Month: July 2018

Bhoganandishwara Temple

Nandi Hills is a popular tourist spot located about 60 kilometres to the north of Bangalore, past the turn off to the Airport. As the name suggests, it is popular for its views over the countryside and to view the sunrise / sunset.

I had been there a weekend in June and on the way back, a few of the group members suggested that we visit a nearby temple. I had been to Nandi Hills before but had never even heard of this temple, so I was keen to see it.

And what a sight it was! The Bhoganadishwara temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is considered to be one of the oldest existing temples in Karnataka, dating to the 9th century AD. It is situated within a large, well maintained enclosure with lush lawns and huge trees providing a nice green cover. It is a good walk beneath the trees to the main entrance.

As one nears the entrance, one can see a large raised platform to the right. This is the Mahanavami Dibba, which, as the name suggests, was a royal enclosure to view the Navaratri celebrations from. To the left of the main entrance is a large, wooden chariot.

The temple complex itself is large, with multiple enclosures. There are some exquisite carvings in black stone in the main enclosure.

Bhoganandishwara temple
Bhoganandishwara temple

One of the noteworthy elements of the temple is the beautiful, stepped water tank within the temple itself. A covered walkway surrounds the water tank on all four sides, topped by perfectly shaped small towers. It makes for a beautiful spot to rest for a while.

Water tank - Bhoganandishwara temple
Water tank – Bhoganandishwara temple

I am sorry to say that, even after many years of staying in Bangalore, I had never even heard of this place, let alone visit it. I hope more people visit this place – it is a stunning example of the traditional architectural heritage around us.


The hybrid Indian online model

There is no denying that the increasing popularity of ‘online’ in India. Since moving back to India a couple of years ago, I have been regularly using a plethora of online services – ride hailing, food delivery, house rentals, packers and movers, shopping – and by and large, the experience has been pleasant. It has certainly made life easier and more fun, though I still have reservations about the long term viability of some of these companies (but that’s a topic for another post!).

One aspect, though, that has intrigued me, and in some cases, irritated me, is the amount of human interactions that some of these services entail. A couple of examples:

I had registered on a property website while casually looking at some properties. And a few days later, I received a call from the company saying that they would be happy to help me shortlist a property, asking for my details, talking about a few properties and then the catch – they will share my contact details with the property developers who would then call me to schedule a visit, etc. Please note that this was completely outbound as I had not expressed any interest in these properties on their website or even asked anybody to call me.

One of the reasons I prefer to use online services is the relative degree of anonymity – I do not have to talk to a customer service agent, provide details, then have further people calling me, etc. I would rather do all the activities myself and only have an option to talk to someone at the company if I need any help.

This got me thinking. Is it that our digital economy is not mature enough that companies still have to hire a team of agents to call its users and be enablers? Or is it that companies are not happy at the volume of business they are getting from pure self service users and feel the need to hire people to push things along? I appreciate that this provides employment opportunities and, in our country, that is very important. But is there a case then, for companies to provide an option to users who prefer to be completely self service?

Case #2:

I went on to the website of a very popular DTH provider with whom I have an existing relationship. I had to make a service request. It was easy to find the service request section on their website and within a few seconds, I had made my request which was time bound. And then the wait started. It’s been a couple of months now, so the details are a bit vague but I do not believe I received even an acknowledgment that my request has been received. So, two days later, what did I have to do? You guessed it right, I had to call their Customer Support and within minutes, I received a follow up call and things were sorted.

It begs the question, doesn’t it? Why have a Service Request option on your website when clearly, it is not being monitored? In western markets, companies love it when users self serve, saves them significant costs of hiring and training call centre agents and the operational costs involved (office space, telecommunications, etc.). I wonder, if in India, the cost structure is so skewed that it is still cheaper for companies to have a team of people on call than build a technological solution? I am not sure that it is, but would love to hear from experts.

HAL Aerospace Museum

Can a museum about a country’s air force history be classified as heritage? Absolutely, in my humble opinion. Countries like the UK take great pride in their technology / engineering heritage. And it was very heartening to see something similar in Bangalore – the HAL Aerospace Museum.

The museum, spread across an area of about 4 acres of well maintained lawns. They have a good collection of aircraft used by the Indian Air Force, including MIG-21s, trainer jets, helicopters, engines, and more. One of the highlights for me was the entry shield of the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) that one can walk under (see photo below).

There is also a good play area for small kids (less than 10 years) and good, plentiful open air seating where one can have a snack. There is also a cafe that serves basic snacks, biscuits, soft drinks and tea.

All in all, I would rate this as one of the best museums I have visited in India.

Public Transport

I have always enjoyed traveling by public transport. Even when I had my own car, I preferred to use the local trains in Mumbai to commute to work, as opposed to driving my own car. I think I must have been the only person in office who had a car but still traveled by train!

This is my second stint in Bangalore and I must admit that, in my first stint, for over 3 years, I don’t think I took the public bus even once. I had my two-wheeler and used to to get around everywhere. Now, in my second stint, I don’t own a car or two-wheeler, and rely primarily on Uber to get around within the city (and Zoomcar for outstation trips). And when I am traveling by myself, I try to take the bus as much as possible. And, to be completely honest, I found the experience quite pleasant.

I think it’s a shame that most people who can afford not to, do not take the buses in Bangalore. I have found them to be quite clean, fairly reliable, with a good network, and obviously, fairly expensive. And now, with the integration of the bus timetable with Google Maps, it’s even easier to navigate and find the correct bus routes.

What do I like about public transport? I think it’s a great way to really get to observe the places and the people up close, as compared to the bubble of an air-conditioned car. It helps one to stay in touch with the reality of the place we are staying in. Its healthy – one has to walk to and from the bus stop. You get a better view around as you are sitting above the top of most vehicles around you. I don’t feel as claustrophobic when you are stuck in a traffic jam. I also feel less road rage as you do not observe all the nonsense around you. It’s obviously more environmentally friendly and, of course, it’s cheaper!

So, if you are in Mumbai or Bangalore, or indeed any city with a half decent public transport network, give it a shot and see how you feel.



Among the many amazing things of our country is the heritage all around us. One example of this is the Kolaramma temple in Kolar, near Bangalore, Karnataka.

Kolar is a town about 70 kilometres from Bangalore, possibly most famous for the Kolar Gold Fields in the vicinity. The Gold Fields are now shut, but Kolar does have more to offer to visitors. And one such place to visit is the Kolaramma temple in the heart of the town.

I have spent over 6 years in Bangalore in two stints now and I do not mind admitting that I had not heard of this temple until a casual search a few months back. I finally got to visit this place one weekend in July.

The temple is over a thousand years old, built by the Cholas. It is now maintained by the ASI, but it’s still in active worship. Unfortunately, the temple was closed when I visited, which meant that I could not get to go inside the sanctum sanctorum. But an Internet search reveals that the presiding deity is Goddess Durga, in her avatar of Mahishasuramardini, also called Kolaramma by the local people.

The temple is relatively small in size. There are some ornate carvings along the doorway. I could also see a stone with inscriptions, which reportedly date from the time of the Cholas.

Just as an aside, while doing a parikrama of the temple, I could view this old house bordering the temple. For a city person like me, it was just so nice to see such a typical old house…

Old house - Kolar
Old house bordering Kolaramma temple