Friday, June 26, 2009

Gokarna, abode of Atmalinga

Gokarna is one of the seven Muktistals ( soul freeing place as per Hindu tradition ) in India. Hindus believe that one has to perform the last rites ceremony in Gokarna and their dear one’s will attain Moksha ( salvation ). The logic behind is the confluence of river, sea and land amidst the hillock serves as a idyllic setting for deliverance of spirit. I remember distinctly that we had performed the ceremony at Gokarna on the 15th day of my fathers demise in Oct 1996. By bathing in the morning chilly sea waters. First time in my life on empty stomach till lunch time, I being the eldest went through all the ceremonies. The priest chanted the mantra and took us around the temple of Mahalingeswara and Kotiteerta to spill the ashes. Next he chanted the garuda purana in an epic manner amidsts the homa. The fumes filled my burning guts and thus killing the pangs of hunger. After the ceremony was over we had one of the heartiest lunch served at the bhatji’s residence. I am sure my dad in heaven would have been pleased to the core that his family undertook all the pains to ensure he attains salvation.

Talagunda incriptions provides some clue that the Gokarna temple was most probably expanded from a small and unknown place into Mahabaleswara temple. The kadamba dynasty founder Mayursharma ( 345-365 AD ) proceeded to Kanchipuram to gain knowledge of the vedic rites and Ashwameda yagna. Mayursharma was insulted by a guard. Insulted Mayursharma swore vengeance and promised to defeat the Pallavas, which he did ultimately at Srisailam, with a small group of supporters in a guerilla warfare in the forest infested terrain. The Pallavas accepted his domination of the Malaprabha region. Mayursharma seemed to have invited priests from banks of Godavari, from Triambakeswar to perform the yagna at Gokarna to establish his suzerainty over the region. He ordered the construction of a temple in honour lord Shiva after getting to know the myth of Gokarna.

Gokarna Mythology :

Ravana wanted to appease Lord Shiva with his prayers after obtaining atma linga and therefore requested Lord Ganesh to safeguard the Atma Linga. Atma Linga, had immense power over the universe and Ravana became invincible due to its possession. It had its checks and balance system, Ravana is supposed to have received the atmalinga with a condition that it should not be kept down on the ground by anybody, and it should be installed in the place where he resides. Ravana wanted to carry the atma linga to Lanka, but fate had it otherwise. Enroute he encountered a boy Ganesh who was sent to trick Ravana. An eclipse was created by the Lord, Ravana as usual wanted to perform Sandhyakala pooja with reciting Gayathri Mantra. He handed over the atmalinga to Ganesh, who promised to hold on to the Linga, but if he felt fatigue he would beckon Ravana thrice and if he did not turn up he would place the Atma Linga down. Ganesh after holding the Linga for sometime, called out thrice to Ravana, but before he could respond he placed the Linga down smartly. Thus the power of Atma Linga was retained at Gokarna. Ravana in disgust hit Ganesh and tried to uproot the linga but was unable to do so. But however he managed to splinter the atma linga and its pieces were thrown in different directions. One portion fell in karwar known as Sajjesvaralinga, next portion is revered as Gunveswar linga, another cloth covering fell in Murdeswar, other portion feel in Dhareswar, near Kumta, and the remaining embedded portion at Gokarna was known as Mahabaleswar Linga. All these formed the Pancha Linga and now it is Pancha Kshetra associated with Atma Linga.

Another legendary story reveals that Lord Shiva emerged from Cow’s ear. That is how Gokarna got it s fabled name born out of Cow’s ears. ( Go Karna ).

The legend of Godavari too has similar lineage. Sage Gautama who lived on Bramhagiri hills along with his wife, found one day a cow entered into his granary and was polishing off all his stored rice. In rage he went chasing the cow, which fell dead out of shock. This was considered a major blasphemy of Gohatya, ( killing of a cow ), and the sage wanted to redeem his sin. He prayed to Lord shiva to cleanse his sin and his hermitage by bringing ganges river. Lord pleased with the sincerity of the sage blessed and appeared before him as rishi Triambaka. He appeared with the river and it was named as Godavari in appeasement of Sage Gautama penance. Go lineage is associated with both places.


The mention of the myth of Gokarna is found in Kalidasa’ epic poem Raghuvamsha which is a treatise on Ramayan rulers. Kalidasa lineage ( 370-450 AD) matches with the timeline in history under the Chandragupta Vikramaditya reign.

Dasaratha saw many beasts as he was hunting.
Although, he saw a peacock fly very close to his chariot, he did not shoot his arrow.
For, as the peacock spread its tail feathers before him, it reminded him of his wife's
hair adorned with flowers of different kinds and how it would become
disarranged during their lovemaking.

Translation Raghuvanmsha souce wiki

Kavi kalidasa bestows lavish praise of Gokarna while describing the lineage of the Kings. He describes the blashemy of Lord Shiva’s prasadam falling from the hands of the emperor Aja, which might bring forth bad luck to his progeny. On hindsight the story of Lord Rama’s tryst with destiny.

Harsha Vardhan ( 590 – 647 ) who himself was a budhhist was tolerant towards hinduism and Jainism. He had a truce with Chalukyas and visited the holy place of Gokarna as per reliable reports to pen his novel Nagananda. This is fine blend of Buddhist and Hindu theme which displays his religious blend with politics. The land of mysticism in Siddha is cleverly plotted as backgroud with fairy tale romance and conspiracy. The fourth act of the play gives a clue to the serpant worship culture practised in parts of North Kanara. It is weaved into the play and ultimate triumph bodhhisattva, by goddess Gauri which brings back to life the hero of the play.

Source :

The major portion of the temple were built during the Vijaynagar period from Bukkaraja to Krishnadevaraya ( 1509 – 1529 ) and under the feudatory queen Chennamma Bhairavidevi ( 1552 – 1604 ) of Salva dynasty. The assoication of Vijaynagar emperors is obvious due to the fact the symbol of Ugranarshima which is family goddess of the vijaynagar emperors is embedded in the pillars of Mahabaleswar temple. Further the trading connection of the Vijaynagar emperors through the coastal belt is well known in the annals of history.

Visvesvaraya of Halasunadu-Kundapura built the Chandrasala and Nandi pavilions when Queen Chennammaji and her son Somasekharanayaka were ruling Keladi (1653-1671). In 1665, Shivaji came here to worship the deity. He donated some wealth and land for the maintainence and upkeep of the temple.

The well-known British traveller, Fryer, who visited Gokarna in 1676, wrote: “This place is of such repute for its sanctity and meritoriousness that, for a pilgrimage hither, all sorts from the remotest parts of India come in shoals.” The golden beaches that adorn this place are an added attraction for pilgrims. There is also a strong belief that unflinching faith and sincere devotion to Lord Shiva at Gokarna elevates the moral plane of the worshipper.
Source : Outlook Traveller.

The evidence of Gokarna temple being rebuilt due to the structure collapse is evident if one has a look at the temple façade. Majority of the hindu temples during the vijaynagar era had figurines or god and goddesses on the temple façade. This is missing. In all probability when the Portuguese destroyed some temples in around Gokarna in 1714 before retracing their steps towards Goa. Sadishavghad seemed to have become the boundary, which was well fortified and guarded by the British.

