Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The first of the three Rangas

The post on the three Rangas in the three islands of Srirangapatna, Shivanasamudra and Srirangam which houses the Ranganatha statues has received several queries on places in and around each of the three places.
Several people have asked us about tourist and pilgrim places around each of these three Kshetras or pilgrim places.   
According to belief, if you visit all the three Rangas in a day, you will get a lot of Punya. All the three places are Vaishnava centres and all of them have temples dedicated to Narayana or Ranganatha in a sleeping posture.
All the three temples are located across the Cauvery and they follow and conduct almost the same rituals. You have to start the tour from Srirangapatna by taking a dip in the Cauvery and then head to the other two Rangas. 
While Srirangapatna is known as the Adi Ranga, Shivanasamudra is termed as Madhya Ranga and Srirangam as Antya Ranga. While the first two Rangas are in Karnataka, the third is in Tamil Nadu.
So let me start with places of interest in and around Srirangapatna. All these places can be covered in two days and they are easily accessible by road.
Srirangapatna is an island fortress and it is 110 kilometres from Bangalore, It is easily accessible by both road and rail from Bangalore, Mysore is the nearest City with excellent road and rail communication and it is 19 kms from Srirangapatna.
Srirangapatna is a religious and historic town. This is the place where Tipu Sultan died battling the British on May 4, 1799. Apart from the Ranganatha Swamy Temple, check out the Narasimha Temple nearby.
The place where Tipu died is identified by a small stone slab. It s here that Tipu died fighting. Nearby is the Bailay dungeon where British prisoners of war were held. A little away is an obelisk. The Jama Masji is one of the most elegant structures of the town and it has a sun dial on which Tipu depended for knowing the time.
A little distance away from the main gate of the temple is the recently excavated tunnel leading to the palace of Tipu which is another ruin opposite the Ranganatha Temple. Local lore has it that one of the balconies of the Lal Mahal or palace of Tipu was so built that Tipu could get a glimpse of Ranganatha every day after he got up.
(An interesting aside here is that Tipu never slept in a bed. He slept in a closed room which oversaw the inner courtyard of the palace. The room was sparsely furnished and it had a beautiful hammock on which Tipu slept. The hammock was dismantled after the British ravaged the palace in 1799 and taken away).
A little away from Srirangapatna is Daria Daulat, the palace. It has some excellent paintings and artifacts. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden. Down the road is the Gumbaz is where Tipu is buried along with his father Hyder Ali and his mother.
English and contemporary accounts recount that when the cortege containing the body of Tipu was being escorted to the Gumbaz by British soldiers, heavy rains lashed Srirangapatna. To this day, rain falls on the day Tipu was buried.
A little away from the Gumbaz is Sangam where three rivers meet-Cauvery, Kabini and Hemavathi. This is an excellent boating and picnic spot. This is just three kms from Srirangapatna.
Another place worth a visit is the Nimishamba Temple in Ganjam. This houses the idol of Parvati and since she is supposed to grant a boon within a minute of asking, the place came to be known as Nimishamba. Nimisha in Kannada means a minute. This is 2 kms from Srirangapatna.
Gosai Ghat is another picnic spot. Several Kannada, Tamil and Telugu films have been shot. The Cauvery is at its best here. Enjoy a coracle ride.
Just two kilometres from Gosai Ghat is another scenic spot called Paschima Vahini. There are several heritage buildings and bathing ghats of the Wodayar Emperors here. The heritage buildings and the bathing ghats are in a dilapidated condition.  This ghat is visible from the Bangalore-Mysore highway.
If you still have time, check out the French cemetery in Srirangapatna, Inman’s Prison which was discovered almost a century after Tipu died, Wellesley bridge and several ancient temples.


This is one of the best known bird sanctuaries in India. Though it is small, you can spot several species of  birds. The sanctuary adjoins Srirangapatna.


This is a hill on which a temple of Srinivada is situated. It is just a a few kilometres away from Srirangapatna and it is off the Bangalore-Mysore road. Karighatta means Black Hill in Kannada. The srinivasa is called Karigirivasa or Bairagi Venkataramana. The epithet ‘Bairagi’ for this idol is derived from the fact that when alankara  or flower decoration is done to the deity, it resembles a Bairagi or mendicant.
A small river, Lokapavani, a tributary of  Cauvery, flows by the hill. The head to Mysore, the royal city of the Wodeyars.


