Towards the end of the year 2010, Anusha and I went for a couple of day-trips to places near Bangalore. The first trip was to Balmuri and Yedmuri falls, along with a visit to Brindavan Gardens. The second trip was to Belur and Haalebidu along with Shravanabelagola. While we drove to the former set of destinations ourselves, we opted for a KSTDC bus-tour for the latter.
Balmuri and Yedmuri falls are near Mysore and are formed by check-dams on the river Kaveri. For some reason, Balmuri falls is more popular with tourists and has comparatively better facilities than Yedmuri falls.
Yedmuri falls is around a kilometre or so from Balmuri falls, down an uneven mud-path. There are far fewer tourists here and no shops or boat-rides. The rocks are also a little more uneven and slippery. That said, it seemed like the more interesting of the two falls to me.
On the way to these falls, we went to see the KRS dam and Brindavan gardens located nearby. The dam seems to be closed to tourists now, which was a let-down. The gardens are beautiful, though not very well-maintained.
One of the pleasant experiences of this trip was driving down the obstruction-free NICE road, the closest thing to a US-style freeway that I've seen here, though our speed was hampered from time to time by slow-moving trucks.
For the trip to Belur, Haalebidu and Shravanabelagola, we decided to take a KSTDC bus-tour instead of driving all the way ourselves. This tour starts at 6:30 AM in the morning and drops you back in Bangalore at 10 PM in the night. The bus was a comfortable, air-conditioned Volvo and was fully-booked. As with all the KSTDC tours I have been on, we got very little time at the actual destinations and had to eat bad food at places without any alternatives nearby.
The first destination was Shravanabelagola, where we were given one hour to explore the place. To see the famous statue of Bahubali atop a rocky hill here, we had to climb over 600 steps. Perhaps because of this, several people returned much later than the assigned time. This delayed the rest of our trip by at least one hour.
|The Statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola|
The next destination was the famous Chennakeshava temple at Belur. This temple, along with the Hoysaleswara temple at Haalebidu and the Chennakeshava temple at Somanathapura (which we saw in 2005), is a magnificent example of the architectural heights reached by the Hoysala empire in the 12th century. These temples are built using interlocking blocks of soapstone and without any mortar to bind them. Soapstone is apparently soft when quarried and hardens over time with exposure to air, making it ideally suited for making sculptures with very fine and delicate carvings.
|Vishnu's Dasavatar Depicted on the Chennakeshava Temple|
The Chennakeshava temple seems to have been built over more than a 100 years, with a prototype temple built first over 20 years. A curiously-recurring sculpture in these temples is that of the mythical creature Makara. There are also a lot of statues dedicated to Shantala, the wife of king Vishnuvardhana and an accomplished dancer.
Our final destination was the Hoysaleswara temple at Haalebidu. This temple was also built over more than a 100 years, but was sadly left unfinished. This temple is only open from sunrise to sunset.
|The Statue of a Doorkeeper at the Hoysaleswara Temple|
There is no entrance-fee for seeing either of these temples. The lighting inside these temples is far from satisfactory and makes it very difficult to properly view the sculptures. We were given only one hour each at these temples and this made for a very rushed tour of the temples by the respective guides. Treating this trip as merely an appetiser, we plan to some day go back to these temples and making certain that we have enough time on our hands to admire them at leisure.
I have uploaded some more pictures from these trips to a Picasa web-album.