PATALI… A hidden trek

Dhana bala hele, Puri
Mana bala hele, Patali
(If you have money power, you would go to Puri; but if you have will power, you would go to Patali!!)

Utkal, in today’s term well known as Odisha. An east Indian state of this beautiful, bountiful, mystical and mythological country.  Any number of adjectives, it never satisfies what this country and its states throws at you. Odisha is no less.. a state that is rich in tradition, culture, minerals, resources and all but largely left unexplored and virgin. I was born in this beautiful state and had spent a significant part of my growing up, but never had stepped out beyond these three cities of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri. It has been that long pending guilt of not having seen much of my own roots that I made my plans to explore. A pull that I could not resist.

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                 Sonepur

And what better than the western part of this state, Sambalpur. Being oriented towards more of mythology happened to go to a place which is 300 kms from Bhubaneswar called Sonepur or Subarnapur (City made of gold).  In true terms it is a town made of gold, when one goes there during harvest season.. a town that is located on the banks of Tel & Mahanadi river.

My place of interest was some 35 kms off from Sonepur called Patali. It is also known as “Patali Srikethra”. The reason for being so called is that Lord Jagannatha‘s idol was kept in hiding for 144 years. Kala Pahada the Islam converted general was convinced that idol worship was not right and in anger he was behind destroying all Idols in the temples of Odisha (Kalinga then).

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                      Village path to Trikuta hills

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  Roads as we reached the place

That day we had started late around 10 am for the Trikuta Hills where the idol was kept in hiding. We did not have much of idea with regard to the demographics or the reach to the place and to top it up my GPS kept saying that we have arrived but could not figure out where. Finally came my favourite “Human GPS” it works best in these place. At last after having asked people we reached at the foot hills of Trikuta hills. The route is quite scenic with forest and hilly terrain and was quite surprised that the road leading to the foothills was well laid. The government seems to have done well for the access. I was little quick to jump to that conclusion as i reached the base. Our little car came up to a challenge to drive up a rocky bed. After driving having driven for 300 mts, decided it was better to rest the car and put the two legs to better usage.

At the foothill car path

      At the foothill car path

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        Pathway

To begin with the walk was fun and was more excited that we were on trekking trip. Well it was not long before I could sense that this is going to be a real long uphill task. To add to the woes of my family members deciding not to move ahead, there were no signs to
say that you are on the right track except for the single pathway. My son and I decided to hike it and we went on. The sun was relentless and determined to test us out. Though the trees provided the shade but it was testing times especially for someone who does not exercise much 🙂

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              Up to the summit

After 45 mins of putting my willpower to test, father and son managed to reach onto the hill top where the lord’s idol were kept for prayers and rituals. Tiered almost yelled out asking if there is anyone. Realised how desperate humans can get to hear another human being. It does not matter how strange the other person could be. There was an old lady who literally greeted us and said to come under the thatched structure where “the pandit” was doing his prayers. It was a wonderful feeling. I was still searching for the cave and started my discussion just to be told that it is a small hike further up the hill and the old man will take you there. That is when I met up with Mr Samant, the old man (Husband of the old lady). He did not look so old though.

Rocky path to the cave

Rocky path to the cave

He then took us further up. The trek up for on a rocky bed with grass covering and not much of there. 12 pm was good challenge to move up. He took us on a real bed rock path of 400 mts further up where he asked us to rem
ove our footwear. We both started jumping the moment the naked feet came in touch with the hot rock. That is when he said, babu it is not so hot and we have almost reached. “Almost”.. oh boy!! that word
scared me.. Well let’s do it, I could only say.

