Shettihalli church ruins

A 200 year old church, today lies in ruins at Shettihalli. About 20 km from Hassan, is the village Shettihalli – where, about 30 years ago, the agriculture-focused village was turned into a backwaters’ area with the commissioning of Gorur dam across river Hemavathi. The church is situated bang in the middle of a vast expanse of land, leading up to the Gorur dam.

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A weekend in BR Hills, Karnataka

For quite sometime, there was tension within the extended family of not having been successful in getting everyone together for an outing. Some of us were getting edgy, not being able to get out of the city. Push came to shove, and we had to go ahead and plan a small getaway with only a subset of people. That’s how it is sometimes. Anyway, cutting to the chase, we picked BR hills as the destination and made the necessary travel and stay arrangements almost a month in advance – to kinda lock in the people who had signed up and not letting them slip away again. Now, we just had to wait for the travel dates.

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An early morning in Nelamangala

Most of us will associate Nelamangala as nothing more than a transit point on the outskirts of Bengaluru, en route to more popular destinations on NH-4 (Tumkur, Chitradurga, Hubli, Belagavi, Pune, …) and NH-48 (Hassan, Mangaluru). To this effect, on the first day of a long weekend, the cars heading out of Bengaluru on the Yeshwantpur-Nelamangala tollway either went on straight on NH-4 or turned left onto NH-48, at this transit town. We had other plans – exploring a less known lake close to this very transit point. Thus the plan was made to spend an early morning in Nelamangala. I came to know about this place because of a tip from friends and we all set out, starting at 4am from Bengaluru. To start at 4am, means waking up at 3:15am, and this, is akin to midnight to many people. And they might say, what’s to see in the night? Its dark! Well, that’s not incorrect. But, the night turning into day is not a spontaneous event. Its a gradual transformation, one that is both beautiful and calming. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, that’s the night, starts at the ‘V’ end of the VIBGYOR and slowly progresses towards ‘O’ (yes, it skips some colors in between – good to know you’re actually reading ūüėČ ). The time spent in this transformation are aptly named blue hour and golden hour (no, they do not necessarily both last a full hour each). Enough of my generic rant now. We reached the lake by 5:30am. It was still dark, and everything was in gray-scale. After going thru a village, disturbing some cattle on the way, we seemed to literally be on the lake bed. The summer heat is already at full swing this year and the water levels were low. Even though, this was a rather decent sized water body, the water had receded quite a bit and was shallow for most of the area. There were lots of barren trees jutting out of the shallow waters. There were lot of birds happily camping on the lake bed, a fact we realized after our footsteps managed to disturb a flock of winged creatures to startle and fly away – sigh. Good morning...

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St Mary Island boat ride

A short boat ride takes one to/from Malpe – St Mary Island. One can either take a public ferry or hire a smaller private boat. We chose the latter and made a small video on the return leg – coming from St Mary Island back to the mainland Malpe.

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Quest for a perfect sunset in Singapore

So, I tell my friend who’s hosting us at Singapore – I want to shoot sunset from some nice vantage. He said he knows just the place. We set about to get to this place – on the way, his vivid descriptions of the place we’re headed to, is raising my expectations and I already have images forming in my mind’s eye. Over the last five days, I’d spoken so much about colors, hues, post-sunset-color-riot in the skies and he was using the same language to sell me on this place and how it’s going to be the best sunset I’ll ever see in Singapore.

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Satpura national park, MP – A visit to Forsyth Lodge

This past weekend, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Satpura national park in Madhya Pradesh and stay at Forsyth Lodge, where a few of us bloggers were invited for #TheForsythExperience. I had immediately jumped at this opportunity when it had presented itself. Visiting a previously unvisited state/place was not something I was going to pass on, especially when its a national park area we’re talking about. After having visited few of the Jungle Lodges and Resorts properties in Karnataka, I knew that any of the national parks would be beautiful. After the visit, I can say that “beautiful” is so much of an understatement.

