Nov 3, 2012

Hanumana Kote, Lalguli

29 May 2012. An email surprised me; a lady from Hyderabad said she had recurring dreams of Lord Hanuman in a forest location, a stream close by. Google search led her to Hanuman picture which matched her dream and that image was in Search for Lalguli Falls. I wondered if this was a prank. Even before I could reply, the lady had sent two more messages asking me to respond. The lady- Sindhoor -seemed determined. I replied with my mobile number. We spoke on June 1, this was no prank. I wasn't sure if June would be a good time to visit Western Ghats because of rains but monsoon was delayed. Nothing would stop Sindhoor, she had decided to make a trip during the coming weeks. I spoke to Raghu of Lalguli about the dream and the upcoming trip to his village. Few days later, Sindhoor's better half Ravi confirmed their trip. They arrived at Dharwad June 15th morning, it was a workday for me. They checked into a room reserved for them at Indraprastha Residency. I met them at the hotel on the way back home and decided the itinerary for the morrow. I told them about my colleague Malatesh who would be joining in. A cab from Janani Travels was booked.
Saturday June 16. Malatesh arrived at the hotel almost same time Yellappa and I reached. Sindhoor and Ravi were ready too. We started off left at 5-30, not much traffic on Dharwad-Kalghatgi road nor Hubli-Karwar road. Sindhoor was worried about wild animals. I told them about the incident at Madhumalai, how my guide lit a beedi to scare away the bear 200 feet from us. By 7-00, few kilometers before Yellapur we turned off Karwar road to Haliyal road. We stopped at a tea shop to buy a matchbox. Couple of kilometers further, we turn left, the road to Lalguli. A stop to stretch out.
Malatesh was telling this is the first time he's entering a jungle this thick. We saw thick vines really high similar to Hiptage Benghalensis Malpighiaceae. We reached Lalguli by 7-30. I told Ravi that Raghu would be there because he was tied down with a meeting at his office. That's the rangoli at Raghu's house door.

Deepa Rangoli
I was glad to be seeing Raghu's grandfather again. Raghu's father was busy with morning rituals. I introduced the guests to the hosts. We left soon after breakfast. Raghu's father Narayan Bhat would be accompanying us to the fort.

I could see some changes... oh the footpath was now wide enough for a car. The dirt road was made by an excavator :( I do not wish to see the a tar road during my next visit. Narayan Bhat mentioned that a road did exist here earlier when forest contractors brought trucks to load timber. With no such acivity now, the road was unused and vegetation had taken over. Sindhoor wanted some dry branches to make decorative lamps. I could barely find any. I guess with the recent road work, dry wood would have got buried. The road ended at the slope of the stream valley.

This year with much lesser rainfall, water in the stream too was less. As always flowing water felt great, it seems to take away tiredness and fill me energy. Across the stream, a narrow uphill footpath and then a plateau. Hanumana Kote seems undisturbed. There's a path to our right which leads to the river, to the cascade where Raghu had taken us.

That's the fort entrance as seen from inside. The walls have crumbled and plenty of trees have grown over them.

The fort gateway is L-shaped, we entered from the left. The makeshift shelter for Kote Hanuman. Ravi and Sindhoor unpack few things from their backpack, getting ready for the ritual. The ritual was expected to last for an hour or so. No hurry, take your time, do not worry about us. Ravi excused himself to go the stream for a dip and fetch water for the pooja.

Jai Anjaneya!
Ravi, now traditionally attired, settles down for the pooja. Malatesh and I were exploring the surroundings discussing the fort walls, plants and tress. I realized we might be disturbing Ravi's pooja and decided to move away and explore the fort.

We walk about half a kilometer northwards. The fort being situated on a hill is surrounded by valleys, a stream and river Kali. We could see that the fort wall is built along the edge of the plateau. Having lived in these jungles Narayan's eyes catch things which we hardly notice. For instance he located a buried salakee (spade). It was hidden there by folks who come fishing. The spade is used to dig dirt for earthworm. That's Narayan and Malatesh looking at the jungles across Kali river valley, we could not see the river water from here.
Malatesh inspects a dry stump of a teak tree. I sat on it, it was quite comfortable. Makes a good watch point too.

We move a bit further, Narayan was keen to show us water. Close to here, Narayan showed us a tree on which any mark made would keep growing as long as the tree grows. Say you etch a heart on the stem and check it out ten years later, the heart would have grown proportionally.

There's a pool of water in Kali riverbed. I guess Raghu had reached that place during our search for Lalguli falls.

We had been away for almost 45 minutes now. I suggested we head back to the temple ...Sindhoor and Ravi might feel abandoned in the middle of the jungle. More over Narayan had mentioned that elephants had visit Hanuman Kote often.

Back at the temple, Ravi was through with the rituals and he seemed happier now. I had seen pooja being performed in this manner only at temples by poojaris. I did not have any idea about Ravi's detailed   preparation.

Ravi was describing various features of the statue:
Lord Anjaneya is magnificent to look, with clearly carved figure. Swamy wearing kaupinam (loincloth) is facing south. Idol height is nearly 3 to 4 feet. The embossment of the main deity is clearly seen. The Lord is facing south, His raised right hand is showing Abhya Mudra giving "Abhaya" to all his devotees. In his left hand He is seen holding the Sowgandhika  flower, his right leg is crushing the evil "rakshasa". His Yagyopaveetha adds glory to his body, He is seen with all ornaments. He is wearing an ear ring ("Kundala"), His upper arm is wearing ‘Bahuvalaya’ and in his wrist he is wearing "Kankana", He is seen wearing two sets of ornaments in his neck with his Kesa seen tied & wearing headgear.

