HIMAVAD GOPALASWAMI BETTA ...................and lessons in Zen
Nitty-gritty info first: Himavad Gopalaswami Betta is the highest peak in the Bandipur Range. Located in Chamarajanagar Diatrict, on Mysore-Ooty road, about 75 Km, from Mysore. There are strictly adhered to timings for visits into the protected sanctuary. 6AM to 5pm. Overnight stay at hill top is prohibited. A toll is collected at the base of the hill. MERCIFULLY, there are no snack vending shops on the hill.But an ugly sarkari architectured circuit house, which looks abandoned.
Strict instructions to avoid littering of plastic waste are posted near the car park and the temple, but, sadly, some visitors choose to disregard this injunction. I wonder at their sensibilities or lack of it.How can anyone bring himself to throw a wad of garbage into such a heartstoppingly beautiful and pristine lap of nature after going oooh-aaah at the scenic vistas all around ? Sigh !
Himavad .The name says it all. Eternally covered with fog and mist. When the veils of mist shift and sweep away, a grand vision unfolds. Endless layers of emerald meadows stretching to the misty horizon; rolling valleys of velvetty grasslands faintly sprinkled over with clumps of trees and ancient boulders. OPEN SPACE. The feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer dimensions of open space. The feeling of shrinking into an insignificant speck in the majestic canvas of Nature..............
There are remnants of a hoary fort . The very idea of planning to build something here, at this height and absolute isolation, is stupefying. Imagine labouring in that miasma of permanent fog and bone chilling cold ! And they built a temple too. A pretty little temple with a prettier idol of GopalaKrishna. Faith not only moves mountains, it also climbs remote peaks and lovingly instals shrines for the Maker.
Ofcourse, there's mythology to explain away the arduous feat. Men , with hardwork and sincerity create wonders and then give over credit to the Supernaturals. There's a fashionable psycho-babble theory that The Pyramids of Giza and Macchu Picchu were built by Alien Green men. In our countrysides, we have thought it quite normal to believe that our Blue God created - (choo-mantar-kali ) - our wonderously located temples. Religious faith gives that sense of self-negation and the concept of arpanam. So, this pretty little temple was originally created by Krishna who chose to rest here, upon the request of Agastya. Ubiquitous, itinerant Agastya ! Later, much later, the paleygars brought in some brick and mortar and solidified the ethereal abode ( 14th Cent). The idol in the sanctum is a fine work of art. The single panel slab shows Krishna, with flute, under a tree, resting one toe upon the other, flanked by his retinue of wives , friends and cattle. Alluring art.Awesome craft.
The Dasayyas sitting along the steps of the temple are a colourful lot. For a small donation, they give a show of their talent - clanging a gong, blowing a conch and singing a hymn.
Though the meadows of the hill look like manicured lawn, the grass is pretty tall, chin high, and we realise this when we start trekking along beaten paths. As we rustle and wade towards a high point, we spot many exquisite wild blossoms springing from the ground and some beautifully fashioned insects . Suddenly, excitement ! Elephants are sighted on the opposite hill which offers an excellent stage for a good show. A herd of 7 or 8 elephants of all age groups. Relaxing. Playing. We settle down on some rocks on our hill top to watch. What antics the little ones get into. And the elders let blare a trumpeting call now and then. Watching them is so relaxing. They have all the time in the world. They enjoy each blade of grass they chew, each sod of earth they shower upon themselves. They are in no hurry to finish a job or to plan the next move. Just like the wafting breeze and the shifting mist, they just ARE. Thats ZEN. And, watching them is so zen-evoking.
A sudden commotion on the right. A solitary Chital streaks out of a clump of trees just below the Hamsatheertha and flahes like greased lightening towards the ridge on the far left and disappears. What startled it ? A leopard, perhaps ? We scan the whole area, but cannot spot its herd.
It starts to drizzle. We troop back to the car. We have to find the perfect place to have our lunch. Driving away from the temple, a few shades lower, we deviate into a pathless clearing towards a plateau strewn with huge, interestingly shaped boulders. No drizzle here. But a hearty breeze. We hold on to our eager -to- fly -off -paper- plates and potato chips and hog on puliyogre and thayir saadam. Some lunchtime entertainment is provided by huge black ants that scurry around, carrying off chips and groundnuts, crumbs more than double their own size, strewn from our plates. Two kites ( garudas) hover steadily above the valley trying to target something. One swoops down suddenly but comes up with nothing. Its an amazing sight to watch them suspended , spreadwinged and motionless , in air for almost 10 full minutes. Again Zen-evoking.
Post lunch, we explore the rocky terrain. From a ledge, we admire the lake far down hoping , wishing with all heart, to spot some wild animal. All we spot are a couple of visitors hiking along the opposite hill.
Mist is rushing up from a farther range. A steamy gray coloumn of rain can be seen hitting the Nanjangud region in the plains. Time to leave.
( Pictures clicked by Shravan and Pranav )