Friday, 8 February 2013

The Thattekeres

Trekking and Weekend Getaways

It was around 9 a.m., Sunday last and my friend, Vasudeva, called up. He sounded a little out of breath and a little incoherent too. He thanked me for giving directions but said that they were not exactly accurate.
Vasu, as I call him, was a freelance writer and photographer. He had come to Bangalore from his native in Udupi district. He had asked me to give directions to his car driver about Thattekere.
I had given direction to the driver and also told him about the Ranganatha temple of Thattekere.
Vasu’s driver was new to the city and he got lost in the one-ways in Jayanagar 4th Block. When he managed to wriggle out, he asked a motorcyclist the way to Thattekere. The motorcyclist said he was going to the same spot and asked the driver to follow him.
Vasu said when he asked about the temple, the motorcyclist said he did not know whether the temple would be open so early. You see, it was just 6-30 a.m., in the morning.
The car followed the motorcycle and since there as not much traffic, they reached the destination quickly. The motorcyclist then pointed to the temple and vanished, saying that he had come for bird watching.
Vasu and the driver looked at the magnificent lake and marveled at its beauty. Wherever they turned their heads, they saw birds. The lake too was so clean and beautiful. The spread of water was so amazing that Vasu began clicking photos.
When he asked for the name of the lake, he was told that it is popularly known as Thattekere lake. He then saw a temple nearby and went there. I had told him about the legend of the deity.
He walked into the temple and quickly walked out, and it was only then he called me.  He thanked me for having guided him to one of the most scenic spots he had ever seen. But, there is no temple of Ranganathaswamy. The temple here is dedicated to Mahadevaswamy, he said.
Vasu’s remarks surprised me as I had been to the temple two days ago. I once again asked him whether he was a t Thattekere to which he said yes. When he began describing the beautiful lake, I suddenly realized that he had gone to the Thattekere at Bannerghatta-Ragihalli and not to the Thattekere on Tumkur road.
Yes, there are several Thattekeres in and around Bangalore but the most famous are the one on the periphery of Bannerghatta forests which is wildlife enthusiasts’ delight and another village by the same name on the road to Tumkur.
There is a Thattekere in Hassan district and near Hunsur in Mysore too. Both have lakes.
Coming back to the Thattekere near Bannerghatta, it is a place where wild elephants frequent for water. There re so many birds here that you will end up failing to count all of them.
The lake and its surroundings are an ideal picnic spot. You can also see the rolling fields of Bannerghatta forests. What is more amazing is that this place is barely 35 kilometers form the concrete jungle that Bangalore has become now.    
A bird watcher’s paradise, you can generally come across Bee Eater, Kingfisher, Banya weaver, Munia, India Robin, Red Rumped Swallow, Purple Rumped Sun Bird, Red Vented Bulbul, Black Drongo, Blossom Headed Parakeet, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Mourning Dove, Grey Heron, Little Cormorant, Plain Priniva and even jungle and house crows.
If you are lucky, you can spot elephants at the lake. Do not go near them as they can turn on you. Avoid contact with them and keep a safe distance.   
The lake is all the more alluring in its beauty as it is surrounded by hills and forests. There is a temple dedicated to Kanive Mahadeswara near the lake. This is the temple that Vasu saw and described to me.
This Thattekere is near Bannerghatta. After reaching the Bannerghatta police station, do not go to the Bannerghatta National park but take the road which goes left to Anekal. Continue for a kilometer and a half.
On the road, you will see a building called Birla Academy. Take the road to the right here and you will reach Ragihalli. Continue on the same road till you reach Shivanahalli. Take the road to Jaipuradoddi where you will get two routes to Thattekere.
When you enter Thattekere, you will see the temple and the lake is nearby. This place is best for nature lovers and people who prefer solitude. The air is pure and there is absolutely no traffic. The only sounds you here are the chirping of birds and the rush of air. Cycling, bird watching, lazing about, photography, bird watching are some of the many things you can do here.       
Another route from Bangalore to Thattekere is by going through Banashankari. Take the Kanakapura road from the Banashankari temple and travel towards Harohalli. Take a left at Harohalli and you will land straight into the Thattekere lake. It is in Kanakapura taluk.
Thattekere lake is in the midst of some remote villages. No facility for food, lodging and boarding are available. Carry your own food and water. A binocular is handy if you are bird lover and a camera is necessary to capture the exotic moments.
Well, now let me come to the Thattekere on Tumkur road. This is the Thattekere that I had wanted Vasudeva to go.   
The Thattekere Ranganathas­wamy temple is a famous landmark and villagers from nearby areas throng the premises.
This Thattekere is opposite to the Bannerghata Thattekere and it is located near Solur which is about 15 km from Nelamangala on National Highway No 4.
This village too is practically unknown and it makes a good weekend getaway from Bangalore.
The most important structure in this village is the Ranganathaswamy Temple which is built in Dravadian style. It is atop a small hill.
Temples which do not have gopuras or towers are called Dravadian. Such temples are peculiar to south India. This is one such temple. The temple is sprawling but since there is hardly any visitor, it gives you a feeling of awe.
The temple can be described as an island of  peace and tranquillity. The court yard within the temple is vast and the Garuda Kamba is about 45 feet tall. There is a large Kalyani.
The temple has a distinct Prakara (verandah), Navaranga (inside hall) and the Garbhagriha (sanctum).  
The temple has a deity of Narasimha. There are several other deities including Lakshmi, Saraswati, Garuda (the vehicle of Narayana) and Anjaneya.
The main idol of Narasimha is consecrated in the garbhagriha but he is more popularly known as Ranganathaswamy. Unlike other idols, the Narasimha here is standing on a lotus seat called kamalasana in Kannada.
On the left is an idol of Lakshmi. To the right is an idol of Ramanujacharya.
The idol has four hands and is, therefore, called Chatur­bhuja. Several Kings, including the Wodeyars of Mysore, have visited the temple and renovated it.
The place is also called Durvasa Kshetra and the original temple was built by the Cholas. The priest says the idol was installed by Durvasa when he meditated here.
The temple is open from 8 a. m., to 2 p.m. The annual fair is held on Ratha sapthami. Special poojas are organised on the first Saturday of every month
You can cook your own food at the temple which has several small rooms.   
The temple is 45 kilometres from Bangalore and the nearest place is Solur. It is Nelamangala taluk. There are regular bus services from Bangalore o Solur. From Solur, take an autorickshaw or hired taxi to Thattakere. Solur is 15 kms from Nelamangala.
Apart from these two Thattekeres, there are two more villages by the same name in Hassan district. One is in Arkalgud taluk, while the other is in Holenarsipur taluk.
Another Thattekere is in Hunsur taluk. It is about 6 kms from Hunsur.
Coming back to Vasu, I asked him to engage a driver who knew Kannada and also the geography of Bangalore and its surroundings. His driver was a Keralite and he had come to Bangalore for the first time.    

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