Day ride: Nuggehalli and Shravanabelagola

Having a longish time off meant that a ride was always on the cards. The area around Shravanabelagola has always been a favourite, and will continue to be for sometime. I realised that since my first ride there in September 2014, I had done approx 6 visits to that area covering different places.

This time, I had zeroed in on Nuggehalli, a village on the Northern side of the Hassan highway, but couple-able with Shravanabelagola. I set out as usual at 7:15 AM. The bike had been fuelled up 2 evenings back and would last the whole journey.

The morning was cold and I had to make multiple stops, once to check why air was coming into the helmet, and next to fasten the jacket at the wrists to prevent cold air entering through that vent. The former could not be figured out as the helmet “ventilator” was already closed, and the latter really helped. My finger tips went numb despite the gloves though.

I took my usual pit stop right after Kunigal. This is a bridge overlooking a small village. There’s a tiny temple with a big Nandi in front and a huge tree. During my first bike ride to these parts I had stopped to stretch when I hit the 75 Km distance mark. For some reason, it has become a tradition.
A Shiva temple on the way where I usually break

After stretching my legs a bit, and also rubbing some sensation into my hands, I set off towards Swati Delicacy, my breakfast stop. For some unknown reason this place is always crowded in the morning, and finding a table for oneself isn’t easy. This time I was lucky, and with some aggressive “no’ing” managed to keep a whole table to myself.

As I set out at close to 9:15 AM after breakfast, the morning mist was gone, and a lazy Winter Sun was looking on from behind me. The waning moon was still on the Western horizon, with nary a cloud in the sky. There was a slight nip in the air, but it was going to be a pristinely beautiful day.

Hirisave was reached, and the left towards Shravanabelagola was not taken. Pretty soon after that there was the right turn towards Nuggehalli. This was for 13 Kms. The road was great. No potholes, enough width for 2 4-wheelers to slow down and pass each other, and for bikes to go without any worry.
Zen roads to Nuggehalli
I decided to check out the Sadashiva temple first, but it was locked. A woman near the temple asked if I wanted to see the temple, and said she could ask the priest to open it. It was just past 10 AM, but today apparently they finished early. I declined. There wasn’t much to see in the temple from what I saw, and I expected to spend only 5-10 minutes there. To trouble a resting person to open it just for a few minutes felt criminal.
Sadasiva temple

View from the back of the temple:
Sadasiva temple

I headed on to the Lakshmi Narasimha temple. The woman had warned me that I could expect a similar result there also. But I expected to at least be able to look around the temple. Which is pretty much what I got. There was a middle-aged couple around, fellow visitors, and that was all the crowd there was. The main sanctum-sanctorum (Vimana) was closed, but I could walk around the temple complex.
Closed temple

The temple itself dates to 1246 CE and is built in typical Hoysala architecture. There is the lady with the mirror, Narasimha ripping into Hiranyakashipu with the intestines forming a garland, those lion-crocodiles as part of the reliefs are all there.

There is also the legend of the two sculptors – Baichoja and Mallitamma. The former being the sculptor on the Southern side and the latter on the Northern side. Legend goes that Baichoja worked only on this temple and his work wasn’t seen on any other temple.

The work here is pretty interesting, and a few of them felt unique. But I could be mistaken. This Vishnu sculpture for example. He seems to be chilling on Adisesha, not exactly the Ananthashayana pose, but as if he just woke up and decided not to go anywhere.
A chilled out Vishnu

The temple being of Narasimha, there weren’t many Shiva related sculptures, but found one of him in Bhairava form surrounded by Ganas.

There was an interesting one of Rathi and Kamadeva adjoining what looked like Krishna and Rukmini on a swing.
Kamadeva and Rathi, Dakshinamurthy on the right

The usual ones follow – Arjuna shooting the arrow at the wooden fish in Draupadi’s swayamvaram, Krishna on Kalinga, Indra on Airavatha, a dancing Ganesha et al.
Arjuna in the swayamvara

Krishna on Kalinga

Indra on Airavatha

Dancing Ganesha

A benign Narasimha

Vamana Parasurama and Matsya

The reliefs were typical with rows of horses, elephants, creepers, lions and stories from the Bhagavatha. Was surprised to see two camels sneaked in among the horses. I could spot only 2 of them in the entire temple!
A couple of camels amidst the horses

The Bhagavatha stories had one of the churning of the Ocean and many from Krishna’s childhood.
Churning of the ocean...
(Note the horses in the bottom relief)

Krishna's antics?

An Asura in the forest...

The temple from the back.

Around 11 AM I left Nuggehalli and pushed on to Shravanabelagola. The route is to take the highway towards Chennarayapatna, but take a leftward fork towards the NH and then a left on the higheay and a right towards Shravanabelagola. The route was again interesting with almost no traffic, and villages, cultivated land and ponds on the sides.

I reached Shravanabelagola from behind the Chandragiri hill. My usual route from Hirisave brings me in from the East, with the Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri on my left and right respectively. This new route brought me in from the North, from behind Chandragiri. It made for a fascinating drive with lots of ponds and lakes around this side.
Chandragiri in the background

For a change, Shravanabelagola was crowded. Mostly from school trip visits. Children made their way up noisily with clear front and back established. But I managed to find my spot and thankfully it was empty. I managed a good 30 minutes of sitting there before heading down.


For a change I had lunch in Shravanabelagola itself. There was a place called “Hotel Raghu” which seemed decent and food was also pretty good. The main advantage was that I now wouldn’t need to touch the NH at all and could just head straight to Magadi through Nagamangala and Huliyurdurga.

I left soon after 1:00 PM. The road to Nagamangangala was just pristine. But this I already knew. The road from Nagamangala to Devalapura was even better. These are the kind of roads you ride for – 2-lane roads in good condition flanked by trees, winding through forests and villages.
Zen Roads

The Devalapura lake was worth stopping by. A lake with pelicans, egrets and painted storks. A huge flock of pelicans took off right at that moment, circled for a while and flew away from the lake. It was just magical!

(There’s a grey heron in the foreground. Top left you can see the flock of pelicans flying away.)

The road deteriorated steadily as I neared Huliyurdurga, but it was only for the 10 kms leading up to it, which took me close to 20 minutes. There were good stretches, but some horrid stretches too. But work is going on there, so maybe next time might get a better ride.

The road condition from Huliyurdurga to Magadi was back to awesomeness though, and Magadi to Bangalore being the good ole well known one, I was home by 4:15 PM.

The Route: (Click on the image to go to Google Maps)


Rest of the photos here:
Nuggehalli & Shravanabelagola


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