The wiki source provides a comprehensive evidence of the Portuguese invasion of Gokarna

A sect of Brahmins fled from the Gomantak to escape forcible conversions by the Portuguese and British and settled in and around Gokarna in the 15th century. It was part of the Sodhe and Vijayanagar kingdoms. Later, when the Konkan region - including Goa - was occupied by the Portuguese, it became part of their rule. A few temples were destroyed by the Portuguese in 1714 and then rebuilt later in the 18th century and also under the supervision of Guru H. H. Shrimat Anandashram Swamiji in 1928.

Currently Gokarna temple is handed over to a Ramachandrapura Mutt trust, Hosanagar. We are beginning to see some development in terms of pavement and other infrastructure. The legacy of the temple needs to be preserved to project the bygone era. The trust plans to have a huge stable for breeding cows.

World of Beaches of Gokarna : These are few of the exclusive beach terrains in India . Foreigners prefer these beach shacks which provide them serenity far away from the maddening crowd and beaches of Goa. Gokarna beach expands upto Dhareswar, Honey Beach is visible from the hillock by the side of the Ganapathi temple. One can get to Gokarna beach from the back exit of the Mahabaleswar temple. The best beach is the OM beach which can be approached by road on own vehicle or by autos. Otherwise adventure seekers have to cross over a hillock approx two kms to reach Kudle beach and 1 km beach stretch one can cross over another hillock to reach Om beach. Beyond Om beach there are other beaches in the form of half moon beach and paradise beach. Om beach is famous due to it shape. It is shaped in the form of OM religious mantra uttered by the Hindus.

We decided to experience the trek as youngsters would. The signs of inclement weather was ominous. We had to trek nearly 6 kms to reach the OM beach. A prepared mind is better than unprepared. I spotted a plastic haversack, which are used in the fields by farmers to protect themselves against monsoon while sowing. Even though we had one umbrella, we decided to buy one more protection as standby, and to our intuition it was a wise decision. On the hillock while we traveling it was just drizzling and the noon time was almost looking dark. We followed some school children and walked amidst the rocky laterite ridden surface. With rubber slippers it was more risky or sorts with us twisting our ankles now and then. We are determined to reach the beach. The climb was steep & tiring but with photo clicks I did not feel the pain of a long trudge to the Kudle Beach. The downhill walk after 1 and half km was refreshing. We found some shacks and guest houses in between which serves as guest houses for visitors. I was tempted to the core to stay put in one of those guest houses. But we had already taken up lodging near Gokarna Bus stand. We did not feel the humid weather at all and we reached Kudle beach at 5.15 pm, and the dark clouds were gathering quickly. The beach was inviting but it was muddy and the waves were ferocious. The rocks on the sea was fully drenched and slippery. There was absolutely no souls, on the beach, other than father and daughter playing on the waves for sometime. We found boys too had wound up playing cricket on beach fearing heavy rainfall. I found a dog and clicked a photo, it got scared with a flash and moved away. After sometime it realized we were only friendly tourist. It came and sat besides us. It was signal that we part with some eatables, which we never carried. Luckily my wife had some chocolates in her purse. We took a chance and gave it to the dog, and he lapped it up gleefully.

Oh enroute on the edge of the beach there was a small restaurant, which we decided to skip since rain clouds were getting thick. Suddenly I spotted a fisherman had come to the shack to sell his catch. He held out two live fishes. One live fish deal he brokered with the shack owner for 70 bucks and the other fish he pocketed into his gloved bag. I just took a video of the flipping fish out of water. The buyer was happy with the fresh catch, which he could cook for his families night dinner. In coastal areas a lunch or dinner is never considered complete without a fish curry or fry. We began our trudge back after aborting the plan to cross over to Om beach. Enroute we we were trapped with hurricane type of rainfall, the first signs of monsoon beginning. My wife safely put on the plastic haversack and myself struggled with the umbrella against lashing rain. We quickly spotted a guest house and took shelter in the verandah for 15 minutes. It was a great relief, and we saw the heavy rainfall tapered down to a drizzle and we decided to take a chance to get back to our lodging, since it was getting dark, with no lights enroute we would found it difficult. However this route is filled with residents walking to and fro, we safely reached our den enjoying the nature’s fury.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gods Own Country

Cochin is the colonial name for Kochi. It boasts of A world class port city, and International airport @ Angamalli, connected to almost all parts of the globe. The roads are better networked when compared to the capital, and being centrally located it is also known as gateway of Kerala. Ernakulam is the business district of Kochi, and practically Fort Kochi,Angamally, Cherai, Ernakulam all form a part of the greater Kochi. One should not be surprised by so many other names of the suburb township such as Alwaye, Parur, Nayarambalam, Edapally, Town, etc which all refer to the base town.

The genesus of the word Kochi is subject of speculation some claim since the chinese had trading connection with Kochi, it was named after their homeland away from China as KO CHI or the reverse of CHI KO which phoenetically sounds chinese. Another theory in malayalam lingo Kachi means harbour which is chritianed as Kochi.

Kochi Harbour : Cranganore is the original port town of which was destroyed by massive flooding of Periyar river in 1340, most of the foreign travellers had connection with Kochi due to this old port town. Kochi became a part of the British empire in 1814 after the defeat of the Dutch and a new port town of Wellington was created. The magnificient remanents of the Dutch Fort point to the systematic destruction to accommodate the new British empire. Now it is part of the naval base, airport and command.

Kochi Fort :
The permission to build the first european Fort was given by ruler of Kochi to Portuguese around 1530 AD and the Fort built was known as Fort Emmaneul or Maneul Kotta in local lingo. The Dutch built their own Fort known as Fort Williams and they succeeded the Portuguese in occupying the town.

Trading : When Vasco de gama landed here he came primarily for trading of spices which was grown in plenty in these parts with virgin soil. Pepper, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves are all standards of spice world over. They still hold a high brand value in world market. Foreign travellers, Fa-hien, Huen Tsang, Vasco-de-gama, & Nicolos Conti have sung praise for this land of spices. ‘ In china one makes money and in Kochi one ends up spending ‘ No wonder Gods own country is the place to splurge.


The entire backwaters and beach front around Kochi is filled with ancient heritage of Chinese fishing nets. The majority of these nets are found in Fort Kochi and Vypeen area. Apart from china, Kochi is the only area where these peculiar fishing practise is carried out. Most of the fishes trapped in these nets are curry mean, sardines and other smaller varities.


This church was originally built in 1503, which happens to be the oldest European church built by the Portuguese. Francisco De Almeida was permitted by the Raja to reconstruct the wooden church into a massive church with masonary. In 1516 the current church was completed and dedicated to Saint Anthony. Portuguese were catholics and Dutch were Protestants, when the Dutch took over the territory, they destroyed certain traces and converted the church into a govt one. Later it was handed over to british in 1814 and dedicated to St Francis. On this third visit Vasco de gama fell severly ill and died in 1524 and he was buried inside this church. His body was repatriated to Lisbon on popular request by the natives to honour such a great adventurer. The gravestone marking of Vasco’s burial is still retain for heritage purpose. A centoph is erected as a war memorial for those who died in World war 1 erected in 1920. Today the church is under the control of ASI but managed by CSI for masses. Majority of the artifacts seems to be placed in the museum obviously.


This palace was orginally built by Portuguese and handed over to the local Raja Veera Kerala Varm ( 1537-1565 ) in 1555. The Dutch carried out renovations in 1663 and from thereon the it became popular as Dutch Palace. In 1951, ASI took over and it was declared a protected monument and undertook full scale restoration to maintain the original flavour. Still some renovation work is scheduled to be complete in 2009.

