Jun 2, 2012

Degaon, a tribal hamlet

Krishnapur caves and Bheemaghad fort caught my attention. I badly wanted to see them. I located the caves on Wikimapia and checked out possible routes. The closest village marked was Talewadi, entire area is thick jungle with open patches for hamlets. I could see some roads but they could be dirt tracks. I checked altitudes in Google Terrain. Talewadi is at 800m and Krishnapur at 200m. Terrific! I was doubtful if a motorable road existed between Talewadi and Krishnapur. Anyway, I decided to go on a scouting trip to check what's possible and how to take out im from impossible. I asked Manju to join me.

April 4, 2012.
Balu the cabby was late by more half an hour. We left Dharwad by 6AM. By 7-30 we were at Khanapur. We had hot idlis and bhaji at Hotel Chetan at Rumewadi  cross. On enquiring routes to Krishnapur, the hotel  owner told us to go to Talewadi but another man told us to check out route from Gawali. Hotel owner said that a road does exist between Talewadi and Krishnapur. Thank you, we'll go to Talewadi.

Now we were driving through forest area, road wasn't that good. We could see several farm houses. We were wondering how structures are allowed to be built in forest area. The road we were on connected with Anmod, we had to look out for a smaller to our right. At one spot, we saw three peacocks, one had spread it's feathers, a lovely sight that lasted few seconds. Then the peacocks vanished into the trees. Balu said if we had not stopped they would not have moved from that place, they get suspicious when vehicles stop. A bus overtook us. After a while we saw a forest check post to our right with a dirt road behind it. There was no guard in sight but there was a man standing there with two bags. On asking for directions to Talewadi, he asked us to take the dirt route, its about 8km distance.Then he asked if we could drop him enroute at Degaon. You are welcome.

Our new friend is Rajashekhar Jahaj, a teacher in Government Marathi Primary School at Devgaon. He had just got down from the bus which overtook our cab. Our first question to him was what would he have done to reach Devgaon. Walk. We were zapped- walk 6kms with 2 bags in hands! He told he was lucky. He knows a teacher who has to walk 15km to reach his school. Rajashekhar hails from Belgaum. He goes home during weekends.  I was awe-struck by these people, they work so hard to impart knowledge to the younger generation and make a living. We've got to learn from them. 

About a kilometer inside, the road got rough, we had to get off the car so that the engine chamber does not  scrape rocks. We walked almost a kilometer on and off. We passed by a collapsed bridge, it was damaged by a ore laden truck. Few years back a mine operated here. Environmentalists got it closed. Thank God, the forest is saved. The 6km drive lasted around 15 minutes, we were at Devgaon.

That's our friend Rajashekhar inviting us into his school. The boy standing next to Rajashekhar is Sachin, an ex-student.
As we entered  the hamlet we had seen a bunch of kids but most of them had vanished by the time we  walked few steps to the school. Rajashekhar told us they shy away from strangers.

Devgaon is a hamlet nestled in a shallow valley at the tip of a plateau. Konkani and Marathi are the spoken languages. Most elders speak Kannada. Devgaon has no electricity supply but it has BSNL phones working on CDMA technology. No other networks operate here. Telecom companies wanted to install mobile towers but environmentalists put a stop to that. Thanks to them, birds and insects can carry on living normally.

These sweet little kids were sweeping the school's front yard and watering plants. They seem to have high regard for their teacher. I could feel the bonding between them :) God bless them.

I fell in love with this logo years ago. Happy little kids riding a pencil.

We had spoken about the purpose of this visit- to see Krishnapur caves. He said it's a 21km walk from here. It's best to start early morning, it would be a 3 to 4 hours walk. I asked him if we could stay here one night. He showed a little room which  he and two other teachers share. He told us we could stay here if we were OK with it. Of course, that would be fine. No mosquitoes here :)

I asked if there's any ancient temple. Answer was no temple but there are few ancient idols. He offered us to show us. We walked through the hamlet, crossed a stream, not much water at this time of the year, walked through paddy fields ...a short video.

That's a temple. Probably the first thatched roof temple I'm seeing.

A collection of idols placed along the hut's perimeter. The idol to the extreme right is Gajalakshmi.

Rajashekhar gave out more names but I can't remember any of them.

Closer look at Gajalakshmi.

Sachin standing next to a pole which gets felled on Holi day. This pole is erected few days before Holi and decorated with leaves and flowers.

On the way back we take a different path back to the hamlet. We stop by a paddy field right next to the stream. It's a undercover stream because it's lined by tress both sides.

Back at the school; it has two class rooms and about 21 students. I, II and III standard students sit in this room and the other room is for IV and V standard.

Every bit of space is utilized. These teachers are truly dedicated to their profession.

Another video made at the school.

Sachin gets hot tea for us. I was touched by their hospitality. It was time classes commenced, I decided to leave. I had no mind to disturb their routine. The front yard was buzzing with kids ...sweeping and watering plants. I asked them to pose for a picture. Many were so shy they would go into the classes and Rajashekhar had to coax them join the group.

Knowing our interest, Rajashekhar suggested us to check out a natural cave at Talewadi. The cave is large enough to accommodate 20 trucks. We exchange phone numbers and say bye to all kids. I wish I had brought some gifts for these kids. I would love to come here again.

Talewadi is about 4kms from here.



Santosh bs said...

this is some exploration... and so captivating. at one end it strikes hard when you read how tough it is for them to live their life, on the other side, happy to note that few developments have been stalled for the sake of environment... but for how long!

Adi said...

A lovely experience. Different from the temples and forts you usually write about. Did you manage to find the caves?

siddeshwar said...

@ Santosh bs Looks like Western Ghats of Belgaum and Goa will be protected. I just hope so.

@ Adi Yes, we saw the caves, courtesy our hosts at Talewadi. Post is in queue, will be published soon.

dr.umesh l said...

First time could see a Kannada name board for a Marathi School (strong hold of marathi people in Khanapur, Sankeshwar, Nippani)!. If people from Maharasthra and karnataka understand this basic concept, no need for any reports like Mahajan or any body. Interesting info as usual..

Mahesh M said...

Whenever I look for any info on new places I see in Google maps.. Its your blog that helps me out.

Really appreciate your efforts.


siddeshwar said...

Thank you, Dr.Umesh and Mahesh.