Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Beautiful Roads Of India: Mumbai - Chennai National Highway : NH4

India has a huge road network. There are different kinds of roads maintained by different authorities. The major ones are the National Highways (NH), Expressways, State Highways (SH), District Roads & Village Roads.
NH4 :
 NH 4 links four cities - Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. NH 4 is 1,235 km  in length and passes through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In Karnataka it passes through Tumkur, Chitrdurga, Dvanagere, Ranebennur, Haveri, Hubli, Dharwad and Belgaum and then reaching Kolhapur - Maharashtra.
An overloaded Truck on NH4

I often travel on NH4 from Bangalore to Haveri and then take turn to reach my hometown Sirsi. I love this road because driving is so smooth and makes me crazy. And also I love the beautiful countryside scenes it offers throughout my journey.

Windmills near Chitradurga :
View of wind mills near Chitradurga is awesome. Chitradurga has over 200 wind turbines situated on the surrounding hill.  NH4 offers a spectacular view of these wind mills.
View Of The Wind Mills near Chitradurga

Beautiful Country Side Scenes :
NH4 offers scenic beauty and charm of countryside India - One can see farms, tractors, cattle, rivers, hills etc which will make your journey beautiful.
View Of a Rocky Hill From NH4 near Tumkur
Herd of Goats Grazing in the field

Thanks to National Highway Authority Of India (NHAI) and then prime minister Mr.Atal Bihari Vajpayee for aprpoving this project. And also thanks to those land owners who have sacrificed acres of their land for construction of NH4. 

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cave Sculptures of Murudeshwar - Beautiful Narration of The Story Of Aatmalinga

As I had written in my previous post on Murudeshwar, I am here with the description of those beautiful sculptures in an artificial cave on Kanduka hills of Murudeshwar. This artificial cave is situated at the base of the biggest Shiva Statue. You can enter this cave by paying an entry fees of 10Rs. The collected amount is utilised for Annandana  -  lunch facility to the visitors. Once entered, a colourful magnificent sculptures - made of plaster of paris take you to a mythological world. These Sculptures narrate the story of Aatmalinga - How Ravana took the AatmaLinga from Lord Shiva and what made him to throw the AatmaLinga. This is narrated by a sound and light show.  You can move seeing each of the sculptures and listening to the story.
The story of Aatmalinga (Soul Of Shiva):
Raavana's mother was a devotee of Shiva. She worshipped Shiva Linga made of sand.She wished to worship Aatmalinga and conveyed her wish to her son Raavana.
It is believed that by worshipping Aatmalinga one will attain immortality and invincibility. Even the Lanka King Ravana wanted to attain immortality by obtaining the AtmaLinga.  Ravana worshipped Shiva with devotion. 
This became cause of worry to Naarada. Naarada thought if Raavana gets Aatmalinga then he will misuse its power to cause the evil to the world. So Naarada approached  Shri Vishnu and requested him to change Raavana's mind.
In spite of Raavana's severe penance , Lord Shiva did not appear. So Raavana became furious and lifted the Kailasa Parvata.
Satisfied by Raavana's worship, Lord Shiva appeared with wife Parvati. By this time, Vishnu had played his trick to divert Raavana's mind. Because of this trick, Raavana asked Parvati from Shiva. And Shiva let Parvati go with Raavana.
On his way back to Lanka Narada tells Ravana that Lord had not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Paatala (The world below the earth). When Raavana turned back, Parvati appeared as Mahakaali.
Horrified by this, Raavana went to Paatala Loka.In Paatala Loka, Mandodari, daughter of the King looked like Parvati to Raavana and he married her.
When Raavana returned with his wife, his mother scolded him for not bringing the Aatmalinga.
Ravana then comes to know of the tricks played on him by Lord Vishnu. He therefore prays to Lord Shiva again, begging for his forgiveness. He started sacrificing himself to Lord Shiva, cutting every organ.
Finally when he started cutting his head, Shiva appeared and gave him the Aatmalinga with the condition that it should never be placed on the ground. If the Atmalinga was ever placed on the ground/earth, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva again. Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka.
Sage Narada, who came to know of this incident, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth. He approached the Lord Ganesh and requested him to prevent the AatmaLinga from reaching Lanka. Lord Ganesh knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who used to perform prayer ritual in the evening (Sandhya Vandana) every day without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to take back the AatmaLinga from Ravana.
As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu masked the sun with his Sudarshana Chakra to give the appearance of evening. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals (Sandhya Vandana) but was worried because with the AtmaLinga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. 
Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the AatmaLinga on the ground. As predicted, before Ravana could return after completing his rituals, Ganesh had already placed the AtmaLinga on the ground. Raavana became very furious and hit Ganesha on his head. As the result Ganesha had a small hole like structure on his head. 
 Vishnu then took his Sudarshana Chakra back to remove the  illusion and it was daylight again. Ravana, realising that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy it. Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered.
The case of the Aatmalinga fell in Surathkal and worshipped as Sajjeshwara.
The lid of the case fell in a place called Gunavanthe and worshipped as Gunavantheshwara.
The thread of the Aatmalinga fell in a place called Dhareshwara worsipped as Dharanatha.
The cloth covered to Aatmalinga fell on Kanduka hill, and now it is called and worshipped as Murudeshwara.
The place where Aatmalinga placed on the earth, is called Gokarna and worshipped as Mahabaleshwara. 
I was lost in the mythological world and had gone to those days of Ramayana. When I came out of the cave I realized that I am in Kaliyuga :) The sculptures are built so nicely that expressions on the face are very clear.  Hats off to the brain behind this awesome cave. Dont miss to enter this cave whenever you visit Murudeshwar. You will be in the hangover of these sculptures for many days.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Murudeshwar - A Perfect Blend Of Scenic Beauty and Spirituality

