the temple. Another attraction here for foodies is the Lakshmi Nataraj Refreshments that serves smooth idlis with equally delightful red and green coconut chutneys. It has an interesting history behind it but that’s for another day.

Just a few minutes away is the Dharmaraya Swamy temple of Tigala community that specialized in agriculture and horticulture activities. It is a beautiful Dravidian style temple dedicated to Pandava brothers and Draupadi. The famous city festival-karaga begins its festivities from here when a male priest dressed in a saree carries the Karaga pot and weaves his way through the narrow lanes of Pete. There is also the idol of Potharaja- the brother in law of Pandavas who plays the important role of cleansing evil from the earth and has a day dedicated to him in the eleven-day Karaga festival.

There are shrines dedicated to Ganesha and goddess Muthyalamma as well. A lady draped in silk saree forbids me to enter the shrine inside. When I look inside the sanctum I realize that just adjacent to the inner sanctum of the Muthyalamma there are the idols of Yellamma,Uyallama-swing goddess kept in the room and equally revered by the community.

At Balepete main road, you have an interesting temple dedicated to Sugreeva. Sugreeva is the monkey king who helped Rama during his battle with Ravana. The idol is six feet high. Next to it is a  shrine for his brother Vali.

Incidentally, it is said that the idol of Sugreeva was rescued from the Kempambudhi tank and brought here. Opposite to these idols is the Venkateshwara idol. This temple is patronized by the tank diggers of the Woddaru community. Though there are no inscriptions the temple plaques mention that the time period of this structure is 1680.  The priest community resides inside the temple. Their tiny homes are neat, clean and in religious piety with numerous frames of gods and goddesses tucked inside their prayer room.

As you go towards Chikpete there is another special temple endorsed by the Jain community-the Adinatha temple. It is a beautiful marble structure but when the temple started out in 1918 it was a wooden structure. Inside the shrine, there are blissful idols of Adinatha, Parsvanatha, Mahaveera, Neminatha, etc. The ornate work of the temple is stunning, so are the marble inlay work and the figurines of dancers and musicians carved on the numerous pillars of the temple. In contrast, the Jain devotees are plain- in a posture of submission and prayers- some chanting on beads and some hymns.

Pete is thus a vibrant community full of colorful stories. Be a part of this enriching experience by booking our Life in Pete Walk.

–Usha

Devanahalli – A fort town

Just 40 kilometers from the city, Devanahalli is a city steeped in history. The town is reeking of fort, ruins, temples and Bazaars. Choose to drive or take the public transport you will reach this city of fort in just an hour or so. You can quite comfortably spend half a day here. Here is a brief history and the list of attractions in this place.

History of Devanahalli

The earlier name of Devanahalli was Devanadoddi and was under a chieftain known as Devegowda. Sometime in 1501, Kempegowda’s ancestors RanaBhairegowda’s son Mallabairegowda wished to build a fort and a temple here. So he sought permission from Devegowda promising to develop the city and give it his name. After doing this he passed the baton of the fort to his brother’s son Sanna Bhairgowda who ruled the city. His family continued ruling till 1749. After this, however, the fort was attacked by Mysore army under a chieftain Nanjaraja and the fort fell into his hands after a prolonged battle of eight months. Hyder Ali was a part of this army and his son Tipu Sultan was born here in 1750.  The mud fort was strengthened using stone by Hyder and his son Tipu Sultan. Later the fort went in to the hands of Lord Cornwallis in 1791.

Here is a list of places that you can see.

Devanahalli fort:

The fort envelops the small town of Devenahalli. And as you walk inside the town, you can see the crumbling fort walls everywhere. The town can be entered through the west gateway or through the east.

The oval-shaped fort is 300 meters high and 185 meters wide. The fort was rebuilt using French military techniques. The wide rampart, the twelve semi-circular bastions, the musket holes make you wonder at the grandness of the fort. If you look carefully there is a moat surrounding the fort. Once there was a wooden drawbridge as well. Small tunnels and pathways throughout the fort ensure that water does not stagnate inside the fort and cause it to break down.

