A road trip promises a lot of unexpected and strange surprises too. My husband and I did a 2500 km road trip from the North of India to the South. We took in a few touristy places but the sights along the highway or bang in the middle of the highways caught us by surprise.
“There comes . . . a longing never to travel again except on foot.” – Wendell Berry
Some of these pictures stand testimony to this quote.
Highways are dotted with Dhabas that provide yummy, spicy and hygienic food to the travellers.
One also finds such mobile food stalls especially near factory gates or busy juctions.
We left around 4 AM by car from Bengaluru and reached Bylekuppe at around 9 AM. Located to the west of Mysore at a distance of 90 km, is the Buddhist Golden temple at Bylakuppe, the largest seat of Tibetan Buddhism in South India.
Bylakuppe, along with Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, is home to thousands of exiled Tibetans since many decades.
In Bylakuppe is situated the Golden Temple, aka Namdroling Monastery, established in 1963 by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche shortly after his exit from Tibet in 1959. It is the second seat of the Palyul Monastery which is one of the six great Tibet Nyingma Mother monasteries.
The forest land for the temple was donated by the Indian Government to the Tibetan exiles. Initially it was an 80 sq. feet bamboo construction and was called by its full name The Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling monastery.
The temple has now grown into a sprawling complex. It is now the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet. It houses training facilities for many monks and student-monks and is said to be the largest teaching centre of ‘Nyingmapa’ which is a prime lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
It also houses three captivating golden statues, namely of Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Amitayus. Each statue is about 40 feet high.
The walls have been decorated with intricate paintings illustrating stories of Gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology. The aroma of flowers, incense sticks and candles permeate the entire temple. The captivating and serene landscapes around it make the Golden temple mesmerizing.
The temple resonates with the soft chanting of the hymns by the Buddhist monks and the timed beating of the drum.
Entry into the main hall is restricted during the prayer hours when the monks and the students assemble to chant the hymns in a beautiful chorus. Photography inside the temple is permitted. The complex is a photographer’s delight with lovely paintings and beautiful architecture. Shopping centres near the temple, offer an extensive range of Tibetan items such as statues, carpets, traditional costumes and exquisite jewelleries.
The Bylakuppe Golden temple Monastery is open to public are from 7 AM to 8 PM and is located at a distance of 6 km from Kushalnagar, in Kodagu/ Coorg which is the nearest town.
To reach Bylakuppe, you can either hire a taxi from Mysore, which is only 90 km away or opt for buses. It is about 250 km from Bangalore.
Along with Golden Temple/Monastery, there are many other sightseeing places in and around Bylakuppe, making it an ideal place to visit from Mysore and even a perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore.
Talacauvery located in Coorg district of Karnataka, is the birth place of the holy river Cauvery. Cauvery is venerated and worshipped in India like the River Ganga.
There are a few stories in Hindu mythology about the origin of the river. All of them involve the Rishi (Saint) Agasthya. According to one of the stories, it is said that the southern part of India (Bharatavarsha) suffered from severe conditions of drought. This saddened the rishi who prayed to Lord Shiva and did severe penance seeking solution to this situation. Lord Shiva, pleased with his penance appeared before him and gave him a few drops of water (Holy Ganga) to be carried in his kamandal*. He advised Agasthya to travel to the south and upturn the kamandal at a place he thought suitable for the river. Agasthya was a little sceptical about the quantity of water, but Lord Shiva assuaged his fears and asked him to proceed on his mission.
Agasthya embarked on his journey and upon reaching the south of India, was uncertain about the right spot to upturn the kamandal. Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed God, decided to help him in disguise. He took the form of a crow and sat on the kamandal. Agasthya chased the crow unknowingly upturning the kamandal in the process. The water fell to the ground and started flowing like a mighty river. The place was Talacauvery in Kodagu or Coorg as it is known today.
There are other tales too, but I am rather fond of this particular tale that I heard from my grandfather during my childhood.
A tank or kundike has been erected on a hillside by kodavas(natives of Coorg), at the place that is said to be the origin. The river originates as a spring feeding this tank, which is considered to be a holy place to bathe on special days. It is located on Brahmagiri hill near Bhagamandala in Coorg district, 1,276 m. above sea level. There is no a permanent visible flow from this place to the main river except during the rainy season. There is a small temple marking this place. The waters are then said to flow underground to emerge as the river Cauvery some distance away.
The temple here is dedicated to Goddess Kaveriamma. Other deities worshipped here are Lord Agasthiswara and Lord Ganesha.
We visited this place early in the morning and were charmed by the serene hills and the scenic beauty around us. Being December, the weather in the morning was very pleasant and there was a cool breeze blowing. We witnessed the Pooja to the Goddess Kaveriamma.
Talacauvery is situated around 300 kms from Bengaluru and 45 kms from Madikeri. The drive from Madikeri is scenic, but the road is not very smooth and has a few potholes. In spite of that, a trip to Talacauvery is worth it for the religious minded as well as those looking for a getaway.
*Kamandal or kamandalam is a small water pot made of a dry gourd (pumpkin) or coconut shell, metal, wood or from clay, usually with a handle and sometimes with a spout. Hindu ascetics or yogis often use it for storing drinking water. The water-filled kamandalu, which is invariably carried by ascetics, is stated to represent a simple and self-contained life.
The Jai Vilas Palace Museum in Gwalior has on display beautiful miniature ivory figurines. They depict various modes of transport. The pieces are not more than 3 – 4 inches tall and are intricately carved.
They were housed in closed glass boxes which reflected light when I was taking pictures.
Out hunting on an elephant… Do not miss the hunting dogs.
There are three types of chariots carved in detail and on display.
Not much has been written about the Varaha Temple in the Khajuraho group of monuments.
Varaha is said to be the third avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, the demon Hiranyaksha stole the earth, personified as Goddess Bhudevi and hid her in primordial waters. Lord Vishnu took the form of a giant boar and dove into the waters to kill the demon and rescue the earth, Bhudevi. He is said to have brought the earth out of the waters balanced on his tusk and restored her to her rightful place in the universe.
Varaha is either depicted as purely animal or anthropomorphic (part animal, part human. A boar’s head on a human body with four hands).
The temple in Khajuraho is a simple structure built of sandstone resting on fourteen pillars. The statue is colossal and monolithic. It is 1.7 metres high and 2.6 metres long.
The statue is covered with innumerable carvings of Gods and Goddesses and their entourage.