The International Writers Magazine: Living in India - From Our Archives
It has been said that “to witness best of the scenes one has to have the zest and the zeal to travel outstation”. Well, travelling is just a reason to explore. This summer let’s treat ourselves with something unusual.
Hills have forever attracted all sorts of travelers from different parts of the world. They remain on the topmost list of every traveler especially in the times when one wants to take a break from scorching and exhausting summer and work schedules. The soothing and pristine experience makes us dwell in the serenity of mountains.
Talking about one such journey I share my experiences of Kundadari, a place 15kms away from Agumbe in western Karnataka. Kundadari Hill has one of oldest Jain temples in the region. It is oldest because it was built during the Mauryan Empire. Leaving the history aside we will talk about the natural beauty of this place. Kundadari is no doubt a place which left us spellbound and wondering that how nature treats itself and its creatures in such a wonderful manner.
We left from Surathkal on a day trip to Kundadari Hill to see the beautiful sunset. In the midway we took a hault at a roadside government liquor shop. As soon as we entered the green unbroken belt of Agumbe (place where Malgudi Days was shot), we can smell the freshness of mist in the air. It was amazing how we reach till the top of Kundadri Hill in presence of smog as thick as two layers of coverlet.
||Reaching the top where the ancient temple is standing erect on a huge rock seems like a tough task. Initially we faced difficulty due to high air pressure and then to our surprise it started raining. But rain in this region are common and uncertain.
We also had to stop and wait for our friends on different bikes, because it is said that whole of the region is a Naxalite (Communist) area and leaving friends behind would not be safe. However after struggling for finding the right way and not loosing track of our friends we finally reached the top.
|By this time it had become little dark and we did not want to waste another minute and recollected ourselves to ascend towards the temple, which was a few steps away from parking base. Our destination was worth the wait and the painful journey on uneven roads. The view we captured amused me and my friends. There was one old aged priest who performed aarati and waited for us to leave.
While we were all feeling blissful with the exotic scenery and smog coming towards the top from all over the valley and distance, the pujari warned us that be careful about this place as it would be dangerous to stay here after sunset.
Ignoring him we kept ourselves busy in the scenery again for next 5 minutes when we heard a loud call from the parking base. We decided to corrupt that pujari by paying him off. Considering that inducement always helps, in India particularly. He did not agree on an initial settlement but later he agreed to let us stay for 15 more minutes.
We actually had no idea how precious those 15 minutes are going to be because after sunset that place was completely covered by clouds. Ah! It is hard to explain the thrill of that moment. It was pitch dark and we all were scared too, so left behind the anticipation of witnessing something paranormal.
On our way back there were barely any vehicles. So we had to rush too because crossing the 'No Trespassing' zone was important as we had skipped a checkpoint. Six of us were travelling on three bikes. Suddenly what we see ahead of us is around seven to eight police commandos with AK47s standing in a straight row to block our way. Feeling the sensitivity of the situation we all stopped mid-way as they started heading towards us.
“Good that you stopped otherwise we might have shot you”, was the first thing we heard from one of them. The whole freaking world seemed to be fading in front of our eyes. One of my friends gathered all his courage and went to talk with them. None of us know what trick he did or was it his ability to charm people that within 5-7 minutes he came back to us and told that they are asking us to come to the police station for missing the check point or otherwise pay 2000 bucks. It was simple yet again that we could leave after paying them, but we had only 1000 bucks. It was a hell lot of money at that time because we needed cash for refueling our bikes. Those commandos started pushing him in their Gypsy and then we decided to pay the money off and leave.
Anyways somehow my brave friend got us out of that problem and came back to us smiling. As we left that place we all needed a drink. We were carrying whisky mix with 7 Up with us so now we found a secluded place where we parked our bikes and started drinking. Thanks to my same brave heart friend that he suggested us to keep the bikes running, so as if something happens we can leave as fast as we can. It felt like some action and suspense movie was going on with us for real. That same Gypsy (Jeep) took a turn in the secluded lane where we were drinking. There was no other option than to throw away the bottles and save our asses once again. We accelerated our bikes and took a different route. En route to our final destination there was not a single restaurant, not even a dhaba. We were lucky to find a small kiosk and a dhaba in the plains. I can still not forget the taste of the tea and dosa we had over there, of course we all were having that because we are alive and safe now. Huh! How a small mistake or say a moment of fun can lead us towards most serious problems; finally after reaching home all of us felt thankful towards god and our friend who was the hero of the day.
Remembering that adventurous journey and sharing this experience thrills me a lot, even after a year of that episode, in a hope that I might get to experience many more such journeys with the same gang of friends.
© Shubhi S. June 2014
my blog https://voyagerssharma.wordpress.com
No matter who forms the government they will undergo a lot of pressure to rectify and bring about some changes in the present economic state of the country