Sunday, October 19, 2008
Click on the image to view the picture set ...
Yes, there is such a place! and err, no, the answer is not 'The Kitchen'. Well, there may be many such places, but one among them is a small village called 'Narsapura' on Kolar road about 60 km from Bangalore. This is a small place where there are lot of carrot fields around. After the harvest, the newly plucked carrots are very muddy. Caked with peels of mud, they have to be washed clean before shipping them to the markets; and here they do that in a big lake, lumping them together in large coracle shaped baskets made of some kind of roots, stems? and ceremoniously washing them in groups. And this is some ritual that can hold a lot to enthuse a bunch of shutterbugs. Red carrots with green leaves in brown colored coracles being washed in a coffee colored lake!
But 'Narsapura' was not anything like our destination when four of us, Me, Bejoy, Lijo and Bobbinson started from Bangalore on a Sunday morning in a no fixed plans, neither unfixed too, trip. Three of them are admittedly more 'mature'? and advanced shutterbugs than me! I like driving in the morning, getting up at 5 O'clock and driving through outer ring road. The roads dark and empty, yellow street lights blinking here and there, with the mandolin of U Srinivas on the background, it makes you feel so so refreshed.
The four of us met up at the cable stayed bridge in K R Puram. Thought we would get some nice snaps of the sunrise, but it was hopelessly cloudy and on top of it the sun made a mocking laugh at us from behind a gray veiled sky. But one let down is nothing, we decided to drive along the highway with no particular destination in mind. We stopped for tea on a roadside shop and Bob mentioned about the place where they wash carrots. Apparently some of his friends had once visited the place while they were coming back from some trip and got some nice snaps out of it. So we tentatively declared it as one destination for our trip. But he had no idea where it was or how to get there and 7.30 on a Sunday morning is not really a good time to wake a 'close' friend and ask him such questions as to where do they wash carrots on Kolar road!
So we kept on drifting through the highway.
We passed this vast water body on our way, I don't quite remember the name of the lake. It may look good in photos, but the lake seemed extremely polluted :-(
Next idea came up - that we could visit vineyards near Hoskote. We stopped near a bridge where we could see something like a vineyard? The wide grass fields near the bridge were really beautiful and fresh in the dewy morning. We got down to the alleged vineyard and discovered that it is Kovakka, or tindori or gentleman's toes (as opposed to lady's fingers!) We saw lot of snails there, lots and lots of them, so much so that if you put your feet down carelessly you'll tread on one and crush it! The owner of the field, whom we met there, explained to us that there were three different species of snails found there. He knew a Kannada, at times a bit too fast and rustic for me to catch on, but communication in such circumstances is a joy! Sometimes its nice to see the curse of Babel tower backfiring on God's plans to only instill confusion among his herd ... :-D
Leaving the 'vineyard' behind we moved on. Stopped at some brick making places lined with green fields, and in fact found one or two real vineyards. But the vines were barren, there were no grapes and both of them were closed and barricaded with no one in sight so we didn't enter.
By this time it was morning enough to wake up the friend, and he told us that the place's name was Narsapura. We asked for Narsapura in the next teashop by the roadside and got directions. Its some distance before Kolar, after a petrol pump, past a Kamat Upachar you have to divert from the highway to the left and after about 2km on that road you'll hit Narsapura.
Then we stopped for breakfast and during that another suggestion came up. There was supposed to be a Shiva temple near Kolar with a thousand shiva lingas. But no one knew what it was called. We asked the friendly waiter at the hotel but he knew nothing of shiva lingas, not even one, leave a thousand. But he was kind hearted enough to ask someone else and came back to tell us that it is called 'Kodi Lingeshwara Temple' and is past Kolar some 17 km further. Ok, so 'Kodi Lingeshwara Temple' was fixed as the ultimate destination after visiting which we'll head back to Bangalore.
As soon as you take the left to Narsapura, the scenery changes, and you can't help feeling that you are traveling on a country side road with occasional big banyan trees along the side of the road and some plush green open land to the left and cool clear wind on your face. We hit a coffee colored lake soon, probably it was so muddy from washing of so so many carrots! :-D Couldn't find anyone washing carrots though, but we stopped by the lake bund. The place held a thriving ecosystem, and is doubtlessly dotted with some kind of powerful aphrodisiac. Every insect, or rather pairs or insects - butterflies, beetles, dragonflies - that we found there were either courting or had progressed way past that phase!
