Time past and time present

Time past and time present

TRAVEL

Poornima Dasharathi travels to Anegondi and is fascinated by the juxtaposition of the past and the present. She also meets the ‘raja’ of Anegondi and the ‘rani’ of Hampi.

As I stepped out of the Gangavati bus stand to catch an auto, the morning sun was shining bright. I was to go to Anegondi, a small village facing Hampi across the Tungabhadra.

One can reach the place either by way of a coracle ride from Hampi or a rickshaw ride from Gangavati, which is the first major town beyond the village. Buses ply regularly to Hospet and Gangavati from Bangalore.

As one travels on the small winding road, there’s not much to see except the laidback small-town scenes. The first hint that Anegondi promises much more came literally at its gates; the beauty of the fort gate structures and the walls (still intact) took my breath away. The village is surrounded by huge boulders in the north and west, and the river Tungabhadra runs to its south and east. The village has a number of forts surrounding it and many defensive gateways which indicate that the village must once have been an important city.

As our auto moved along, I entered the village through three grand gates one after another, Kade bagilu, Sunkada Bagilu, Wannagasi, making me wish that I could time travel to an era where the pace of life was slower and the town more prosperous. 
In her book on Anegondi, anthropologist Natalie Tobert, explains that the village was an important administrative centre for the surrounding districts and the architectural remains can be dated from between the period of 12th and 13th centuries to the present day.

As I entered the village, I could see children playing in the ground near Gagan Mahal, a few shops that included an ATM leading to the main square; the main road facing the centuries-old Ranganatha temple. A huge wooden temple chariot stood nonchalantly in the centre of the fork, its wheel acting as a backrest for some street vendors.

The main road has a few homes, a handicrafts shop managed by the local community. Unlike Hampi, the village has a thriving community and the juxtaposition of the old with the new is surreal. As I wandered around its streets watching children playing in centuries-old structures or cows grazing near the derelict fort walls, I marvelled at this peaceful co-existence.

History
Anegondi is much older than Hampi. The inscription near the main square states that its history dates back to the third century BC, during Asoka’s reign; though much of the relics that I saw could be placed between 12th and 17th centuries. When Vijayanagara was founded in middle of the 14th century, Anegondi was already a well-established town. It was ruled by Malik Naib, a Muslim representative of Delhi’s Sultan, Mohammed Tughlaq.

Hakka and Bukka conquered this town and ruled from here originally; the capital was later transferred to Hampi as the kingdom expanded. Anegondi has been attacked many times, but somehow has survived even after the devastating Talikota battle of 1565. Today it is the seat of Devaraya dynasty who are descendents of the rulers of Vijayanagara. Mythologically, Anegondi has always been identified with Kishkinda, the land of Vali, Sugreeva and Anjaneya. 

Places to see
Ranganatha temple: The main temple against a rocky backdrop is home to some beautiful Vijayanagara and Chalukya pillars though it looks like they have been reused or reinstalled in an effort to conserve.

Gagan Mahal: Facing the temple is this small structure with frescoes and looks like a place for the royal women to enjoy the city scenes without being seen.  Lotus Mahal: On a road off the main road is this Mahal in a dilapidated condition. It once housed the Women’s Institute but is now derelict and empty. 

Anegondi Palace: Home of the current king or raja of Anegondi. A huge stone fort structure that houses a small home of the king. It’s also in a state of disrepair. Krishnadevaraya Samadhi and Navabrindavam: On the north-easterly banks of the Tungabhadra stands a samadhi believed to be that of king Krishnadevaraya and further down is Navabrindavam, home to samadhis of nine Vaishnava saints. From here, facing the village, one can see the remains of fort walls running along the banks behind the riverside steps.

Ferry gate: South of the village is a ferry crossing leading to Talarighat; the nearest way to reach Hampi.

Matha: Near the ferry gate lies a matha that is home to some beautifully carved pillars. Set amidst paddy fields, it looks surreal. 

Sati stones: The village is also home to many sati stones, standing testimony to the practice of sati, which once existed in ancient India. I spotted one stone jutting out of the road on the way to ferry gate.

Around Anegondi
Chintamani: It lies towards the south east. The hill is home to a small shrine and is more famous for Lord Rama’s footprints. Legend says that this is where he first met Sugreeva and also where he killed Vali. The place also houses several carved Naga stones and a few sati stones.

Rishimukha: Around five kilometres from the village, this too is associated with Ramayana. At the top of the hill is a temple dedicated to Chandramoulishwara and is currently under restoration. From here, one can also see the relics of an old stone bridge across the river towards Hampi and spot the Virupaksha temple in the horizon.

Pampa Sarovara: A temple dedicated to Goddess Pampa is set in a very picturesque place. Pampa is the consort of Shiva and is the home deity of Anegondi.

Pre-historic cave paintings & dolmens: Set amidst paddy fields in a secluded spot, there are a couple of places that have rock paintings at the base of boulders. Visit the dolmen structures at mourya mane.

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