After reaching the top of the hill where you could see the Jagannath flag, which stated that we have reached. Then our lovely old guide then took us down the hill on the other side. Oh man, that was a rock climb down and i was remembered of the mountain goats and their walk. It really pushed me to explore this part too. As we meandered through the think rock path, we reached a small rock base and then there was the cave. As we faced the small cave path we had our backs to the cliff fall. 5-6 steps backward and one could make the way to heaves :)…

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With Samanth Nana with cave behind us

We sat there for 20 mins and i was trying to absorb the rich energy and free air around. Then started the ascend, Well i was literally on my four to ensure that I reach to safety. Our guide kept me that it is easy and nothing will happen. (A motivation and experience that most leaders do forget to share with their team members). Fin22167289110_102446a328_oally we reached to the top and then descended to the lord’s place. While being there, how come one to miss the simple prasad of Rice, dal and lentils. It was pure bliss. The water that I had there was nectar. No packaged water could have tasted sweet and chill.
After that, we started our way down. I was in a pleading state by then, “Oh my legs, please let me carry myself down quickly”.

What ever pain, but the journey to the place has been enthralling and an everlasting etch in my memory lane… The two lines still keeps ringing in my mind… “Mana bala hele PATALI!!!”

The Tranquil past and a quiet Village

इक नयी मंज़िल की खोज में ।
चल पड़ा तंग गलियों से ॥
पर मिला जो प्यारा सा मंज़िल ।
किसी गांवों की सुनी राहों  में ॥

(In the search of a new place, I started off into the busy lanes. But ended my destination in a quite lanes of a village)

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                  Belvadi

On the way to Chikkamagaluru, we landed up in a place called “Belavadi”. In true sense one could say that our Indian beauty is hidden in a lot of corners and quiet lanes. This particular temple built during the Hoyasala empire.This place has its relevance also from the mythological point of view. It seems that during the times of Mahabharata when the Pandavas were in angyatavasa they had stayed here in hiding. Bhema, one of the brothers had slayed the deamon “Bakasura”. Well, that mythology and the Hoysala history pulled us to move towards Belavadi.

Temple

                                                        Temple

We had reached Belavadi after the hustle and bustle of Halebeedu. It must have been 3 pm by the time we reached tired with the sun literally breathing down. The 12 kms between tired and Belavadi seemed to be an eternity due the  construction. The stretch of off-roading did remind me that I do have calf muscles and a very flexible spine. This quiet secluded place is a wonder in  its own. As we entered the village, a calm but friendly feeling welcomes us. It made me completely forgot the troubled road that I just made through. I parked my car on the narrow lanes as there was no parking space as such. (Forgot that I was in a village).

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Typical to the Hoysala structure, a flat non decorated “Gopura” welcomed us. Right infront the lamp post seem to be dividing the temple into two equal parts. As I stepped into the temple area, the was stuck with the West coast travel-152beautiful sculptures of the typical Hoysala West coast travel-160architecture. The stones seems to be having a life of their own. The chillness inside the temple just sucked the heat out of my body and I was feeling the tingling sensation of being at a power zone. The
calmness seem to have added to the overall feeling. I actually did go off to a beautiful nap full stretched feeling protected by the lords of the  Belavadi Temple.

While lazing around there, we happened to meet the priest (Mr. Bharadwaj). At first my perception told me that he may not be able to connect because of the language, but when we started conversing I realised my own block. He was a learned man and was had done his MPhil in English from Mysore University. A humble man who stuck to following his family tradition while fulfilling his own dream of pursuing his own educational dream.

We spent quite a time at the temple admiring the architecture and creativity at the temple. West coast travel-157West coast travel-161We stepped out from the beautiful history and chilled ourselves with some lovely coconut water. Oh yeah!!! was surprised to see the “Jugad” that Indians are well known for. The Pepsi crate holding the local flavour drinks. Could not dare much to explore that side of Belavadi!!!

With some lovely remembrance of living in the past we moved on the future. But that memory of Belavadi being strongly etched into my memory….

