Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inside Basavakalyan...

Welcome to Basavakalyan, the historic city. As you move around, you could observe the cultural, social, linguistic diversities. Kannada, Marathi, Hindi with Urdu influence is spoken as general language for communication by mass. Majority of the population is Hindu, though you find Muslim colonies in deep city. City is full of temples as well as mosques. There are a lot of places to see in this small city – Anubhava Mantapa, Basavakalyan lake, Basaveshwara Vana, Sadguru Sadanand Swami Math, Jama Masjid, Basaveshwara Temple, Adat (huge grain market), Irani style hotels etc.

I will start our journey with the Basavakalyan Fort. As you see the map, the fort is located pretty much out of the main city. This marvelous structure was built during the Chalukyan era. Later on it was under the Muslim (Nizam’s) rule, and so you could also see some muslim architecture being embedded. This mammoth is still standing strong and beautiful.

These are the pictures taken from outside the fort. I could not make into the fort, as it was a Monday (fort remains closed on mondays). But, I had been inside the fort for couple of times, and it makes you travel through the legend, into the golden days of this fort. Times when, kings marched into the fort, huge army with elephants and horses, swords and canons, wealth and prosperity, knowledge and art, dancers, musicians, beauticians were part of this building. You could still see the paintings, glass work, designs and carvings on the walls as you try to explore this masterpiece. You could also find Darwaza’s (Doors), Mahals, Cannons and artillery unit, Amphitheater, Gym and many more. Don’t forget to visit the museum inside the fort, which has immense collection of historic valuables and information.

Continuing our journey, we come across Basaveshwara temple.

This is an ancient hindu temple. A wedding ceremony was carried on that day, so I couldn’t make inside the temple. But be assured, the temple is beautiful inside as well.

As we go ahead, we come across two beautiful places – Sadanand Swami Samarth Math, and Basava vana. These are thick, lush and green gardens where you could find peace and silence throughout the year.

The tourism government of Karnataka has taken up the task to develop this historic city as a tourist place. As of now, you could observe a lot of development going around in the city. The picture below named “Basavakalyan”, shows the city behind Basavakalyan lake (open dry space). The ministry has decided to transform this lake into more attractive place for tourists, which may include boating and some better facilities.

Near this lake, stands the spiritual, cultural institution named “Anubhava Mantapa” founded by the 12th century socio-religious reformer – Shree Basaveshwara or Basava. Basava flourished in 12th century. He was the prime-minister of King Bijala who ruled over Basavakalyan (then kalyani) from 1157 to 1167. You could find a lot of information on this great philosopher on internet.

There is a lot to write about Basava, but I will make it in short. Basava was a well educated child born in a Brahmin family in 12th century. In his early age he understood the evil in Hindu society – hindu caste system, untouchability, no right of education for the lower caste, Woman couldn’t enjoy liberty in society and many more. Basava instinctively felt that these demons in hindu society should be responsible for disintegration and downfall of hindu society. After Buddha, Basava raised the voice against hindu caste and creed system.

These ideas of Basava, soon started to attract many other social reformers. Basava founded Anubhava Mantapa, which was a place to practice these ideologies.

The movement initiated by Basava through 'Anubhava Mantapa' became the basis of religion of love and faith. It gave rise to a system of ethics and education at once simple and exalted. It inspired ideals of social and religious freedom, such as no previous faith of India had done. In the medieval age which was characterized by inter communal jealousy, it helped to shed a ray of light and faith on the homes and hearts of people. It rendered the Hindu religion all embracing in its sympathy, catholic in its outlook, a perennial fountain of delight and inspiration. The movement gave a literature of considerable value in the vernacular language of the country, the literature which attained the dignity of a classical tongue. It eliminated the barriers of caste and removed untouchability. It raised the untouchable equal to that of the high born. It gave sanctity to the family relations and raised the status of womanhood. It undermined the importance of rites and rituals, of fasts and pilgrimages. It encouraged learning and contemplation on God by means of love and faith. It deplored the excesses of polytheism and developed the plan of monotheism. It tended in many ways to raise the nation generally to a higher level of capacity both in thought and action.

Nearly 300 people from different caste, society, location, religion and different age group joined Basava in Anubhava mantapa, out of which approximately 60 of them were woman. One of them was Akka Mahadevi. Akka Mahadevi was born about 1150 A.D. at Udutadi, a place of historical importance in Shivamogga District of Karnatak State. Her parents, Nirmalshetti and Sumati, were great devotees of Shiva. Akka Mahadevi, even when a young child, displayed her religious proclivities which she probably inherited from her parents. She was a paragon of beauty and princess of lyrical poetry. Her vachanas or sayings are a poetic testament of her mind's reaction to the wonder and awe of existence. Though the same wonder and poetry are there in her sayings, yet they are deepened and widened by the calm of meditation. Keen spiritual longing shifts the emphasis from the wonder of the outside universe to the significance of the self within.

Besides Basavakalyan lake, you could find a series of caves named – Akka Mahadevi caves. At present, restoration work is in progress at this site. Hope, these caves will soon come to their natural state, and should have a lot of tourists and devotees visiting.

Note - These pictures are dated - July 2008

Hope you found this blog useful, and hope you will visit Basavakalyan and its surrounding places. In near future, I plan to write more about current affairs, day-to-day life, education system, employment, occupation, life style etc. of this region. Any Suggestion/Comments are most welcomed. Until then, love. Sandeep.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Starting the Journey...

India or Bharat. A land which has history of more than 5000 years. A land with Glorious past, vast geographical boundaries and diverse culture. A land which has heaven in the form of Kashmir, gigantic Himalayas in the north, the deserts of Rajasthan, the Arabian Sea in west, beautiful Kerala and Indian Ocean in south, Bay of Bengal and mountainous Assam in the east. At present, India has 28 states and 7 union territories. One of the states is – Karnataka.

