Friday, 6 December 2013

Ozone Margashira

The two words in the title are as far as anybody can imagine...but the commonality is the timing...It is believed that Ozone production is at its highest levels in this season, and hence the early morning sunrays are safest and the most beneficial in Margashira. No wonder then that the traditional practices also promote the same by giving ample opportunities for people to get outdoors early in the day.

Celebrations in Margashira masa:


Typically, large rangolis are drawn in front of the houses (again, early in the morning) and several festivals are celebrated to contemplate God, especially Krishna. It is said that in Gita, Krishna says "I am Margashira masa". And that is exactly why "Gita Jayanthi" is also celebrated in the same month when Bhagavadgita is supposed to have taken birth. A time when Gita, Vedas and Upanishads are re-visited with fervour and chanted in unison. In the olden times, as remembered by my Mother In Law, Goddesses Gowri and Lakshmi were prayed to under the Avare Chappara -  A broad beans creeper thicket, this also being the season of Avarekai. The other major festivals celebrated (visibly) are Hanumadjayanthi, Datta Jayanthi and Subbarayana Shashti (also called Skanda shashti and Prathama shashti - I shall explain later the reason for it being called Prathama or first shashti). 

So, to summarize the events:

Margashira (Day 6 - Shashti): Subbarayanashashti - at Kukke Subramanya and Sajjanrao circle temple Bangalore

Margashira (Day 11 - Ekadashi): Gita Jayanthi, Vaikunta Ekadashi

Margashira (Day 13 - Thrayodashi): Hanumadjayanthi - at Ragi gudda

Margashira (Day 15 - Full moon): Dattatreya Jayanthi or Datta Jayanthi

Pushya (Day 6 - Shashti): ThuLu shashti - at Ghaati Subramanya

Magha (Day 6 - Shashti): Kumara shashti - at Gonibeedu

Hanumadjayanthi in Bangalore:

Hanumadjayanthi is most prominently celebrated at Ragigudda temple for full ten days. The event would include several pooja, Homa, Havana and unique alankaaras (decorations) to Lord Hanumantha (or Hanuman) every day. On the main day, Lord Hanumatha can be seen in Vajrakavacha - a diamond studded vest. Lakhs visit the Kshethra for the spectacle. The vade-maale (a garland of Vada) can also be seen as a special offering during these days. The evenings are made melancholic at the venue with several famous classical artists adding melody and rhythm. The surroundings of the temple are anything but a mela with all arterial roads packed with street-hawkers selling wares. 

Subbarayana Shashti in Bangalore:

A brief history of Subbarayana Shashti: 
The legend says that Lord Subramanya, the elder son of Lord Shiva was cursed to be born as Ghata sarpa (a snake - this is not the same as Adisesha, the snake on which Vishnu sleeps). So, his first appearance as a snake occured at the moola sthaLa Kukke Subramanya. However, there was a serpeant eagle hovering above the region. So, Subramanya went into the burrow (Bila) and re-appreared at two places, Ghaati Subramanya and Gonibeedu. Since he first appeared at Kukke, and also because Margashira shashti appears first in the row, the event is celebrated as Prathama Shashti (first). The next celebration happens on the sixth day of the following month, Pushya masa at Ghaati. The last appearance is celebrated on the sixth day of the third month in the series, Magha masa (the day before Rathasapthami) at Gonibeedu. On all the three occasions, Rathothsava (car-festival) is organised by the temple committees and devotees throng the events in lakhs.

Temple Gopura

I will focus the rest of this blog-post on the event celebrated at the Subramanya Temple at Sajjanrao circle, V V Puram (Vishweshwarapuram), one of the old heritage temples in the city. The temple was conceptualised by Sajjanrao himself, and the evidence of this can still be seen in the form of a statue dedicated to him in the temple. This is the most popular venue in Bangalore for the celebration of Subbarayana Shashti in Margashira masa. A silver ratha (belliteru) or car is used to take the Lord (Uthsavamurthy) around the vicinity. Again, thousands visit the temple all round the day and take part in pulling the ratha. The ratha is taken half distance around the large circle in the first half of the day, and remaining part is completed in the evening.

