Spring in the mountains

lifeline: The temple pond at Mahakoota in Badami taluk has not dried up even though the region is facing severe drought; (below) a natural spring.

As summer peaks every year, we wake up from our slumber to realise that dry days are ahead. Even as an entire year is spent in sloganeering to save every drop, alas! very little translates into action.

Parched waterbeds, receding water levels in reservoirs, dried-up borewells, depleting groundwater, bone dry waterbodies, et al, paint a grim picture of the harsh reality that lies ahead.

Our dependence on water has increased multi-fold over the last few decades. Waterbodies, which once held crystal clear water, are now polluted and silted.And yet we fail to notice the silver lining in the dark sky.

Our ancestors valued water and constructed kalyanis, pushkaranis and open wells which are thriving even today. Across the state, there are numerous springs in the mountains which have not dried up even during severe drought. Interestingly, they have intriguing stories linked to them.

Ever wondered how the famed Siddaganga Mutt in Tumakuru got its name? Once seer Gosala Sri Siddeshwara Swamy invoked Goddess Ganga to quench the thirst of one of his devotees. Hence, the name Siddaganga (Ganga brought by a Sidda, an ascetic).

In a perennially drought-hit Kolar district, where water can be reached 1,950-foot deep, a well atop the Antaragange hillocks has water at 25 feet depth.

At the Ganga Chandika Bhairaveshwara cave temple located amid the majestic rock formations at Yana in Uttara Kannada district, water seeps non-stop from the shoulders of an udbhava murthy, a nature-made idol.

According to mythology, Goddess Ganga descends on the Sahyachala forests to douse the fire that engulfs the forest during a battle between Lord Shiva and the demons. Since then, the water source at the temple has not dried up.

In olden days, kings constructed batteries (watch towers) on mountains and hilltops to keep a vigil over enemies. There is a need for such watchtowers in the present day to guard over our greens, waterbodies and temples.

The kings, well aware of the importance of water conservation, put every system in place. The Kadamba rulers were the first to construct a tank at Chandravalli in
Chitradurga district. The Hulikere tank in Koppal, the pushkaranis in Mandya and Melukote are also a step in this direction.

Green crusaders

The tribals, by all means, are the first green crusaders of the green earth. Many rare species of trees have been nurtured, protected and conserved by them, thanks to their belief that forests are sacred.

British Collector Collins, who toured the coastal regions of Karnataka at least a hundred years ago, had made a note in his diary that places with water are considered holy by the locals.

Unfortunately in a rush to improve infrastructure at pilgrim centres, waterbodies in the vicinity vanish without a trace while roads, borewells and lodges become more visible.

Waterbodies in temple premises spread the dual message of devotion and green conservation.

At the Malemalleshwara Temple located at the Indrakeela Parvatha in Koppal district, Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, is believed to have observed a penance to seek the ‘Paashupathastra’ from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appears as a boar and puts Arjuna’s devotion to test. On being provoked and disturbed, an irritated Arjuna aims his bow and arrow at the boar.

At this juncture, Goddess Parvathi appears and saves the situation. As a symbolic representation of the mythological incident, water plummets from a boulder here.

At Kanive Siddeshwara Gudda at Hirekerur in Haveri district, silently flows a stream throughout the year. Devotees, who attend the Chowdeshwari Jathra, prostrate in reverence to the “Gupta Ganga”.

At the Gayi Matha Temple in Bidar, water springs from the mouth of an idol of cow. According to 52-year-old Kashinath from Khanapur, who has been residing at the temple for the last 40 years, Gayi Matha has remained the only source of water for the last several years.

Nanak Jhira in Bidar, the Mahakoota pushkarani near Badami, Ramadevara Betta and Revana Siddeshwara Betta in Ramanagara district, Sogal and Saundatti in Belagavi district, are a few spots that continue to hold water. However, some of these places faced severe water crisis this summer.

Waterbodies are fast disappearing from the surface of earth. Instead of folding our hands to invoke Goddess Ganga from the skies, it is time for us to conserve the greens at the foothills.

(Translated by Jyotsna P Dharwad)

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