Saturday, 26 November 2011


Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Chaplin movies. As I child, I had enjoyed the outrageous comedy in them and had laughed a lot. Now, they made me cry. Back then, I had seen the genius comedian who could make u roll over in laughter with just a twirl of his walking stick. Now, I met the humanitarian who dishes out the biggest of life lessons with as much as just a nod of the head. Chaplin played the role of the TRAMP for a long time in his illustrious career, paying a rich ode to the working class of that time. The zestful twirl of the walking stick and his funny method of tossing up crumpled paper and kicking it to the side project the tramp’s non chalant attitude  to the hardships of life.

 In the movie ‘CITY LIGHTS’, he saves the heartbroken drunk millionaire from commiting suicide and tells him – “TOMORROW THE BIRDS WILL SING”. That line has left a deep impression on me. His hilarious stint at boxing to earn money to help the blind girl to pay the rent, is deeply touching. He loses the bout and gets knocked out after nearly flooring the opponent, indicating life is not a fairy tale and does not have sweet endings most of the time. In the climax of the movie,  the blind girl has her vision restored and is well off in her business due to the money he gives her . He returns from jail as a pauper and is tormented by some boys in front of the girl’s shop. When he recognizes her and she doesn’t and tries to give him a coin, I cried my heart out. I prayed at that moment hoping that chaplin had not made it a tragedy. If so, it would have been one of the best tragic scenes I have ever seen. To my relief, she recognizes him and the story ends well.

Chaplin’s ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time was demonstrated in the movie ‘THE KID’. A heart warming story of the tramp raising an abandoned baby, it reaches its zenith when the child is forcibly taken into orphan care and the tramp runs on the rooftops desperately to catch the wagon and reunites with kid. That scene when they both cry with their faces close to each other has become etched in my memory.

In ‘THE CIRCUS’, when the hungry tramp shares his single piece of bread with a hungrier Edna Purviance, he teaches us the valuable lesson of selflessness and kindness. His zest for life inspite of being physically abused teaches the virtue of non violence and patience.

Chaplin had said that he liked walking in the rain so that  no could see him cry. The man who made the entire world laugh , himself seemed to be sad inside. He had his share of personal turmoil with several failed marriages and being accused of being a communist and unpatriotic.  His ability to make us roar in laughter despite his sorrow makes him all the more  greater. A  heartfelt thanks from me for entertaining us and teaching us valuable life lessons at the same time. May his great soul rest in peace.

Friday, 25 November 2011


I am a bike enthusiast. I Got a 150 cc Honda Unicorn  Dazzler in July. Wanted to go on long rides on it to check it out. Today was the test, both for the bike and my enthusiasm.
Have always been interested in archaeology because of the stories associated with the places . I love the thrill of discovery. I got fixed on the idea of exploring Srirangapatna on my bike. None were willing to accompany me on bike because its 120 kms from my place. So I decided to do it on my own.

Left my house at 7 10 am. Took the way through TATAGUNI connecting KANAKPURA  road to KUMBALGODU . It was quite chilly early morning and I was padded up with the sweater and jacket. It was a lovely stretch of 20 kms with beautiful scenery on either side. Got a scare from a  snake that had been run over.   

From KUMBALGODU ,  Mysore road was a beauty to drive on. Traffic being a headache in Bangalore, I felt this road was heaven. I found myself doing 80 kmph steadily and reached 96 at a point! The vision gets blurred at that point like they show in Need For Speed! 

Crossed RAMNAGARA , spotted a coffee day and reached CHANNAPATNA  at 8 30 am. Wanted to  buy  a  toy as a souveiner. But the shops were closed. Found a boy and asked if there were any open shops. He said he would show me, got on the bike and directed me to a shop. He got the owner to open it and left. Bought a toy there and continued on my journey.  

Reached maddur. Was happy as a lark to have made it this far on bike alone. Took some pics . wanted to get some lead time so decided to give the famed maddur vade a pass. Took pics of some beautiful paddy fields along the way.
Reached  MANDYA  and took a pic of St. Joseph church. Soon I was at Srirangapatna at 10 am with the archway welcoming me. Got fuel in the petrol bunk nearby and crossed the bridge over the river . Took some time to take pics of the fort walls near the entrance. It was a foreboding of the riches that lay ahead
I first found the  JAMIA MASJID  used by Tipu for worship. It looks brand new and magnificent. It has 2 beautiful minarets with intricate artistry. Found many muslim boys reading  together , a school maybe? Found a pond ( KALYANI, as we call it) took a lot of pics there. Found a couple of sparrows (almost none in Bangalore now). A lot of pigeons were nested in the minarets. Was hungry by now, so had  coconut milk.