This palace contains many artifacts collected by the dutch, gifts from the Rajas, and all finds in the area during their reign. Mural paintings in rich colours are in plenty, along with the Dutch army personnel and the Raja of times. Paintings on the first floor contain Krishna lifting Govardhan Hillock, Coronation of Rama, Lord Vishnu sleeping, Lakshmi seated on Lotus etc.

There are two temples on either side of this Mattancherry Palace one of Shiva and other of Vishnu.


This Jewish synagouge was built in 1568 by Malabar Yehudan, and it is known as Paradesi Synagouge. Paradesi typically means foreigner in Indian language. The Mattancherry palace temple and Synagouge share a common compound wall. The Malabari Jews were prosperous traders, who may have been directly competing with the Portuguese, which might have been the reason for their persecution. The original Synagouge was destroyed and the present one seems to have been rebuilt under Dutch Patronage. In 1968 the syngaouge celeberated 400th year anniversary and today it is almost 440 years old. Maybe a full scale celeberation in 2012 for completing 444 years is overdue. The unique feature of this synagouge is that it is filled with different types of chandeliers and chinese ceramic floors. Photographs are not allowed inside which is strange, maybe with special permission from the priestess, who seems to managing the show.

Wellington Island being one of the Biggest Hq of the Naval command in India has a magnificient museum dedicated to its seamen, who fought valiantly battles for the British and help to safe guard our huge 12000 km coastline from Dwarka to Calcutta. The Naval strategic importance is being enhanced with Sea Bird. This musuem contains various exhibits including shell of cruise missile, uniforms, helicopter, various types of ammunitions and guns. There is an auditorium showcasing the achievements of our Naval staff and seamen during a bitter war with Pakistan and liberation of Bangladesh. The navy played an important role even in rescue operations immediately after the boxer day Tsunami in 2004. I was given a brief of the naval history by one retired wartime seamen, that is how I came to know the importance of Cranganore, which many localities too are unaware of. In modern times it is known as Kodungallore, where the famous apostle St Thomas Anthony landed in 52 AD.


This is currently under the jurisdiction of KTDC, it is run as a heritage hotel with a tariff plan equavalent to a 5 star hotel . The tariff plan during season is 10 K and off season is 6 K children will be charged extra @ 10%. We were unable to see this place due to barricading for a private wedding party. A ferry from marine lines of Ernakulam, near the high court can take one across to Bolghatty Isle. The route by road is long tedious. This dutch palace was built in 1744 by a dutch trader. Later the palace was leased to the British in 1909 and served as their residency till 1947.

I am still to complete the series on Gods own country…maybe a trip or two I will be able to complete my dedication and travelouge. I am lucky to have a friend based in Kochi to guide me, which enables me to probe further into the hidden mysteries of the past.

Kanyakumari, a tribute to Swami Vivekananda

The lands end, where both Sunset,sunshine and moonrise is visible from the sea. Virtually making it an ideal place for meditation saints to meditate on the rocks. This rock island invited Swami Vivekanada to meditate, and to obtain gyaan beyond human imagination. Kanyakumari was known as Cape Commorin during the British times. Kanyakumari signifies virginity of mind, body and soul for the locale populace.

Inorder to understand the history of construction of Vivekanada Rock memorial one has to dwell into the literature published by the Vivekanada Ashram. A unique national monument was conceived by Swargiya Eknath Ranade. Immediately a controversy seems to have arisen with Christian missionaries claiming it was place of Saint Xavier.

Prolouge :

Swami Vivekananda reached the lands end in December 1892. Swamiji had traveled the entire length and breadth of the country. He had suffered from hunger, from thirst, form murderous nature and insulting mankind. When he arrived at Kanyakumari, he was utterly exhausted and penniless to pay for a boat ride to take him across the sea on the island, he flung himself into the sea, and swam across the shark-infested strait and reached atop mid-sea rock on 25 December, 1892 ( Christmas day ) He spent three days there meditating, and returned to the shoreline on 28th December 1892. At last his task was at an end, and then, looking back as from a mountain he embraced the whole of the India he had just traversed, and the world of thought that had beset him during his wanderings. For more than two years hitherto he had lived in a seething cauldron, consumed with a fever, he had carried a soul on fire, he was a bundle of storm and hurricane.

Now on this mid-sea rock, There he meditated not on God but on Mother India who for Swami Vivekananda was Divine Durga incarnate. What a strange meditation ! It was as if all the pages of India's history opened up before him. The vast panorama of his experiences during his travels past before his mind's eye. He meditated on the past, the present and the future of India, the cause of her downfall and the means of her resurrection.

He felt in his heart of hearts that India would rise only through a renewal and restoration of that highest spiritual consciousness which had made her, throughout her history, the cradle of religions and cultures. He then, sitting at the last bit of rock in the Indian ocean, took the momentous decision to go to the West to give shape to his life's mission of spreading India's religion and culture throughout the whole world.

Protests :

Let us get back to the main story relating to the establishment of Vivekananda Memorial to celeberate century of his preachings ( 1963 ) When the proposal for a memorial for Swami Vivekananda spread to Kanyakumari residents in the latter half of 1962, suddenly the entire atmosphere in Kanyakumari got surcharged with conflicting interest between the Hindus and the Christians in the area. The very idea of a memorial to Swami Vivekananda was not taken sportingly by sizable population of the local Catholic fishermen. The fishermen managed to put up a big Cross on the Rock which was visible from the shore stealthily . This led to strong protests by the Hindu populace who said the Rock was a place of worship for Hindus due Swamijis meditation.

A judicial probe was ordered by the then Madras Government and the finding of this Commission was stated in unequivocal terms that the rock was indeed known as Vivekananda Rock, and that the Cross put up by the Catholic fishermen was a clear case of trespassing. Amid all this controversy and acrimony, the Cross was one day removed secretly in the night. The law and order situation turned volatile and consequently the Rock was declared a prohibited area with armed guards patrolling it.

The Government of Madras realized that the Rock was turning into an area of communal conflict with Hindus claiming it to be the Vivekananda Rock and Christians claiming it as St Xavier's Rock. The Government made it clear that although the rock was Vivekananda Rock, there would be no memorial constructed on it. The then CM of Tamilnadu, Shri M. Bhaktavatsalam, said that only a tablet declaring that the rock was associated with Swami Vivekananda could be put up, and nothing else.

Accordingly, with government permission granted, a tablet was installed on the Rock on 17 January 1963 to mark the birth centenary of Swami Vivekananda. But the voices clamoring for a full-fledged Memorial on the Rock did not die. In May1963, some Christian elements who were seeking vengeance for the earlier removal of the Cross from the rock, demolished the Vivekananda commemorative tablet and threw it into the sea.


The first obstacle that Eknath Ranade had to cross was from Shri Bhaktavatsalam who was then Chief Minister of Madras State. He took a stand that he would not allow the memorial to come up on the mid-sea rock on the flimsy ground that it would pose a hazard to the environment by spoiling the natural beauty of the Rock. He was also concerned about hurting the religious sentiments of the Catholic fishermen in the area. Bhaktavatsalam's view was also endorsed by Shri Humayun Kabir, the then Union Minister for Cultural Affairs, who too had to give his clearance for this project.