Art, Glory, Administration, Discipline, Kannada, Scholars, Great rulers, Architecture, Gold, Temples etc. – all these words flash out of mind when we talk about the history of Karnataka. Ancient Karnataka had connections with the Indus Valley Civilization in 3000 B.C., this region saw the rise and fall of empires like the Nandas, the Mauryas, the Sathvanas, the Kadambas, the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas and later on the Sultans, the Moughals, the Nizams and finally the British. All of these empires left their imprints in culture, art, architecture, philosophy, tradition, literature, administration style etc. Today, as you travel to various parts of Karnataka, you could see different styles of ancient temples, art, architecture, literature and culture. You could see one of the finest hindu temples constructed during the Badami Chalukyan age in Bagalkot district, middle Karnataka. The Hoysalyan era produced some of the great and unique hindu architecture in Karnataka. These temples had some wonderful carvings of hindu gods and goddesses like Shiva,Parvati, Vishnu, Lakshmi etc. We find exquisite style of hindu temples at Hampi, east Karnataka which dated to the Vijayanagari era. These temples are now UNESCO world heritage sites. The Western Chalukyas had their own unique style of architecture which could be found at present day Dharwad district. You could also find one of the great muslim architectures in mysore.

This blog is my effort to take you on a journey to one of such places in Karnataka, which had glorious history, a place which saw flawless administration under great rulers, an era which produced remarkable saints, scholars and philosophers, and which was the capital of Chalukyan empire in 10th – 12th Century. Kalyani, or present day Basavakalyan. While going through this blog, you would also realize the meaning of this blog’s name – “Basavakalyan. A jewel going unnoticed…”.

Basavakalyan is one of the five talakus of Bidar district, which is located at far north-east of Karnataka. When you travel from Mumbai to Hyderabad by Natianal highway no – NH-9, and cross Maharashtra border and get into Karnataka, this is where Basavakalyan province starts. Basavakalyan town is approximately 17 Kms from this border, on the highway. Hyderabad is appx. 180 Kms from this town.

Whenever you go to Basavakalyan, these are few other places which you might like to visit as well. As you get into Karnataka state after crossing the Maharashtra - Karnataka border, after 3 Kms you can see a hindu temple named “Amrut Kund” in outskirts of village, named Chandikapur on the highway। This is an ancient hindu temple, which has a very beautifully crafted architecture. This is a holly place which is worshipped by thousands of hindu devotees, which visit this kund from across Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Shiva Ling and Idol of Lord Ramlingeshwara, are placed in the core hall of this temple. You can find idols of Lord Shiva, Hanumana, Ganesha in the temple which were carved centuries ago.

Am simply amazed by the geographic location of this temple. It’s actually situated in a small valley, which means there is no need to dig much for under-ground water. Apparently, this is the reason why you will also find a beautifully constructed bath place which is right in front of the temple, and the water level remains at constant height throughout the year. Simply superb! This temple is surrounded by lush, thick, green and cool trees and farms. This is the place to find peace of mind, at anytime of the year and anytime in your life.

Beautiful, ain’t it! Now, when you visit this temple also try to visit two nearby places which are worth visiting –
1. Sita chi nhani – in Marathi for Goddess Sita’s Bath place.
2. SomLing Temple - Approximately 5 feet and 8 inches tall Shiva Ling.

The place called “Sita chi Nhani” or Marathi for Goddesses Sita’s Bath place, is situated in the out-skirts of the same village, Chandikapur. This place is on the highway as well, but since its in the outer area, you will need to ask someone for the exact location. This place consists of caves carved thousands of years ago infront of a small pond, which is said to be the bath place. They say that this is the place, where Goddess Sita had halted for some time, during their journey back to Ayodhya from Lanka (now Sri Lanka), along with Lord Shree Rama and Lakshmana. This makes sense because, this place is geographically situated right on the path between Sri Lanka and Ayodhya in UP, India. Am not sure about this story though, but if the government or ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) could take steps in investigating this site, this should ultimately improve our historical knowledge.

Around 100 meters from Amrut kund, you will find an ancient and destroyed Hindu Temple – SomLing. This temple is situated in an isolated location, so will have to take help of local people in the village – Chandikapur. They say, this temple was destroyed during the Muslim era. You could find a 5 feet 8 inch (appx) Shiva Ling in this place, which is surrounded by ruins of the temple. You may not find, many Shiva Lings which are such tall. You could, find amazing carvings on the scattered parts of temple which gives a glimpse of the beauty of temple, which was once standing erect on earth.

Going ahead in the journey, you can visit a nearby village named – “Umapur”. Its appx. 3 Kms from Chandikapur on the highway NH9. As you enter this small village, you could see two marvelous temples (Chalukyan style).

These temples must have been constructed during 8th - 10th Century (ref - it was mentioned on a board situated in the premises, which displayed information about this temple). The body of temple has exquisite designs and carvings. You see Carvings of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Shiva Ling, NaraSimha and many many more. Animals like horses, elephants, snakes, bullocks, cows, lions, tigers etc also make the beauty grow. There is also an appx. 10 feet tall, Lord Ganesha’s idol inside the premises. Am not sure, but seems these temples were reconstructed recently by some archeological body.

Note - These pictures are dated - July 2008

References - http://www.wikipedia.org/

Thanks for reading this blog. Comments/Suggestions are most welcomed. In next post, I will take you through the beauty and charm of Basavakalyan town. The Anubhava Mantapa, Basaveshwara temple and the Basavakalyan fort.... Do read it! Thanks, Sandeep.