Friday, 28 November 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 31: Aga Khan Palace, Pune

Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection - Lawrence Durrell

One of the attractions of Pune is Aga Khan Palace. The Palace building is spread in 7 acres & rest 12 acres have lawns & well maintained gardens. The greenery & the arches of the building make the Palace pictueresque.

The Palace was constructed in 1892 by Sultan Mohammad Shah Aga Khan to help famine stricken people. He was Imam of Shia Muslim Ismailia Community. It was built in five years with estimated cost of Rs 12 lacs. It has five halls & three floors of which ground floor is 1756 sq mtr, first floor is 1080 sq mtr & second floor is 445 sq mtr. A corridor of 2.5 mtr surrounds the entire building adding to the beauty.

During Quit India movement in 1942, this Palace turned in to a prison. Among detainees were such illustrious names as Mahatama Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi, Mahadeo Desai, Dr Sarojini Naidu & Sushila Nayyer. Kasturba Gandhi & Mahadeo Bhai Desai breathed there last here.

In 1972 Prince Shah Karim Aga Khan IV donated this palace to Gandhi Smarak Samiti. The Palace building houses a museum having photos, portraits, writing desk, bed, clothes & footwear of Ba & Mahatama Gandhi. Many social programmes are conducted. Daily morning prayers are held here which are well attended. Some photos:

This magnificent palace was constructed in 1892-97

Well maintained gardens & beautiful arches make the place cool

Beautiful corridor measuring 2.5 mtr runs along the whole building

This beautiful place has been location for Hollywood movie Gandhi

Mahatam Gandhi remained a prisoner here for 21 months & as per his wishes his ashes rest here. Memorials designed by Charles Correa

Memorials of Ba & Mahadeo Bhai Desai

Inside the museum

Right side view of the Palace

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 30: Pataleshwar Temple, Pune

Pataleshwar cave temple is situated on Jangli Maharaj Road. The city of Pune has expanded & now the temple is within it. The temple also called Panchaleshwar, is a rock-cut temple believed to have been carved out of a single basalt rock in 8th century during Rashtrakuta period. Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. 

The sanctum has a large linga & in front of this cave is Nandi Mandapa. The Mandapa has a heavy stone ceiling-Chhatri supported by massive square pillars. Same type of square pillars are there in the corridor also. It reminds one of Ellora caves. The temple seems to have been left incomplete may be because of political situation at that time or may be the quality of rock not being found good for sculpting. Temple is still in use though & the linga is annointed usually with ghee & yogurt. Some photos: 

Entrance to the Pataleshwar Temple

Protected monument. Steps leading down towards Temple 

Nandi Mandapa. Giant pillars support thick stone ceiling or Chhatri

Another view of of Chhatri

Nandi facing the sanctum

On both sides of sanctum are caves which seem to have been left unfinished

Columns in corridor

View from the top of rock

Monday, 24 November 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 29: On way to Pune, Maharashtra

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen - Benjamin Disraeli 

I totally agree with the above quotation. In 30 days we covered 5000 km on Alto 800, saw many cities, forts, temples, beaches, took hundreds of snaps. Blogs about what had been seen seems less than what we remember. To blog about what we saw & remeber during full journey may take months.

After overnight stay in Panhala Fort we moved towards Pune. Distance is about 230 km & roads good. Some snaps taken on road to & in Pune are here:

Panaromic view from Panhala Fort before saying bye to Fort

This well equipped biker zipped past in fraction of a second & we could not even identify make of the bike
Tea break near Karad, Satara - Poha, Sabudana tikki, chutney & chahaa

Can't climb the hills? Drill a hole 

Entrance of the tunnel

Inside the tunnel

And out of the cave 

Another longer one - 1.3 km

Traffic mess in Pune as in other towns of India. No helmets, no seat belts & no lanes

And urban mess in Pune as in other towns of India. Short cuts from wrong side & no footpath for pedestrians 

Watch out for the gun in Pune Cantt
Cantonements are generally clean & have many old fashioned barracks

Friday, 21 November 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 28: Panhala Fort, Kolhapur, Maharashtra

In Kolhapur we came to know about Panhal Fort about 20 km away & having number of hotels as well. So we made a dash towards the Fort. About a few thousand families are also resident here some of whom offer home-stay as well.

Panhala  Fort also known as Panhalgad or Panalla is about 20 km northwest of Kolhapur. It is located in Sahyadri mountain range over a pass connecting coastal areas to interior of Maharashtra. This used to be an important trading route & therefore of strategic interest to all nearby kingdoms of Bidar, Kolhapur, Bijapur etc and later on Mughals & Britishers.

