We took the ‘Karnataka Gramina Sarige’ bus to Chirtadurga from Bangalore bus stand at 8 AM. This bus takes a total of 5 hours to cover a distance of 200 kms.
My ex-colleague and friend, Vikas, a resident of Chitradurga was to receive us at the bus-stand, he ended up playing host to us for the duration of our stay in that city. I can still remember the very words (in Kannada) he said when we were hesitant in accepting his gracious invitation, he said, “you will not even be allowed inside the house this very moment if you don’t agree to stay in our house”. I don’t think the tone in this statement can be understood by anyone non-Indian.
For lunch, we were treated with ‘bili holige’ and ‘seekarne’, one of the dishes special to Chitradurga region. According to me, a good part of the experience of visiting a place is a result of savoring the local cuisine. For example: what is a visit to Kerala without eating fish fried in coconut oil or without Kerala parota, nothing!
This place is 10-15 minute drive (5 km) away from Chitradurga city. Near to the caves there is a picturesque lake surrounded by rocky mountains on all sides and the caves on one side.
The entrance to the caves is well above ground level, so, even though the cave does go quite deep we might not have touched ground level at the lowest point. Its advisable to enter the caves with the help of a guide as: 1> It does make the expedition more informative, and, 2> You can easily get lost. The charges for hiring a guide is quite cheap, at 10/- Re per head. Also, though the guide has a torch with him, it is useful to carry a powerful torch yourself.
These caves were supposed to have been occupied by saints from the Shimoga region during the 1400’s and they were the ones who have done much of the carvings inside these caves. These caves have a bathing room, bedroom, treasury also a meeting room (which is the lowest point in this intricate layout). The meeting room has stone seats all around with grooves in the wall for placing oil lamps.
This stone pedestal, only one of its kind in the cave, was supposedly where the saints used to meditate and also perform some of the yoga postures, it is believed that the structure of the pedestal is suited for some particular ‘aasanas’. In the above picture we can also observe green and orange colouring, which are supposed to be organic colours.
Each chamber in the cave has at-least 3 to 4 neatly cut entrances and each chamber connects to the other in some complex arrangement, which does make it very confusing for anyone who enters these caves to exit. The guide told us that any saint who wanted to escape from trouble makers used to hide deep in these caves and the trouble maker unfamiliar with the layout of these caves would find it next to impossible to find those absconding saints here, very believable, at least the part which tells that one can loose someone in these caves.
Groove in the wall for keeping oil-lamp. The lack of clean breathable air further worsened by the lamps smoke, those saints must have really loved their solitude!
Coming out of the caves we climbed a nearby hillock, it started to drizzle, the sort of drizzle which was pleasant for the hot and humid day. The view from there, of the lake and nearby mountains with boulders strewn across was a sight to capture.
From here, we visited a ‘Matt’ which has within its campus a Zoo and a park for free public use. The Zoo has an Ostrich and some Emus, the crowd pullers, apart from Bucks. These birds were in bad condition, particularly the Ostrich. When we entered the Zoo, the Ostrich was feeding on a huge egg, we guessed it must be that of an Emu. Also the Ostrich was quite aggressive, clicking its bill and charging the cage, which was amusement for the humans around! I hate Zoos.
After spending some time in the park we drove towards the only stadium in Chitradurga, which is at the outskirts of the city. Parking the car, we walked to one of the small mounds nearby to get a better view of the city, mountains and the giant Wind Turbines. One can easily feel the wind power on top of one of these mounds. The Wind Turbine installations all along the outer circle of mountains surrounding the city gives the impression of Sentinels guarding the city.
By the time we decided to return home the Sun had already set behind the mountains. While i was trying to take pictures of the Wind turbines in the slanting rays of the Sun, my friends asked me to take a look at the western skies, where the Sun had just set behind the mountains, and where there was an outburst of colours of the most magnificent kind.
The silhouette of the rocky mountains against the backdrop of the colourful evening sky, this is one sight which i wont be forgetting in a while.
Date: 26th May 2007