Venugopala temple:

There are more than 100 temples in this town. However, Venugopala temple is quite a popular one. The deity Krishna is flanked on either side by his wives Rukmini and Satyabhama. The temple is of Vijayanagara style with a Dravidian style tower. At the entrance of the temple, there are two idols of Vishnu said to be from the Ganga period. The outer walls have stories etched of Lord Rama and Krishna. You can see Krishna’s childhood antics like stealing of butter, getting beaten up from his mother, dancing on the head of Kalinga-the poisonous snake… Interestingly there are also childhood phases of Rama depicted on the walls. Rama and his brothers being taught archery by their guru Vishwamitra, their adventures in the forest as they accompany their teacher, etc. Inside the Navaranga of the temple, there are four pillars beautifully carved. There are figures of Hayagriva, musicians, a picture of a huntress removing a throne from her leg etc. Every year during Brahma Rathotsava- the idols get decked up in jewels that have been donated by Mysore kings,Tipu Sultan, and various other chieftains. The gods are decked up in silver, gold, and jewels made from precious stone and taken out during processions.

Explore town, Bazaars and other shrines:

There is plenty to see inside the town. Apart from Venugopala Swamy, there is a temple of Shiva- Nanjundeshwara temple said to be from Chola era-however there is no evidence to this. It is the oldest temples in the town. The pillars are carved with beautiful Vase and creeper designs and have the shrines of Shiva, Parvati, Bhrama, Saraswati etc. Then there is Chandra Mouslishwara temple-albeit in not a great condition. It has the idols of Shiva, Ganesha, and Parvati. The courtyard is of Vijayanagara style.

There are various temples belonging to different communities- Siddeshwara temple of Veerashaiva community, the Gangamma temple of fishermen community, Vasavi Kanika Parameshwari temple for traders, etc. The main bazaar enveloping the town is worth checking out-printing presses, ayurvedic shops, dance and music schools- all chockablock and lively.

Check out the Pomelo:

Today’s Devanahalli is synonymous with Airport, but eons ago it was famous for its chakkota or Pomelo, a juicy fruit. No wonder you see it plenty-in shops, stalls and interestingly growing besides many a home in this quaint little fort town. The history of how the tree came to the town goes back 350 years ago when this bittersweet fruit was said to have been introduced during Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan’s time.

The soil and the water of this town have given the fruit a zippy taste. However, beware. If you are buying from the innumerable shops near Devanahalli you might end up buying bitter ones too. Your best bet is to sample a cut fruit, or perhaps buy from a farm which is harvesting this juicy fruit.

Apart from this, there is a small plaque at the entrance of the fort which announces Tipu’s birthplace. There is also a small tank built by Diwan Purnaiha towards the right of the fort.

The Devanahalli town and the fort enveloping it take you back in time. And you never realize that you are so close to Bengaluru yet you find yourself in a timewarp. If you would like to experience this  and get to know the history of the town a bit then do reach out and book a walk with us.

Usha

Heritage structures in Lalbagh

Last year the Krumbiegel hall was demolished. It was a lecture hall used by Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel, the eminent superintendent of Lalbagh. The handsome colonial building that was witness to numerous lectures and session on gardening and Botany was razed to the ground. Though the 100 year old structure was a heritage building, yet it was pulled down- No laws to protect it you see. However Lalbagh is dotted with plenty of such structures. Before they too bite the dust here is a brief overview of some of them.

Pigeon House:

This structure near Siddapura Gate of Lalbagh is a structure of 1893 constructed during the time of John Cameron. The cylindrical shaped structure, 15 feet high has holes all around it for pigeons. Around 100 pairs of pigeons can dwell here. The Pigeon House also has a watchman’s quarters within.