The Fort has a periphery of 14 km, 110 watch towers & is 845 above sea level. It is nearly 400 mtr above the surrounding area. The Fort has many tunnels & secret passages, three large granaries called Amberkhana which could feed 20,000 people for five months.  The Fort was built between 1178 to 1209 by King Bhoja II & subsequently fortified by Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur in 1489 & onwards.

Shivaji Maharaj took Panhala after death of Afzal Khan of Bijapur in 1659. In May 1660 army of Adil Shah II laid siege to Fort. Provisions were exhausted & sensing capture Shivaji Maharaj gathered a team of trusted soldiers & escaped to Vishalgad in the dead of the night. Baji Prabhu & barber Shiva Kashid a lookalike of Shivaji, kept fighting with a thousand soldiers but lost to Adil Shah II. In 1673 Shivaji Maharaj fought back & took over Panhala permanently.

Presently it is more of a popular 'hill station' because of hight & continuous cool breeze. Cool place for spending weekend. Some photos:

Fort has strong ramparts, gateways & fortified walls( tatabandi )
One of the entrances having peacock motif of Adil Shah Sultani

Every entrance had accommodation for backup security squad
On second floor of Sajja Kothi

Panoramic view from the balcony

Sajja Kothi or Sadr-e-Mahal- white flagpole is now used for hoisting Tricolour
Teen Darwaza

One of the temples inside the Fort complex

There were three granaries Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati. This one is ground floor of Ganga where rice was kept. It could hold 25000 khandis rice, each khandi being 650 lbs 

Ruins of courtesans palace  

Another entrance. Stones are large & interlocking. They have been sealed with lead instead of mortar 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 27: Shree Chhatrapati Shahu New Palace, Kolhapur

New Palace of Kolhapur is also called Shree Chhatrapati Shahu New Palace. It was built in 1877-1884 & was designed by Major Mant. The Palace is built with basalt & black sandstone with contrasting colours. Arches of Durbar Hall are fixed with stained glass depicting incidents from life of Chhatrapati Shivaji.

A part of the Palace houses a museum called Shree Chhatrapati Shahu Museum. It has on display lots of weapons, jewellery, embroidery, stuffed animals & paintings. One of the paintings shows a Maharaja with 100th killed tiger. Now a days we campaign for saving tiger.

They do not allow photography of the items which are on display. I am unable to understand or like the reasoning behind this. The more photos circulate through social media more people try to visit the place & pay for entry fee. Like in temples here also before entering the museum you got to take out shoes!  Some photos:

South part housing the museum

Beyond this point it is private property

Clock is said to have been placed in the Tower in 1877

Another view of the Palace - Rajasthani style arches

Left side of the Palace in the photo is under private occupation of descendants

Monday, 17 November 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 26 : On highway to Kolhapur

Wherever you go, go with all your heart - Confucius

From Kanyakumari to Goa we moved along the western coast mostly on NH 17 that is Edapally-Panvel Road covering a distance of around 1200 km. This road has beautiful lush green scenes with twists & turns around hills which add to the charm. At times the road comes closer to the sea & in some places it moves away on to hills. Enjoyable ride but for the patchy narrow road & heavy traffic.

From Goa onwards in to Maharashtra the scene changes dramatically as 4 or 6 lane roads appear. NH 4 or Asian Highway 47 was  great change. What a relief! In Kerala roads get crowded due to towns close highways but in Maharashtra the agricultural fields can be seen. There is change in vegetation, dresses & food also.

Some snaps taken while entering into & coming out from Belgaum towards Kolhapur are given below. They are not in any particular sequence & hopefully you will like them.

On NH 4 to Kolhapur. Near the petrol pump in the orange-ish building there was a cafe & a bar. Both were in business at 10.30 in the morning!

Jungle Safari - about 20 km short of Belgaum town

Here we go on a 6-laner NH 4 or AH 47 - our 800 cc now seemed too small  

Clouds, hills & greenery 

Monsoon clouds & intermittent drizzle chased us

Occasional appearance of water bodies was so soothing to the eyes

Fellow explorer near Belgaum - looked like a Firangi 

Bikes are popular while helmets are not. Such scenes are common all over Indian roads 

White House! Nice place for a tea break. It is Poha time now in place of Idli & Dosa

Where are you going today?
Finally in Kolhapur