Cradle of a dynasty

The meandering roads snaked around a green fabric of coffee plantations and dense forests. It had rained a bit just then.The snowy blossoms of the coffee plants glistened even further. The dusty hamlets interrupted this green mosaic as they emerged one after another. It was late afternoon and the roads were empty.

We were in WHERE A DYNASTY WAS BORN Sasakapura or Sosevur is identified as Angadi, in Chikmagalur district.  The hamlet is known for its Durga temple. Photos by the authoror the hilly regions of Karnataka looking for the humble beginnings of a dynasty which began its reign more than 1,000 years ago. Our destination was Angadi, a small hamlet nestled in the Western Ghats in the heart of coffee country which was once the birthplace of  the Hoysalas.

Folklore that led to Angadi...
A simple folklore had lured us to Angadi. Many centuries ago, a guru and his discipline were immersed in rituals in a Durga or Vasanta Parameshwari temple when a tiger attacked them. Hoy Sala (Strike Sala!) said the guru Sudatta Muni to his student, Sala who was in an armed combat with a tiger.

The student struck the animal in one blow, immortalising himself and his victim. The guru was so pleased that he asked Sala to establish a kingdom and the Hoysala dynasty was established.

The story is believed to have happened at Sasakapura or Sosevur which is today identified as Angadi, in Chikmagalur district in Karnataka. The temple of the Goddess, along with the ruins of more temples and basadis is the only proof of this myth. The folklore however became so popular that every temple of the Hoysalas has this story carved in stone and it became the royal emblem.

We stopped by at a small town, Janapura, to have some tea and take in the fresh air. The directions were loud and clear. Angadi was a further seven kms away. In about ten minutes, we were there.

A hamlet lost to the world
A small village with a few houses scattered here and there, a couple of shops, a lone bus stand and green fields. At first glance, it looked like just another hamlet lost to the world. And yet, it was the cradle of a dynasty that built beautiful temples and made several conquests.

However to our eyes, there was nothing historic about it. And then we took a short stroll, wondering if we had indeed come to the right village. To prove us right, stood a faded old relic under the shade of a tree...a Hoysala inscription. We were indeed on the right track.
Angadi in Kannada means shop, but we hardly found any shops around. Surrounded by coffee plantations and open fields, it seemed to be a sleepy market. We finally found a small shop and asked the localities the route to the Devasthana (meaning temple) in Kannada. A couple of hands pointed uphill which took us through a coffee plantation which led to mud roads which split into two.
There was not a soul around. We followed the road going upward and encountered steep hairpin bends which curved through the coffee plantations and led us to the Durga or the Vasantha Parameshwari temple. And this was the setting of the origins of the dynasty.

Renovated and well-maintained
The Durga temple was renovated and was well maintained. It did not look like a typical Hoysala temple either, going by their style.

A tall structure supported by pillars with sculptures stood close by. The priest explained to us that the temple, which has been renovated recently was the original temple where Sala had killed the legendary tiger. The pillars he said were used as a swing to cradle the Gods during festivals. I had read that there were the ruins of a Chennakesava temple here similar to the Belur temple .

The priest guided us and we followed the road below until we almost came to a dead end. There seemed to be a rugged path above as we climbed on the rocks that led us inside the coffee plantation.

We saw a few basadis with some sculptures inside while a few were left wide in the open. It was silent except for some parakeets which were shrieking in excitement. We almost thought the place was to ourselves when we heard some voices.

We squinted through the trees and found some workers. We went down and climbed another path where the ruins of the three temples awaited us.

The Chennakesava temple, along with Patalarudreshwara and Mallikarjuna lay absolutely in ruins. The structures were being laid by ASI workers who had just begun restoring these temples.

The idols and sculptures were kept safely, especially Chennakesava which stood in the glare of the setting sun. As the sun touched down, we sat a while on the broken pillars gazing at the strewn idols and wondering about the times when a dynasty was laying its foundation stone in a small village. It dawned on us at that very moment, that we had just walked into a historic moment.

Getting there
Angadi is 18 kms from Mudigere and 25 kms away from Belur and 260 kms from Bangalore. The ideal route from Bangalore would be to reach Belur and take the Mudigere route. At Janapura, one needs to take a left and Angadi is six kms from the junction.

You can also reach Angadi through Sakleshpur and Chikmagalur. Accommodation in the form of home stays and resorts is available at Hanbal, which is the closest town as well as Sakleshpur, Chikmagalur and Mudigere. 

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