Shivana Samudram et.al.
Anyway, one can’t get too worked up about these things and that too after a very satisfying Saturday, a Saturday that’s left me all washed up today.
A few of us (including Bala, contentedbloke) hired a tempo traveller, and got going towards the Shivana Samudram falls early yesterday morning. This is about 100 kms from Bangalore, and a good place to visit when there’s water. Shivana Samduram is actually a set of 2 different falls. One’s called Gaganchuki, which was our first halt. It’s quite nice, the only problem is it can only be seen, I mean, one can’t go too close as it’s inaccessible. The Kaveri forms a nice stream as it flows downwards to meet the falls. In general the tourists don’t frequent this place, understandably so – it’s kind of boring if you want to do anything other than sit by the stream, talk or eat. There’s also a small muslim dargah and graveyard. The best part was I had nellikais, that greenish fruit, more popular as a pickle. I don’t even remember the last time I had nellikai (not as a pickle that is). I remember freaking out on those when I was in school, but after that, don’t recall having it more than a few times altogether.
After that, we drove on to check out the other chuki, I don’t remember what it’s called, Bharanchuki I think. This is much more touristy, but there’s a steep descend down, which would be no bother if only one didn’t have to climb up the steps again. Quite a few people were around, software engineering blokes mostly. We had a good time there, played around a bit, had a couple of close shaves with the current, and stuck to the water for the most part. In particular it was awesome and somewhat scary to be on the receiving end of the full force of the falls. Indeed what else does one do in a waterfall.
Also did the boat ride, not a boat really, it’s that round thing that serves the same purpose that you find near these falls usually. I don’t know what it’s called in English, in Tamil it’s called something else but I don’t remember that either. The boatman took us about an inch away from the falls, and twice he spun us around like crazy, and for a few moments it was all a little too much for my nerves.
From there, we headed out to Talkad, an ancient temple town, that was excavated by the ASI a couple of decades ago. The place is full of sand, it’s a Shaivite town, there are 5 main lingams consecrated in different temples. It was almost 3 by the time we got there, and we were seriously starving. One of those “ah, here comes a victim” types mentioned that there was a udupi mess somewhere in the village, so the guide first took us there. Turned out it was someone’s house, we had lunch in those theiyal elais(stitched leaves) in which we normally get Prasad. To my knowledge, the first time I have had lunch on those; I mean I have had lunch on plantain leaves many times, but never before on these leaves. The food was good, the family had quite a few cats, one of which sat opposite me and lunched too. After resting for a little while, we checked out the main temple. Pretty much like any other old temple, but for one brilliant architectural triumph. Two entwined stone rings, hanging from one of the edges of the temple roof, all of them carved out of the same stone. Very unique. I don’t remember having seen anything of that sort anywhere else. There was apparently one on every edge, but the rest had already been broken by the time the temple was found.
We hung about a while longer at Talkad, saw a couple of more temples, and skipped the rest while we listened to the guide narrating the story of this place. The village gets its name from two hunters, Tala and Kaad. Those lingams owe their existence to them. Legend has it they had this cow which every time it returned from a particular spot, gave blood instead of milk. Intrigued, they went about to investigate, and turned out it was bathing one of the lingams in milk, and when they tried to prevent the cow from doing so, Shiva commanded them to build more lingams to atone for that sin. Some ego our Gods have.
Many centuries later the town was destroyed when the Kaveri overflowed and sank the whole place. Legend has it that this was the result of a queen’s course. The queen was married to the Raja of Srirangapatna, who fell sick, and was brought to Talkad to be cured. Unfortunately for him, when he stepped into the Kaveri, he fell down and died. Hearing this, the King of Mysore ordered the queen to return all her valuables to the Mysore kingdom. The lady however ticked off the Raja’s emissaries, merely returning the nose ring that had been gifted to her by the Mysore state. Obviously, the Mysore Raja wasn’t too happy about this, and he sent his army out to take it back by force. About this time, the queen decided that enough was enough. She had endured enough suffering, but as a last gasp effort uttered three powerful curses. First, that Talkad should be destroyed for having failed to cure her husband, and secondly, since the Mysore Raja had also wanted to despoil her, she cursed that the men from his dynasty would never ever be capable of having (male?) progeny. I am told since then, every child in that dynasty has been adopted. Not sure about the truth of that, ‘cos despite this tidbit of information coming from a source called Satya, he is not necessarily that always. The third curse? I don’t think the guide mentioned that. If he did, I don’t remember it anyway. There’s a whirlpool somewhere around that was also created by this queen at the spot where she died.
We truly have the most fascinating legends. The one crib I have with these historical places is that the ASI doesn’t put up a tablet or something that describes the history of the place. Common sense truly is uncommon. In the absence of any such inscription, I have to place my faith completely on the guide. An enterprising fellow could well spin out any damn yarn he pleases and I would just go aye, aye. Who knows maybe there was no queen.
We were about to return to Bangalore when someone mentioned that the Kaveri fishing camp was close by, about 3-4 kms from Talkad. So we decided to check that out too; the fishing camp is this small island resort, a decent place to unwind. We didn’t do much there besides hopping across and back on the motor boat. The resort’s got a few rooms and a dormitory. Not very reasonable, but for those who enjoy fishing I guess it should be a nice place to chill out at. The Mahseer, apparently the world’s largest tropical river fish is found in the Kaveri waters there. I am told folks come from all over to try their luck. The Mahseer weighs around 100 pounds and is a very determined and stubborn fish. Its one of the most prized catches for any serious fishing enthusiast. If you manage one, anything you catch after that is likely to be a considerable fall from grace.
Anyways, we didn’t fish. Got back to Bangalore around about 00:00 (as always we played Dumb Charades all the way during the morning, and slept all the way at night). And oh yeah, we also stopped for dinner at this place called Maddur, 80 Kms off Bangalore. Maddur vadas are famous in karnataka, and we had the good fortune of sampling the original. Truly, they are far far better than the ones I have had in Bangalore.
Nearing the end of yet another weekend. My body is still aching after all the exertions of yesterday. You know you are older than you think when your body aches after a one day trip, and when the kids down below call you uncle. Sigh.
And btw, one tip. If any of you intend going to these places, carry your lunch along. And there are many other interesting spots around that area. So you could even camp out somewhere there overnight and check out the other places the next day. However, some of these places also feature on Veerappan’s must visit spots, so better be careful.