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 ! 


Swayam Tiwari said...

Ha ha...that is some real enterprise. In Delhi, when I explored the Lalkot ruins, I was told that there is a gold and silver lined pathway underneath those walls. People have literally ransacked those walls hoping to get some buried reasure...I hope to read more of your blogs, Vidyaji.

Venkataraman Padmanbhan said...

A nice travelogue.
More than the write up good and authentic sketches to add life and enliven the narration.
Hats off to the talented writer/artist.

Aparna Misra said...

Will love to travel as your mate and embark on such adventures but then will need your eye, I pad and immense love for words to pen it so delightfully ��