Moved on to find Tipu’s  ARMORY HOUSE. Few pics here. Then came the place where Tipu’s body was found on may 4 1799 after the 4th Mysore war. A Stone has been erected by lord Wellesly at that spot. A lawn has been laid around it and we are not allowed to enter the area. 

Moved on to find the WATERGATE . Took a pic by routine which turned out to be the winner of the day for me . later at the museum, I found a pic of the WATERGATE taken  long long ago (maybe 50-60 yrs back) with the same angle showing 2 villagers standing at the spot. It was like a travel back in time!  There is a stone engraving which states “At the northern end of this gate fell Tipu sultan may 4 1799”

COLONEL  BAILEY’S  DUNGEON.  Its ironic that this place has a beautiful lawn with flowers around it considering the dark history the place has. Many English prisoners were imprisoned here for 2-4 yrs. Colonel Bailey died here. The place has many linearly  placed rock slabs to which the prisoners were chained. There is a rectangular hole in the wall through which water was let into the dungeon . At the end of the prison lies a tunnel which connects underground to Tipu’s palace. At the centre lies a cannon which supposedly fell into the dungeon. The guide said it’s a replica

The  entrance  to  the  underground  tunnel

OBELISK- Crossed the railway crossing at Srirangapatna railway station to search for the the obelisk, which is a memorial established by the British for Tipu Sultan. Not well maintained and found no tourists . it was some 200 yards away and as I  started walking towards it, I found a snake in my path. It looked dead because it wasn’t moving at all, absolutely. Thought of crossing it by the side but it was a narrow passage. I gave it a thought because I foolishly assumed it was dead. Thankfully, I stood there and used the zoom of my handycam to record the obelisk  and just when I was deciding to make a move front, a toad came in front of the snake and got grabbed by the ‘dead’snake! I was so horrified out of my wits that I accidentally filmed the snake gobble up the toad. If  I had gone across it thinking it was dead,  I would have been bitten for sure!  I left that place quickly and took some time to recover from that shock. I was never scared before to watch snakes at a distance under controlled conditions, but this close encounter has given me a new fear of snakes. There is a deserted GATE TO DELHI BRIDGE next to this place with lot of shrubs but didn’t have the guts to explore it.

SRIRANGANATHAWAMY TEMPLE-  The main reason for my visit to Srirangapatna. I had visited this place in 1999 with famiy. Am not much of a believer and have scarce regard for temples because they look very modern and are economy centred. This was the only temple that got me to respect it with its beautiful architecture, open ceiling and lighting. I had found many young priests sitting at the corners and singing vedic enchantations. It had a profound effect on me and I had been looking forward to visit it again, with my camera.
I found it just the same . Wandered in the temple with a sense of travel back in time with the beauty of the architecture. Met god in the garbagudi (inner sanctum), exchanged hellos and left.. There are two stone slabs , one on either side of the temple, fully engraved in old kannada. Wish I could read that. I wonder what it had to say about the temple. Captured the picturesque temple exterior in my camera and left the temple immensely satisfied. Bought a car toy as a souveneir.

Jamachamarajendra wodeyar museum-  Found many sculptures dating 10th to 12th century. What skill! Architects, take a bow! Found the cannon balls used in the war, paintins of the storming of srirangapatna in 1799, the model of the town made in 1800 august by general ross. And the Watergate picture I mentioned earlier

LAL MAHAL- the remains of tipu’s palace is now out of limts for visitors. I remember being allowed in the palace when I was a school kid on a school trip 20 yrs ago. This palace was extolled for its beauty and design in 1800 by British historians. It was diamantled in 1807-09 by Colonel Wellesly. God knows why! 

THOMAS INMANS DUNGEON- It took 96 yrs after tipu’s death for the British to discover this hidden dungeon! Engineer Inman discovered it, hence this name. As I went to see it, found a  temple instead. One guy sitting there had no idea about the dungeon! Another guy directed me towards it. Had  to walk through shrubs to locate this. By this time, I was scared about the possibility of more snakes around so did not scout around too much. This place needs better maintenance.

