For some reason I assume that everyone who has lived or visited Bangalore must have been to Nandi hills sometime or the other. But what I discovered to my surprise was the number of places that are around Nandi hills and Nandi village.
Couple of weeks back on a lazy Sunday morning, me and two of my friends decided to drive down to Nandi Hills for breakfast. We literally got up from the bed, brushed our teeth and drove to Nandi Hills. As the luck would have it, Nandi Hills had the perfect weather and clouds were kissing the hill on all sides. It was a pleasure to sit among the clouds and have piping hot noodles. Since the weather was too good, we decided to roam around a bit and we discovered a small well like structure, which is supposed to be the source or the starting point of river Arkavathy. You have to go around the hill and then go down a bit to reach this spot. The spot just has a walled tank, which presumably is very deep and is surrounded by absolute greenery. You can sit on the thick walls of the tank, in fact you can lie down, look at the sky and feel to be in a different world altogether. From this spot there are stairs that bring you back to the top of the hill.
As we got down the Nandi hills, we drove towards the Nandi village, this is the village that gives Nandi hills its name. There is an ancient temple called Bhoganandiswara temple in this village, apparently it has been around for 1200+ years or so. From the outside, the temple does not look very huge, but once you enter the premises, you would suddenly be hit by the hugeness of the temple and its compound. The outside compound is surrounded by the lined corridors. There is a platform in front of the actual entrance of the temple, which apparently was used for dances during festivals. There are some wheels that are surrounding the platform which may belong to some chariot that was used during some time. As you enter the temple you see a Shiva temple, with amazing carvings, and a person there explained us that the temple dates back to some time in 8-9th century and has influence of various dynasties that ruled the area. The corridor around the Garbhagriha that is used to make a Parikrama around the temple, is amazingly well adorned with carvings. Though he could not give us much about the history of the temple, but this is what my internet research yielded:
Boganandiswara temple in Nandi village constructed around 806 A.D. by Rathnavalli of Bana Dynasty is in Drawidan style. Temple is known for its anciental Architecture. Sri. Arunachaleswara temple, nearby Boganandiswara temple built out soap stone, is another example where one can find fine Ganga, Chola, Hoysala style of architecture
It is a beautiful temple and one of the few temples which is very clean and well maintained. There is a huge water tank on one side of the temple which is again covered on all four sides by pillared corridors, and doors on all four sides with ornate walls. Some of the structures will remind you of Hampi, especially the damaged ones. Surprisingly, there were hardly any people in the temple, so the temple provided the perfect serenity that it is supposed to provide its visitors. We were told that there is a huge rush on Shivaratri, but most of the other times, there are not many visitors. And the fact that the temple is so huge probably makes the number of people present seem less. I would strongly recommend visiting this temple to anyone who is in or around Bangalore.
As you drive a little ahead of the temple, you would reach Mudenahalli. You can also visit Sultanpet, which has another path leading to the top of Nandi hills, with around 3000 steps. There is supposedly an ancient temple in Sultanpet, but we could not locate that. But what we did get to see was the breeding of silk worms, right on the streets of the village, which was quite interesting.
And as you drive back towards Bangalore, you would see Tipu’s fort on your left hand side, which is more like Hawa Mahal, or just a façade. As you enter the fort, there is whole town of Devanahalli, bustling with people. My guess is that at some point in time, the fort must have been a walled city and people lived inside the city, which still continues but the town would have grown way beyond the original limits of fort walls. There are remnants of fort here and there that you see if you drive around the town. You can also drive to the Tipu’s birth place, which is a small structure, with four pillars and a roof. When you look at the structure, you would wonder if this is really the place where the great Tipu Sultan was born, as there is no other old structure around that place, but then I guess there is no other evidence to think otherwise too.
You can cover all these places in less than a day….so do explore them sometime…:-)