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Glorious sunset at Gudibande

Images and story about my visit to Gudibande last weekend. We witnessed a glorious sunset by the lake side and also had some fun painting light thereafter.

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Belum Caves and Gandikota

Having read about these places far too many times in the recent past, we planned a visit to Belum caves and Gandikota in mid November.

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Lakshmi devi temple at Doddagaddavalli

The Lakshmi devi temple at Doddagaddavalli, is yet another, among a few of the lesser known Hoysala temples, situated near Hassan (wiki page). This temple was built during the 12th century when the ruler of the land was Vishnuvardhana. The temple is situated ~16 Kms from Hassan, off the highway to Belur. Below is the map with directions from Hassan. This temple is said to be one of the older Hoysala temples. One difference that is immediately noticeable from the famous temples at Belur and Halebid, is that this temple is not built on an elevated platform. The temple has four towers/shrines and hence is of a Chatushkoota construction. There are correspondingly four deities inside the temple. Of the four towers, 3 are undecorated, just following a pyramidal stack of layers with a kalasha  at their top. The fourth pillar has ornate carvings and underneath this pillar, inside the temple, is the garbhagudi of the main deity of Lakshmi devi. Pooja is still done within this temple, during morning hours. There is a pond situated behind the temple and the gate that stood between us and the path to the pond was locked. There seemed no other (easy) access to the pond from the road either. The view from the other side of this gate would have been a good one (sigh). We had to be contented with viewing the temple from within the premises, with ~7 feet stone walls on all four sides. The temple is a protected monument of national importance under the archeological survey of India, and the temple is relatively well maintained. Being a not-so-popular place, there is no huge throngs of tourists here, and that is a good thing. The interested traveler can spend quality time at this jewel of a Hoysala...

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Bucheshwara Temple, Koravangla

The Bucheshwara temple at Koravangla is a lesser known Hoysala temple. Situated about 12 KM from Hassan, and over 900 years old, the temple is at the edge of the Koravangla village.

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A short visit to Savandurga and nearby

Savandurga is a hill located about 60km from Bangalore. We took a different approach to get to a good vantage point. From here, the huge facade of the Savandurga hill was visible.

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Radha Kunj

A small lake situated behind the Art of living property off Kanakapura road, is just ~25 KM from Bangalore. Radha kunj is the name of a private garden, owned by Art of living. Beside the garden is a little lake, which is quite beautiful and serene. A narrow bund across the lake is west-facing and offers a clean view of sunsets. We went there on a particularly cloudy day – with the sun playing hide ‘n seek. Being so close to Bangalore, I expected the lake to be crowded and dirty. But I was pleasantly surprised to find hardly any people there and it was relatively clean. One or two people who were there, were enjoying a peaceful, quiet time by the lake. Here are a few images:...

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Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta

Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta in Karnataka is¬†a hill which is part of the Bandipur national forest area (“Betta” is the¬†Kannada¬†word¬†for¬†hill). The hill top is usually covered with fog almost through out the year. The nearest town is Gundlupet (situated 20 KMs away). The usual recommended time to visit the hill is early mornings. I had visited the hill back in 2013 in the morning. We wanted to try something different, so we planned to be there for sunset. The forest checkpost, at the foot of the hill, only allows entry to visitors till 4 PM. We reached there about 10 minutes before that and managed to get through. There are¬†restrictions in place atop the hill, for visitors. The only areas that the visitors are allowed in, is the Gopalaswamy temple (Lord Krishna). There’s fencing around the temple,¬†to disallow visitors to venture out¬†into the grasslands. The weather was not ideal –¬†it was getting cloudy and the hill top was covered in dense fog. There was not much to photograph on that particular day. Here are a few images I took: The grey skies overpowering the colours – a tinge of the orange evening sky and the lush green grasslands. I also captured some¬†time-lapse footage from this very location. The mist skimming through the grasslands and trees make for a dreamy scene. A freshly plowed agricultural field with cloud-kissed hills in the background. After 6 PM, it started to pour like anything and we took a good 7 hours to get back to...