To that end, on Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri's advice, Shri Eknath Ranade camped in Delhi. In three days, he collected the signatures of 323 Members of Parliament in a show of all-round support for the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, which was presented to the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who in turn directed both Humayun Kabir and Shri.Bhaktavatsalam to give their immediate clearance for the construction of the Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari.

Shri Bhaktavatsalam had given permission only for a small 15" x 15" shrine. Knowing his reverence for the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Shri Eknath Ranade approached the latter for suggesting the design of the Rock Memorial. Shri Bhaktavatsalam unhesitatingly agreed to the larger design (130"-1½? x 56") approved and suggested by the Paramacharya of Kanchi! Which was inspired by Ajanta cave arches. Thus all political hurdles for the construction of the Memorial were removed in one masterstroke by the shrewd move of Shri. Eknath Ranade

People’s Movement :

Ranade fervently believed that the Vivekananda Rock Memorial was a national monument of timeless significance and that every Indian should be invited to contribute to its construction. Shri Eknath Ranade launched the campaign of sale of one-rupee folders throughout the nation, which were used to mobilize the donations of the common man, starting from as tiny an amount as one rupee. By launching such a national campaign for collecting just an amount of Rupee one from every willing citizen, Eknath Ranade succeeded in raising an amount of Rupees one crore. Thus by his grand vision he ensured that so many common people visiting the Rock Memorial could have a legitimate pride that they too had contributed to that splendid national monument.

He also approached and succeeded in persuading almost every State government to make a decent contribution towards the construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. What is amazing is that he succeeded in making even the States of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh participate in the work of construction of the memorial . All the State Governments put together made only a paltry a contribution of Rs.35 lakhs. It was solely on account of the outstanding leadership qualities of Eknath Ranade that the Vivekananda Rock Memorial mission never got entangled in any unseemly political controversy or agitation at any stage during the course of construction of the Rock Memorial from 1964 to 1970. All the petty politicians finally surrendered to his unconquerable spirit.

Eknath Ranade has recorded in telling words about his experiences in dealing with the Chief Ministers and politicians of India : "Leaders of every political party, whether in power or in the opposition became willing partners of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari. The only Chief Minister who sent me back empty handed without contributing any amount to the Rock Memorial fund was the then Kerala Chief Minister Comrade E M S Namboodiripad. I can say this much about my abortive interview with him. It was like conversing with a sphinx. It was monologue all the way on my part. Only an empty stare from the other side!".

In the beginning, the estimated cost of construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial was Rs 30 lakh. Then it increased to Rs 60 lakhs, then later to 75 lakh. Finally the total cost after completion worked out to Rs one crore and thirty five lakh. Just think what a great achievement it was to mobilize such a huge sum of money forty years ago and complete the work in six years!


The Vivekananda Rock Memorial was inaugurated on 2 September, 1970, and dedicated to the nation by V V Giri, the President of India. Kalaigner Karunanidhi presided over the dedication ceremony. There can be no doubt whatsoever that without the catalytic and stellar role of Shri Eknath Ranade, this grand national monument could never have been completed in such a record time. Emerson, the great American thinker of the 19th century said, "A great and timeless institution is the lengthened shadow of one man". If that be so, I have no doubt that the final verdict of history will be that the magnificent Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari is the lengthened shadow of Eknath Ranade.


There are two mid-sea rocks off the shore of Kanyakumari. One of the rocks is the Vivekananda Rock, on which a memorial has been constructed. There is another smaller rock, not very far from the Vivekananda rock, and many of the Christian missionaries laid their claim for constructing a small church or a statue of Jesus Christ on this rock in 1979. Eknath Ranade showed his clairvoyant vision by persuading Dr MGR, the then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, agree to the installation of Thiruvalluvar statue on this rock. The foundation stone for the Thiruvalluvar statue was laid by Morarji Desai, then Prime Minister of India on 15 April, 1979. Eknath Ranade was a great statesman and he used the good offices of Prabhudas Patwari, the then Governor of Tamilnadu to make Dr MGR agree to this proposal. Like Mahakavi Bharathi, Eknath Ranade was a true nationalist and a true Tamilian rolled into one


Hundred acres of land was allotted to Vivekananda trust to construct the ashram and museum to propagate the teachings of Swamiji. This ashram is located approximately 3 kms from the Railway station and 5 kms from the local bus stand. The room tariffs are reasonably levied for the piligrims. The ashram contains a K V school, Ayurvedic farm, Prayer Halls, Museum, Sunrise beach, Ranade Memorial, Garden, Canteen, Shops and other basic amenities which include a browsing centre too.

“We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet.”

So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.

Suratkal & Kaup beaches

Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets at all!

A trip to the virgin beaches of konkan coast can act as rejuvenating experience far away from the maddening crowd. No wonder my Bill and his family make it a habit to visit Mangalore and its non-polluted beaches once in 2 years at least from Paris.

Last time around when I visited Panambur and Ullal beaches I was not impressed at all. Ullal beach had a rustic look with lot of litters spoiling the looks. Panambur beach was smelling of Gasoline while you dip into the waves.

We decided to look further at Suratkal and Kaup beach, surprisingly it was refreshing. The water was clean and devoid of any petroleum smell. I hope the oil companies do not pollute the waters with their waste being dumped into the sea.

Both the beaches have a wonderful atmosphere, with lighthouse acting as guiding forces for navigation of ships. In Suratkal beach one finds golden sand, with rocks littered around the shores. At Kaup beach the lighthouse is situated on huge rocky terrain attached to the beach.

The visitors to Suratkal beach are primarily KREC students, and a few local residents. One can climb the lighthouse at Suratkal beach by paying an enterance fee of Rs 5 per head. It is lovely sight of the coastline and one gets to see the refinery at a distance, along with the harbour. The visit to the light house is allowed between 3.30 to 5.30 pm only. On clear weather days, one can view lovely sun setting in the west from Suratkal beach.

Kaup beach is preferred by the tour operators, because it has proper road access for maneuvering the vehicles, whereas Suratkal beach is inconvenient. Kaup beach has a bar and restaurant, for those who would like to have a swig. The rural atomosphere of Kaup beach is alluring. The intensity of the waves depends on the prevailing tide cycle. One has to definitely exercise caution exploring the waves, during the high tides.

Kaup beach lighthouse view is breathtaking. The entry is allowed on payment of a fee, and videography is charged exhorbitantly. The surrounding coconut tree groves along with the coastal topography is a great photographic locale. Many a kannada films have been shot in this location such as Subha Mangala, etc. The lighthouse is located on top of a rocky formation, almost similar to vivekanada rockmemorial. There seemed to have been a adjustant hillock fort during ancient times, which is destroyed.

Location : Suratkal beach is located 16 kms away from Mangalore City. One has to take deviation on the left as one reaches the KREC college ( which is now NITE ) and drive a km towards the beach on the tar road. There is not much parking area.

Kaup beach is located just before the Kaup town , one has to take a left turn to travel 3 kms, some share autos are available on the highway. Once again one can take a auto from Kaup town, where there is a pucca auto stand. There is plenty of parking space opp the beach. Kaup is located 45 kms away from Mangalore enroute to Udupi

Monday, June 22, 2009

St Marys Island, a virgin Isle

Vasco de gama landed in one of the many isle’s located in the vicinity of Malpe in search of spices from the Konkan coast. Malpe is one of the oldest fishing harbour on the west coast of India. It is situated 70 kms from Mangalore. If one wants to reach Malpe from Mangalore catch a Bus, since the roads are in various stages of repair from Mangalore to Udupi. Get down at the border of Udupi bypass, Kinimulki and then catch an auto who will charge you Rs 70/- to take you to the Malpe Jetty which is 10 kms away. Alternatively one can catch a local bus from Mulki sururban bus stand. If one wants to drive down then deviate on the NH47 the goa highway after hotel Sarovar to the left and travel straight to reach the gate of Malpe fishing harbour. Pay an entry fee and proceed near the yard, and turn left and reach dead end on the right there is Nandini Milk booth where the tickets for ferry is sold for Rs 70/- per head for up and down trip.