It was 1 30 pm by now . Was hungry. Found a  bakery . Ate 2 potato buns and had a Maaza.
Set out for Dariya Daulat , Gumbaz and Sangama which are located a little distance off.

The summer palace of Tipu , was later used by Colonel Wellesly  after  Tipu’s death. Now a museum to many artifacts and paintings of that time. The murals depicting the various wars are very informative. Sad to see parts of the paintings defaced and vandalized by tourists. Good protection is in place now.

Among the attractions are Tipus clothes,  hat,  manuscript, paintings of various hill forts around srirangapatna , many of them by famous artist James Hunter. The guns were huge and weaponry lethal. We live in relatively peaceful times!

GUMBAZ- The resting place of Tipu along with his parents Hyder ali and  Fakr-un-nisa. Built by Tipu for his father, now all the three rest together inside it. It has a beautiful dome. 2 persian tablets extoll Hyder Ali and Tipu. Interestingly, it calls Srirangapatnam as SIRANJ FATAN. The British called it SERINGAPATAM

SANGAMA- 3.10 PM. Reached the famed sangama. Sat in front of the river to eat some biscuits. Was  surrounded by many eager crows. Fed  a few of them pieces of biscuit. I threw a piece towards them and one of the crows used to fly and catch it mid air. I was surprised by the precision they exhibit with a smaller brain. The river was shimmering under the sunlight.  Got  some good pics

Left Sangama at 3 30 pm  hoping to reach  SOMNATHPURA early. Took the road from BABURAYANAKOPPA towards BANNUR.  Somnathpura is 32 kms from baburayanakoppa.
The scenery was awesome. Asked  a young man for directions at MAKENAHALLI. He hitch hiked with me till bannur. Reached Somnathpura at 4 20 pm.

CHENNAKESHAVA TEMPLE- Was looking forward to this from the start of the day. I knew it was established in 12th century and that it had intricate carvings. But when I actually saw the temple with my own eyes, I was rendered speechless. What carving! What detailing! I got tired of taking pictures of the deity carvings which are so numerous! There is a stone slab at the entrance which speaks about the temple construction  in old kannada. Its huge! Have to learn old kannada now. Some school students were happily clicking pictures with their friends. A guide explained the history of the place which was astounding and totally informative. My  thanks to him.
The temple is the pinnacle of Hoysala architecture. Somanathpura town was founded by Somnath , a general of king Narasimha III. Unlike the shaivite name of the town, the temple is for Lord Vishnu .  T he Hoysalas were known for their Vishnu temples which were carved in Balapada kallu (soft stone) to accommodate intricate carvings. This temple took 500 top architects and 58 yrs to complete. Lion was the royal insignia of the hoysalas which are found in plenty in the carvings. The temple is star shaped. Guarding the entrance of the temple are the statues of deities JAYA and VIJAYA who are the aides to lord Vishnu. The temple is called TRIKOOTA since it has 3 inner sanctums (Garbha Gudi)  .



The temple foundation is in 4 layers,
The base has elephant engravings suggesting strength
Above it, are the horsemen
Third layer consists of flowers suggesting beauty
The fourth layer has warriors and musicians.

 The ten avatars of Vishnu are engraved to the finest detail. Among others are Indra, Brahma, Saraswathi, Kama , Rati , Hanuman, Garuda and many others(194 in all). The architects have engraved their names under many sculptures. Mallithamma has carved the maximum of these. The effort of the architects is sheer mind boggling. I feel this is the perfect worship of the gods by these architects. After 900 years, they still enthrall people and hopefully, for many generations more.




Now the sad part - These temples were built with great effort as a worship to god and for continued worship. This temple was vandalized by   Mughal raiders  in 1216 AD to condemn idol worship . Many of sculptures are missing limbs and faces. As Hindu tradition, broken idols are not used for worship and hence these temples now only serve the other purpose  of exhibiting the glory and craftsmanship of the architects of that time.
Felt a sense of immense humility sitting in the courtyard.

Left the temple at 5 10 pm. Missed my way back , reached Maddur through a very bad road. Reached home at 8 15pm, extremely tired , with a severe headache and hugely satisfied with my day. Covered  302 kms on my bike. Now want to travel all over the country and capture   the glory of  India on my pentax digicam.  Hope so.