Mystical Marvel…

इक नये ऐहसास की खोज मैं ।
निकल पड़ा अंजानी राहों पे ॥
मिल बैठा कई अजनबी रिश्तों से ।
हर मोड़ पे इक नयी कहानी  के  संग ॥

(In the desire to experience something new, i ventured into the unknown roads. Just to meet up with unknown relations at every turn and to learn a new story) 

India is a beautiful and mysterious place. With each passing time, there have been kingdoms and dynasties that have left behind a treasure trove of art and fascination. One such era was that of the Hoyasala kingdom spread in the western ghats…

 Currently spread in the most picturesque location of western ghats, where nature engulfs the past in a very mystique manner. We had halted at Hassan tiered of driving and not much of strength left. But did hope if we could see some historical monuments but were disappointed. But, I must say that the food was really nice. It was far different from that of what I had tasted so far. Do try out Bonda soups and the dosas out there. They are so so different and yummy.
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Bonda soup

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Hassan’s mini tiffin

My first visit was to a very less known place Doddagaddavalli (some 15 kms away from Hassan). Well must say that sometimes, when your GPS does not work, you could end up into some fascinating rural Indian place. That is exactly what happened, we took an early left turn and landed up in this beautiful village. I rolled down the car windows and could breath the fresh early sprinkled with water by the women in the house. Asked some of the local village girls where the temple was and they coyly responded stating where we could find find.

Ma Lakshmi Temple

When we really ended up,  after going through the inner village roads was this beautiful small temple well preserved by ASI. It took us to another era altogether. Thanks to ASI, the place has been kept clean and neat. As we enter the temple, we are greeted by this beautiful carved stone pillars, mounted just by clay, lime and egg shells. Wow, this simply marvels one that even after so many years, they are just intact. Lucky, we managed to get a farmer boy (Shibu) who helped us in explaining the place and the architecture in his broken hindi. He opened the sanctum doors and as the light filled into the dark spaces, I held my breath to see a disfigured grotesque looking figure. That when he says, that is the “Betal”. I do not think anywhere in India would you find a 6 ft tall “Betal” and not just one, there were two guarding the lord “Kali”. Along with the Betals you have “Vish Kanya” and “Naga Kanya” who guard the deity.

                   Betal

          Entrance door

The inner sanctum, apart from having “Ma Kali” has a beautiful idol of “Ma Lakshmi”, “Kalabhairava” and “Lord Shiva”. They all are placed at opposite to each other. The inner pillars are so smoothly rounded and polished that they could cut your fingers off if one is not careful

The whole temple had been carved out of stone and each stone, did talk about a story that has been carved. They are so mesmerising that you could keep looking at them and create a story of your own while discovering what the creator would have thought. If you look at the below pic what is that you could think off. The story is that of praying and sacrificing to the lord if they are blessed with a child. The sacrifice has been depicted by the headless human bodies.

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Sacrifice Story

Now there are many such stories that have been depicted across the temple. They are fascinating. the place from where the offering water comes out is carved in the form of Yali, depicting that this was built during the Hoysala dynasty.

 Though this temple is known more as “Lakshmi Temple” but for me the most striking feature was that of the “Betal” and “Kali”.
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                   Yalli

If you ever happen to go towards Hassan, do not miss this temple on the way to the world famous, Belur & Halebidu. This place will give you a prelude to what is in store at Belur. And off course, do visit this place early morning hours when the mist is still there. The people are very simple and will help you go through this place.  It will leave a long lasting impression.
It is a Mystic and you will be mesmerised..
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     The Guardian

Oh my Stary eyes!!!

Oh! you tiny beautiful dots far above the sky. You keep shining away every day, every night. Blinded to my eyes in the day, you keep shining right there! You the constant up in the sky have witnessed what came to live, built, grown and perished!!

As I travel to unravel the places of my interest, my humble request, “Can you lead me to the wonderful insights you witnessed from the past?”

I hear from others their story, can you help me with your story of these lovely places… Am sure, you would leave me spell bounded and always asking for me… I want to douse myself in the richness of the kings, the pain of loss & revenge, the enthusiasm of the newer discoveries, wins and victories, the far cries of longing and the varied emotions of this mortal life..

Come, lead me into those bitter sweet past that you have witness in these so many years. I am not only all ears but eyes wide open to hear and feel it.. to treasure it till I leave to become one with you..

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