memories of family outings.....


Of Fairy Tales and Fiesty Cons

Who doesnt like stories of Buried Treasure  and Guardian Snakes ? 

Not that we were into investigative journalism , but just as ruins come chasing  after Ruin-Spotters , Fairy Tales rain upon Collectors  of Rural Gossip.


This time , the Ruin ditched me and grabbed my travel mate  instead ,as we drove along a godforsaken stretch of uncultivated land in Tiptur Taluk .....

'Look , look' , she spluttered in excitement , ' like Nallur ! '

There it stood, just by the road. A Ruin ! 

A cuboid stone edifice, topless, doorless , id-less . But , aged . 

We had to stop . We had to investigate . Because the old stone walls were dressed with some icons in bas relief . 

Other than the Dwarapala pair , the walls, all around , showed some randomly placed  shallow relief carvings of elephants ....elephants ....elephants ....

.....and here and there , some .....indistinct ...whatever . 

Not totally abandoned, it transpired . There were half a dozen workers pottering about behind the cuboid  , working on  a brand new pillared pavilion .

The old structure had a single cell - navaranga-  with four pillars showing sculpted panels of  low calibre workmanship , dirt floor and a small idol leaning on a pedestal , dumped to one side . 

Our frenzied clicking brought in a gentleman , whose white dothi and striped green towel on shoulder denoted that he was not a labourer but a Supervisor  .

 "Come see " he invited, gesturing to the backyard , " a brand new garbhagudi is getting ready over there..."

He only needed a short query from us " what temple is this? " to launch into a full blown screenplay  about treasures, snakes and looters .

Two workers , bunking  work , came in to add support to his grand tale with enthusiatic nodding and affirmative refrains of  " hoo(n) howdu ! "  ( = yes, true) at appropriate points . 

We gathered that the Srinivasa temple belonged, by legacy , to some agriculturists  whose fields lay behind the temple . 

But it fell to ruin because of  " rivalry and mutual mistrust " among them. 

We nodded  wisely, though none the wiser 

One Sidekick piped up: " only after looters broke in , they have taken up rebuilding " 

Instant panic on our side .  Looters ? Antique -Art Theft ?

No......buried Treasure ! 

We were shown a dark yawning pit at the northeast corner of cell . 'Thats where the treasure was ....deep down  there .....the looters had come thrice ....the first two times , they were hissed away  by vigilant snakes ....but the third time , they made off with the loot' . 

What happened to the snakes ?.....wrong question ; not appreciated. 

Doesnt the Muzrai  care for the temple ?

Supervisior waved  in derision . " Aiiii ! The Muzrai only cares for well earning temples so they can grab a share! Who needs them   !  .....we grama-vasis are pooling in to resurrect our own temple ....if any good hearted philanthropist from outside wants to contribute too , its welcome ......" A hopeful look on his face ! 

Not liking the turn the conversation was taking , we decided to bid a hasty bye. 

While departing , a sign painted on the stone wall caught  the eye : The Muzrai Dept had clearly announced its authority over the temple ! 

Perhaps all those people were employed by the Tahshildar for the Muzrai , after all ! 

Treasure , Snakes , Clan Rivalry .......just fairy tales  to entertain nosy visitors ? 

Ah , truth dawns  ! Had we fallen for that story and in "good hearted philanthropic gesture " made a donation , it would have gone into the pocket under the green towel ! And that would have been the real loot ! 

Who said Village folk lack imaginative enterprise !