Thursday, April 20, 2006

Acrobatics on a rocky mountain. (No safety nets attached)

They say lots can happen over coffee. But over chitra anna and curd rice?? This was Sandeep’s mom’s picnic gift to us, as we set out on last Sunday morning to Saavan durga. We knew it was just about an hour’s journey, so we set out well after sunrise. We had on board one doc, 4 IT professionals, and an unemployed youth all set out to kick away the weekend inertia.

Some history:

Saavan durga near Maagadi (around 40 km west of BengaLooru) is one of the historic hill forts of Karnataka. There are many such stone marvels at Nandi hills, Chitradurga, Madhugiri, PaavagaDa of Tumkur, Kavaledurga of Shivamogga.

The Cholas had ruled Maagadi during the 10th and 11th centuries C.E., and had built a town there called Thirumalai in 1139 C.E. In fact the Ranganatha temple there was hailed as the Paschima Thirupathi (Thirupathi of the West).

After the Hoysalas succeeded the Cholas, they added Magadi to the Vijayanagara Empire, and much later Immadi Kempe Gowda (Kempe Gowda the Second) expanded this place by building a palace, the Someshwara temple and of course the hill fortress on the top of the monolith mountain in 1627 C.E. It’s believed that his status of being a Saamanta raaya (tributary chief) of that province gave the name Saamantaraayana Durga to his fortress. Centuries of mispronunciation have rendered it Saavana Durga today.

Back to the future:

Vishwas the doc, Hoba, Nats, Ramp, Sandy and I squished our bags into the car, much the same way we squished ourselves into it too. If you have been counting the heads, it should be quite clear how we all managed it, the car being Sandy’s Santro. It’s best left to your vivid imagination!We took the Magadi highway, cruised beside the TippagonDana haLLi tank (from where Bengalooru used to get most of its drinking water before Cauvery came in). The road at places felt like we were on camel back, but we could ignore it thanks to our Bangalore upbringing. You can get to see some cool spots after T.G. Halli where the traffic is minimal and the narrow road is all yours for the jaywalk.

We parked for breakfast and this is where the chitra anna kicked in. Post breakfast-cum-glucose-shot, we were all geared up for the big climb. Parking in front of the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha dEvasthaana was a good thing, as we could get a peek at the guDi before the uphill task. Coming to think of it in retrospect, it's very strategically placed near the foothills of the mountain, and in that way, as per someone's dark humour, was a boon for unfortunate people who fell off the cliff at one particularly slippery point. Their last rites could be effortlessly completed.

At the beginning, the rock just stood in our faces, with a sharp 60o inclination. I wasnt pretty sure whether this was the right way, but Sandy was leading, and he had done this twice. Ramp and Nats had a mind of their own and decided to take a slightly devious route, and didnt find it any easier! You must have seen that in trailer.

Soon the situation was taken care of as we found arrow marks painted on rocks indicating the 'right' trail. Now try this fact, ImmaDi Kempe Gowda used to take this well worn route to get to his fortress, on horseback! I have to give it to that gutsy animal which had gallop up and (worse) downhill carrying a well built man. Considering that even this trail had some decent - hold your horses- 80o inclinations (our minds were reeling angles!), imagining how the tougher routes could be. The men of history had even carved out small horse shoe shaped niches in the rock, for the stallion's foothold. But it was sheer thrill holding on to ledges, and heaving ourselves across building sized rocks. Small water breaks at every stage were a treat.

The view around the hills just got better and better. We found the fort in the final leg, obviously in a decrepit and unmaintained condition. Atop the peak was an imposing statue of the Basava bull, staring stoicly into the kingdom below. I could imagine ghost riders galloping up the ledges, as if they were riding plain ground; soldiers watching over the fortress with greased and ready archers hidden behind the brick walls; and daring climbers hanging on to their dear chamelons and dear lives.

It was all a walk back into the past, and as I look back, and wonder how much the city of Magadi treasured their city, as the citizens and soldiers fought against the British attack in the late 18th Century. The bloodshed and gore that the mountain witnessed is evident in the the grave sobriquet it earned; Saavina Durga.


Sandy said...

hey super kaNo! man! from where do u manage to get all tht info? dont tell me u went back to ur high school social text :D
n gr8 pics as well! :)

P.S: I thought it was Saawan durga..didnt know it was the Kannada saavina..ROTFLMAO!

Anonymous said...

You've embarrassed me big time with that trailer kano! hehehe...but i guess its worth it considering the publicity i am likely to get ;)
Very nice blog mate. So much information! Wow! You should take pics off sandy's album too. I think he had a pic of those horse hoof carvings. Very nice blog man. Keep it coming :)

Vinay said...

chennagittu blogu..and what a lesson in History pal ! You have made all the VVS teachers proud ;-) (Doubt whether we studied all this, but was weak in Social Science anyway, so forget it..) Nice coordination between the texts and the pics I must say
How did 6 of u (1 doc, 4 Techies and an unemployed youth bound for greener pastures) fit into a Santro ?!?
Ur friend Ramp's a super star man, seriously..cudnt stop laughing when I saw that video :D