A ship building yard is located on the Malpe harbour and plenty of fishing boats are parked at the entrance to the harbour. If one is lucky he can get fresh catch at auction.

The journey to St’ Mary’s Isle is adventure filled with scenic beauty of distant Lighthouse Isle, the water is blue because of low pollution. One has to change ferry midway, and jump into smaller ferry. We have noticed there are no life jackets in the ferry, which I hope authorities will make it mandatory. Remove your shoes or leather slipper when you get down, one is filled with knee deep water.

“Look at the unique geographical formations, known as basaltic rocks which is a splinter from the molten lava. The unique hexagonal formation of the rocks is a very rare natural phenomenon. It is as if nature has carved a monument to celebrate the birth of human life on earth.” I consider St’ Mary’s Isle a virgin Island.

The name is derived from El Padron de Santa Maria, a Portuguese dedication to Mother Mary by Vasco de gama when he stepped foot on this isle in 1498 before landing on calicut coast. Mother Mary is hailed as Virgin mother, therefore I consider it as virgin Isle. Lol

St’ Mary’s Isle is a popular film shooting spot for kannada film crew. Puttana Kanagal introduced St Mary’s Isle to the world through his film Shuba Mangala. Puttana Kanagal is credited to be the first kannada director who took to large scale outdoor shooting and exposing the beautiful locales in all its glory. In the words of yesteryears actress Aarti “Kanagal will be always remembered by many, as he had a penchant for introducing new faces and many people who are big names today in Kannada industry owe their success to him. I have acted more than ten films with him which was an unforgettable experience for me. Kanagal was also among first to introduce outdoor shooting in Karnataka, and had an uncanny eye for spotting the most beautiful locales. “

I strongly feel that KSTDC or ASI should take charge of these beautiful set of Isle and begin landscaping the Isle to bring in more greenery on the Isle. The heat is sapping one needs to carry moisturer and sunscreen other one is bound to get sun burnt in Summer.

The rocks are slippery so one has to carefully trudge, never step on the wet spots one is bound to slip. There are some safe areas for swimming stick to those spot only otherwise the tide can sweep one off the feet. There are many tragic deaths in the past. One should be aware of the danger.

One should definitely venture and discover the Virgin Isle, St’ Mary’s Island @ Malpe along with visit to Sree Krishna temple @ Udupi. Accomodation facility is available on the NH 47 and Udupi town. Carry plenty of water and Juices. Enjoy your trip with lot of pictures and videos. The trip to these Isle does not cost much and it is ideal for family and friends to discover the wonders of nature.

BEKAL FORT, a legacy of Nayaks

The transformation of Bekal Fort is amazing in terms of reconstruction to replicate the bygone era. The legendary defense citadel, When I visited the Fort in April 2005 I found it was absolute state of ruins and neglect beyond salvage. The facelift provided to Bekal Fort by ASI and district tourism board is commendable and requires special appreciation. I hope all other historical monuments are resurrected in similar fashion without too much modernity. Now Bekal Fort seems to be idyllic spot for picnic lovers, family outing, adventure and heritage tourists.


The history of the Fort construction is shrouded in mystery. However considering the architecture and style of construction, the construction seems to have begun by the rulers of Tulunadu, the Ikkeri Dynasty. Hiriya Venkatappa Nayak ( 1586 – 1629 ) is credited to have begun the construction of the fort in 1620 and it was completed during the period of Shivappa Nayak ( 1645 – 1660 ). The Nayaks are credited to have constructed number of other forts too such as Chandragiri Fort ( Kasargod ) & Hosadurg Fort ( Kanhagad ) which are all in various stages of ruin. Basically these forts were built to protect the territory against invasion from the sea, by various foreign rulers. The Fort served to protect their territory which extended from Coorg to Bhatkal. The Nayaks ( 1499 – 1763 ) were feudatory of the Vijaynagar empire.

After the battle of Talikot in 1565 when Vijaynagar empire decline began, the Nayaks began to exert considerable influence in the Konkan coast. There was intense battle between the Kolatharis and Nayaks to dominate these territories under Someshekar Nayak ( 1664 – 1672 ). He captured the entire region from Majeswar, Thaliparamba, Payyanur, Kanghad, Bekal and Panayal under his suzerenity.

The Nayaks were defeated by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and their trace from this area was eliminated. The carnage unleashed by Hyder Ali & Tipu Sultan, forcible conversion etc belie history being a tolerant monarchs. During 1766 to 1799 both father and son unleashed a reign of terror in the Region. Majority of the Nairs and Brahmins were forcibly converted under the name of Jihad. The bodies of slain people were laid across the landscape and the skull of the beheaded victims were displayed in the Fort. In the bargain many a temples were destroyed too as a symbol of elimination of Idol worship. The Sultan did not carry out conversion in Mysore territory which shows his jekl and hyde nature. He wanted to be seen as religiously tolerant tyrant. The details of
Tipu’s legacy is furnished in this link

Tipu Sultan has developed a number of escape routes from this Fort, due to his constant sense of insecurity. He had unleashed a reign of terror in North Kerala, which is hidden from the annals of history. The bodies of triators and rebbellers were hacked and thrown into the well. The barricading of the well resembles like the Jallianwalla bagh. I hope the ASI put up a memorial in commemoration of the innocent lives which were lost during the Tipu's reign.

British took over the Fort after the fall of Tipu sultan and formed the new taluk of Bekal under the South Kanara district. The British seem to have destroyed the insignificant palace located in the premise of Bekal fort and robbed all its antiques and riches. After India attained independence, Bekal was re-organised in the Kasargod district which was included in Kerala state in 1956.


The construction and renovation of the fort has taken place from the time of Nayaks, reinforced by Tipu sultan with observatory tower, which gives a panoramic view of the entire landscape spread upto ullal and kanghad. The grooves for the cannons seem to have been installed by Tipu under the able assistance of the French with whom he had friendly relation, with their presence in Mahe, which is located in close proximity. The British subsequently fortified Bekal Fort only for military purpose without much administrative buildings. It served as a cantonment and strategic watch tower with a light house nearby which is almost similar to Kaup light house in construction

The entire fort is constructed with Laterite stones and limestone combination. The fort has a moat surrounding with water jutting from the sea and exiting into the sea in a circular formation. It can be reasonably presumed that the waters were infested with crocs to protect the Fort against invaders.

Bekal Fort is surrounded on all three sides with water, and the balance through the moat filled with water. The Forth seems to be built on a hillock on two tier basis. The landscape inside the fort have been used strategically to locate the armory, elephants and horses.

A number of cannon slots are created pointing towards the sea, there are as many 14 watch towers in the forty acre fort. A well is now barricaded which served as fresh water source for drinking, collected from the natural rainfall. There are number of secret hideouts within the fort, which is well ventilated for survivors in case of Fort under seize. An armory is barricaded currently, traces of the palace destroyed is also seen, a modern rest house and small restaurant with seating space is located in the eastern portion of the Fort. The fort has been under renovation from 2005 and still to be completed to bring the original splendor.