West Guard Room:

This beautiful guard room near the West Gate of Lalbagh was once part of Diwan P.N Krishnamurthy’s House. When his house was getting dismantled the then Director of Horticulture- H.C Jayaraya got it here sometime in 1940’s. The granite structure, shaped like a lantern with glass windows all around it, is beautiful sight when lit. It glows like a lantern in the dark.

Directorate Building:

This building was constructed in 1920 when G.H Krumbiegel was the Superintendent of Lalbagh. He wanted to set up a college of Horticulture here with a library,museum,lecture rooms etc. This dream however did not come true. Today the building contains the offices of Directorate of Horticulture.

Lalbagh Library:

This colonial building was the house of Superintendent of Garden. The structure exists from 1839. When Lalbagh was under the Agricultural Horticultural society,  secretary William Munro mentions expenses incurred for construction of a house for Superintendent of Lalbagh. This structure had a number of rooms like drawing room,store rooms,halls etc. Today it houses the Lalbagh Library.

Other structures:

The Glass House, Band Stand, Aquarium building, Deer Paddock are other structures. The Deer Paddock was a tiled free standing structure that once sheltered deer. The Band Stand once used to hold flower shows before the construction of Glass House. The Victorian styled Band stand existed prior to 1870. The Glass House got constructed during the times of John Cameron and its foundation stone was laid by Prince of Wales in 1889. The construction was done by MacFarlane and Company, Glasgow. They were also responsible for designing the Cameron Gate of Lalbagh sometime in 1891.

The next time you visit Lalbagh do spare these heritage structures a glance. They form a valuable part of history. Do join our Lalbagh Walks if you wish to know more.

–Usha

Ganesha in Pete

The streets of the Pete wears a festive look. Colourful pandals are seen in the narrow lanes of Cubbonpete, Chikpete, RT street etc. and in the main roads of Avenue Road and OTC Road. The 500 year old Pete is always bustling with energy and even more so during the festivities. This Ganesh Chaturthi – the elephant headed God is in various forms at the Pete. At the weaving lanes of Cubbon Pete he shows off an all pervading self as Vishwa Roopa Ganapati, in a narrow bylane of Avenue Road he is as Sai Baba, in some he is immersed playing musical instruments.

The numerous groups at Pete- the Vinayaka group, Vidya Ganesh group, Ganesh group etc. have competed with each other to give their best. Some of the pandals are basic with excited children performing the aarati and distributing kesari bath while some are opulent with huge idols of Ganesh and engaging the services of priests to perform the religious ceremonies. Decorative lights, music and loudspeakers are found in most of the pandals.

The shutters of most of the shops are down. Most of the trading communities- Gujaratis,Marwaris,Devangas families are busy at the pandal ,participating in Chaturthi festivities full of vigour, immersed in prayers and distributing sweets.

The streets of Pete is full of temples for various communities. So there is an air of celebration in every street. The sweetmeat shops and the flower markets are making brisk business amidst the gaiety.

The celebrations will continue till the weekend and will then be taken out in processions to be immersed in designated venues. Join us this weekend as we show you this side of Pete.

–Usha

 

208th Flower show at Lalbagh

This year on the eve of Independence day celebrations, Lalbagh’s  floral displays is paying tribute to Indian Armed forces and the Kannada Film Industry that has spent 85 glorious years in the State making memorable films.

The Glass House at Lalbagh is a splash of colors from both exotic and local flowers- Cockscomb, Celosia,Dahlia,Roses,Geranium etc to name a few.

Apart from the regular displays there is significant information about the Armed forces.

The display boards, the models of PSLV, fighter jets,missiles, aims to impress.

There are plenty of facts about the Army,Navy and the Air Force -the wars fought, the list of gallantry awards like Param Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra,Kirti Chakra, Asoka Chakra awarded to these men besides other details like names of Chiefs, of Field Marshal Kariappa and General Thimayya both of whom worked for British Indian Empire and were part of Rajput regiment and Kumaon regiments respectively.

Apart from this there are also displays of Film Industry like reel, cameras etc. The 45 ft long reel is said to have been prepared with 15,000 roses while the camera more than 7000.

