Day trip: Kikkeri and Hosaholalu

One of the things I like about twitter is that it brings obscure places that are right there in your backyard to your notice. Among the places that have been put on my list are the Lepakshi temple and Hosaholalu. While checking on Hosaholalu I also came across a couple of Hoysala temples near Kikkeri. Given this, and being a big fan of the region around Shravanabelagola-Belur-Halebid, it wasn’t too long before I planned a bike ride to Kikkeri and Hosaholalu.

The plan was to leave early in the morning by 7:30 and get back by 4-ish. Trouble with this region is that you need to get most things done between breakfast and lunch due to the lack of good food options there. This usually means that you’re always home by 4 or 4:30 PM. Anand, as always, signed up to the plan and we set the date for Sunday, 26th April. By Saturday evening, thanks to the rains every evening and feeling guilty about the general lack of usage on the car, I suggested driving down in my car. It had done around 900 Kms in the last 4 months, and I really wanted to put some usage on it. Of course, it also ensured calmer minds and less resistance at both homes.

I left promptly after 7 and was at Anand’s place by 7:15. After saying hello to his 2mo sleeping nephews, we left at close to 7:30 AM. The NICE road was discussed and decided against and the normal ORR-Tumkur road was chosen. Helps that I like driving so close to the Metro line on Tumkur Road. The first change I noticed from the usual bike rides was the need to stand in long queues at toll booths. You also have to deal with assorted vendors(much smaller problem) and eunuchs(bigger problem). The toll booths were done with, the left taken at Nelamangala and we were promptly on our way, buying a 2-way ticket only near Yediyur as the plan was to return via Nagamangala and Magadi, hitting the Highway only near Bellur Cross for lunch.

Breakfast was had at the ever-reliable and every-time-more-expensive Swati Delicacy right after Kunigal. We reached Shravanabelagola before 10 and had found the road to Kikkeri soon after. Now, this was the tricky part as we didn’t know how good the road would be. Turned out that it was wide enough for 2 vehicles with a nice black finish. So we happily cruised the 13 Kms to get to Kikkeri. Google maps and a couple of questions to locals helped us get to the Brahmeshwara temple which was nestled away behind a nice village with houses that have wooden pillars and the sitting platform in front.

Entrance- Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri
From Kikkeri Hosaholalu – April 2015

This is the oldest of the 3 temples we had planned to visit and dates to the 12th Century AD (approx 1171). Most of the carved idols are in a state of decay and finer features like the faces or even limbs have been lost to the vagaries of weather and time. It does not have the multi-platform structure of Belur, Halebid etc. But the old sandstone structure set in the middle of trees and normal grass (not the ASI maintained one) gives it a pleasant and peaceful aura. There were absolutely no other tourists or even devotees at the temple and it was just the two of us. There is a lake right next to the temple, but it didn’t look too clean (not sewage, general growth of weeds etc, maybe lower depth because of summer).

Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri

We asked the priest for directions to the next destination – the Panchalingeshwara temple, also in Kikkeri. We had to get back towards CR Pattana for a while and then take a left into a pretty narrow road. The road condition wasn’t too great, but it didn’t have too many potholes and was pretty driveable, without causing any heartaches. After a few kilometres on that road, there was another board directing us to take a left onto an even narrower road where only one car could pass. Thankfully it lasted less than half a km and the temple complex was right there on our right.

Again, there were absolutely no tourists here, and the place was also under renovation. Of the 5 Gopuras housing the 5 Lingas, only 3 were accessible and even there, there was a lot of debris and construction materials left inside. It didn’t take long to go around the temples, plus there wasn’t much to see here. The levels of carvings that usually define Hoysala temples was strangely missing here and the carved idols were placed a few feet away from each other, with no other platforms to show. But the temple structure itself was the main attraction, but missing some parts and with lots of construction material lying around, even that was a disappointment.

Panchalingeshwara temple, Kikkeri

The Sun had started to burn by this time and with the lack of tree cover, the car was burning hot! We started on towards Hosaholalu, around 11:30 AM. Hosaholalu is farther away and we had to hit the highway from CR patna to Srirangapatna towards KR Pet. After passing through KR Pet, we took a right (there were signboards here) and hit the town of Hosaholalu. We had to pass through some older parts of the town with really old double storied houses with wooden pillars, sitting platforms in the front, with gable roofs made of Mangalore tiles.

We reached Hosaholalu by 12:15 and it was burning hot by then! Once again, we were done in by the lack of trees around ASI maintained monuments, they really do love their manicured lawns! There was a huge mantap in front which was supposedly built in the 17th century. This ensures that the temple does not have the grand entrance that is more common with Belur, Halebidu, Somnathapura and Belavadi, or even Brahmeshwara in Kikkeri.

The ceiling and pillars inside the temple are typical Hoysala structures and worth spending some time around. The priest wasn’t too interested with people who looked like tourists – even though, again, there were only the two of us. Later another elderly gentleman turned up and the priest got back to his duties. We came out and went to the back where there weren’t even stairs to climb on to the platform. Maybe that’s the way it was, and adding something would ruin the aesthetics. We did manage to climb up, not sure if all can.

Ceiling work – Lakshminarayana Temple, Hosaholalu

The back is typical Hoysala grandeur – similar to Belur and Halebidu. We did find the usual motifs – the lady with a mirror, Narasimha with the intestines of Hiranyakashipu looking like a garland and the Hoysala lions. I was glad to be able to trace the Ramayana right from Mareecha’s death, to Seetha’s abduction to the war with Ravana. There was also the Mahabaratha, but it was too hot to stand and analyse. We were pretty much hopping, unable to stand on the hot stones. There was also Krishna’s tale, but I realized it only after I saw the photos. Something to look up next time am there!

Lakshminarayana Temple, Hosaholalu

We spent some time sitting by the Mantap, and were joined by a couple of sparrows who also had a nest behind the tubelight above. As we left, there were a few moments of commotion as a snake emerged near the main entrance and scared the woman selling mangoes there. It moved along to the nearest house, thankfully not entering the place, and escaped away between two houses. The car was burning hot already, and with full-on AC we made our way to lunch.

Instead of hitting the highway, we traced a route that went: Hosaholalu->K.R.Pet-> Billenahalli->Ayitanahalli->Nagamangala->Nelligere->Yadiyur. Stomachs were growling as we made it to Swati Delicacy again for lunch. After lunch, we took the right after Kunigal and made our way to Magadi and then on home.

All in all, an excellent set of places to visit. And the pristine roads pretty much demand the Bullet. Hopefully can do a ride there one of these days. Also, eschewed the bigger lenses and carried only the 50mm attached to the camera. I used that for the profile shots of the sculptures and the iPhone camera for the rest of the wide-angle temple shots. Can’t say I really missed the bigger lenses, except for the ceiling shots where a bit more angle would’ve helped.

The full route:

Route map
Route map (Click to go to Google Maps)

Rest of the photos here.

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