Many a Malayalam films, particularly song and dance sequence have been shot in this wonderful locale. The song “ Tu hi re “ from the Bombay movie has been shot in the Fort ramparts. A safe beach is located adjacent to the Fort for sea lovers to swim and bathe.

Landmarks @ Bekal :

There is a grave of saint located just outside the fort premise which can be approached through an opening leading towards the outer portion of the fort walls. There a Hanuman temple at the enterance of the Fort, another Mosque is located just opposite to the Fort, Bekal Resorts and Development Corporation is trying to beautify the surroundings with landscaping and accommodation facility. Kasargod has plenty of jewellery outlets and was famous for smugglers in pre 1990s.

Bekal is located in between Kasargod and Kanghad towns. It can be reached by Air from Mangalore or Calicut. The nearest railway junction is either Mangalore or Kannur. The entry fee is Rs 5/- and Videography is charged Rs 25. From the main road it is just 600 meters.

Overall a visit to Bekal Fort captures the intrigues, conspiracy, diplomacy of the Nayaks, Tipu Sultan, French and the British Era.

Mirjan Fort, a tribute to the Pepper queen

An aroma fills the air with expectation of a bygone era in search of the pepper queen, which symbolized the zenith of trading links with Europeans, Arabs, Persians, Chinese, etc.. The konkan coastal belt served as an export base, with Mirjan serving as one of the micro ports, for all the spices produced in the during the Vijayanagar Era. The vijayanagar empires principal exports were pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, tamarind, turmeric, musk, aloe and precious stones such as diamonds and pearls.

Vasco da Gama arrived with an intention to establish the Portuguese base for trading in India. During his first trip, he docked in Goa, St. Mary’s Isle and reached Kozikode on 20th May 1498. During his stay he gained total knowledge of the produce from the exotic East, and made notes on the weather patterns and returned on august 29th 1498 surveying the entire konkan belt for trading posts. He set sail once again on 12th Feb 1502 with a fleet of warships to coerce the local zamorin into signing a favourable treaty for trading. He unleashed terror by setting ablaze the merchant vessels from Arab countries along with its crew members. Vasco da Gama even though officially was after establishing trade links with India, but his eyes were on the fabled diamond supplies. Remember India was the only diamond producing centre those days.

Mirjan Fort was in all probability built originally by Queen Chennabhairadevi, who belonged to the Tuluva-Salva clan under the tutlege of Vijaynagar kings. Rani Chennabhairavdevi was also known as the Pepper Queen or Raina da Pimenta. Her reign was in conformity with the doctrine of succession “ Aliyasantana “ or Matriarchal , a tradition followed in coastal belt of konkan and Kerala. Her reign was the longest in the history of female domination in the annals of Indian history, from 1552 – 1606. The strong hold of her territory was centered around North and South kanara districts and south Goa. The main harbours were Malpe, Baindoor, Mirjan, Honnavar, Ankola and Karwar.

After the battle of Talikota in 1565, the Pepper queen was constantly fighting battle for survival. During this period she shifted her base from Mirjan Fort to somewhat safe haven in Basadi an isle in the middle of river Sharavathi. Being a jain she was responsible for construction of many basadis in and around barkur and moodbidri area.

Mirjan fort is currently under renovation by the ASI to bring back the original glory to this exquisite fort. The fort was maintained by yearly grant till independence by the British empire. The Fort has been built in an area encompassing of 10 acres. A circular moat except near the enterance surrounds the Fort. In ancient times obviously this was filled with crocs to protect them from attack by the enemies. The water way seemed to have served as transportation of merchandise to the nearest harbour. The presence of the Jain pillar gives a clue to the architect of the Fort, even though all traces of the original builder seem to have been erased by raiding Bahamani sultans. This Fort was conquered by Sharief-ul-mulk the governor of Goa. He seems to have renovated the Fort to symbolize moghul architecture.

A huge durbar hall, along with barracks and market for trading seems to have been well built considering the strategic importance. Majority of the trading activities seem to have occurred outside the Fort premises. The Fort contains many a escape routes which seem to have been well camouflaged through well type construction. The outer walls of the fort have crumbled due to growth of banyan tree roots. They too have well planned escaped routes for the royalty in case of enemy attack. The remains of idols salvaged from the destruction of temple have been kept under a huge tree.

The Mirjan fort is located just 1 km off the NH 17 on the left turn by the side of the fish market @ Mirjan town, which is located 8 kms away from Kumta town enroute to Ankola or Goa. This destination can be reached from Mlore, on the NH 17 highway towards Goa or even Gokarna for that matter. Approximately 200 kms away just away to Kumta town. One can take a convinient train from Mlore and reach Kumta town and take a bus towards Gokarna and get down at Mirjan. From Goa one can get down at Ankola, Gokarna or even Kumta and travel by bus. Bus connectivity from Gokarna is not very frequent.

The Fort is a tribute to the queens heroic effort to ward of invaders at Bay, particularly the Portuguese.
My hunt for the elusive Spicy Pepper queen hideout will continue……………..

Angelo Fort, a legacy of foreign rulers

The legacy of Portuguese, Dutch and the British is seen @ Fort St. Angelo. It was built by Sir Francisco De Almeida in 1505, ( almost 500 years old ) on the shores of Arabian sea, for guarding the town against attack from the sea by pirates and subsequently foreign enemies. The fort signifies the first sign of colonization attempt by Portuguese who had essentially landed in India for trading of spices on the Kerala coast. It was built by Almeida with the permission the prevailing king of kolathiri Raja.

The fort has been constructed using the laterite stones which are available in plenty in the region. These stone are amenable for strong construction due to its easy chiseling and blends very well with the limestone. Currently ASI is upgrading the Fort to its original grandeur using the same materials and conserving this magnifcient heritage of 4 different eras. Some of the fallen edifices are rebuilt and numbered according to the sequence. The evidence of the same can be found is some portions of the fort, in particular when one climbs toward lighthouse from the inner ramparts of the fort.

The Dutch captured the fort from the Portuguese in 1663 and made some alteration to the fort. The epigraphical evidence is noticed on the tablet form of inscriptions on the walls of the fort. An ancient lighthouse was built to warn the ships of the shoreline which needed to sailed with caution due to prevalent rocky mass in the midst. This ancient lighthouse was later discontinued with the construction of a modern lighthouse by the british. The dutch sold the fort to Arrakkal Kings in 1772 before vacating the Indian shores due to trouble in their own country. The British captured the fort from the Arrakkal kings in 1790 and established it as the prime base shifting from Tellicherry fort because of the vantage location. They occupied the Fort and monitored the port of Mappila, which was essentially fishing and trading harbor after Kozhikode ( Calicut ). In 1947 when the british vacated India it was taken over by the ASI under the Indian Navy which has its presence in the huge complex. Maybe some of the old structures have been occupied from the British regime. The entire premise is very clean and well maintained by ASI and it is a wonder ful historical heritage and full of legacy of ancient strategies followed. The booming cannons are deployed all over the Fort at Vantage points.

One can find lot of videographers willing to shoot pictures of the family in a professional manner at a price. Some of them ape song and dance sequence in the locales. The fort contains the Barracks of soldiers and stables for the horses too. An armoury storing the gunpowder does not seem out of place considering the no of cannons.