There was an old man, angling in a small pond there. Poor fellow, somebody had tricked him saying there were fish to be caught in that tiny pond! We asked him where they washed carrots there :-D. He gave some directions, and all the while we were running behind the courting creatures he was sitting patiently with his hook and line. He finally gave up just before we decided we got enough of the shameless foreplay and thereafter, in public display.
So we reached Narsapura 'town' and asked someone 'Where they washed carrots there'. He came with us and lead us to the side of the lake in one of the in-roads. We could see the huge coracle shaped baskets that they use to wash the carrots. But there was no one washing carrots right now, instead two women were washing their herd of goats in the lake! Do goats like to be washed? I'm rather inclined to say no, one of the little ones was shivering like anything after he swam back up.
Carrots didn't seem to be coming, and after waiting for sometime we decided we'd rather head for our second destination 'Kodi Lingeshwara Temple' and check on the way back for carrots being washed. On our way out, a bunch of local women led us to a small temple on the side of the lake and near the fields. They said it was 'Ohm Shakthi Matha'. Ohm shakthi matha resided inside a small pond embodied in a strange looking idol, starkly different from the rest of the temple. We got three bottle gourds as the blessings of 'Ohm Shakthi Matha' and one red rose. May shakthi matha preside over these green fields and people in unbroken piece and harmony.
Back on the Kolar highway, Kolar was some 20-25 km further ahead. Bob and Lijo in a bike ahead of us slowed down and broke off from the road and stopped at the foot of the medium sized no man's hill by the side of the road. There was a curious shaped rock at the top of the hill, a Totem which looked like three rocks on top of each other. Me and Bejoy were initially reluctant to get down, Bob and Lijo went and called us from inside saying its an awesome place. Running the risk of them calling to trick us also into walking up and finding only some hopeless rocks, we got down and walked through the trail a bit. The place was indeed imposing, and tempting to be explored further. Especially the Totem rock, like a carrot held in front of a donkey, urging it to move ahead but always seeming distant. We had to get back to Bangalore before evening and getting to 'Kodi Lingeshwara' looked very less likely if we decided to climb this Totem rock!
हसीने जनम लेत हैं, की दीवानों को
तडपा सके बार बार;
पर्बतें उभर आते हैं, मुज़ाफीरोम को
फुसला सके हर ऐक बार!
So foot by foot, meter by meter, we ended up going deep and up in to the bushes that raise to the Totem rock. The way we were going up there seemed to be no trail, so we hastily and very wrongly concluded that we would be the first non-goats to summit this peak! Lijo gave up the climb after sometime, as it was getting difficult with lots of thorny bushes and the absense of anything like a trail. It was my longtime wish to climb up something like this, an unknown, unnamed, unclaimed hill, one among many that you see by the side of the road, and it felt so good!
We did reach the top, a rock that we christened 'The Phantom Rock', but it was not the Totem rock. Totem rock was somewhere to the right further. Here there signs of a some one having tried to build a rocky enclosure, maybe a temple? so surely we were not the first non-goats atop these majestic rocks! We tried to reach a Totem rock, and finally managed to reach the bottom of it. It was sheer single rock about 100 ft high, the front side with two deep groves developed by erosion giving it the look of a Totem of three big rocks. The view from there was breathtaking, we could see our car and bike far below, and the road winding like a black serpent through the green lands. On the top of the hill, there is a tiny tiny water body, one with its own biodiversity. Strange little green water plants, tadpoles, water beetles? and tiny frogs - Life endures. We christened two more rocks - 'The Dog Face' and the 'Elephant's Back'. May they bear the foot prints of the great explorers till ages to come!
We spent about an hour there basking in the heights, and on the other side of the hill we met some kids and grazing goats. They were coming through a trail, which actually extended to this side and went down the hill. We descended down the trail and it was much easier than making your own road. Poor Lijo was waiting all this while down below for us to come back! We turned back towards Bangalore, had lunch at Kamat Upachar, and took a bypass in Narsapura and couldn't check for carrots being washed!
But on the way back, by the side of the highway we saw this family - a grandfather, grandmother, sons, their wives and children and a large bunch of err, not carrots, but radishes! And they were indeed washing these radishes in the near by coffee colored pond! We stopped by, bought a bunch of radishes, watched them wash radishes, took snaps, showed them the snaps to their great amusement and smiles - 'what in the world are you 'nuts' gaining by photographing radish being washed?', bid adieu and continued our journey back to Bangalore.