 A phone call from my friend from Murudeshwar made me to recollect my visits to this beautiful placeMurudeshwar is a town in the Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the state of Karnataka, India lying on the coast of the Arabian Sea. It is famous for a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is pilgrims paradise and located on NH 17.
The legend of Murudeshwar goes back to the age of Ramayana. The ancient temple which stood for ages was fast dilapating. The locals tried rebuilding the sanctum sanctorum earlier, but it did not last long. Then the businessman and philanthropist Mr. R.N. Shetty, who hails from Murudeshwar,  started renovation work in 1977 with a team of craftsmen and artisans. So the credit of beautiful, modern Murudeshwar goes to Mr. R N Shetty and his team.
Distance View Of the Temple
This temple is built on the Kanduka Hill and offers breathtaking scenery because it is surrounded on three sides by the water of the Arabian Sea. This temple is built in granite. Besides the temple, sculptures and monuments enhance the beauty of Murudeshwar Temple. These Sculptures tell stories of Shiva and Ravana. The pilgrim finds himself in the midst of other numerous sculptures on the Kanduka hill. Right from the monumental entrance arch, the divinity of the place envelops the pilgrim. Some of the attractive sculptures and monuments are -
1. World's second Largest Shiva Statue : A huge  statue of Lord Shiva, visible from great distances, is present in the temple complex. It is the second highest statue of Lord Shiva in the world. The Tallest Lord shiva statue is in Nepal known as the Kailashnath Mahadev Statue. The statue is 123 feet in height and took about two years to build. The statue was built by Shivamogga's Kashinath (You can see his name near the feet of the Statue) and several other sculptors ofcourse, financed by Mr. R.N. Shetty. Now this Shiva Statue has become the landmark of Murudeshwar.

2. Sculpture of the Geetopadesha by Lord Krishna to Arjuna

3. Sun chariot
Front View of the Sun Chariot
Back View Of The Sun Chariot
4. The sculpture of Lord Ganesh receiving the Atmalinga from Ravana in the form of a young boy

5. 22 Storeyed Rajagopura  - The Rajagopura at the entrance of the Temple complex is the world's tallest, standing at 249 feet. This is the newly added masterpiece and inaugurated in May 2008. The Gopura has 22 floors and is the only Gopura to be fitted with elevators.

6. Sculpture of two big elephants at the steps leading to main temple.

7. An artificial cave with impressive life-size sculptures depicting the story of Murudeshwar and Atmalinga narrated through an impressive sound and light show.
( Click Here to read my post on this artificial cave)
 Not just the Temple and sculptures, Murudeshwar has a plentiful to appeal to the visitor. The scenic beauty of this coastal town is sure to relax and rejuvenate you!
The calm and wide sea soothes the senses even before you enter the water. A stroll along the seaside pathway with green landscape on one side and the sea on the other is the ultimate relaxation. You can enjoy half an hour boating facility in the sea. Boating is very thrilling experience here as you can see back side of the temple and Kanduka hill.
If you are hungry then head to the beautiful seaside canteen (RNS Naveen Restaurent) that's built on piers raised from the seabed. This restaurant offers a beautiful view of the sea. 

There's more for the children. There's a wavepool and waterpark also nestled on the hillock.
Definitely not to be missed is the spectacular sunset across the sea on a clear evening. The best view would be from the Sunset Point next to the wavepool. Now I am falling short of words to describe this scenic and spiritual  beauty of this place.
RN Shetty Trust : Description about Murudeshwar will not be completed without mentioning about Mr. R N Shetty, the brain behind Murudeshwar's transformation. With a view to develop the once sleepy village and provide quality education to the children he has opened schools and colleges which serve the neighbouring villages.
R.N Shetty (known as RNS) Trust has opened a School, Pre University College, a Polytechnic that offers Diploma in technical courses, a teachers' training college, a nursing school, nursing college and a Medical College and Hospital. These institutes are equipped with state of the art facilities and provide quality and affordable education to the locals.
Best Time to Visit Murudeshwar :
I have visited Murudeshwar many times in all the seasons. Each season brings out a different color of the coastal town. But best time would be from October - May.
A car festival is held during February - March. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated here with a grand manner.
How to reach Murudeshwar :
Murudeshwar is well connected by road, train and flight. Most buses plying on the NH-17 between Mangalore and Mumbai stop at Murudeshwar. There are overnight buses also from Bangalore to Murudeshwar.
The nearest airport is also at Mangalore. Daily flights operate from Bangalore to Mangalore.
But the most picturesque and memorable experience would be to reach Murudeshwar from Mangalore or Goa by Konkan Railway and alight at Murudeshwar railway station adjoining the National Highway. Many trains stop at this station. From Murudeshwar Railway station,  just 10 mins enough to reach the temple. You can sea entrance arch to the temple from Railway Station.
Food and Stay :
You can stay in one of the RNS group of Hotels. There are variety of options for food and stay to suit your budget.
-> RNS Guest house - Located just behind the temple on the Kanduka Hill
-> RNS Naveen Beach Resort - Located right opposite to the sea shore
-> RNS Golf Resort- Located alongside the seashore of Murudeshwar
If you want to stay near the railway station then Hotel Benzy International would be one of the options.
Nearest attractions : A place called Kadavinakatta which is situated just 25 Kms away from Murudeshwar offers a beautiful dam and a temple of Goddess Durga Parameshwari. 
Click Here to read my post on Kadavinakatta.