An Iron pillar like structure situated on the upper strata of the Fort ramparts was used as a Lighthouse to warn the ships sailing towards the the coast the dangers of the rocky coastline. The coastline in the entire belt is littered with such rocky formations which can damage and sink a ship into the Arabian seas. The Portugues used to light the same using candles and reflect the light vide a magnifying mirror, to warn the ships of the imminent dangers.


There are number of cannons which are preserved in it s pristine state, which gives us the real feel of the times. It transports the visitors that entire Fortress is ever ready for a battle. Very few forts in India have the weaponary displayed in their premises. Most of them are either shifted to muesuems or parks.


A typical barrack of the Dutch era is seen in the fort premises, wherein the horses and soldiers lived side by side, guarding the entire fortress against the enemy attacks. The British may have used this place for their drills and flag hoisting ceremonies in all probability.

A beautiful painting of this elegant fortress and the fishing bay is displayed @ Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, Holland. The beheaded skull of Kunjalli Marakkar was exhibited @ the Fort premises by the dutch after his brutal assignation. There is museum of some of the exhibits which was closed at the time of my visit due to holiday I presume. May be I was so enamoured by the beauty of this fortress, I let go the museum.

One of the main high points of travel is in the form of Mappila cusine which is available in the restaurants @ kannur. The preparation in form of non veg delicacies with various spice mixture seems to be alluring. I just forgot to buy some authentic spices maybe next time around I will be able to purchase the same for domestic consumption.

Timings : Fort visiting time is 8.30 to 6.00 pm. The fort is guarded by tourism police and one of their constable Satyam has published a historical treatise on St Angelo fort. A video fee of Rs 25 is levied otherwise there is no enterance fee to the Fort.

Location :
This fort is located approximately 3 kms from the Kannur Railway station, and autos generally charge double the meter ranging from Rs 25 to 40. The actual meter is only 13.60 exactly. Enroute one finds a small park maintained by the army which is full of antique weaponry used during the world war times. There is Mappilla Bay situation right opposite to the St Angelo fort and Arrakal museum located in parallel direction. Kannur has many other tourist attractions such as Payambalam Beach, Meenkunnu Beach, Snake park, Science Park, Folklore academy, Vallapatanam,Dharmadam Isle, Kunnimangalam, etc.

Murudeshwar, dedication to Lord Shiva

When the rainy season sets in the konkan coast, it squeals and unleashes the turbulence of a typhoon heralding the onset of monsoon. Nature ‘s fury can only be tamed by the lord Shiva, and true to his spirit we experienced the turbulence beyond compare on the shores of the Arabian sea.


The credit for construction of the temple with the tallest Shiva statue & Gopuram in the world should go the patron R.N. Shetty of the Naveen tiles fame. Murudeswar happens to be native place of the patron. He was of the firm belief that the Lord blesses all the piligrims who worship him with devotion. The old temple built during the vijaynagar era was crumbling for want of renovation.

One day in his dream, the Lord blessed him with a boon that his prosperity will be linked with the renovation of the temple. The renovation work was a stupendous task considering that the temple was located on the sea shore which can be turbulent during the monsoon. So he hunted for the architect of Vivekananda memorial Mr S.K. Acharya. On developing a rapport with the architect through a mutual friend, he convinced him to be a guiding force behind the construction. In 1977 the renovation work began in right earnest with donation being solicited from the Public at large like the Vivekanada memorial. All the materials such as granite were sourced from nearby Shimoga and thirthalli taluk.

The combination 3 decade of experience of R N Shetty and Acharya, with the blessings of the Lord Maradeswar the construction of the temple was completed in 1998. Thereafter the grandiocese plan to emulate the Vivekananda rock memorial in terms of constructing the Tallest Shiva statue and the gopuram was envisoned. The tall gopuram was fully thrown open to the public on 24th April 2009 after a full decade of construction effort.

At 11.15 am on 6/6/09 we reached Murudeswar cross on NH 17 travelling by Rajhamsa bus from Kumta, a distance of 70 km approximately. It was a slight drizzle and we alighted into the waiting auto beckoned by the bus driver. Just as we travelled the drizzle became a downpour, we were lucky to find a cloak room @ VRL roadways counter near Kamat Yatri nivas. We deposited our luggage and wanted to quickly complete the dharshan before 1 pm, because the luggage counter would close by than. Lest we realized that nature would take over and display the fury of Rudra tandav. My wife somehow had an intuition of events to unfold………….she was against visiting the temple in monsoon. Murudeswar can be reached from Mangalore too convinient by train or bus. A convinient passenger train departs Mlore to reach Murudeswar by 10.45 AM and on the return around 5 pm the same train can be boarded from Murdeswar. By bus one can travel upto Bhatkal and take a local bus or get down at the junction Murudeswar cross and catch an auto.

After depositing our luggage, we took a walk across the bridge with the lashing of the wind along with torrential downpour. The waves were pounding the temple premises with gutso, but still it was surmountable, we parked our slippers on the shoe rack with the caretaker missing from the counter…… We entered the gopuram, which is known as Raja gopuram, which raises upto 249 feet according to fact files. But considering the fondness of the patron R.N. Shetty , for no 6 and multiples it could be either 246 or 252 feet. But if one adds the number 249 it totals to 6. The gopuram is considered to be tallest in the world. It consists of 20 storied structure, with 2 lifelike elephants statue guarding the enterance.

As we entered it was pleasant to walk on the rubberized carpet into the temple premises. If one just lifts their head, a life like statue of Lord Shiva measuring 123 feet, which is once again considered to be tallest in the world, literally emerges and fills the devotee into humility. The steel railing is carefully placed at the centre of the staircase considering the nature’s fury. We did not require the support as we entered the temple. We were pleasantly surprised with the unfettered view of the Lord Maradeswara. Priests beckon for conducting special appeasement of the Lord, which is voluntary seva or custom, which is paid form of pooja.

We ignored appeasement, on the hindsight cost me a flutter of a lifetime. We were advised to seek the token for free food or prasadam, which opens @ 12.30 pm and closes sharply @ 1.00 pm. We got the coupon for free food @ 12.05 pm, which meant I had 25 minutes for photography. Well there was two other option one is to sit and admire at temple in the pouring rain or stand in the queue for free food. I chose the third one of trying to photograph foolishly though. First I went on the terrace where no admission board was prominently displayed but I was permitted. I went uptstairs and tried to squeeze my head into an opening, covering my Sony digital camera with make shift polyethene raincoat, I banged my head .........khatakkkkkkkk ......with force on the ceiling. Well singing praise of the lord I proceeded to photograph and videograph the scenary unfolding amidst torrential rainfall.

