Friday, January 27, 2006

1001 Diamonds

This year I decided to celebrate new year not the usual way, so thought I will go on a trip. I heard from some of my friends about Somnathpur. It has a very nice, beautiful temple of Hoysala style. As I had already been to Belur and Halebid and seen the grandeur of Hoysala architecture, I decided I will go there. I called up Kicha (my collegemate Krishna) and asked him whether he is coming. Kicha’s colleagues were going to Coorg, so we thought we will go to Somnathpur and then to Coorg. I decided, against Kicha’s wishes, that we will go in Kicha’s bike. So, with our limited money and even more limited Kannada, we started off.

We left Bangalore on 31st afternoon to Somnathpur. My boss suggested I take the route via Kanakkapura, which turned out to be good. Nice roads, less vehicles, and beautiful typical Karnataka countryside. As I was seeing Kicha after a month, we had a lot to talk, so had a nice time riding and talking about all the things which during that one month and also things that happened in college (some of them are not worth writing here). I must say that Kicha and I share the same wavelength. Just like me he also comes from a middle class family, has a sister, great parents, likes literature, likes Bharathiyar and Ilayaraja. So, naturally, we had a lot to talk about. We exchanged riding and were talking all the way, so we didn’t feel tired at all (the real fun started at Hunsur on the way to Coorg).

Out of nowhere from the paddy fields the Kesava Temple in Somnathpur strikes you. The tourism department is maintaning the place well. From outside you cannot see the full beauty of the temple. We had to cross a lush green lawn, which rivals that of Lord’s, to go the temple. As soon as you remove your shoes and enter, the beauty hits you on the face. Like other Hoysala temples, it is built on a star-shaped platform. It has three sanctum sanctorums with only two of them having idols now. The real beauty of the temple lies in its ceilings. Each one of the ceilings is a masterpiece in itself. One has a spiral carving, one has a carving like a collapsible gate, one has a square carving, one has a checked carving. I should curse myself for not being able to describe its beauty in words. One has to be there to enjoy it! One would wonder about the dedication and the craftsmanship of the people who made it. It makes you realise that not only talent and time, but sheer dedication and countless hours of hard work would make beauties like this. One can literally hear the flute on seeing the idol of Krishna there, so realistic it is!

As we had gone a little before closing time, we had the whole temple to ourselves. The exterior of the temple has bands of sculptures running through it. The lowest of the bands has elephants, the level above it horses, and so on. With the orange evening sunlight reflecting the sculptures, the whole temple has an aura about it. We just sat there quietly for about ½ hour and enjoyed the place, didn’t even speak to each other. We left the place only after the watchman told us to do. Oh God!, how much I wanted to stay there and see the place in the moonlight. That must be a totally different experience, just like seeing the Taj in moonlight. The view must be great, guess it would be like someone had poured milk on the whole temple.

Finally we left the place reluctantly to Coorg. Till Hunsur the journey was uneventful, after that the real fun started. The road to Coorg is being made a highway, so in most of the places the roads are dug up. We had a terrible time driving. Adding to the misery was the fact that we were driving in the night, it was around 9 o’clock, and there was no light. The lorries and other heavy vehicles come in such high-beam headlights that they virtually drill your eyeballs and see your skull. We were literally doing dirt biking most of the time, I was covered in top to bottom with dust and my black jacket had turned orange. There was one time where I jumped on to the brakes on seeing something white standing in front of us. It turned out to be a big road roller which was standing in front of us. Our front wheel was just inches away from it. God only knows what would have happened if we had hit it, but we just burst out laughing on seeing that. Oh God! What a great time we had riding.

We stopped midway for a break. It was around 11 o’clock that time, and we were the only persons in that place. As it was just a day or two after new moon day, the night was pitch black. Just then, I looked at the sky. Gosh, I have never seen the sky like that till that time. The sky was so clear and full of stars. It was as if someone had thrown 1001 diamonds (Hurray, I finally have some word which relates to my title) on the sky. It was just, what do you say, romantic. I just lay on the middle of the road and started counting the stars. It is difficult to describe how I enjoyed that night. Dey Kicha, if you are reading this thanks da. Thanks for the ride, thanks for the company, thanks for everything. I desperately wanted to share this someone. I tried calling my family, my friends, my colleagues, but no call would go. I stretched myself on the middle of the road for nearly ½ hour. I even thought I will spend the whole night there, but then a lorry was coming and I had to get up.

After that, we had a very chilly ride to Coorg. Kicha’s colleagues were calling now and then and giving us directions to the place where they were staying. Exactly at 12, we reached Coorg. Kicha’s colleagues were there waiting for us. Finally, I was able to put through a call to my dad and mom to wish them. As usual, mom was drawing a rangoli for New Year at that time.

Kicha’s colleagues had booked a nice, cosy place in the middle of an estate and we had a nice time there with campfire. The next morning we left early to Talacauvery. Our host gave us the directions to the place and we didn’t have a problem finding it. Cauvery is considered a God in many places in my home state, Tamil Nadu, as Kaveri Amman. Right next to the temple there, one can find a view point of Brahmagiri Hills. One can see all the shades of blue in the sky there and all the hills and a nice breeze was flowing. After that, we went to Abbi Falls. It’s a great place and has a nice, beautiful waterfall. Guess the falls would look breathtaking in moonlight, but we were running out of time, so had to leave the place after 45 minutes.

And the real icing on the cake came when we visited Kushalnagar. It has a very beautiful Buddhist temple called Golden Temple. As this is the first time we were going to a Buddhist temple, we found everything interesting there. They have a big Buddha idol and two of his disciples’ idols made of gold there. After that we left to Mysore and spent the night there and the next day returned to Bangalore.

2005 has been a great year, made a lot of new friends, went to a lot of places (Hampi, Jog falls, Belur, Halebid, Shakaleshpura to name a few). Twenty to thirty years from now, I might lose some of my money, most of my sanity (of whatever is left now), and all my hair, but I can never lose the memories of those 2 days. Hope 2006 will be even greater.