Mysore is 136 kms from Bangalore and 19 kms from Srirangapatna. This is the city of palaces and home to Chamundi, the Goddess, who slew the demon Mahishasura.
The Chamundi temple is located atop the Chamundi Hills which you can either climb or motor up. The Godly museum, the statue of Mahishasura (this is the exact place where he was slain by Chamundi), the Dodda Basava or Nandi, the Rajendra Vilas palace and a few other temples are worth a visit.
A little away from the Chamundi temple is Devi Kola or a tank from which water is drawn to perform abhisheka to Chamunid. Enjoy an unrestricted view of Mysore and its surroundings from the hill. There are a number of buses from Mysore bus stand to the hill. The temple opens from 7 a.m., to 2 p.m., and again from 3-30 p.m., to 9 p.m.
The Jayachamrajendra Zoologial Garden is one of the oldest and the best zoos in India. It has a variety of wildlife. The museum inside is worth a visit. The zoo also houses an Anaconda in a special enclosure. The zoo is opne from 8-30 a.m., and Tuesday is a holiday.
The Regional Museum of Natural History and Melody World wax museum are near to each other. The wax museum is a new addition and it is at the beginning of the Siddarthanagar locality.
The main palace or the Mysore palace is the star attraction of Mysore and it is one of the largest residential palaces in the world. The palace is illuminated in the evenings. This is regarded as among the top five best palaces in the world. There are twelve temples within the fort. Each portion of the magnificent palace has its own tale to narrate.
The palace is a masterpiece of several styles. It was commissioned in 1897 and completed in 1914 and it then cost a little more than Rs. 40 lakhs. It was designed by Sir Henry Irwin, who also designed the Viceregal lodge in Shimla. After the Taj Mahal in Agra, this palace draws the largest number of visitors.
The palace is open to the public from 10 a.m., till 5-30 p.m. The illumination on all Sundays and public holidays is from 7 p.m., to 8 p.m.      
Near to the main palace is the Jaganmohan palace which houses many artifacts. The best among them are the painting of the lady with the lamp and the French musical clock.
This palace was completed in 1861 and it was used by the royal family after the main palace accidentally burnt down during a wedding in 1897. It has one of the largest collection of artifacts in south India. It has several paintings by Raja Ravi Verma, Roerichs and Tagore. The palace is open from 8-30 a.m., to 6 p.m.
The Lalitha Mahal hotel at the foothills of the Chamundi is a five star hotel. Check out the architecturally pleasing building and if you can afford to splurge, have a bite. It is definitely going to burn a hole in your pocket.   
The Manasa Gangotri is the campus housing Mysore University. The Crawford Hall is worth a visit as is the folklore museum. Adjacent to the University is the Kukkaranahalli lake.
The sandal factory and Cauvery emporium are other major attractions. The KRS dam is accessible from Mysore, Mandya or even Srirangapatna. The musical fountain show is in the evenings. The Fountain timings are 7 P.M., to 7.55 P.M., on weekdays and  7 P.M to 8.55 P.M., on holidays.
During winter, the fountain timings are from 6.30 P.M., to 7.25 P.M., on weekdays and from 6.30 P.M. to 8.25 P.M., on holidays The dam is built across the Cauvery and it is a marvel of engineering. The credit for the dam goes to Sir M. Visveshvaraiah.
The Brindavan Gardens of the KRS has been a popular shoot for hundreds of Indian films. It was among the first landscaped gardens of a dam.
Mysore has several temples and other places of interest. The Oriental Reseach Library is one for students and scholars and it was here that the Arthashastra of Kautilya or Chanakya was discovered.
The Railway museum, St. Philomena’s Church, Karanji lake, Ligambudi lake, the Ganapathi Sachidananda Ashrama are other places worth a visit.


Near Mysore is Balamuri where the Cauvery takes a reverse. Upstream is Yadamuri. Both are easily accessible. Balamuri is located midway between Mysore and KRS Dam. The nearest town is Belagola.


This is another little known bird sanctuary near Mysore. It is one of the most scenic places around and what makes it attractive is that it is not as well-known as other places.


This is a tiny hamlet across the Cauvery 25 kms from Mysore. There is an old Vyasaraja Matha here. The backwaters of the KRS form a beautiful water body. Take a train ride to this place from Mysore and enjoy its beauty. 