Again I had 15 minutes remaining, which I thought can be used for purchases of books pertaining to history of the temple and some exclusive postcards. I foolishly handed over the plastic sheet and took the umbrella. I managed to walk down the staircase by holding the steel railings, in between the granite stones were extremely slippery, which I managed to circumvent without any major incident. I entered into precints of the gopuram, my umbrella acted as parachute with typhoonic wind velocity may be measurable @ 90 kmphs approximately. I luckily treaded on to the rubberized carpet, maybe upto 5 feet, with wind ferocity I was drawn uncontrollably on to the granite portion and from thereon for the next 2 minutes, I was only a mute witness to natures fury. As I stepped on the wet granite, my 98 kgs frame slid landing me on my bum with a bath towel cushioning my fall. I was grabbed by fellow devotees in an urge to help a fellow men, suddenly I was lifted off the ground by pairs of helping hands, in the bargain my brand new umbrella was ripped beyond salvage. Luckily lord saved my Camera, which was tucked into my banian with a strap around my shoulder.

bought the books and postcard from the counter and marched back into the temple like wounded soldier in the battlefield, with blood stains on my elbow. My wife was surprised to hear my turmoil on the tarmac of temple tower. The neighbours in the queue certified my experience, stating that I was one of the few lucky piligrims who experienced the toss. After applying band aid we proceeded to have our free lunch. In between I thought I will use my time to shoot some turbulent sea shots from the safety of the window, I aimed and clicked……………..booooooooooooooooom went the sound and alas the flash was down. Maybe the electrical charge of the nature was too overpowering for H3 too handle. I just checked all other functions were ok. I just quickly removed the battery and packed the camera into a dry handkerchief and deposited the same in my wife’s purse. We finished our lunch just 10 minutes short of deadline and proceeded to collect our luggage at the counter.

Alas one more, surprise was in store, one of my slipper was blown into the sea. With one slipper on I marched ahead to find the luggage counter closed for lunch ahead of time. Luckily the lodge owner of Kamat was the owner of the luggage counter, we request him to once again open the counter. He obliged. Now we found to our horror that there were no autos. The errand boy suggested we walk ahead to catch an auto from the stand. Most of the autos had vacated the place due to the fear of being plunged into the sea. We waited helplessly, suddenly we found an auto braving into our shelter as if sent by the Lord. The auto driver was so helpful in finding us a shoe shop. I quickly asked the owner to give me a paragoan slipper as replace for my bata. The driver at last dropped us back to our boarding station, wherein we missed the bus, and we resigned once to the waiting game, which was just 5 minutes, once again the Lord helped us with a comfortable bus ride back to udupi.

We were blessed with continuous rainfall, and the journey went on smooth, except for an oil tanker accident. In the end, we reached Mulki and proceeded towards our hideout without much ado. The moral of the story is that Fortune favours the brave, and lord helps the devotees who determined.

Karwar, an ancient port

The landscape of Karwar forms a natural harbour without much of rocky surface which is dangerous for sailing ships. The scenic beauty around the Kali river and Sadashivghad prompted Rabindranath Tagore to write his first treatise on Nature’s revenge :

Here in Karwar I wrote the Prakritir Pratishodha, Nature's Revenge, a dramatic poem. The hero was a Sanyasi (hermit) who had been striving to gain a victory over Nature by cutting away the bonds of all desires and affections and thus to arrive at a true and profound knowledge of self.

Rabindranath tagore described Karwar in utmost eloquence in Chapter 37 of his memoirs

The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realise that the beauty of Nature is not a mirage of the imagination, but reflects the joy of the Infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves in it. Where the universe is expressing itself in the magic of its laws it may not be strange if we miss its infinitude; but where the heart gets into immediate touch with immensity in the beauty of the meanest of things, is any room left for argument?

No wonder Karwar served as an important trading port during the Vijaynagar empire, later under the Bahmani’s, Portuguese and the British empire. Currently it is being developed as the biggest Naval base in India under the camouflaged umbrella.

Karwar is blessed with a decent port town from where the mines are exported in plenty from Goa and pockets of Karnataka. The beach is being developed with landscaping and Naval museum, Toy train, and acquarium.

Naval Museum :
The INS Chapel, which took an important part in the Indo-pak war in 1971, which destroyed the Karachi harbour beyond recognition, which lead to Pakistan surrendering has been decommissioned in 2005. Thereafter in lieu of the naval base it has been converted as Naval museum, with entry ticket of Rs 15 per head. The timings of the museum is between 10 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. The video presentation on the big screen inside the warship is quite informative and should not be missed. The mannequins of the captain, crew are so real that one gets astounded by their finesse. The deck scenario is quite reminiscent of Titanic, may be a photoshop can create the effect, just try it. The torpedoes and missiles too on display. The highlight is the engine room and cabin room of this banana split war ship which wrecked havoc in the enemy camps.

Acquarium : For a nominal entry fee of Rs 3/- one gets to witness the unique verities of acqua species. The highlight being sting rays, sea snakes, in this museum. How we wish that a fish canteen is opened for tourists to enjoy.
Toy Train : A nice round trip can be had on the toy train around the museum and pine trees on the Karwar beach. We did not find it operating due to heavy downpour. The ride costs Rs 10/- per head. The timings of the ride are same as the museum.

Karwar Beach : A garden on one end, which is still to be completed. An old arched building for view point is battered due to the inclement weather. One can have a lovely view of the Karwar port, the horizons of the beach and fishermen folks. This is the ideal videography or photographic point in the entire beach. During the night times there almost a juhu chowpatty type of scenario on the beach front with pani poori stalls.

Sadashivghad Fort :
Situated on the northern banks of the kali river Sadashivghad Fort served as a strategic point for the kings of the land, which acted as a watch tower. Originally there was a mud fort under the vijayanagar rulers, which was captured and destroyed by the Portuguese in 1510. Then under the tutlege of the pepper queen in 1552 the Fort seems to have been resurrected and served as her empires boundary till 1606. Shivaji Maharaj conquered the fort on 21st Feb 1665. Shivaji installed the Durga Devi temple, which was later converted into Shantadurga temple by the Bhandari community. The full scale fort was than rebuilt by Basavalingaraj in memory of his father Sadashivlingaraj in 1715. The fort was captured by Tipu Sultan in 1793 and was under his reign till 1799. Originally the fort was on huge hillock which has been now sliced to form a road and bridge across the river Kali for people to commute from Karnataka to Goa. The fort seems to have been pulled down by the British in 1883 by General Mathews for creating the access by road to Goa and it served as a strategic border of the territory of the Portuguese and the British. The british took guard for nearly 150 years over this strategic point to protect their interest against the Portuguese.

Currently Sadshivghad fort is being used as Estuary lodge under lease to a private outfit under the jungle lodge & resorts. There is one modern building for lodging with a restaurant overseeing the kali river, devbagh beach and the Arabian sea. The sunset can be beautifully viewed against the backdrop of the beach. The food order can take upto 1 hour, so better to order for the same and than have a good look at the landscape which seems to have been rebuilt with stone horse, carvings of dance postures, and cannon built in laterite stone. The rate quoted is 3600 for a couple with all 3 times meals taken care of.

Hazarath Dargah :On the other side of the Sadashivghad fort is the Dargah dedicated to Hazarath Sayed Shah Shamsuddin. This dargah seems to have been built in the 17th century under the patronage Bahamani sultans and later by Tipu sultan. It attracts lot of pilgrims.

Temple : A durga temple was renovated & built under the patronage of Chatrapathi Shivaji in 1665. The current temple was renovated and built by the Bhandari community in 1928, who had the reputation of being sailors. However the ancient charm is maintained by the cannons of Shivaji Maharaj and Tipu Sultan on the staircase leading upto the temple. The irony is that cannons are pointed in the direction of the river bank of kali and its township. The heritage value of the temple is lost to a large extent, with whitwashed paintings.

Devbagh Beach Resort :
This is run by Jungle Lodge and resorts with a steep tariff starting from Rs 2500/- per pax with AP. This isle resort is an exclusive spot which has water sports, houseboats, dolphin beaches and golden sandy beaches. One can enjoy nature with river and beach to the hilt.