The Flower Show is on till August 15. The tickets cost around 70 Rupees for adults while children get to see the displays for Rupees 20. There are quite a few stalls put up too that sell saplings, handcrafts. A small exhibition from the Horticultural department is quite useful showcasing the drip irrigation systems for farming.

If you would like to check out the Flower Show join us on our Heritage Walk.

–Usha

Fraser Town Food Trail with Gang Of Dusters

A 30 member team of Dusters gathered around Xavier’s Cathedral at 4:30 pm. The agenda was the most awaited Fraser Town Food Trail. The trail promised Syrian Christian goodies, Aflatoon cakes, Middle East Platters not to mention Biryanis.  Here is a brief glimpse of the Food walk conducted yesterday.

 

Gyan on Cant History

A little introduction, a brief travel in to Cantonment history at the Church, the motley group of family and kids set foot inside the church. The church itself is beautiful with Corinthian Capitals, stained glass windows but with a small wedding happening it was even more so.

A short glimpse of the wedding, we headed out in to the sunshine to savor some goodies.  The bubbly Vidya mesmerized the foodies through her short and long tales.

Finally with a satiated smile and a content stomach we dispersed. Here is a sample of treats that we gorged on.

If you would like to join the fun then register for our delightful and engaging food  and heritage trails.

–Usha

 

Celebrating Sankranti

Sankranti is coming and the streets of Malleshwaram especially the Sampige Road is glowing. There are tiny little golden boxes to be given as gifts to married mamis,white, yellow,pink sugar molds in various shapes and hues to gift to little brats, colorful little trinkets to sweet angels…

Yellu, bella,kobari[Sesame,Jaggery,dry coconut] are neatly stacked everywhere and for the ultra modern working women with very little time on her hands there are ready made packets of yellu-bella and nuts.

So no sweat and hassle, just arrange them in colorful trays and gift them away for people who come calling you. Don’t forget to add sugarcane, banana and sometimes the Ber[ Elachihannu in Kannada]. For more effect, utter the words ‘Yellu bella tindhu olle maathadi‘ and lo, you very much belong to the community.

But Sankranti of yesteryear was slightly different. The preparations used to start very early in the month. The Kobari was put in the sun until crisp then cut in to tiny pieces. The Jaggery too was treated the same way. My mother’s hands were pink after this mammoth exercise of chopping these munchkins to tiny pieces. The nuts were roasted, the peels of groundnuts removed and finally all ended up in tiny plastic covers, nicely sealed with wax. That was the only task we were allowed to do. Yet we felt we belonged and were part of some great ritual. Some homes added an extra piece to the pack- sakkare achu or sugar candy molds. There would be squeals of delights in our home if we acquired a basket,star or an angel achu rather than a  boring square shaped one. And a brisk exchange and deals would happen between us if one of us got the boring ones like giving up control of the remote for an hour in exchange for a pink star.

Today things have changed but the fun element still exists. In Ahmedabad, the festival spirit is quite enthusiastic. After all the famous kite flying or should I say kite fight happens here. Plates of gachak, peanuts are kept on terrace. Kids and adults alike with colorful kites gather on the terrace. The hero or heroines are accompanied by the complete family -encouraging, supporting, swearing and generally distracting the kite flyer. Dheel,Khainch,lapet are some common words that get hurled as the sport continues in full gusto.

Wherever you celebrate, Sankranti ushers in goodness. After all it is just not a harvest festival. It signifies the sun making its journey northwards from Sagittarius to Capricorn. The days after the winter solstice of December 21 are going to be longer. So you celebrate for a great new year, for new beginnings and success. You prepare Pongal and offer it to the Sun, you eat sesame and jaggery to bring new energy and heat. And just like the prayer wheels of sikkim that revolve and disperse the chants to wind, you fly kites that soar high and take your message to the divinity above. Happy Sankranthi.

For a walk at the colorful Sampige Market join us on our Malleshwaram walks.

–Usha