This old temple town is just a few miles (23 kms) from Mysore and it is approachable either by road or rail. The Mysore airport is midway between Mysore and Nanjangud.
The Nanjundeshwara Temple here dedicated to Shiva is one of the biggest in south India. The town is on the banks of Kapila. The deity is also called Srikanteshwara.
Nearby is the temple of Raghavendra Swamy. It is only here that we can see an idol of Raghavendra Swamy. The idol was recovered by a washerman from the Cauvery in Srirangapatna. It is also known for a variety of bananas and tooth powder. It is also home to Ayurvedic products.
A little away from the old Nanjungud railway station is Asia’s oldest railway bridge. This is a heritage structure.


Continue on the Nanjangud road and touch Chamarajanagar which is 38 kms away. This district headquarters is accessible by both road and rail. This is the southern end of Karnataka. This town is famous for the temple of Chamarajeshwara. It is surrounded by several hills stations of which ths most famous is BR Hills. 


Kanakagiri is an important Jain centre. It is the only siddakshetra in South India and the only one for Jainism for performing Kalasarpadosha Parihara pooja. This is 18 kms from Chamarajanagar.
The temple of Parsavanath, one of the Theerthankaras, is atop a hill. The idol is five feet in height and black in colour. Maleyur, three kms away from here, is known for its thick forest cover and its sandalwood.


A little more than 34 kms away is one of the finest Vaishanava shrines in India and this is the well-know temple town of  Melkote. It was home to the saint-philosopher, Ramanujacharya, for several years. The Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple and the Yoga Narasimha temples are stunning. The Yoga Narasimha temple is accessible after a steep climb that can leave you exhausted. There is a small cave beneath the Yoga Narasimha temple where Prahalada meditated.
The Mahadwara which is a structure of two massive pillars meant to be the main entrance to the temple town is another monument. This monument has figured in several films.
The Puliyogre handed out at the temple as Prasad is the best of its kind. Taste it and you will feel like having another helping.


It was known as French rocks during the reign of Hyder Ali and Tipu as the French had based their troops here. The Kunit Betta or hill is the place where Kunti, the mother of Pandavas, stayed during the Vanavasa. The Pandavas ended their exile here and, hence, the name Pandavapura. This is just 10 kms from Srirangapatna and 25 kms from Mysore.


It has two magnificent temple and one of them, the Nambi Narayana, was consecrated by Ramanajucharya. This is a beautiful temple and it is one of the most sacred shrines for Vaishnavas.
It is near Pandavanapur and Melkote.
Tonnur is flanked by the beautiful Tonnur lake which came to be called as Moti Talab by Tipu Sultan.
It was the second capital of the Hoysalas after Dwarasamudra (Halebidu) but none of the Hoysala structures remain. The palace of the Hoysala Emperor, Vishnuvardhana, was built just behind the Nambi Narayana temple but no trace of it remains today.      
All the places mentioned above can be covered in two days if you have the time. They are all nearby and it would be advisible if you hire a driver who can also act as a guide. For example, you can take in Sangama, Gosai Ghat, Daria Daulat, Gumbaz, Nimishamba all in a stretch.
In Mysore, take in Chamundi Hills, Zoological Gardens, Wax museum, Main palace, Jaganmohan palace and KRS Dam in a day. Similarly, Melkote, Tonnur, Pandavapura can be completed in a stretch.
There are plenty of eateries and hotels in Mysore and eating out would not be major problem. Mysore is one of the cities in India that has hotels and eateries to suit you taste and budget. This is the City that gave Mysore Pak and Bisibele bath to its Wodeyar Emperors first. Both the dishes are a rage today among the populace.
Mysore, a few decades ago, was home to the Ideal Jawa motorbike factory which manufactured the legendary Jawa, Yezdi and Roadking bikes. The factory has shut down. It is also the place where the State Government opened its tyremaking unit called Vikrant. This factory too has been privatized.
Mysore is home to one of the most beautiful buildings that is the headquarters of the Infosys Knowledge centre.    
Mysore is easily accessible from all parts of India. There are plenty of trains from Bangalore, Chennai and Hubli-Arsikere. 

This concludes the first part of the Ranga tour. The next part will carry details on road trip from Srirangapatna to Shivanasamudra and the places worth seeing.Till then, happy reading. 

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