Subramanya Temple V V Puram

Devotees lined up for darshana

There is an interesting story told by people about the Subramanya temple. It goes like this: "Devotees were in search of Utsava murthy for the main idol and ended up constructing a new temple. The Utsava murthy was in the possession of a Parsi businessman in Eden!". 

Lakshmi on the temple gopura

Well, in South Bangalore, a large festival at temple is always accompanied by a Jathre (mela) in the area. So is the Subbarayana shashti. All by-lanes around Sajjanrao circle (which also houses several other famous temples such as those of Lord Venkateshwara, Goddess Kannika Parameshwari or Vasavi, Lord Ayyappa and Lord Sathyanarayana) carry festive atmosphere setting the right mood for a casual day out with spiritual leaning.

Belliteru with Subramanyaswamy Uthsavamurthy

In the procession

Belliteru at dusk

Not to be missed at Sajjanrao circle:

Diagonal road

While you are there, following are the most popular things about V V Puram, which is predominantly the home for many Arya-vaishyas.

Avarebele mela: This being a season of Avarekai, Vasavi condiments hosts the Avarebele mela. Every concievable dish with Avarebele is available for you to relish, Avarebele HoLige being the most favoured flavour these days, followed by bhajjis and bondas made of the same beans.

v b bakery: Being at Sajjanrao circle, missing a visit to this age-old bakery is nothing less than a sin. Try their KBC bun (Khara-Butter-Congress) and also all other favourites from Iyengar bakeries. An experience to remember, a taste to cherish.

thindi beedhi (eat street): Come sunset, the place lights up literally with petromaxes from the all the street side food vendor carts serving all favourites...Idli, all varieties of dosas, akki rotti, gunthpanglu, thatte idli, Hot Holige, Hot Jalebi, really thick Badam milk with a layer of thick cream at the top, tikki poori, nippattu masala, and the likes. Also make some place for masala pepsi and Gulkand ice-cream to make sure you don't repent later.

So, having heard so much about the place, you sure want to get glimpses of the event. Here you go.





Forture teller

Balloon sellers with their wares

Evening scene

stuffed puppies

wax veggies

elated by attention


Typically Margashira month coincides with December / January month.

In 2015, following are the dates of occurrences:

Subbarayana Shashti, Belliteru 2015: Dec 17, Thursday

Gita Jayanthi: Dec 21, Monday

Vaikunta Ekadashi: Dec 21, Monday

Hanumadjayanthi: Dec 23, Wednesday

Sources: Most of the information are popular beliefs as told by my mother, and in-laws or as understood from the media.  

The pictures are from the year 2010 shot handheld with Nikon D50, 18-55 mm lens....jpeg mode!

Thanks for your visit and hope you enjoyed the blog!

Belliteru 2013: You can checkout the latest images here. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Night on the beach

Fancy title...huh? So, what did you expect? secluded beaches and romantic nights? Sorry no luck..

We are talking about beaches of the Maximum city...of Mumbai that never sleeps...

So, here are some glimpses of the images that have got stuck in my mind of the life on the beaches of Mumbai...of chowpatty and Juhu...of Pav Bhaji, vada pav and slurpy Gola. One can never get enough of them! or can you?

While the water is as dirty as it can get, the activity on the beach is as diverse as the nation Mumbai represents financially.

All the shots below are taken hand-held and with available light (not even flash used). It gives a lovely feel to just see it as is, and not enhance it. Please ignore the minute hand shakes and the warm tone rendered by the omni-present orange lights. Also, the inherent noise in all of them is due to high ISO (640 or higher).

Faraway view of the southern tip of Mumbai city from Chowpatty, with the clouds threatening to spoil the fun

Another view from Chowpatty !

Juhu....looks like namma city market

the sinning station

A sand sculpture taking shape...a Navratri special I guess

Who is the entertained??

The blazing gaze

Love is in the are bubbles

peak-business time for the masseurs on the beach

The tall me and the taller him

Pet in expression...actually a balloon

This could be my share for Ambedkar Jayanthi

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Tea Connoisseur in the LAND OF COFFEE!

Towards the end of the plains near Belur, the landscape hints at something different. By the time you meet the board "Welcome to Chikmagalur, the Land of Coffee", the sight is anything but plain land. Far away, the hills beckon. And in monsoons, this ChandradroNa hill range present a wonderland with the best in nature, be it the lush greenery, the numerous streams gushing through the foliage, the rare pretty flowers by the roads, exotic fauna or the best of all, the serene smooth green hills covered in clouds and mist. When its Chikmagalur, there is an additional visual extravaganza of thick plantations of coffee and creepy peppers in all directions.