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Satoddi falls

Some of the most beautiful places are the ones which have least access to human population. Sathodi falls is a prime example of this. Sathodi (Satoddi) falls is a picturesque waterfall situated near Yellapur in north Karnataka. The access to the waterfalls is via rough roads cutting through thick vegetation, the last few kilometers of which are¬†unmetalled and bumpy. After this, one has to walk a good kilometer or so through muddy walkways surrounded by lush greenery. Having visited this just after monsoons, the whole surroundings were damp and the greens looked at their saturated best. Once we get through all the bad roads and the long walk, its like a wonderland out there. We visited the waterfall a day after some heavy rains (mostly thanks to the cyclone Hudhud – the effects of which were seen here too), the water had a muddy look to it. This was different from some of the images we had seen earlier on the internet. The green surroundings and the brown water presented a pretty compelling picture in front of us. While no amount of words or images would do justice to the pristine beauty of this place, I present two images below.   This image brings out a sense of serenity and calmness of the surroundings. One cannot fathom¬†the roar of the falling waters in this image. I used a wide-angle lens with a 10-stop ND filter and an exposure of 25 seconds to achieve this look. I also used a vertical portrait orientation for this image to use the rocks leading up to the waterfall as a foreground.   This image though, shows a more ferocious side of the waterfall. The surroundings are haphazard and the water behind them is ferocious. I used a telephoto lens and a faster shutter speed for this.¬†The image tries to convey this idea I had – but I could have had a better composition than...

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Madagadakere, Chikmagalur

Madagadakere is a large lake situated about 35KMs from Chikmagalur in Karnataka. This beautiful lake, is not frequented by tourists and hence the surroundings are clean and pristine. Visit to this lake early in the morning and you’ll have a chance to view a large variety of birds. The lake itself is surrounded by hills on 3 of its sides and makes for a pretty spectacular sight. The lake is situated pretty close to Ayyana kere, which is more popular. Just to give you an idea of the scale of this lake, here’s an image of the lake with people walking nearby. This gives a sense of how big the lake is. We parked cars on lush green grass fields beside the lake. I was told that all these fields get filled with water during the monsoons. Boy, wouldn’t that be a sight to behold… ūüôā...

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Short trip to Shimoga

Last week, I did a short trip to Shimoga and surrounding areas. The outing was planned rather late and did not have much planning behind it. The idea was to make Shimoga the base and visit nearby areas. We reached Shimoga by noon on the first day. We took the longer route of (Bangalore – Tumkur – Chitradurga (NH-4) – Channagiri – Holehonnur – Shimoga (NH-13)) – Longer by about 30KMs, still takes as much time or lesser than the usual NH-206 route. After lunch and some rest, we headed towards Tirthahalli (NH-13). We went through a patch of Shettihalli forest reserve en route. There suddenly was a thick canopy of trees which blocked much of the harsh mid-afternoon sunlight that was beating down upon us. Made a note to stop along this stretch on the way back when the light would be more ideal. After this, we crossed Tunga upper level dam project – this was blocked for visitors – one could just look at the dam in a distance. Nonetheless, we continued on. We eventually crossed Tirthahalli and reached Kavishaila – the rock monument erected near the erstwhile home of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu. The sun was still harsh, and even in peak winter, the heat was discouraging. We spent some time exploring around the place before we headed back. We needed to be near the forest reserve by sunset and before it got dark. On the way back, we stopped at several places. The road was smooth but curvy, and along the way, tightly hugs the small villages, lakes, trees, right beside it. To the people living here, these are mundane being ever-present so near to them. For us nature loving city-dwellers, these prove to be places so serene and calm that we easily get excited. While I had stopped beside a small lake near a village and taking photographs of the same, I overheard 2 boys passing us on bicycles talking in Kannada – “Kasa tumbiro nam oor keryaag yen ayte anta ivru photo tegitavre!” (“What’s there in this waste-filled lake of our village that these people are taking photos of it!”). All I could do was to turn back at them and grin widely ūüôā We saw a lot of destroyed...

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