His tail is seen raised above the head and at the end folded. The ‘Pranava’ formation and a small bell tied could be seen in the end of the tail, which is normally found in the Vyasaraja Pratishta Hanuman idols.

He is a sight of glory and compassion put together. Based on the idol features i could see he is the "Sri Veera Anjaneya". Sri Veera Anjaneya idol of this open roof temple has all the lakshanas of Sri Hanuman vigrahas installed by Sri Vyasaraja. The bell in end of the tail, Shika, Sowganthika (or Lotus) Pushpa all indicates the Vigraha could have been one of the Vigrahas installed by Sri Vyasaraja.

We received the pooja prasaad. I noticed Narayan squat down while partaking prasaad. Havyak Bramhins here are particular about following their customs. I wish their customs and traditions continue for years to come. It's time to leave; Ravi and Sindhoor take one last look at the deity.

At the stream we take a short break. Nice spot to sit :)

A natural menhir. Notice the drop in water level?

Narayan chewing yeli-adaki and lost in thoughts, might be worried about scanty rainfall or could be thinking about chores back home. People living in these jungles are self dependent. They have little little things to take care of, work all through the day, all seasons.

I could feel the humidity rise and mentioned it might rain. After a while, as we walked we spotted this Malabar squirrel.It seemed restless for some reason. These are the best pictures I could manage with my telephoto lens.

Just as Lalguli's paddy fields came into view, we felt few drops of water and soon it was pouring. Drops were big and we were getting wet. The rain stopped as quickly as it started. Wish it had poured for couple of hours :( We happened to meet Raghu's uncle Gopalakrishna Bhat who insisted we drop in for few minutes. Introduced our Hyderabad guests. I told them about Lalguli Hanuman appearing in Sindhoor's dream. They were wondering at the fact that a couple had come all the way from Hyderabad. That's the front yard, arecanut tree rafters overhead. Left to right: Gopalakrishan's wife, Shailaja, Gopalakrishna, Shamsunder...

Back at Raghu's place we all freshen up. The sultry jungle weather makes me sweat like crazy and added to the effect was today's humidity. I had a mini bath and changed into a fresh tee shirt. Raghu's sister Rajamata, Shailaja and granny had done the cooking. I relished every item served for lunch. Then we settled down for paan session. That's a yeli-adkee session in progress. Anatajja showed us various nut sizes. Malatesh got a handful to take home.

 We got an opportunity to see Anantajja's yeli-adkee pouch, an ancient nutcracker and a artistic silver Sunna-Thambaak Dabbi were an attraction. The Sunaka has a little chain connecting the caps to the body. The moment Sindhoor saw the silver Sunaka she wanted to get a similar one :) Time to leave, Sindhoor and Ravi have to catch a bus back to Hyderabad.

Anantajja plucking semi-ripe starfruits for us.

Sindhoor with her dry sticks, she was serious about taking them home.
We drove nonstop to Karnatak University's botanical garden to see a plant they had not seen before; the Ficus Krishnae tree. Sindhoor looked little after her nap in the car. The cup-shaped leaves captivated them, especially Malatesh. We picked up some dry leaves for Sindhoor. Close to the Ficus Krishnae tree are few pine cone trees. The sight of cones scattered on the ground below the trees worked magic on Sindhoor, she was suddenly charged up like a little kid and chatty again. We picked up a load of cones, even Malatesh wanted to some for home. The cab was parked close to the university library, near a tea shop with a great ambiance. We had mirchi and chai, tea was so refreshing we went for a second round. Back at the hotel, we said bye-bye quickly, just enough time to pack up and leave. Yellappa would be dropping Ravi and Sindhoor at Hubli bus-stand.

Monday morning at office, Malatesh surprised me with a pair of betelnut dolls.

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8 comments:

ಕನಸು ಕಂಗಳ ಹುಡುಗ said...

Sir It's too nice article.....

no one can posted such a articles about this place. i think u r the unic person.
We proud of u.. for this job..

Thank u sir ji....

siddeshwar said...

Hey Raghu! It's the magic of Lalguli :) Will visit again, this time we'll spend some time in the cascade.

sindhoor said...

Siddeshwar that's such a wonderful write up,indeed dreams do come true and I am extremely indebted to you for helping us reach hanuman kote and I am equally indebted to the bhatt family for their affection and hospitality,if pranadevaru wishes we shall visit him again! It was an unforgettable and a wonderful experience.

Harsh M said...

treathHi Siddeshwar,

A very nice write up about Lalguli. I have extremely fond memories of the Hanuman Temple. By the way, were you ever able to locate "Lalguli Falls"? My father made a last ditched attempt around a few months back and returned without any results.

In my opinion, Vincholi Rapids & Lalguli Falls are one and the same thing. Although Vincholi rapids has also not been reached successfully (we made an abortive attempt in around 1992-3, spoiled by Extremely heavy rains).

Your comments please.

siddeshwar said...

@ Sindhoor - meting you & Ravi going to Lalguli and Hanumana Kote was a unique experience for me :)

siddeshwar said...

@ Harsh - During my earlier visit we explored Kali river. We saw a cascade and a small waterfall - that may not be the correct spot. The answer to your question is- I could not locate Lalguli waterfall. Somehow no one knows the exact location. I had plans to explore a waterfall known as Saat Patte near Kali-Tattihalla confluence but haven't been able to explore that part until now :(

mustangally said...

Wow, Siddie. What an incredible story. Great photos, too.

siddeshwar said...

Thank you Alexis. It was a wonderful trip!