Deccan Herald, Thursday, May 06, 2004


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WEEKEND GETAWAYS

A beautiful, quaint rocky retreat

Aladahalli is a remote village with a beautiful hillock, a temple and the opportunity to try your hand at rock climbing, if you are adventurous.



How many of us would want to visit a remote village? Probably none. But if the village has a beautiful hillock, an ancient temple or lake and is located close to the city, most of us would be willing to brave a little discomfort for some happy moments. Well Aladahalli is such a place - a small village, about 55 km from Bangalore, with a narrow mud path connecting it to the spanky, wide Bangalore-Tumkur Road.

Aladahalli offers visitors a typical village setting - no shops, no telephone booths, no high rise buildings, just a vast expanse of greenery on one side and a quaint rocky hillock crowned by a temple dedicated to Lord Ranganathaswamy, on the other. The calm is punctuated by rural sounds like the mooing of cattle, chirping of birds and the occasional horn blaring from the highway.

According to the villagers, the main idol of the temple, in the form of a solid black granite pillar, is the only one of its kind in the entire State. The Lord is depicted in the form of artistically carved fish and tortoise incarnations (Matsya and Koorma avatars). All other Ranganathaswamy temples have sleeping, sitting or standing idols of the lord in his human form. This is the only temple in which the lord has been depicted in the form of his earliest incarnations.

According to the Sthala Purana (local folklore), Aladahalli was once upon a time known as Yajnavalka Ashrama. It is believed that sage Yajnavalka set up his ashram and performed severe penance. To facilitate worship, he installed this pillar-shaped Ranganathaswamy idol inside a small stone dolmen atop the hill. In the years that followed a proper stone temple was built by local kings.

The temple priest revealed that the ancient stone temple didn’t have any walls, there was a roof supported by stone pillars on all sides. To give protection to the idol and provide some shade, a modern concrete structure was built around the old temple about 40 years ago. Today a modern structure stands adorned with beautiful brass decorations. Locals believe that even in this age of computers, demi-gods descend from heaven every full moon night to worship the lord!

A short and gentle flight of steps leads you to the top of the hillock, but it would be more interesting to climb the boulders, for a great experience in rock climbing and hiking in the wilderness. Another highlight of Aladahalli is the cave-temple dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi at the base of the hill.

TRAVEL TIPS

How to get there:
By Bus: Aladahalli is not well connected. One has to travel from Bangalore to Dobbaspet first, then travel back around 10 km to Mahimapura Cross and walk the next 2 km to Aladahalli.

By Road:
Start off on the National Highway 4 (Bangalore - Pune Road) and drive for around 45 kms in the direction of Tumkur. One can find a small sign on the left side, which reads “Aladahalli Ranganathaswamy Temple”. Turn left into the road and proceed straight for around 1.5 kms on the mud road and after crossing the village, walk on the path for about half-a-km to reach the top.

Place to Stay:
Aladahalli village has no place to stay and camping is not allowed on the hillock as it is believed spirits visit the temple at night. Advisable to carry food and water.
Special Information: The temple is open only in the mornings 7 am to 11 am daily and full day on Saturday. Special worship and festivities are observed during the Sravana and Magha months of the Hindu calendar.

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