Having got married into a family from Chikmagalur, I have come to terms with some of the facts such as:

- Looking at the clock means its been an hour since one had coffee. And thats looooong time.
- Visitors come home only so we can have coffee. So, saying "coffee kodla?" is an just have to manufacture it in the first 300 seconds!
- People who go to Coffee Day for coffee are actually mad. 
- Instant coffee is a scam.
- If you dont know how much chicory your coffee has, then you better not have it.
- Tea?? What is tea? But, that is what I have to tackle everyday, since I specialise in this department.
- Any town or village in Chikmagalur Dist. is native place and we definitely have a couple of homes to visit.
- You dont know what is good kannada if you have not spoken with somebody from CKM.
- Bad roads have nothing to do with the stinking riches in the town.
- Any movie song you watch on TV, you should know which locale in CKM it was shot

So, here we are....a Bangalore bahu visiting her CKM sasuraal for an auspicious occasion...a fabulous time in a gorgeous place....thanks to all the Nitturs!

With the little time we could gather to head out of town, I have tried to document some of the greatest sights from the trip....

Town from a distance:

God's Spotlight

Thurchigudda and the town beyond

The hop-me gate  - for every kid

HirekoLale lake adjacent to the CKM town

On the hills:

View of Ghaatikallu as you drive towards Kavikalgandi

The ridge between Mullaiyangiri and Baba budangiri ranges

What does it feel like to live there on top of the ridge overseeing two huge valleys 

Moss on gyan :-)

misty road to the top

Shades of green - this is my top favourite

Simple house surrounded by luxuries of nature

This and that:

Vivekananda view spot at Kavikalgandi

Anjaneya lucky to have a house here

Just the right thing to enjoy the waterfall - hot tea

Honnammana Halla

Mossy bridge

The textures and colours

Honnammana Halla view when your feet is in freezing water

Hot tea to enjoy the chilling falls

Effortless sightings on the way:



So, if this is just one shade, I beam with the thought of possibilities from remaining 362 days!!

Valley of flowers!! right here in CKM

Photo Gear: Nikon D7000 camera, Nikkor 18-105mm VR lens. All shots hand held.

Travel route by road: Bangalore -> Kunigal -> Bellur Cross -> Hirisave -> Channarayapatna -> Shantigrama -> Hassan -> Belur -> CKM totalling to 280 kms. Tip: Always avoid the yeshwantpur and peenya junctions, very dense traffic...Try Nice road if you are from way south and join close to Nelamangala. Keep change for toll booths: approx Rs. 250 one way if you take nice road.

Food: There are several good restaurants all along the way. But the best bet is to make it to CKM in one go. It just takes 3 and 1/2 hours. Unbelievable but true because most of the towns on the way have bypass roads and the route is a 2-lane well-laid highway till Shantigrama (the work is on in the remaining stretch but the road is tolerable).

Stay: CKM has some old time hotels like "Planters Court" and relatively new ones like "S K Regency" all in basic budget ranges and facilities. The Gateway Hotel always has a good offer for any season. The Serai of course spoils you for that price. You could definitely explore the homestays existent in every nook and corner of that region. 

Town Specialities: Visit Town Canteen for their oily dosas and Jamuns, Hanumanthappa circle for Churmuri, Hiremagalur temple and have a chit-chat with Sri. Hiremagaluru Kannan (the temple priest who recites kannada shlokas in the temple), Krishna temple in Basavanahalli maintained by the Muzrai Dept.(saturday evenings are special here since the whole traditional part of town congregates here for Bhajane, which has transcended into family tradition for households from CKM now living elsewhere including mine), Golf Club and Rathnagiri Bore for a toy train ride. 

Around Chikmagalur: Even a month's stay in the region is insufficient to explore all the tourist attractions available here, and there are options catering to varied interests be it wild life, birding, nature, landscapes, history, party and entertainment, coffee experience, adventure, luxury, pampering, culture and heritage, spirituality and religion, any and all of these.

So, you have a good trip soon, and ask me if you need help.

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