12 October 2009

Introducing Swami

We met Swami at the Durga Devi Temple, Anegudi. A young man in his late twenties trying to make a living out of guiding tourists. If you are in Anegudi, you will find him in the temple premises. He will tell you tales from the Ramayana, take you to view points which you would be sure to miss otherwise, tell you about the local beliefs and recent developments in the village and of course, he will make sure that you visit every cave and every shrine which is supposed to be blessed with the presence of characters from our Indian Epics. He was obviously proud of his village and its temples.
The Durga Devi temple in Anegudi. You should have the lemon rice (which they give you in large quantities) from the temple, which is the prasad (blessing) that the temple has to offer to you. In its backyard, you will find the ruins of a palace from the Vijayanagara era. Although the area is now private property, you can still explore the place. Swami had shown us caves where Bali (one of the key figures in Ramayana ) is supposed to have prayed and tunnels which connect strategic locations in Hampi.
At the Mahavishnu temple, Anegudi. Although small, this temple had beautiful murals on its walls completed by artists in the late 90's. A short trek through the rocky terrain behind the Durga Temple had taken us to this point where we could see an ant hill at some 10m depth. Swami told us that the priest from the temple took a bowl of milk to this ant hill everyday and did pooja for the Snake gods. A King Cobra is often seen in the premises. Swami believes that this snake drinks all the milk that the temple offers daily. "Have you seen the snake drinking the milk from the bowl?" "I have seen the snake.. the big black snake. I have seen it often crawl down to the pit. Along that trail." "But have you SEEN the snake DRINKING the milk from the bowl?" "I have seen the king cobra... One should keep him happy. One should give him milk.. " I shrugged. My mother gave me a reproachful look. Silence. I desperately wanted to see how the anthill would look like at a close distance. After a while, Swami offered to climb down the snake trail (he said it was dangerous for me to try climbing down) to reach the ant hill and take pictures of it. Without much thought, I handed over my camera, the most priced possession of my life to a man whom i had met only an hour ago. "I will be back in a short while. I climb up and down quite often." He had disappeared from out view. Five minutes passed. Six, seven, eight... My mother and I remained silent. We were in the middle of nowhere. The terrain wasn't easy to navigate. My mother is old, and I knew she was tired. I was sure we would easily be lost trying to find our way back. My mobile didn't have range there. The guest house will not notice our absence until the next day. A king cobra was somewhere near by. I couldn't stop blaming myself. "Madam..... " I heard a voice echoing from beneath. There he was, trying to get a picture of the sacred ant hill. Another ten minutes lapsed as he climbed back up. "Have i got a clear picture madam?" Swami was asking me as he handed the camera back to me. I have seldom been happier.
Picture of the ant hill taken by Swami.
Swami poses for a picture with the 'Pampa Sarovar' in the backdrop. The small tank seen near the Pampa Sarovar temple is said to be the source of the Tungabadra river (also known as river Pampa). There is something beguiling about the innocence that the villagers seem to have preserved in those villages of the lost kingdom of Kishkinda. As though, the legends of the land had made a deep impression of good and evil in them. Trusting, naive, honest.. I wish there were more Swamis in this world...


  1. Nice photos and neat narration !

  2. good pictures..
    i like the first one.. like the clouds.