Grand vista of nature's largesse

panoramic With a picturesque view of nature, Anjanadri Hills will capture your heart and soul in a single glance, writes Hema Narayanan

Grand vista of nature's largesse

Ever journeyed into a place that overwhelms you beyond what you can possibly absorb and an attempt to describe its character is a herculean challenge? I went on one such sojourn and was overpowered by what I experienced – it was at the Anjanadri Hills of Anegundi, in Hampi. Every traveller knows Hampi – perhaps due to it’s rare ability to capture the romance and magnificence of an era gone by. Hampi has a perception-altering effect on you, both literally and metaphorically. It is truly a doorway into another world, putting you in touch with yesteryears and the rich past of the Vijayanagara Empire, a ruling dynasty in Karnataka.

Walking around in Hampi is more than a sightseeing expedition. Its monuments and ruins present contrasting imagery. On one hand, it portrays the mastery and skill that existed in the ancient times, while on the other, it is a reminder of the destruction meted out to it by the attacking enemies.

Anegundi and its surroundings is said to have one of the oldest plateaus estimated to be 3,000 million years old! Hence it is not surprising to find that the local taletellers call Anegundi as the maternal home of Mother Earth.

Anegundi is much more than the Vijayanagara Empire. It is treasure trove of extraordinary facts and beliefs around the great Indian epic of Ramayana. Every other child in India grows up reading about Lord Rama and his adventures in Ramayana. So had I; and had created a little illusionary world where Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman lived.

Legend says...
So, to stand in Anegundi, where my illusionary world started to seem relatable was an inconceivable feeling. Because, here is where people believe that the
legendary kingdom of Kishkindha existed and Prince Sugriva lived. Kishkindha (or Kishkinta) means a forest where the monkeys lived; perhaps why it is referred to as the Monkey Kingdom in Ramayana.

Given this as the backdrop, I visited the Anjanadri Hills (a few kilometres from Hampi) near Anegundi, a picturesque village on the northern side bank of Tungabhadra. Crossing the river in a coracle to reach this village allowed me to experience another facet of Hampi. But, what astonished me more was its unending set of historical attributes!

Anjanadri Hills are believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, who was Rama’s ardent devotee and helped him in his mission against Ravana. I have always had a regard for the power of Lord Hanuman – he had carried an entire mountain in search of a little medicinal plant that could save the life of Lakshman.

The rocky hills of Anjanadri lured us to climb it. The hike in the boulder-packed hills was wondrous and involved a climb of 570 steps. As we gained altitude, the rugged terrain started to get wider – soon the spectacular rocks surrounding the city gradually made their appearance, accentuating the beauty of the scenery of this lost city. Impish monkeys courted us, as we passed through what seemed like caves. The simple beautiful whitewashed Hanuman Temple, at the top, built as a tribute to the monkey God, humbled me. I paid my respect to the reddish-orange stone sculpted Hanuman and then walked to the other side of the hill, in the quest for great photographs. And the view I got from here was worth dying for.

I had to sit down for a moment to take it all in. The raw beauty of nature had spread out in all directions, with rocks and stones in different shades of brown, some withered, some glistening, and in interesting shapes. As the dusty pinkish orange hues appeared at sunrise, the countryside unfurled in front of me, even as the sparkling and curvaceous Tungabhadra flowed down gently. I could see spires of the temples of Virupaksha and Vitthala and got reminded of gilded tapestries. 

The Union Government had initiated an endogenous tourism project and formed a trust named Kishkindha, in an attempt to appreciate and involve local people in conserving ancient lineage and historic surroundings. It was also to help build capacity in the villagers to maintain business incubators. And today, the community continues to be involved in the rural tourism. Not only has it benefitted them financially (reasonable economic support), but also it has become the pride of the village amongst the local
communities, with the village looking beautiful and traditional.

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